Friday, January 17, 2020

Daytime Shooting Star volume 4 is making me question continuing the series (Manga Review)

A headshot of a high-school girl with braided hair and pink flowers in the background
Daytime Shooting Star vol. 4 - 4/10

Why such a low score you ask? Daytime Shooting Star vol. 4 (Shojo Beat/Viz) takes a teacher's inappropriate affections for a 15 year old up another notch. And that simply isn't okay. While nothing has actually happened between them, we have a 25-year-old-ish man openly flirting and courting at 15-year-old. This is the volume where Daytime Shooting Star appears to fall off the respectability cliff.

In volume 4, Suzume (our heroine) finds out Shishio (her teacher) is really not getting back together with his ex-girlfriend. His ex-girlfriend conspires to get the two of them together instead, and she's unwittingly helped by one of Suzume's friends (Yuyuka) who really does want Suzume to get with her teacher. The two end up alone at the aquarium. We also see that Yuyuka really likes Mamura (the boy Suzume should be with), who really likes Suzume, but that Mamura isn't paying Yuyuka the time of day.

I had hoped when I started reading this series that Suzume's crush on her teacher (and her Uncle's friend) Shishio would be a one-sided crush leading to heartbreak, while the pensive boy her own age, Mamura, would be the real eventual love interest.

While that certainly could still be the case, this volume has me really questioning whether it will happen. Throughout the volume, we see that Shishio is actually aware that he has feelings for his young student. Given that she also has feelings for him, and that he was the initial love interest (before we met Mamura), it's pretty easy to conclude that they will eventually become a couple, even if it means waiting until she graduates. That would simply not be okay with me. I'm not interested in reading a series where an older guy eventually gets the young high-school girl.

It also appears as though Yuyuka (Suzume's friend - and a great character in her own right) will continue pursuing Mamura and that maybe the cop-out will be to have them get together so no one is in the way of Suzume and Shishio becoming a couple (even though it really should be Suzume and Mamura together in the end). That would not be cool.

Instead, I would be interested in reading a series where Suzume and Mamura get together. I would also be interested in reading a series in which a childhood crush causes heartbreak by being an adult and ACTING LIKE AN ADULT by making it clear that he cannot and will not ever reciprocate his student's feelings. But here are some reasons why I'm worried that won't happen (some spoilers):

1) When Shishio finally tells Suzume that he has broken up for good with his ex-girlfriend, he actually asks Suzume to let him put his head on her shoulder while he grieves. Um. She's a 15 year old student of yours. You DO NOT TOUCH HER EVER!!!!!

2) Then, when she starts to feel uncomfortable and questions what he's doing, he asks: "Just a little longer, okay?" One, this wasn't okay to begin with. Two, read the room and recognize that she just pointed out that it wasn't okay.

3) At the end of this, he admits to himself, in his internal dialogue, that what he did and is feeling is wrong: "...and with a student, who I turned down when she professed her love to me. This is wrong in every way."

4) BUT THEN...they realize that his ex-girlfriend has given them tickets to the aquarium and instead of doing anything else with them (like going with his same age friends, or even family), he agrees to go with her and her friends! What teacher hangs out with students for fun on the weekend after just touching his student? A sicko, that's who!

5) Also, the ex-girlfriend's note with the tickets made it clear that she is trying to get them together. I'm sorry, I can maybe believe a 15 year old has a crush on a hot 25 year old teacher, maybe. I can also believe that there are pedophile 25-year-old teachers who would hit on their students. But I cannot believe that an adult woman would encourage those two to get together.

6) Then predictably, the friends they were supposed to go with bail on her, leaving Suzume and Shishio alone at the aquarium (naturally). So what does he do? Like any self-respecting teacher who was taking out his students on the weekend (right), he then just takes her by the hand (yikes), and goes alone with her (so it's now a date whether they call it that or not). Just not okay.

7) When Suzume tells him that what he's doing is confusing her, he basically explains that although he normally tries to be careful, he just can't be when it's her. He basically admits that his feelings for her are overwhelming his moral and ethical responsibilities. That's a pretty big confession as far as I'm concerned.

