Recently it feels like there has been a flock of anime and manga hitting the UK that focus on video games. The latest to come our way is Otome Mania!!, a story focused on a video game company creating otome games – which I’m here to review today!
Our story follows Haruna Yuzumi, who has recently joined video game studio Trick Star as a planner. Yuzumi is a massive fan of otome games and not only is this her dream job, Trick Star is also responsible for creating one of her favourite games: Darling x Produce. She begins this adventure with the dream of one day producing her own otome game, and although she’s a newcomer to the company, Yuzumi is suddenly asked to pitch an idea for a new project! Abruptly thrown into the trials of creating a mobile game, just how will Yuzumi overcome the challenges ahead?
At the beginning of this volume we’re introduced to Yuzumi and her mentor, Tachibana, who spends his days lecturing Yuzumi and trying to make her take her job seriously – while also serving as the creative director for Trick Star. As the book progresses, we meet the rest of the team that make up this acclaimed studio and quickly discover that they’re all extremely pretty guys! When Yuzumi’s pitch is accepted, the team must band together to give her a helping hand, especially when it becomes apparent that Yuzumi doesn’t have the first idea how to create a project proposal properly.
This is where the realism of the story begins to fall apart. Although Yuzumi is supposed to be a planner, she’s only been with Trick Star for a week and most of the jobs she’s handled so far don’t really feel like a planners responsibilities. What’s more, she doesn’t manage the jobs she does take care of particularly well. For example: she takes care of the company’s Twitter account and ends up responding to every received tweet, which is frowned upon because “official accounts should not respond to every little thing” and a company should distance itself from the fans. Then when she’s asked to write a short story for one of the studio’s games, Tachibana ends up scrapping it and rewriting most of the story himself. It just doesn’t feel natural that Yuzumi’s suddenly overseeing her own project – even if she does have Tachibana mentoring her.
Having said that, I don’t think Otome Mania!! is attempting to be a realistic story and instead wants to be a cute shojo title. Most of the second half of the book is based around Yuzumi’s interactions with the other members of Trick Star and the numerous romantic fantasies she has about the team members. While the plot isn’t realistic, it’s still well written and engaging, helped by a likable cast of characters.
With over five main characters it’s hard to get a clear feel for anyone except Yuzumi and Tachibana, but overall all of them are interesting cast members – even if their personalities might be a bit generic. For example, Tachibana fills the role of an aloof, stern and uncaring senpai but by the end of the volume we discover that there is actually a nicer side to him. Then we have scenario writer Takumi, who is extremely shy and afraid of women (so he has a hard time dealing with Yuzumi) but is also very passionate about his job. They might all fit into stereotypical tropes but they still have aspects that make them stand apart from the crowd.
Otome Mania!! has been created by mangaka Tsukigase Yurino and is her first work to be published in English. Overall the artwork is refined and throughout this volume there are well detailed backgrounds and wonderful shojo scenes. Character designs are suitably cute while not being off-puttingly so. There isn’t anything to complain about here and I came away pleasantly surprised by just how good the artwork is.
The series has been released in English thanks to publisher Seven Seas and overall this first volume is well translated (handled by Angela Liu) and nicely put together. There are even a couple of colour pages to open the book, which I always really appreciate.
While Otome Mania!! might not be a particularly realistic look at the games industry, it’s still an interesting story with a fun cast of characters. If you’re looking for a shojo series set within the world of otome game development then this book will be perfect for you.