A Manga by Ryuta Amazume
Most ecchi manga (lewd comics, but not necessarily porn) is pretty cringe-inducing and designed for teenagers to laugh at (and other things), but Toshiue no Hito Vol 1 (Literally “Older Girlfriend/Woman” etc.) stands apart from an entire genre largely due to it taking itself somewhat seriously. Rather than existing as a stereotypical comedy series (although there are gags), this is an actual well-paced, well-written romance story that was popular enough to warrant a Japanese TV adaptation at one point. Yes, comedy manga like this can be good, take for example Sweat and Soap or Futaba-Kun Change! which I have reviewed on here, but most are merely a cash-grab in the same way that the seemingly unlimited Isekai shows are this past decade. Toshiue no Hito harkens back to the era of manga and anime OVAs from the late eighties/ early nineties and has a “soul” that makes this very engrossing. It tackles a very real problem that couple could experience, namely the main character’s trauma-induced impotence causing him to see himself as unlovable, and the couple’s story of how they are overcoming the situation.
“Toshiue no Hito (“Older Girlfriend”) is an adult manga by Ryuta Amazume about the relationship between a young university student and an older woman. Tsutomu is starting his second year of university when he has a dream about a girl he never remembered meeting. As they walk to their club’s stall at the university fair, he sees what looks like a cute teenage girl applying to join them. Who looks identical to the one he dreamt of.”
First and foremost, yes this book does have some nudity and brief scenes of sexual intimacy, although these are not done in a gratuitous manner and are part of the actual narrative in the same way that similar scenes are peppered into just about every TV drama these days. That said, this comic is not targeted at children and would be inappropriate for anyone under fifteen or so. I appreciate that the author recognized this, and made the characters college-aged as I feel there are too many book that put middle and high-schoolers in adult situations and the acceptance of that by anime fans has always weirded me out a tad. There is however a bit of an undertone of fetishizing the fact that the female lead is somewhat smaller in stature with many mistaking her for somebody ten years younger, but this isn’t dwelled on and is never alluded to in a way that makes me wonder about the intentions of the book. If anything, the situation gives her a similar hang-up that she has to overcome in that her age and appearance do not match.
Perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks someone could have with this is that Tsutomu is a rather unlikable main character, one that encompasses all of the tropes and hang-ups that make characters in 90’s “harem animes” terrible people, and this isn’t even a story in that genre! He’s weak willed, indecisive, obtuse and makes so many terrible decisions, that he somewhat backslides at the end of this book when most manga would start the character’s redemption arc. Having read more volumes, I can attest that he does get better, but I would forgive any reader that gave up after this last chapter due to wanting to literally beat up Tsutomu. Fans of the Rumiko Takahashi property “Maison Ikkoku” will likely see similarities in the story, especially in later volumes when you find out about Ageha’s backstory. I won’t write it off as a “rip-off” considering how different it is and the fact that EVERYTHING was inspired by Takahashi until recently, but the similarity is there.
Overall, this book took me by surprise because I frankly assumed this was going to be terrible once I realized it was an ecchi manga release. Had this been released a decade or two earlier, I have no doubt that this would have had an anime adaptation and would be some kind of underground classic. Yeah, it’s a tad derivative, and volume one somewhat obscures the tone of later releases, but that can be said about practically any anime or manga release. if you are looking for a somewhat more mature romance story, maybe Toshiue no Hito is something to look into. I am not sure how one could read this, but I assume it’s on any number of scanned manga translation sites. This used to be on Amazon, under Kindle Unlimited, but it was apparently put up by a bootlegger and has since been taken down.