Length: 6 Volumes with 23 + 1 Chapters
Scanlation Group: Mako-scans
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Harem, Comedy, School Setting, Duels, Psychological, Yuri
Story: 7/10 (not considering chapter 23 and 24)
Himoto Sora, a strong-willed and protective girl, enters a special elite school called “Utopia Gakuen”, in which all students take part in a virtual reality-like game that was invented by the founders of the school themselves. In this game the boys use the girls as weapons to fight each other in order to gain more strength, a higher status and to ultimately own more weapons. And since the winner of each battle will gain possession of the loser’s weapon, the girls are treated like objects rather than real humans. Upon seeing all the girls suffering from being abused and dominated by the boys, Sora decides to help and protect the ones who are treated like mere objects and become the knight of justice who will change the wrongful rules of this game. Fortunately, thanks to a bug in the game, she, just like all the other boys, receives the device that lets her participate in the game as a fighter and not as a weapon.
I’m not saying that a story like that has never been done before and I’m also aware of the fact that some people might even think that a game like this is just a little too weird, but at least I think that the idea behind this is quite unique and also greatly implemented.
It’s rare for me to fall in love with a story within the first few pages, but Shitsurakuen really shows off what it has to offer from the very start. It was interesting, it was entertaining and best of all, it has a girl kicking some evil guys’ butts. I usually don’t like shounen yuri manga that much, simply because there is often too much random fighting going on, most girls have gigantic boobs and in many cases yuri moments happen randomly and obviously just to hand out some eye candy for the readers. But in this case, the fighting is not just bearable but enjoyable to read, not all girls have humongous breasts and the yuri happening is rather subtle and even comprehensible.
In short this is a really great manga IF you only consider the first 20 chapters. Now you might wonder ‘What is wrong with the last few chapters?’ and answering this is simple. Within the first few chapters the manga had built up a very solid story with great characters and a lot of unexpected but still (somehow) comprehensible twists and turns. So since the manga came across with such a promising storyline, I was expecting the ending to be just as great and positively surprising as the rest of the story was. And we can actually say that I was especially surprised with what I read in chapter 23, but it was definitely not a positive surprise. In fact, the ending was so bad and the author received so many bad comments about this, that he had to completely rewrite it, resulting in chapter 24, which was definitely better than the prior ending but it still is quite unsatisfying. And that is the reason why I simply pretend that neither chapter 23 nor chapter 24 ever existed. I loved this manga way too much to let that shitty ending ruin the whole story for me, so let’s all just pretend it never existed in the first place.
Besides the messed up ending, here are some more things that irritated me through the whole manga:
- What kind of girls would voluntarily enter a school that has a game going on that totally degrades them to mere playthings of some boys with serious anger management problems?
- Also why won’t the girls just leave the school? The game only works within the school grounds, so leaving is the most simple action they could take to escape their tormentors.
- But what probably irritated me the most is how the manga managed to depict almost all the boys as violent and partly devious monsters. They randomly beat up girls, treat them like they’re worth nothing, molest them and even try to rape them. From the beginning it’s clear that the boys are the bad guys and that it’s completely their fault that things turned out so ugly in this game. So which message this manga nearly screams at you is: ‘Do not trust guys, they’re evil.’ But after about 20 chapters of manifesting this message, the story makes a 180 degree turn and now claims that the boys are not really that bad and that you should consider their feelings as well. That was just so unexpected and messed up…
Sora Himoto is the main character of this story and let me tell you, she really makes one of the most enjoyable protagonists in all shounen yuri manga I’ve ever read (Ok, well I haven’t read that many so far…). She’s brave, good-natured, strong-willed and she never gives up. Now some people might say that she’s a little too perfect, but then again she’s also slightly dense, really naïve and she seems to have some kind of protection complex going on and at least I think that these features make her knightly character very believable.
And on a completely unrelated note, you have to admit that even though she tries to come off as the girls’ strong knight, she still is very cute and I would totally be the number one member of her harem~
Since I don’t want to go into detail with each and every important character of this manga, let me just explain things like this; We can divide all the important characters into 3 different categories:
On the one hand we have the members of Sora’s harem, consisting of all the girls, she either saved from their male oppressor or convinced to join her side by simply being the great and overly protective person that she is.
On the other hand we have the bad guys, which consist to almost 99% of boys only.
And to spice things up we also have those people that fall into neither of the two big categories. So not all the guys are heartless monsters and not all the girls want to join Sora’s harem, but the thing with this manga is that you can never know who’s good and who’s bad. This story constantly surprises you, so that you can never be certain which characters you can really trust.
Let’s make it short. I only have one word to describe the art of this manga: Gorgeous
You don’t believe me? Well here’s some proof:
|I’m also absolutely in love with their school uniform~|
|Page example, click to enlarge|
Shitsurakuen is not really a pure yuri manga, well at least not until chapter 24, but we all know that this chapter never existed for me in the first place…
Through the whole manga, we can see that the girls in Sora’s harem either admire her or really have a thing for her, but some obvious yuri actions are quite rare, while the manga is still packed with more subtle yuri moments. The only chapters that really come with quite a lot of yuri are the omakes and those are not only cute but sometimes really hilarious as well.
All in all I come to the conclusion, that I would have loved to see more going on between Sora and some or at least one of her harem members, but the amount of cute yuri is still very high, even though it is not very obvious. Disregarding what happened in chapter 24, I think the one I wanted to be paired up with Sora the most would be Reiko. I absolutely loved her and I especially enjoyed her little “harassment” scene with Sora. Here’s a little reminder for those of you, who don’t know what I’m talking about.
Total Enjoyment: 9/10
I know that this story, even before the last few chapters, has some flaws and some things that just don’t add up. Still I think that this is one of the best yuri manga there are and one of the few that I’m quite certain would make a very successful anime as well. So even though Shitsurakuen is far from being perfect, it definitely deserves to be my number 3 in my top 10 favorite yuri manga list and if you haven’t read this yet, I do highly recommend you to do so. Especially the ones among you that prefer a fast-paced action story over a slow romance will be very happy with this one.
Please note that my rating here is based on the story without the last few chapters as well.