Hot Gimmick Volume One is rated “T+” for Older Teens. After reading this volume, I would generally agree with this rating.

Hot Gimmick Volume One
Written by: Miki Aihara
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 1, 2003

The main character of Hot Gimmick is a teenage girl named Hatsumi Narita. She and her family live in an apartment building that is owned by the company that Hatsumi’s father works for. The complex is essentially ruled by Mrs. Tachibana, the wife of the biggest bigshot at the complex. If someone gets on her bad side, she can make their life miserable. This also includes having a company employee transferred elsewhere.

One day, Hatsumi’s junior high age sister, Akane, asks Hatsumi to buy her a pregnancy test, because she thinks she may be pregnant. Akane is rather popular with the boys, and has already had several sexual partners. After initially refusing, Hatsumi goes out to discreetly buy the test. Unfortunately, as Hatsumi returns to the complex, she bumps into Ryoki Tachibana, the son of Mrs. Tachibana, who bullied Hatsumi when the two were younger. The test falls out of the bag, and Ryoki finds it. Hatsumi blurts out that the test is for her younger sister, and then asks Ryoki to not tell his mother. Ryoki says he will keep her secret, but at a price: Hatsumi has to become his sex slave. Hatsumi feels trapped in a corner, and ends up agreeing.

At the same time, Hatsumi’s childhood friend, Azusa Odagiri, moves back to the complex. His parents divorced several years earlier, and now he’s living with his father again. Since leaving the complex, Azusa has become a model, and his celebrity status causes some issues for Hatsumi. Hatsumi finds herself falling in love with Azusa, and it’s obvious to the reader that Azusa likes her, but Hatsumi hasn’t figured it out. Unfortunately, the agreement to be Ryoki’s slave gets in the way of Hatsumi and Azusa’s budding relationship.

By the time I finished reading this manga, I found myself disturbed by the entire concept of this series. I was especially bothered by the fact that when I reached the end of this volume, it was very clear that Aihara is planning to create a love triangle between Hatsumi, Azusa, and Ryoki. I really hope that any attraction between Ryoki and Hatsumi is solely on Ryoki’s side, and that it doesn’t turn out that Hatsumi finds any sort of feelings for this character. However, since I was so turned off by the story in this volume, I don’t have any plans to read future volumes of this series to find out how the story continues.

Aihara’s art style did nothing to help improve my opinion of the manga, because the artwork is rather simplistic in nature. There are a number of panels where a character’s eyes, and in some cases all of the facial features, are essentially blank. In some cases, this may have been done for an effect, but I saw it so often in this volume that it came across to me that the artist was simply being lazy.