YMC #9: Shitsurakuen

Last time on YMC, we took a look at a serious drama. Now it’s time to enter the world of bizarre logic (even for anime standards), a yuri harem. This is Shitsurakuen.

Yup, a yuri harem

deviantart by ~Kamykori

Alternative Title: Paradise Lost.

Number of Volumes: 6, split into 24 chapters and 5 bonus chapters.

Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Harem, School Life, Sci-fi, Yuri, Shounen.

Plot Summary: Sora Himoto is a transfer student with a sense of justice and dreams of becoming a knight. Upon arriving at Utopia Gakuen, she learns of a virtual reality-like game called Exaclan played by the male students in which they use girls as weapons in battles for status and treat them as commodities. Seeing one of these girls being abused, she steps in and through some sort of error, unwittingly becomes the first female participant of the game.

Sora and her SobameSora, her harem and one of the “mad men”.

The best way I could describe this manga in today’s standards is Revolutionary Girl Utena meets Black Rock Shooter TV. This is a (mostly) yuri shounen with lots of action, a plot that makes sense on paper, but difficult to understand what they wanted to accomplish and like many shounen, it takes a while (meaning till the final volume) for things to make sense…and even then it’s still confusing. In short, it’s weird.

Let us begin with the good parts. First off, the manga is, for the most part, a yuri harem. It is clear that most of the girls fall for our lovable heroine, or at least have some romantic interest in her. The antagonists are the rude boys who treat the girls as servants and not human beings due to the school system. The fight scenes are fine, though I am not much of a good judge when it comes to drawn battles over animated ones. In this manga, the drawings are clear enough for readers to imagine how the battle would have been like in animated form. It’s like a combination of shounen and cuteness. Hmm, what else? Oh, the girls are cute. Not hot, but cute. Initially weakened to the point of being masochistically insane fantasy fetish girls, they later become more likable after being freed from their captives in a duel between Sora and the macho mad men. The rescued girls portray classic stereotypes, even Sora herself is infected with shounen protagonist serum (Her greatest weapon is her persistence and courage and her greatest weakness is her low intelligence). As for the antagonists, hoo boy. You REALLY need to see for yourselves. They’re…something else…especially the mastermind.

I have not said much about Sora herself so I will do so right now. She’s a pretty cool heroine who is worthy of all the affection her harem blessed her with. She earned every single heart she wooed with her charms, courage and silliness. Also, she’s pretty good in combat. She isn’t unbeatable but she fights till her last breath every time is what I am saying. She still has the aforementioned “shounen protagonist serum” running through her veins but it is to be expected when watching or reading a shounen.

The bad parts…well, patience is a virtue and you’ll require a lot of patience when reading this manga. The whole aged patriarch system is simple on the surface, but unnecessarily complicated within. As mentioned above, you will need a little patience with the main plot and I cannot guarantee that once you reach the climax, the explanation will make any sense. Another problem is that this manga’s drama is incredibly melodramatic. Like BRS TV, the drama is insane and possibly laughable, depending on how critical you are as a young adult animeniac. It’s clear the writers were inspired by Utena when writing this manga’s plot but I’m not sure how well they approached the symbolic portion of the show, as both Utena and BRS TV are known for their heavy symbolism (The former obviously more than the latter). The third negative is the ending. While I personally enjoyed the ending for what it was, it also left me with questions as to whether Sora made the right decision or it was forced. You’ll have to read for yourselves to find out. I think the ending is controversial enough for a debate.

In conclusion, if you’ve seen and tolerated the glorious insanity that was Black Rock Shooter TV or are simply curious , you won’t have any trouble picking this one up. Plenty of melodrama and “yuri harem goodness” await readers brave enough to endure the madness. However, I’ll admit that this is not what I’d call a MUST READ epic masterpiece. It’s more like a…cat killing curiosity. For the people who did enjoy this manga, awesome. It’s good to know there were nation members who found a way to love this manga.

