1 WORD. 3 LETTERS. RHYMES WITH “VEX.” When Kazusa enters high school, she joins the Literature Club, where she leaps from reading innocent fiction to diving into the literary classics. But these novels are a bit more…adult than she was prepared for. Between euphemisms like fresh dewy grass and pork stew, crushing on the boy next door, and knowing you want to do that one thing before you die–discovering your budding sexuality is no easy feat! As if puberty wasn’t awkward enough, the club consists of a brooding writer, the prettiest girl in school, an agreeable comrade, and an outspoken prude. Fumbling over their own discomforts, these five teens get thrown into chaos over three little letters: S…E…X…!
Title: O Maidens In Your Savage Season (Araburu Kisetsu no Otome-domo yo)
Author: Mari Okada
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Slice-of-life
From Anohana to Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Mari Okada is something of a rising star in the anime industry. Know for her poignant, sometimes sentimental, and sometimes imaginative prowess in scriptwriting, she brings a certain life to productions that can’t be summed up in a single sound bite. Having the chance to debut as a director with her manga turned animated film Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms, she returns with another project manga project soon to be turned anime: O Maidens in Your Savage Season. Combining the experiences accumulated thus far in past script writing opportunities, the debut volume is nothing short of delightful.
Where adolescents can be a tricky time for any teenager, the metamorphosis girls and boys undergo both in body and mind can seem like a real transcontinental trip. Kazusa Onodera, a high school girl enjoying her youthful days with her fellow literature club members is about to step on this crazy ride after her reading circle gets into a really pertinent reading of sex. Never having to seriously consider the implications of the act and seeing her childhood friend in a whole new light, she will soon learn that growing into adulthood has no pitstops. Or to quote Barret Wallace from Final Fantasy VII: “….There ain’t no gettin’ offa this train we’re on, till we get to the end of the line.” Why I used that quote? Please don’t ask me. Mixing one part humor and one part frankness, Okada’s style of writing is really succinct and conversational this time around which makes it a great read in general. Having Onodera struggle with her glimpse into a world she barely knows and seeing those close to her beginning to change, it really is a beautiful sentiment of what it means to grow up. Of course, as beautiful as the sentiment is, the characters find themselves dealing with new uneasy feelings and even more uneasy discussions – especially in Onodera’s case having to reconcile whether she wants to gain a deeper understanding of what sex is and her now unknown feelings for Izumi. However, for as many turbulent moments this volume has, you can always count on the humor not being too far behind and always ready to inject a few jokes here and there.
Aside from Onodera’s own fraught trip to adulthood, the reader is also introduced to the other literature club member character arcs playing out in tandem such as a budding romance for the stern and prudish Rika Sonezaki, and my personal favorite, Hitoha Hongo trying to get her less than PG-13 novel published that lacks a little “personal experience”. Being something of an inexperienced writer myself, I can fully identify having the necessary gusto and adeptness but unable to make meaningful connections that can resonate with others. Well, aside from never writing a novel and not being a high school girl or girl at all, I can mostly identify. Having such distinctive characters and personalities leading the way, this really feels like a finely crafted drama of youthful souls dealing with real issues instead of unnecessary flourishes and fantasizing you find in most works. Then again, with Okada never one to shy away from imagery and references, you can find them aplenty cleverly and humorously tucked in. For more learned and studious readers, Osamu Dazai name shows up on more than one occasion in the margins and footnotes so take that grain of knowledge as you will.
Having little to no knowledge of Nao Emoto, I can consider that irrelevant to how much I like her artwork. Having the style and strokes of a shoujo artist, the character designs refreshingly don’t feel like it. Wildly expressive and cunningly cute, Emoto really does capture the feel and attitude of adolescent life in profusion with each turn of the page making it a real joy to see what happens next. If there are any negative sides to it, I would say that some of the panels can get carried with extra details (I.E: some Hitoha’s online conversations is a good example), but happens to be on rare occasions and see it being less of a thing as the chapters progress. Admittedly, while I’m a fan of Onodera’s design, another favorite would have to be Asada, one of Izumi’s admirers that looks cute, but more of a hungry wolf ready to devour her prey. Can’t compliment Emoto enough for capturing her introductory image perfectly albeit heavy-handed on the allusion.
Already stopping on a good point for the next volume, O Maidens in Your Savage Season is series that hits all the right notes and then some for a truly engaging read. More than a little excited for the upcoming anime series that will air starting July 2019 and a wealth of source material to go through, this already shaping up to be a promising experience. If you’re coming in expecting a fluffy and by the books shoujo type of story and really want it, best to leave now. However, if you are looking for a read that gets down to the brass tacks of ascending into adulthood and wickedly humorous as it is evocative in presence, you will not be disappointed.
Final Verdict: Sometimes sweet and other times bitter, the first volume of O Maidens in Your Savage Season is a perfect marriage of drama and humor. Dealing with sex with a keen and introspective eye, it is an engaging read as it is heart-warming having wonderfully written characters and refreshing art style to match. Whatever you do, it is highly worth checking out, to say the least.