The level of anticipation and furious interest centred on 鳴子ハナハル / Naruko Hanaharu’s (also Naruco Hanaharu – and he is assuredly a man despite the -ko) latest adult manga, 少女マテリアル / Shoujo Material, has perhaps been unprecedented; it is a little hard to fathom how such attention has come to focus on a mangaka whose works had previously been relatively restricted in availability, however high quality they were.
Perhaps it was this restricted availability which helped build the anticipation; whatever the reason, Shoujo Material is undeniably a work of no small genius in several regards, but at the same time brings almost no new material to the table, and so is less compelling to those already familiar with his works.
Here he shows off one of his most laudable characteristics as an eromangaka – he manages to draw just about every size and shape of breast with equal enthusiasm.
Shoujo Material is a simple compilation of his short self contained stories, and each story he presents is different and original; themes covered tend to be quite straightforward.
One wonders why he didn’t collect his works sooner, as by the looks of things he still has enough for another compilation or two in his already published stories. In fact, I can’t help but feel he has kept back some of his best stories – in particular the Nene cat stories are particularly charming, and longer, yet do not feature?
I was hoping to do more of a review, but unfortunately there is practically nothing new in the work – some additional colour illustrations are all that stands out. To be fair, this is quite understandable as he already has a large portfolio of unpublished work, but this makes all the more strange the fever pitch of excitement surrounding the work; I can only assume there are a lot of people out there who never bothered to look online or read the various magazines (chiefly Kairakuten) in which he has been regularly featured…
Rather than just focus on Shoujo Material, which is now easily available, I shall feature some of his other great works, less straightforwardly available (though I expect them to get released in compilation form given his current success).
ネネ / Nene – great story about the erotic adventures of an anthropomorphic cat and her human. There are ten chapters of 15 pages each so it represents nearly a complete tome. I believe there have been some scanlation efforts, too.
I mentioned earlier that Naruko Hanaharu has an broad appreciation of female anatomy; this story is the proof, and rather amusing at that.
He also has some doujinshi output, but little substantial; more substantial is his work on titles such such as Kamichu, but that is another matter.
The release of Shoujo Material doesn’t change the fact that Naruko Hanaharu is a first rate artist, though it may certainly contribute to his popularity. Fans of anything remotely touched upon in his works are likely to want to have a look at a copy without delay, although those already familiar with his works will likely find little new.