8) In class, after break, he flirts with her by commenting on her hair. With a look in his eyes! And she notes that he's acting differently than normal.

9) Then, when she's working on getting fitted for her costume for the festival, she bumps into him in the hallway when she just has a tanktop and shorts on. He's depicted as leering at her, then blushing, and then stumbling through telling her to put something on. That's an intense reaction by an adult man to a teen girl.

There are some other problems with this volume besides Suzume and Shishio's inappropriate flirtations:
1) Suzume helps out a random middle-aged man at the grocery store. She then goes home with him and INTO HIS HOME so he can repay her. I mean, this is the dumbest thing a woman can do, let alone a child! At the very least, she could have waited outside while he got the money! This is really really bad modeling for young readers. Also, it's a stupid thing for an adult man to do even if he has no ill intentions.

2) We do get some insight into Mamura's cold character (especially as he was depicted in volume 1). Apparently his parents have been divorced for 6 years and it seems like he blames his mom. "At one time I despised her - well, all women really." - What a horrid misogynistic statement. Who knows what she did. Maybe she was evil and abusive. Maybe. But without context, his comment sounds awful and extreme.

3) In a random scene, I mean, really random, Suzume says she fell off her bike once. Shishio then worries that she might have gotten a scar. He specifically says: "You're a girl, aren't you? What if you had gotten a scar?" The implication being that women must protect their pristine male-judged beauty at all costs and that she would be less of a woman if her body was in any way marred. Gross. How could a self-respecting woman write this? What sort of modeling for young women is this?

On the good side (because there is a little bit of good in this volume):
1) Suzume seems happy that she learned Mamura's first name and that they had made up from prior tension. It's a sign that maybe they could have a relationship in this series (hope springs eternal).

In summation, I'm left wondering why the author chose to write THIS story? There are so many more possible (infinite really) love stories to tell in high-school. Why are shoujo writers so obsessed with young female students and older teachers? Is this some cultural thing I'm missing? I get why a male writer might fantasize about this, but do women really fantasize about falling for their older teachers? Does this have anything to do with the historically limited role of Japanese women (the housewife while the husband works) that have kept Japanese women largely out of the workforce until recently? Is it a hunt for financial security? I really would love some insight from people who understand the sociology of modern Japanese society better than I do. Will you help me understand why this is a common storyline in shoujo manga?

So this volume was mostly really problematic. Where there was more plausible deniability in earlier volumes about the direction of this series, that maybe Suzume had a one sided crush, Volume 4 makes it seem more and more like Shishio will reciprocate with Suzume. There are so many problems with this volume that it really is a warning against the rest of the series. I will probably read one more volume to see if it crosses the final line or changes gear to bring Mamura back into the picture more definitively, but I'm worried with what happened in this volume. Daytime Shooting Star vol. 4 gets a very problematic 4/10.


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  1. No worries, my friend. Like I told you last time; you will be pleasently surprised by this manga. It many times seems like it's going to go to the yikes terroritory but forunately the mangaka makes the right decision at the end. AT THE END. So be patient ;) There's a reason why Daytime Shooting Star is known as one of the rare shoujo manga with a surprising twist at the end which is both interesting and refreshing.

    1. Oh thank goodness! At least it keeps giving me stuff to gripe about along the way! Ha! But, in honesty, sometimes I forget the conversations I've had between volumes. Whoops. Thanks for keeping me honest. >_<

  2. I felt this same when when I initially read the manga and almost dropped it. I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt this way. I really wonder if it's a cultural thing....

    I recommend to keep reading. It gets better.

    1. I'm glad to know it gets better. I just have such a problem with adult males and adolescent females in manga. It's a trope that needs to die a horrible, unceremonious death.

      Of course, I say that and yet, there are series with this trope that I actually have enjoyed, so maybe it's in the nuance of it. Or maybe it's okay to sometimes like problematic things, especially in fiction, so long as we acknowledge the problems and never recreate them in real life? Hmmm...?


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