" "Wow! Watta fun book! You read it right-to-left and it's got such cute art..."
"STOP! You fool! It's MANGA! It turns women into quivering fanatics who wear shockingly short, Japanese school-girl uniforms!"
"Nonsense! I'd never, uh...say! What colors do they come in?"
--John Lustig, "Last Kiss"
"Oh, god, Paul," Josie said wearily as she saw her boyfriend walk into the apartment with a bag in his hands. More specifically, another bag. More specifically, another bag with 'Rising Sun Comics' on the side, not two weeks after the last time. "I thought we discussed this. In fact, there's no 'I thought'. I know we discussed this."
Paul gave her a sheepish grin. "They had a sale, Josie. Thirty percent off all manga. I'm just lucky I got there when I did, the stuff was flying off the shelves."
"Oh, for--Paul!" Josie waved her hand around the cluttered apartment. Paul's addiction to manga and anime had been an endearing quirk when they'd first started dating, but two months of being gradually crowded out of their shared apartment by DVDs, comics, and junk had made it seem less endearing and more obsessive. "We already agreed on this! There's no room for this stuff anymore, not unless we get a bigger place, and we can't afford a bigger place if you spend all your money on this...stuff!"
"It's not stuff!" Paul said, his face betraying months of frustration. "It's...Josie, if you only gave it a chance. It's not just a guy thing. Lots of women like manga."
Josie sighed. "Paul, I did give it a chance. I watched that 'Akira' thing you wanted me to see, and that 'Pat Labor' thing too. I've given it all the chances I'm willing to give, and--" She put up her hands. "You know what? We're not having this argument again. Just go back to the store, return that stuff, and try to control your...anime habit, like you promised me you would. Because this is always something we're not going to have in common, you're just going to need to accept that, and I'm not going to take a backseat to--" --she pointed to a hanging wall scroll-- "--to pictures of schoolgirls flashing their panties." She saw the look on his face. "I'm not saying you have to give it all up, but...you have to balance your hobby with your girlfriend. Unless you don't want to have both."
Paul looked down for a long time. Finally, he reached into the bag. "I'll return it all," he said. "Except this." He pulled out a small, thick book. "I bought this one for you. It's called 'Magical Omnipotent Girl Akane', the store owner recommended it when I mentioned that you, um...that you weren't really into manga." Josie could tell from his awkward tone that he probably said a lot more than that, but she let it slide. "He said that it was a really good story to get non-manga fans interested, it's really cheap, and..." He handed her the book. "Just try reading it, while I'm at the store returning everything else. Please?"
Paul's thick glasses magnified his puppy-dog eyes, and Josie decided instantly to relent. She seemed to have won on the big issue, and if all it cost her was accepting a gift from her boyfriend and reading one book, she'd do it. It seemed like a fair compromise. She opened the book to see a picture of a schoolgirl with big, liquid eyes and a vacant expression on her face, standing in front of a man in some sort of armored suit and saying, "Yes, master..." A small caption at the bottom said, 'To be continued...'
Paul must have picked up the puzzled expression on her face, because he said, "It's manga, honey. They use the original Japanese artwork, and in Japan, they read right-to-left. You have to start at the back of the book and read towards the beginning." He gave a little grin. "Little spoiler-y if you're not used to it, I guess."
Josie rolled her eyes. As if everything about the story wasn't irritating enough, now she had to read backwards? "Fine. You go to the store, I'll sit here and try to relearn how to read the English language." She plopped down on the couch, as she heard the door close.
'Magical Omnipotent Girl Akane'? Ugh. She settled in with the book, her eyes automatically reading the wrong page first on each double-spread. 'Akane' seemed to be the schoolgirl--what was with the Japanese obsession with schoolgirls? She was going through a typical day at school, or at least what Josie assumed was a typical day at school for a Japanese girl, and...gun-toting terrorists attacked. OK, that wasn't insane or anything. They took the class hostage, uh-huh, and Akane's doofy guy friend, Jinya, tried to fight back, and...oh. That's why they call her 'Omnipotent Girl'. She got caught in the cross-fire, and the bullets just bounced off of her. The terrorists all run away, but Akane...
