Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Daytime Shooting star volume 5 - what is Shishio thinking?! (Manga Review)

Daytime Shooting Star volume 5 - 5/10 (*see full scoring rubric below)

There are two saving graces with this series, 1) a regular reader of this blog assures me it will end in a satisfying and appropriate way and 2) in volume 5, the mangaka, Mika Yamamori, seems to acknowledge how problematic Shishio's behavior is and that suggests that she is aware and going to course correct. With that in mind, although I can't ignore the problematic aspects of this series/volume, I will try and relax a bit in my vehemence. On to the review of Daytime Shooting Star, volume 5 (Shojo Beat/Viz).

It's time for the school festival and Suzume's classroom is putting on a classic cafe with the girls in maid costumes and the boys in tuxes. Suzume's uncle brings Shishio, her teacher, into the cafe. Suzume is about to (nervously) seat him when Mamura takes over, and coldly at that.

When they are out of earshot, Mamura confronts Shishio with a very clear: "A teacher has no business seducing his students." But when Shishio has a chance to reply a few minutes later, he grabs Mamura by the tie, and says quite clearly: "If this was all about seduction, things would be easier." Then calls him a "damn kid." A physical confrontation initiated by the teacher, that's a no-no for any of you educators in the audience.

What does Shishio mean by it not being "all about seduction?" I see two possibilities that hinge on our interpretation of the word "all" (which given that this is a translation, I can't really say whether this was intentional obfuscation or not). Either Shishio has some big helpful plan that has nothing to do with romance and is just going about it in some backwards way that is sure to hurt a vulnerable young woman. Or, he means that it's not JUST about seduction, ie, he wants to marry Suzume and spend his life with her. So our two options are a) he's playing with a young girls heart with no intention of being romantically involved with her in order to serve some other grand purpose, or b) he wants to spend the rest of his life with her so he doesn't see this flirtation as a problem even though she's a minor. I'm not sure what to make of this development.

Later, Suzume drops the hint that she'll be going around the festival alone, but Shishio merely mentions she should check out Yuyuka's play. Suzume is disappointed he didn't take the bait. But after walking around alone stuffing her face with food, Shishio shows up in a tanuki costume and takes her to see the play, Romeo and Juliette, in secret. 

At the end of the day, Shishio makes a pretty clear declaration of his affection for his student, Suzume saying: "You really haven't noticed, that day at the aquarium...and today, wasn't just for your sake, I wanted to be with you." Now, maybe that too could be played off as meaning something else (possibility #1) and we're just getting strung along like she is (through misinterpreting) and he's just really bad with his choice of words (and choice of freetime activities) OR he's really seriously telling Suzume he loves her (possibility #2). Yikes either way, dude.

By the end of the volume, it sure looks as though both Suzume and Shishio think things have been taken up a notch in their relationship. But, since NOTHING IS EVER CLEARLY SAID (in manga), no one knows for sure. I mean really, I guess there would be no plots to most shoujo manga if the characters ever just said what was on their mind to each other (hello Ao Haru Ride - but I forgive you because you are too awesome), but it can get a little annoying for the reader too. So who knows? Either Suzume and Shishio are now committed to each other in some way or he's still jerking her around for some purpose we have yet to understand.

As I said at the beginning, one of the saving graces seems to be that the author knows Shishio (a teacher) is being completely wrong in what he's doing with Suzume (his student) when she admits: "Shishio has gradually turned into a terrible grown-up." But she implores us to keep reading, and keep up the hope for the series when she says: "But I hope you won't give up on him." So given that my regular blog reader said that the series won't disappoint in the end, I'm going to keep giving it the benefit of the doubt. Because I really do like Suzume and want good things for her.

On that note, I really would like Mamura to get more time in the series, and for Suzume to realize she's much better off with a kid her same age than dating her teacher. I would also like to see Shishio get some comeupance for breaking the sacred vows of teaching by going after his student (and just the general wrongness of an adult/child relationships too). We'll see. On to some of the good stuff in the volume.

Yuyuka finally confesses to Mamura who turns her down. Along the way, we get to see a much more vulnerable side to her. But we aren't the only ones. Her "Romeo" from the school play just happens to be watching as well, and despite his early appearance as a jerk, Togyu actually might be fairly sensitive and in-tune with Yuyuka. Will this be a nice consolation prize for Yuyuka? Will it ease the way for Mamura and Suzume to get closer without the guilt of Yuyuka's feelings for Mamura?

The art is still really nice too. I like the character designs, the noses are subtly different than other series (I know, I know, the things I pay attention to). Suzume's expressions are always interesting. There's good line use, decent detail, and nice screen tone sparkles throughout. The art helps the series overall. I also need to mention that Mamura really pulls off his tux for the classroom cafe.

In concluding our volume 5 review, Suzume is still a lead heroine we want to root for, the art is nice, the side characters of Mamura and Yuyuka are interesting in and of themselves, and Mamura would make a great partner for Suzume if the series goes longer (it has 13 volumes in its original release and we're only at 5 in translation).

On the down-side, it's still moving the implied romance between Suzume and her teacher, Shishio, forward. But the author gives some hint that maybe this isn't where things will end up. We can only hope! Death to the manga trope of students and teachers lusting after each other! I will not stop in my quest to rid the genre of that terrible trope! (or at least get some creator to critically examine the dangerous and damaging power dynamics and abuse prevalent in those types of relationships).

All said, Daytime Shooting Star volume 5 gets a mixed 5/10 for its continued push of an adult-teacher/child-student relationship without confronting it. But we shall see. Because it has a lot of other things going for it, and at the end of the series, we might get to kindly reevaluate each volume in the journey depending on how the narrative resolves.

  • Story interesting (0-10): 6 - not much really happens, it's a school cultural festival volume, so a cafe, some food, a play, some confessing between characters. Nothing we haven't seen thousands of times before.
  • Characters interesting (0-10): 6 - Suzume doesn't get to do, say, or think much in this volume. Shishio is an ass we can't root for, and Mamura has like 3 lines (not unusual for him) with no deep insight. BUT Yuyuka gets some moments to show her depth.
  • Quality prose/writing (0-10): 6 - it's fine, but we keep getting unclear statements of what Shishio is thinking and feeling. Even when he tries to be clear with her, he speaks only in generic cliche's which might not mean what she thinks they mean. Ughhhh.
  • Emotionally plausible (0-10): 7 - Yuyuka wins the volume.
BASIC SCORE (avg.): 6/10

  • Emotional insight/depth (0-5): 1 - we get some with Yuyuka and Togyu
  • True LGBTQ+ representation (0-5): 0
  • Female agency (0-5): 0 - hard to call a girl being pursued by her teacher an example of agency!
  • Character growth/change (0-5): 2 - both Yuyuka and Mamura are taking steps forward. Suzume is stuck. Thanks ass-wipe Shishio.
  • Quality art (0-5): 2 - definitely a plus for this series.
BONUS POINTS (sum/8): +.5

  • Homophobic/transphobic (0-5): 0
  • Misogynistic (0-5): 0
  • Fan service (0-5): 0
  • Child/adult relationship (0-5): 3 - I had to move this up to 3, because it really seemed like the adult teacher just confessed his feelings for his minor student. NOT OKAY ADULTS/TEACHERS!
  • Exploitative (0-5): 0
PENALTY POINTS (-sum/2): -1.5



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