One of my favorite mangaka (cartoonist or comic artist in Japanese) is Miki Aihara. I fell in love with her work when I first read Hot Gimmick in 2003.
The story revolves around a 16-year-old girl named Hatsumi Narita. Her whole family lives in a company housing complex ruled by the wife of the company’s vice president, the self-righteous and tyrannical Mrs. Tachibana. Depending on how a family behaves within the housing complex can also affect an employee’s status within the company. If you get on Mrs. Tachibana’s bad side, life becomes hell in the complex. When Hatsumi’s promiscuous younger sister Akane thinks she might be pregnant, she talks Hatsumi into going out and buying a pregnancy test for her. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned for Hatsumi as on her way back, she accidentally bumps into Ryoki Tachibana, the son of Mrs. Tachibana who used to bully Hatsumi as a kid. Ryoki promises not to tell about Hatsumi’s secret, only if she becomes his slave.
This 12 volume series plus a novel (Hot Gimmick S) is rated M for Mature audiences since it addresses several adult themes such as an abusive relationship. What pulled me into reading Hot Gimmick is how the story digs deep into a problem found in every society yet it still maintained it’s shojo aspects. You can relate to one or two of the characters and with the way Aihara draws the artwork makes for some juicy and colorful senarios.
As of 2009, Viz is now publishing Hot Gimmick in the Vizbig Edition format and is slowly being released throughout this year. You get three (3) volumes in one (1) Vizbig book making 4 Vizbig volumes in total. The Volume One (1) in the Vizbig Edition is out now.
Hot Gimmick S is in novel format but is based on a “what-if” senario if Hatsumi didn’t choose Ryoki. This is also out now.
But of course, you can always stayed tuned here for more updates…