Ever since I began my manga explorations, I’ve made an effort to check out as many manga genres as I could. But it wasn’t until recently that I availed myself of the opportunity to examine a work of hentai (a.k.a. erotic) manga. I was aware it was out there, of course, and had even skimmed over some of it online. But Chihiro Harumi’s Velvet Kiss (Project-H) is the first full-blown example I’ve read. A four-volume sex comedy, the premiere entry in the series comes shrink-wrapped with a large “Warning: EXPLICIT 18+ Only” label on its cover. The label is an appropriate one.
The hero of Velvet Kiss is a hapless young office worker named Shin Nitta. After a lucky day at work where even the office vending machines seem to be paying off, Shin is dismayed to learn that he’s been tricked into signing a document saddling him with an 80 million yen (just over a million U.S. dollars) debt. This debt will be frozen, he’s told, on one condition: that he befriend and become a companion to a spoiled young buxom beauty named Kano.
Our patsy hero (who never even wonders if this absurd piece of paperwork will hold up legally) has been set up, of course, though to what purpose is clearly meant to be the series’ mystery. Much of the focus in the first volume, then, is on Shin’s introduction to Kano and her world. The girl lives in a hotel, has a bevy of wastrel friends and appears completely unfettered by money worries. She’s also sexually assertive, and through the course of the first book we get a variety of sweat-drenched sex scenes.