Manga that share the same content matter with Sundome are normally considered erotica; While Sundome isn’t exactly a manga with sex in it, it’s definitely all about sex. More specifically, it’s a manga that, in the midst of a really twisted relationship, tries to discuss the concept of sexual arousal without sex. Basically, Sundome tries to explore what it is that turns you on, what arouses you.
It does this through the interplay of Hideo Aiba, your regular boring dweeby kind of guy, and Kurumi Sahana, a girl who is far from ordinary. Everything about her turns on Hideo, and she notices as soon as she sits down next to him in class. In the first chapter of the book, she makes a deal with Hideo – I’ll be with you, but I’ll never have sex with you. In pure twisted fashion, Hideo says yes, and from this agreement, a relationship takes shape, as cruel and strange as that shape may be.
Sundome explores the crevices and dirty nooks and crannies of the human mind, and as it does so, it intrigues me and infuriates me at the same time. The exchange between the two main characters is odd at best, sadistic/masochistic at worst, and in the middle, it’s pretty damn weird. She wants a slave, but also a lover, he wants a master, and a lover, but their separate desires never seem to coincide. When she seems to be looking for a relationship, all he can think about is the next sexual reward he’s going to get for being her slave. It’s really twisted, and I can’t say I enjoyed the interplay. In one sense, it’s absolutely fascinating, and in another, it is disgusting.
As far as the art goes, it’s a very different style, with panes alternating between the classic big-eyed, cute girl, a shot of her panties, and guys flipping out looking like frogmen. I can’t say that I really care for it. The tone, shading, and visual effects are all top-notch. As far as content goes, you could call it fanservice, but in reality, it’s actually erotic content. The manga is about turn ons, so the normal pieces of fan service are more hardcore, and more erotic than normal panty shots and breast shots.
If you are going to get into this comic, know what you’re getting into. Unless you’re really into the concept, the bad relationship is going to turn a lot of people off, and it’s a hard read. Some will no doubtedly love it, but I’m not one of those people.