About OG-Man

Yuri and Slice of Life are my anime passion.
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13 Responses to YMC #9: Shitsurakuen

  1. MarkS00N says:

    The problem of Shitsurakuen is: it is canceled so the writer must push whatever s/he has for the manga in so limited chapter and the result?
    Boom, it is go downhill fast…

    Also, I hate the serial ending (not the bonus ending where that comes in the tankoubon) because SPOILER it appears the mangaka try to change every single girl to go straight SPOILER END…
    I don’t know if s/he is forced to end that way or if s/he really wanted to make story about yuri phase in school life thus everyone shouldn’t be gay once they are no longer at school but it left me with a bitter taste…

    On the bright side, this series convince me to make my own version of utena-like story…

    Like

  2. Overlord-G says:

    Made a few modifications to the review to make it a little more appealing.

    Like

  3. Lena K. says:

    You just asked me something similar and I want to know your opinion as well,
    how do you like the end pairing? Do you think Sora should have been with someone else or maybe even with no one at all?

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      The ending was yurirific and part of me accepted the ending. The other half, on the other hand…had the following three girls as superior choices over the one that was chosen:

      #3: Tomoko. She had the hots for Sora and her minor squabbles with Reiko were amusing.
      #2: Yuki. Her faith in Sora succeeding and her ideals is what won me over and convinced me that she would be a great lover for Sora.
      #1: Koharu. The first and best one for being the most loyal of all. Not once did she consider betraying Sora, even in the end she refused to stop loving her.

      Like

      • Lena K. says:

        I’m really missing Reiko here, but I do agree with your list, especially with your number one.
        And I’m quite happy you didn’t name Tsuki or even Karin.

        Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Reiko’s attachment to Sora was one of respect, I feel, rather than love. She was a fun tsundere character though.

      Tsuki…we already discussed her and Karin’s a guy…plus I saw absolutely no connection between the two, or that other guy, who to this day I have NO IDEA what his purpose was in the story.

      Also, pardon my English here but…FUCK STOCKHOLM SYNDROME!

      Like

  4. JC says:

    Dunno how many times i’ve seen a comment on this manga start with the words “the problem with Shitsurakuen…”. It kind of upsets me…
    I, gave it a shot thanks to Lena’s review and i squealed over it with a friend who also loved it. I actually like Tsuki, i like the so called “final choice”. But maybe i’m just messed up because of this http://goo.gl/OIUvnd (do i need to explain myself? There’s no way in hell i’m forgetting a scene like that, ever)
    I was expecting something like the harem turning out to be just a “phase” since the very beginning, though it shocked me when i actually see the girls marrying each one’s captors… I could be complaining about so much other things but… what for?
    Yet, i have to accept i would actually love to see some doujin about Yuki x Sora or Koharu x Sora (loved those two all along but they REALLY pierced my heart at the final/extra chapters).

    Like

    • Overlord-G says:

      Sorry JC. I couldn’t get myself to like the manga very much even before the big reveal. It didn’t click with me the right way like other insane media did, such as Black Rock Shooter TV or Symphogear G. Maybe angst overload doesn’t go well with me.

      Like

  5. Zackery Danh says:

    I didn’t think it sucked, but definitely not worth the reread. I’ll state the minor issues first.

    Sora is too much of a plot device, she doesn’t feel realistic because everything about her character is just about perfect. Except the whole, good and bad thing, but that’s not that big of a deal and doesn’t make her do anything bad.

    The main heroine (can’t remember her name, it’s been too long) isn’t that appealing as a character, she manipulated, hurt, and did many bad things, but got next to no repercussions at the end.

    The part where other girl who liked Sora at the end was just plain stupid. It didn’t go anywhere, didn’t progress the plot, and just didn’t make sense.

    The guys. I understand that being surrounded by something can change your thoughts, but all of them, really? And honestly, they acted so malicious, that even if it wasn’t really their fault, it is really hard to forgive them.

    Alright, now that those are out of the way, let’s get to the elephant in the room. The thing that made me genuinely mad… the ending. It. Was. So. RUSHED! I actually, unlike some, have no problem following complicated or convoluted stories, but if you are complicated, you should stay that way. The ending was the most rushed ending I’ve seen since Kurogane, and that ending basically forgot like… 50% of the manga. After going back and counting, they didn’t actually get all the devils(?), they forgot to show one, the romance felt forced, and the whole golden apple thing was just kinda ridiculous without the proper pacing. On top of that, the whole thing between Sora and the other girl was just forced. I like the whole interpretation of the hero idea, but couldn’t they have done it without rushing the ending. If done properly, it could have been a dozen chapters longer and way better developed, but of course not.

