Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Litchi☆Hikari Club

Title: Litchi☆Hikari Club (2005)
Author(s): Furuya Usamaru
Genre: Drama, Horror, Romance, Psychological
Volumes: 1

For the sooty industrial town's lads there's only one point of light: the Light Club, a secret brotherhood they've organized in an abandoned factory. They're on the verge of booting up their crowning achievement, a "thinking machine" fueled by lychee fruits. At the same time, the middle schoolers' cooties-fearing solidarity is devolving into a downright National Socialist muck of murderous paranoia, perverse aestheticism, and (not always) suppressed homosexuality. (Source: Vertical)

I believe I heard about this manga when PENICILLIN's Hakuei announced he was doing a side project for it with the same name. Later, former member of PENICILLIN GISHO joined the project. For the most part, I enjoyed what they put out and it was different from his other projects. After seeing the first couple fully released PVs, I became interested in the source material. At the time, I wasn't aware that the manga was based on a stage play, so the only thing I was interested in looking up was the manga. I read the first chapter as a scanlation, then decided to commit with buying a physical copy as I was impressed with the material so far. It was unexpected and gory and just different than what I was reading at the time. There are some gory, mature series that I do read and hopefully I will be reviewing a couple or so of those here eventually. I've had the book for a couple years and recently I ripped into the plastic and began reading.

The story is quite bizarre and definitely something I wouldn't recommend to everyone if they're not into that sort of material. Most of the questionable or inappropriate content is listed in the summary above. Supposedly this manga is a cross between Lord of the Flies and Frankenstein...or something. I honestly don't know since I've never read either, but it seems like Lord of the Flies is popping up an awful lot with some things I've seen or read. If it isn't obvious, I like twisted, dark, and weird things, so I knew I would really enjoy this manga. It's a shame that it's only one volume. The Light Club (Hikari Club) members is what makes the story entertaining. Each member has their own unique personality and role in the club. It's interesting seeing their connection and level of loyalty toward the club and its leader. The stand out members for me are Zera, Jaibo, Raizou, and Tamiya. There's nothing wrong with the other characters as I enjoyed them as well. Zera probably had the most obvious character development to the reader and I enjoyed seeing his downward spiral of delusion and power. Jaibo and Raizou I found visually unique compared to the others as they lean more toward beauty and cuteness while the other members I didn't name do have some specific physical traits that help them stand out; they don't care about appearance or beauty for themselves personally. Also, I think Jaibo is the only yandere character I like and enjoyed. On the polar opposite end of Zera is former leader Tamiya who isn't power hungry and is very much grounded into reality. He does have fun with the idea of their club, but he knows when to pull back on their rules and ideas. One last thing I want to say about the characters in detail is the relationship between Litchi and Kanon. It's unexpected in some ways and I was invested on what direction Litchi would choose for himself: his original design or true humanity.

After reading Litchi☆Hikari Club, I was really...sad. With each chapter, I became more and more invested in the story and attached to the characters that I was upset that the journey had to end in one volume. Since the series is so short, then the character development is cut short or sped up, which is unfortunate. I really enjoyed the characters a lot and I wanted so much more from them. I wish it was longer or had a full length show with the same tone. Some fans, at least on MyAnimeList, have advised to skip out on watching Litchi DE Hikari Club, but because I had that need for more, I watched it anyway. It's very...cute...and also has a guest appearance by Hakuei in one of the episodes. If you're curious about it, it's 8 episodes and each episode is 3 minutes long. So, it's easy to watch in one sitting, but you're not missing anything if you decide not to watch it as I said before it's a totally different tone than the manga. Maybe one day, someone will decide to make a serious anime series of it. Another downside is that Vertical didn't go through with publishing the prequel story, Bokura no☆Hikari Club. Unfortunately, I am reading scanlations of it currently.

Nonetheless, I found Litchi☆Hikari Club very entertaining and enjoyable. It has a lot of dark humor, the perfect amount of gore, and a nice splash of perversion and homoeroticism. What can I say? I enjoy boy love. I wouldn't recommend the series to everyone as it does contain a lot of mature content and some of it may be triggering with moments of sexual assault. For now, I'll be searching for an English subtitled version of the play and finishing up Bokura no☆Hikari Club.

Rating: 4.5/5

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