Of course, I also can't talk about shonen unless I address that genre I've come to dread: the harem series. God knows the genre as a whole isn't getting any better, even if you steer it away from the monster girl trend, and today's review is a gleaming example of its utter mediocrity.
SHOMIN SAMPLE (Ore ga Ojosama Gakko ni "Shomin Sanpuru" Toshite Rachirareta Ken or I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a "Sample Commoner"), based on the light novel series by Takafumi Nanatsuki & art by Risumai. First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2016.
Seikain Girls' School is a private, all-girls' school renowned for both the wealth and prestige of its student body and the extreme lengths it takes to protect them from the world. In fact, the girls are so sheltered that have practically no knowledge of the everyday world, much less boys. To help these high-class young ladies acclimate, their principal has abducted one Kimito Kagurazaka to be their token commoner to teach them the ways of his world. Will he ever get used to his luxurious new home? Will he ever be able to shake off the socially awkward tsundere Aika? And what will he do when an innocent accident leads class president Reina to demand marriage?
You know, I was fully ready to go to town on this one. After all, it combines two things that almost always make for shitty manga: being based on a light novel, and being a harem series. And yet it's saved from my ire by its own ineptness.
That's not to say that it isn't bad! Believe me, it's still quite bad. The premise is ridiculous and not in a fun way. The protagonist has all the personality of wet cardboard. I guess I should be glad he's not a perv, but the story compensates for that by forcing him to pretend he's gay as part of his agreement. This is treated with all the nuance and sensitivity you would expect...which is to say, none at all. Then there's Aika, who is just a jumbolaya of annoyance.
She's your stereotypical twin-tailed tsundere, but she's also dumb as a rock, completely gullible, full of chuuni-style arrogance, and has convinced herself that she's completely unpopular for no good reason other than the writer needs to establish the end goal girl for Kimito. Even Kimito can't help but make fun of her, but I found her utterly tedious. Still, she's a fount of personality compared to the other girls. They're mostly there to coo over every little thing Kimito does, a blandly cute mass from which a couple more harem members emerge just as the volume ends.
What's truly remarkable is that all of this adds up to a singularly dull whole. It barely registers as you read it, and once you put the volume down it disappears from your brain entirely. That's probably the reason I couldn't get mad at it: Shomin Sample is simply too boring and uninspired to get angry about.
The artwork is no more inspired than the writing. The character designs are incredibly bland, from the top of their weirdly noseless, giant-eyed little faces to the tips of their tiny little feet. At least they're not overdesigned like a lot of light-novel original material tends to be. There's also a surprising lack of fanservice. For the longest time, the only raunchy thing to be found is that cover image, and even then that's toned down from the original Japanese cover thanks to Seven Seas censoring it in the same manner CMX did with Tenjho Tenge. Of course, that can't last. Eventually the bath scenes come and the boobs and butts come out, the last resort of a poor artist working with equally poor material.
Shomin Sample seems like it would be sleezy, but instead it's just as boring as boring can be. I can't see anyone seeking this out unless they were serious harem fans, and even then there's nothing here for them that they couldn't get from countless other books from the same publisher. Shomin Sample isn't worth sampling.
This series is published by Seven Seas. This series is ongoing in Japan with 10 volumes available. 3 volumes have been published and are currently in print.
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