The first volume of Viz's release of Hot Gimmick, featuring Hatsumi Narita.
|Genre||Romance, Drama, Comedy|
|Written by||Miki Aihara|
|English publisher||Viz Media|
|Original run||December 2000 – August 2005|
Hot Gimmick (ホットギミック Hotto Gimikku ) is a 12-volume shōjo manga by Miki Aihara that was serialized in the Japanese manga anthology Betsucomi from December 2000 to July 2005. The English release is currently published by Viz Media. In addition to the manga, there are also two drama CDs and an alternate ending novel entitled Hot Gimmick S.
The first volume of this series is mostly an introduction for all the characters and plotlines, and any possible readers of this series are warned that things do not stay as they seem for long. The main male characters (Ryoki, Azusa, and Shinogu) all quickly swap places as the story continues on through the series. For this reason, Hot Gimmick is targeted much more at a mature audience, as it addresses several adult themes that are not entirely appropriate for younger readers; most pointedly, the normalization of an abusive relationship. Hot Gimmick delves into a deeper side found in every society, while still maintaining its shōjo roots.
The story revolves around Hatsumi Narita, a passive sixteen-year-old girl who lives in a company housing complex that is ruled by the tyrannical Mrs. Tachibana, the wife of the company's vice president. How a family behaves in the housing complex can affect an employee's status in the company. When her promiscuous younger sister Akane thinks she might be pregnant, Hatsumi gets talked into buying her a pregnancy test. Unfortunately, things don't go exactly as planned and Hatsumi is blackmailed by Ryoki Tachibana, the arrogant teenage son of the powerful Tachibana family who bullied her as a kid, into being his slave.
The Narita Family
- Hatsumi Narita (成田初 Narita Hatsumi )
- The main character of the series. At the beginning of the series she is a second-year student at Takazono High School, a public school. When her younger sister Akane's fear of being pregnant leads Hatsumi into purchasing a pregnancy test for her, Ryoki Tachibana sees her with it and, in exchange for keeping this secret, Hatsumi becomes Ryoki's personal slave. However, when Hatsumi's childhood friend, Azusa Odigiri, moves back into the complex, she finds she has feelings for him. These feelings don't waver even after certain events rise up that would ordinarily cause her to sever ties with Azusa. Near the middle of the series however an absence of Azusa causes Hatsumi to shift attention and rationalize her now developing feelings for Ryoki, which she later concludes is love, with the hope Ryoki's actions will become less domineering.
- Hatsumi is good-hearted but gullible. She doesn't form her own opinions and, despite talking herself up and reassuring herself that she will be assertive, has extreme difficulty standing up to people who misuse her. She is almost incapable of making her own decisions and spends more time thinking about others' well-being than her own. Hatsumi's low self-esteem is most likely the product of her upbringing; it is improbable she has ever been encouraged to set goals for herself outside of schoolwork and staying below the radar of the complex gossip hounds.
- Akane Narita (成田茜 Narita Akane )
- Hatsumi's younger sister; somewhat of a floozy. She dates many boys, and early on harbors a none-too-inconspicuous crush on Ryoki. After being rejected by him (and briefly taking out her anger on Hatsumi), she begins to develop feelings for Ryoki's best friend, Subaru Yagi. At the beginning of the series, she is a third-year student (it is mistakenly stated in earlier publications that Akane is a second-year) at a local public junior high school. Despite being beautiful and popular, Akane is actually very insecure in a real relationship. She supports Hatsumi and Ryoki's relationship, occasionally offering her sister's boyfriend advice.
- Shinogu Narita (成田凌 Narita Shinogu )
- The eldest of the Narita children. At the beginning of the series, he is a freshman law student at Hitotsubashi University. He isn't home much due to various part-time jobs. Hatsumi learns later that Shinogu is in fact adopted. He was taken in by the Naritas when he was a small child, but his parents had left behind extreme debt when they died. In an attempt to repay the money to his adoptive parents, Shinogu moves out of the house and holds down a slew of part-time jobs, placing aside his dreams of medical school.
- Shinogu is kind and helpful. Like Hatsumi, he often puts others before himself. He is very dedicated and believes in doing the right thing, but is often wracked with guilt concerning the trouble he put his parents through, and his feelings for Hatsumi. Shinogu is in love with Hatsumi but, in an effort to not burden her with his feelings, tries to put distance between them. In the end, he tries to dissolute his adoption from the Naritas in an attempt to distance himself from Hatsumi further and become a priest.
- Hikaru Narita (成田輝 Narita Hikaru )
- Hatsumi's younger brother. At the beginning of the series, he is in kindergarten.
- Shihoko Narita (成田志保子 Narita Shihoko )
- The mother. She is very afraid of Mrs. Tachibana, and does whatever she can to please her. Later in the series, she overcomes this fear and addresses Mrs. Tachibana about her continued mistreatment of their family.