Actually, Josie thought, this is kind of clever. Akane's bullet-proof and super-strong, but since she doesn't know how she got these super-powers, she's scared of getting into fights in case they wear off. So she goes to Mister Ito, the school guidance counselor, for help, and... Josie nodded. The story was starting to make sense. Mister Ito hypnotizes her, makes a second personality that comes and goes when he says "Brainwashing time, Akane". The second personality is a big-time super-hero, fights the terrorists, and... Josie giggled. Jinya just learned the trigger phrase.
After a while, Josie stopped even noticing the back-to-front layouts. The book was really funny. The comedy was broad, but Akane was a likeable girl, and the supporting cast seemed to be good. Maybe she had been too rough on this. She found herself racing through the pages to the climactic battle, where Akane fights Professor Null, the leader of the terrorists, and--Josie's eyes widened. The terrorist leader figured out how to re-hypnotize Akane? She turned to the last page, the one she realized she'd already read, where Akane stared vacantly at her new master. Grrr! Why did it have to end on a cliff-hanger?
Just then, Paul walked in. Josie looked up at him. "How was it?" he asked.
Josie blushed just a little. Time to eat some crow. "Um...next time you go to 'Rising Sun'...could you see if they have Book Two of this?"
The next week, Josie found herself attending her first meeting of the USC Otaku Club. "What's an otaku?" she whispered to Paul, as they all filed into a darkened auditorium.
"Japanese for fan. Big-time fan." They all hushed, as the screen flared into life.
Josie had never heard of the film, something called 'Macross Plus', but Paul insisted she'd like it. Much to her surprise, Josie did. The animation was beautiful, fluid and expressive, and the slow pace and awkwardly translated dialogue didn't seem to bother her like it had with the other anime she'd watched. Instead, she just settled into her seat, and let the movie wash over her. It just felt nice. The whole story felt like a warm, soft blanket covering her, and she felt so content to sit here and keep watching. The plot didn't always make a ton of sense, but that didn't matter to her. She felt like she could do this forever. She felt a happy quiver in the back of her mind as she realized that Paul had tons of anime back at the apartment.
She felt a happy quiver elsewhere as the story neared its climax. The evil computer, Sharon Apple, was hypnotizing everyone with her siren song, brainwashing them. Josie flashed back to Akane, staring with vacant eyes, and suddenly she felt a warm, liquid sensation between her thighs. She rubbed her legs together, listening to Sharon Apple sing to Isamu and still his mind, and imagined herself as one of the brainwashed slaves...Josie let out a long, shuddery sigh as she had a quiet orgasm right there in the theater. After that, Isamu's victory seemed, well...anti-climactic.
Book Two was even better than Book One, Josie thought. Mister Ito had managed to switch triggers with Professor Null, so that Akane now had three personalities--normal, scared Akane, super-hero Akane, and evil warrior Akane. The fight scene where Mister Ito and Professor Null were shouting triggers back and forth, while Akane switched between smashing up army tanks and terrorist tanks, was brilliant.
Josie grabbed another stick of pocky as she continued to read. Ooh, she thought, I never saw that coming! Professor Null just hypnotized Mister Ito, and now he's got them both under his control! Argh! Not another 'To Be Continued...'
Just then, Paul got home. "Hi!" he said. He gave her a kiss. "I was thinking tonight we could watch 'Cowboy Bebop'. I thought you might like to--"
She flashed him a grin. "Seen it. In fact, I think I've seen everything we have in the house now." She grabbed her purse. "Is 'Rising Sun' still open?"
Paul practically gaped at her in happiness. "I, um...yeah, should be. For a little while, at least. Um, why?"