    Overall, it’s okay, but definitely not worth reading more than once. (I’m a pretty harsh critic, but I like that about myself. If it’s good, I give a good review, if not, then no.)

    Like

    • OG-Man says:

      Mary Sues/Gary Stus don’t bother me. It’s how they’re written. Sora didn’t come off like a Mary Sue to me.

      You mean the main love interest or the one Sora hooks up with. Not the best choice but whatever.

      Technically all the girls liked Sora, some more than others.

      Like

      • Zackery Danh says:

        Yeah, that wasn’t clear. I agree it’s how they are written, and I can forgive perfect characters if done properly, but they are just less interesting to me.

        As for what I meant by the end, in the last chapter, one of the girls (can’t remember her name) said she still loves Sora, but they didn’t really take that anywhere.

        Anyways, those I can forgive, it’s that rushed ending that annoyed me the most.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Wheldor says:

    Oh boy, that manga woke me up in the morning XD

    I was looking for shounen mangas with female protagonist. I really like female leads, where the protgonist is a strong hearthed and skillful, preferebly smart and strategist characte. But they are so rare, every goddam protagonist is some one-in-a-million dense, stupid, or just simply flat guy. So I was really happy when i found it.
    And then the first chapter ended with that huge yuri foreshadowing, and I raised my eyebrow, slowly drank a split of my tea, and said: “Hm…I like where this is going!”. In retrospective, the cover of chapter 1 shoud have gave me a hint. And I was happy. I always missed yuri harems, and this, this one was truly a yuri harem.
    And this manga was amazing! Never felt so excited while reading since years. And I must differ, the chracters are not the stereotypical shounen-female characters. Okay, the protagonist is essentially a female version of a One Piece pirate but it suits her so well.
    One of the best things in the manga was the huge amount of emotion I got from the frames. The face of despair, hope, courrage, fear, and so on was so well drawn…especially the frieghtened faces of the characters, that was amazing. Also, the amount of emotional rollelcoaster one girl went trought was really great. And it was not predictable. I mean, there fought, they lost, they stood up, they fought again, lost again, find hope again, only to lose again and find another way. Sometimes, they gave up, sometimes they don’t. It felt so real. So real!
    And the yuri part was also well timed. It was not the center of the manga, but had always its parts inside it. Like when Sora found a way to trigger those warning headaches by pleasuring Reiko, that was hilarious. And when she asked Koharu to show her sing of “V”, and she just blushed and Sora felt guild. The humor was also in place. I mean, the guillable protagonist, the cute girls, the funny antagonists, the silly ideas and solutions were fit in perfectly with those scary and…and really despairing scenes.
    One thing I really enjoyed are the small details hidden between the lines. It made the world so real for me. Like the exploit Shoujo used to fight with two weapons, or the realitionships between the student council members. Or the parts of each characters philosophy gave to us in small chunks. They are the reason I don’t rush with a manga.
    I got two things I didn’t liked. Only two. The first one was the VR bullshit. Yeah, I know, it has a tradition in manga and anime, like “Hey, you want some game-like system with fighting and harem. Make up a VR-game, that’s easy”. And its easy…and cheap. Really cheap way to make a system. But it turned out really well in this manga, so its not a true negative, just a cliche i dont like. The second one was those asspulls before the finale. Like when Sora’s glove got ripped, and Karin (even he’s the bad guy) replaced it. Or when Karin didn’t give a fuck for Sora at the beginning. Or when it turs out Tsuki made the game, and there was a story with amnesia, and it turned out all the guys are good guys they just has a different point of wiev…even Reiko stated at one point that the girls had to wear earplugs in the student council (again, a brilliand little detail, chill run down my spine when i read it) and…oh yeah, that’s the ending. I dont blame the author on the ending. It’s a true shame it got cancelled. You know what I did: I gave this manga a 9/10, and made my own version of the finale! Do the same 😀

    p.s.: what’s with the stockholm syndrome? Not just here, I almost feel like every second female character has some form of it….wierd…it’s not bothering me, it just makes me think…

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