- Toru Narita (成田徹 Narita Tōru )
- The father. He takes the blame for Miho Odagiri's death by confirming Azusa's conclusion that he was her lover, but it is later revealed that he was paid by his office superior, Shuichiro Tachibana, to be his scapegoat. He spends much time working away from home due to his unfavorably low position on the company ladder, but in the end returns to Tokyo under Shuichiro's orders as an apology for all the hardships the latter had given him and his family, he is presumably living again with his wife and children. Went to college with both Azusa's and Ryoki's fathers.
The Tachibana Family
- Ryoki Tachibana (橘亮輝 Tachibana Ryōki )
- Hatsumi's biggest fear since she was a child, due to him pushing her down the stairs. He turns Hatsumi into his personal slave, but also wants her as his girlfriend. Although he seems to be a complete jerk to her, there are times when he lets his guard down and shows that, despite his odd way of showing it, he genuinely cares about her. At the beginning of the series, he is a second-year student at the prestigious private school, Kaisei Academy. It is revealed that when Hatsumi and Ryoki were kids in the company housing complex, that Hatsumi was Ryoki's sole friend, while Hatsumi was also friends with Azusa. Nevertheless, Ryoki did not treat Hatsumi well, even as a child, going as far as pushing Hatsumi down a flight of stairs, emotionally scarring her. This is revealed later to have been unintentional, giving young Ryoki an anxiety attack.
- Ryoki becomes easily angry or jealous and does not like displaying other emotions. It is clear he has only ever been prized for his intelligence (which he reaffirms constantly around Hatsumi by calling her "dimwit," "birdbrain," etc.). Ryoki's family is disjointed and loveless, which is why he finds Hatsumi's devotion to her family incomprehensible. His family's past actions have influenced his views on relationships as well, such as strictly practicing and prizing monogamy in his relationship with Hatsumi, no doubt because of his father's past known affair with Azusa's mother. Ryoki displays great insecurity in his trust with relations involving Hatsumi, feeling at any second that she is off "flirting with other men". He expects just the same level of commitment and monogamic views from Hatsumi, which is seen throughout the series as a humorous assertion of power; with Ryoki demanding she should keep conversations with all men under one minute, answer the phone on the first ring when he calls, show up at least an hour early to all dates, and often overreacts when a male's name is mentioned in conversation, even if it's just Hikaru, Hatsumi's little brother. However, he is also seen often struggling to understand Hatsumi's reactions, helping her out of difficult situations and giving her his support.
- Natsue Tachibana (橘奈津江 Tachibana Natsue )
- Ryoki's mother and the undisputed "queen" of the company housing complex. She delights in manipulating the lives of those beneath her, starting malicious rumors and relocating workers based on their family's reputation. Multiple times she tries to separate Hatsumi and Ryoki, seeing Hatsumi as unsuitable and undeserving of her son. Natsue is presumably obsessed with controlling the people of the complex because she has almost no control in her own family (Ryoki never listens to a word she says and rebuffs her concerns with no emotion, and Shuichiro, in his rare appearances, easily undermines her at every turn). Natsue and Shuichiro are in an arranged marriage due to the wishes of their parents.
- Shuichiro Tachibana (橘柊一郎 Tachibana Shūichirō )
- Ryoki's father, he mostly stays at a hotel near the company so he hardly ever returns to the complex. Shuichiro and Natsue have an arranged marriage. As such, Shuichiro feels no love toward his wife or his son. When a young Ryoki asks his father why he's never around, Shuichiro alludes to a lover, whose identity is later revealed to be Miho Odagiri, Azusa's mother. The reason for Shuichiro never showing up to meet her was because he claims he asked her to leave her life, but she always chose Azusa and her husband. The reader assumes this is because Miho thought Shuichiro would remain persistent, as he did after their first separation.
The Odagiri Family
- Azusa Odagiri (小田切梓 Odagiri Azusa )
- An old friend of Hatsumi's. They were very good friends when they were younger; he always protected her from Ryoki. When he returns, he is a popular model doing magazine work and TV commercials. His return prompts Hatsumi to realize she has loved him since childhood.
- At the beginning of the series, Azusa is outwardly nice, protective, caring and generous. As time goes on and secrets are revealed, Hatsumi discovers he is in fact manipulative, self-destructive and severely depressed. Azusa is obsessed with revenge, using all his money from modeling to pay private detectives to discover who the lover of his mother was, and consequentially who was responsible for her death. He is unconvinced that anyone truly cares for him and remains emotionally distant. Although, he has feelings for Hatsumi and cares for Shinogu as well, whom he supports his feelings for Hatsumi.
- At the end of the series he decides to take Hatsumi away from Ryoki as revenge on Shuichiro.
- Minoru Odagiri (小田切実 Odagiri Minoru )
- Azusa's father who works mostly overseas so he hardly lives with his son. Divorced Azusa's mother, supposedly because she was having an affair. He is about to remarry, but worries about Azusa's opinion of it.