"We can go there and get something new to watch--and I can see if he's got Book Three in stock."
Josie winced as she pricked herself with the needle again. She would have been upset, except that she was so excited. Her very first anime convention!
She held up her costume. The schoolgirl outfit looked good for a first try--Josie had learned to sew from her mother, but never thought she'd be using it to make an actual costume of her own. But when she'd read about cosplay, she knew she had to try it, especially with a con coming up. She'd already managed to find a tweed jacket so that Paul could go as Mister Ito. As soon as she'd dyed her hair blue, she'd make a perfect Akane.
Book Three had inspired her. In fact, she thought with a little giggle, it had done more than inspire her. When Jinya had saved Akane by using the trigger phrase on her, he'd accidentally created another personality--bimbo sex-kitten Akane. Josie remembered reading the scenes where sex-kitten Akane "seduced" Jinya, using her super-strength to hold him down on the bed, and...Josie gave a little shiver, and remembered where her other hand had been while she was turning the pages with her free hand. Who would have thought all this stuff could be so...exciting?
But she hadn't been able to find Book Four at 'Rising Sun', and that was frustrating, as it had ended on another cliff-hanger...sex-kitten Akane had accidentally hypnotized Jinya, and now she didn't know how to wake him up. Hopefully, she'd be able to find it at the convention. For now, she'd just have to content herself with all the other manga and anime at the apartment...except that she'd burned through it all in just three weeks! She sighed, and gave another quick look around for something to watch.
None of the shelves in the living room contained anything new, but when she was rummaging around the bedroom, she spotted a small box in the closet. It was on a high shelf, but Josie spotted just a bit of a DVD sleeve sticking out of the top. "Been holding out on me, huh, Paul?" she muttered to herself, grabbing a chair. She climbed up, and pulled down what turned out to be a whole bunch of DVDs. "Score!" she whispered, grabbing one pretty much at random and taking it out into the living room.
She popped it in the player and set it going. Within moments, she was sighing happily as the stylized animation sank into her mind. Paul was right, she thought absently. Watching anime is fun. It's just so soothing to...to...
This anime was different. It was about a team of ninja women hunting demons, and that seemed pretty normal to Josie by now, but...one of the ninja women had been possessed by the demon, and--her breasts grew three sizes! Josie suddenly went from relaxed to very, very tense, but it was a good kind of tense. She felt her pussy dampen as the evil demon-ninja used her bouncing breasts to seduce and hypnotize one of her former team-mates, and...ooh, suddenly Josie just had to slide her hand into her jeans, because this anime was nothing like the other stuff Paul had shown her. The demon-girl was manifesting ectoplasmic tentacles, and...oh, god! Josie clenched her thighs together around her hand, watching the girl on screen get violated by the slimy tendrils. Oh, thought Josie, this just felt so good--it was better than sex, it was sex combined with anime...she felt an orgasm building, and when the demonic energies possessed the second ninja as well, Josie let it spill over. She spent the rest of the afternoon with the box, and by the time Paul came home, she was practically exhausted.
But not so exhausted that she couldn't make time to watch some more with him.
Josie blew a strand of blue hair out of her eyes, keeping them riveted on the screen as Miko Mido "dueled" with Fubuki Kai. Behind her, Paul peeled her panties off underneath her schoolgirl outfit. "Yes, that's it," she gasped. "Slide your naughty tentacle into me..."
Josie was up to Book Nine now, and the series showed no sign of stopping. She didn't want it to stop, either. It just kept getting better and better. She let out a low moan, not quite sure whether the sex or the hentai was turning her on more. She was glad she didn't have to choose. She had both her boyfriend and her hobby, and she was so glad to have a common interest to share with Paul. She leaned back onto his cock, gasping for air as both she and Paul came at once.
Behind her, Paul said, his voice shaky, "So, I was thinking...do you want to try playing Final Fantasy XI?"