Wednesday, November 6, 2019

O Maidens in Your Savage Season volume 4 loses some of its edge (Manga Review)

A high-school girl, eyes closed, finger tips on her lips, surrounded by lilies.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol. 4 - 7.5/10

The first couple volumes of O Maidens in Your Savage Season were an unexpected mix of rawness and compassion for the adolescent condition.

O Maidens in Your Savage Season vol. 4 (Kodansha Comics) doesn't quite rise up to that level of writing or narrative prowess, but is still a good continuation of the five characters' stories. The question for the series as a whole, is will it keep giving us complex insight or will it lapse into typicality? It's too soon to say, but Volume 4 doesn't quite have the edge or depth of the prior volumes.

The overall story centers on the five female members of the literature club. They read the classics looking to discuss the complexities of the human condition, with a strong emphasis on exploring love, lust, and intimacy through writing. At the same time, they are five teens going through puberty, and the early parts of the series took an unflinching look at the mind-f#ck that adolescence encompasses.

In volume 5, we have several intertwining stories as the characters' growth continues. The club is asked to come up with a fake legend about romance at the school festival. They take the challenge on as a good writing exercise. As part of this, they go on a retreat to their adviser's family cabin to have good uninterrupted writing time.

At the cabin, a bunch of different threads start to unravel and come back together. Sonezaki intentionally drops (fake) hints that cause Kazusa to think that Sonezaki likes Izumi (the childhood friend whom Kazusa likes). Of course, Sonezaki has no feelings for him, but wants Kazusa to finally acknowledge her own feelings and pursue Izumi straight on. While this leads to some intense tension, it also forces Kazusa to take an important step forward towards Izumi. It's well done.

In another writer's hands, this conniving by Sonezaki (while for good purposes) would be more cruel in its execution. But here, the author has Sonezaki do it so subtly that we know it's more about Kazusa's insecurity than any overt subterfuge by Sonezaki. This keeps Sonezaki in our good graces while also helping Kazusa develop. There is no meanness, only love, and perhaps Sonezaki is even a bit surprised by how nice a friend she is being to Kazusa. It's some interesting insight into Sonezaki's character.

Sudo, who is woefully underutilized in the series so far, continues to drop hints to the reader that maybe she is interested in girls and not boys. This volumes has some of the most explicit evidence that she might be attracted to women yet. She almost says as much when asking Sonezaki some questions about love. Sonezaki doesn't get it and is instead focused on her own boyfriend and thinking she is the only one who truly understands love because she actually has a boyfriend.

However, earlier in the chapter, Sonezaki has insisted to him that they keep the relationship a secret. We can clearly see how hurt he is by this request when he questions their status and his body language as he leaves. He seems to really care about her, but is sad he can't express it openly around others. Her insecurity is clearly getting in the way. Does she risk losing him?

Given that they are all at the club adviser's family cabin, it's no surprise that Hongo tries to get the adviser to take advantage of her. She is still stuck on trying to learn to be a good writer by experiencing sex first hand, thinking it will make her a better author of explicit novels. At the same time, her editors want her to focus more on romance than explicit content since another young author's sex novel failed. She's torn now about what she really needs to understand.

The adviser, hopefully being a good moral person (but maybe handling it wrongly), pulls her in as if he is going to kiss her and when she flinches, uses it to scold her for trying to get into a relationship with him. He basically says that since she's so afraid of a kiss, she can't be ready for anything more. I just wish he was more upright (and forthright) and didn't lead her on so much. I'm a bit afraid they might actually get together later on in the series. If you know me, then you know that teachers and students getting together is one of my biggest "no no's" and will make me really detest a series. We'll see.

Overall, four of the five characters get significant air time with Sugawara getting the least attention. Sugawara plays a key roll with Kazusa, but we don't get much of her story other than the potential way she surprises herself with how much she's trying to help Kazusa. So like the prior volumes, this one fits a TON of stuff into just a few chapters. Yet it's all coherent and so far it's pretty emotionally sound.

The art continues to be excellent and a little unique. Strong strong lines at times, soft lines at others. Easily recognizable character designs and plenty of detail. It's really strong art to go along with continually strong writing.

The only reason I'm not giving it more than a 7.5 is because it's in fairly typical territory right now, even if it is well handled. Unlike the first volume, which was a tour-de-force of adolescent hormonal insight, this feels a bit more normal. However, we really like each character, they each have a unique journey they are on, and it's well written and drawn. I'm still so pleased with this series, and can't wait for each new volume. O Maidens in Your Savage Season volume 4 is a strong 7.5/10.


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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