- Miho Odagiri (小田切美宝 Odagiri Miho )
- Azusa's mother, Minoru's ex-wife, and Shūichirō's former lover. She left with Azusa when Minoru divorced her and she became ostracized by the other wives in the complex. She soon fell ill but remained optimistic that her lover will return to her, as he promised. Died three years prior to the beginning of the series.
The Yagi Family
- Subaru Yagi (八木すばる Yagi Subaru )
- Ryoki's dorky best friend, who is also a friend of Hatsumi. His hobbies are video games and anime (especially Gundam), and collecting models and action figures. He develops feelings for Akane, even though she often scares him, coming on too strong for him (as she's had many boyfriends and/or flings, and Subaru has never had a girlfriend). At the beginning of the series he is a second-year student at Takazono High School (Class A). Early on, it is implied that Subaru has a crush on Hatsumi, though these later fade when he develops feelings for Akane. He often worries about Ryoki and often tries to help him with Hatsumi.
- Asahi Yagi (八木あさひ Yagi Asahi )
- Subaru's older sister. She graduated from beauty school and is currently working as an intern at a hair salon. She has a secret crush on Shinogu, but fails to tell him because he is "too unattainable." She often laments the dorkiness of her brother, and is fairly good friends with the Narita siblings as she worries about them often.
- Mariko Takato (高遠万里子 Takatō Mariko)
- The Tachibana family's maid. She has been in love with Shuichiro Tachibana ever since she was young, but he does not reciprocate her feelings. She's one of the few who truly cares about Ryoki, helping Hatsumi see that she is misreading his loneliness, jealousy, and his love for her as him being a cold, aloof tyrant.
- Rina Katsuragi (葛城リナ Katsuragi Rina )
- Owner of a modeling agency and Azusa's manager. She has claimed her relationship with Azusa is one of "give and take," which started when she took him in as a runaway. He initially offered to sleep with her for money - instead, she took him on as a model. She cares for Azusa, though her emotions don't seem to matter to him.
- Shuji Kazama (風間柊司 Kazama Shūji )
- Shinogu's friend from work, and roommate. He has a crush on Akane and is constantly flirting with her, fully aware that she is going out with Subaru. Despite being very flirtatious, he offers good advice to those characters experiencing relationship problems especially Shinogu and he doesn't attempt to destroy Akane's relationship with Subaru (in fact, he helps them to grow closer.) Kazama refers to himself as a "good guy."
- Ruri Saionji (西園寺瑠璃 Saionji Ruri )
- A girl who attends Teitoko Girls Academy and is on the same intellectual level as Ryoki. After learning of Hatsumi and Ryoki's relationship, Natsue Tachibana makes multiple attempts to have her son enter a relationship with Ruri instead, considering her more deserving of Ryoki. Ruri is obsessed with beating Ryoki on practice exams and proving she is more intelligent than he is.
Some time after the completion of the Hot Gimmick manga, a novel with an alternate ending titled Hot Gimmick S was created. It was written by Megumi Nishizaki and contains original images by Miki Aihara. The story focuses on the relationship between Hatsumi and Shinogu, with Hatsumi narrating. Characters from the manga also make brief appearances as well and play very little roles in the story. A few new characters are introduced and are exclusive to the novel.
The novel also introduces new nicknames never used in the English translation of the manga. For instance, Hatsumi calls Akane "Aka-chin," Hikaru "Hii-kun," and at the age of two refers to herself as "Hami-tan" as opposed to "Hami-chan," as she does in the manga.
At the very end of the novel a few pages from volume nine of the manga are included, in which Shinogu and Hatsumi recall childhood memories while trapped in an elevator, though this section was falsely advertised as being an entirely new chapter about the two.
- Wakana Nanami (Nanami Wakana)
- A friend of Shinogu's, who works with him as a tour conductor. She frequently visits him at the café where he works. Upon meeting Hatsumi, Wakana urges her to "root" for her in her quest to have Shinogu as her boyfriend. She is ambitious, good-looking, and despite her pursuit of Shinogu, is not unkind. Shinogu calls her "Nana".
- Satoko Shinoda (Shinoda Satoko)
- Shihoko's mother and a probation officer. She is assigned to Yuko's family, among others. She dies before Akane is born.
- Yuko Tanizaki (Tanizaki Yuko)
- Shinogu's biological mother and an old friend of Shihoko Narita. Shihoko's mother, a probation officer, offers Yuko's family support: both her parents have criminal records (her father for theft, her mother for drugs), and Yuko routinely shoplifts. Years later she becomes an alcoholic, dates an abusive gambler, and often beats her son.
- Yuko's boyfriend
- Yuko's boyfriend, never named. He has no job and amasses drastic gambling debts. When he loses, he vents his anger by beating Yuko and Shinogu.
- Satoru Shionoya (Shionoya Satoru)
- Shihoko's first love and biological father of Shinogu. After being introduced to Yuko, he falls in love with her instead, and the two elope. Years later he leaves Yuko and Shinogu to attend university, claiming that "this is not his life."
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