(Note, as always, that “ruining” is akin to “spoiling in a mocking way.”)
It’s humorous to me when a manga goes so far to tease every sexual urge of its demographic while also trying to maintain an air of sincerity. Of course, going into a manga with a premise like SE‘s, one shouldn’t be surprised by the abundantly ecchi atmosphere that is to arise from almost every situation. A college boy who’s very competent in computer programming decides to talk to a girl who often rides the same train as him, only to accidentally knock over her bag and reveal that she has something referred to as a “sex sleeve.” Well, sex was mentioned in the manga, may as well make it the driving force behind everything that happens.
Much to the boy’s surprise, the girl is conveniently a genius, responsible for an aspiring company focusing on the construction of the perfect… sex sleeve. Her hopes and dreams lie on the ultimate sexual pleasure of the male kind. Yes, of all things a young, attractive, docile woman can go crazy for, it’s masturbation tools. And crazy she goes, leading to an overdrawn, tensile display of getting the reader up just enough, only to delay the finish to another time. This is no Super Mario Bros., either. The journey there isn’t exactly memorable or fun.
SE is a manga that pleases its audience through use of both sexual fan service and narrative fan service. Sexual fan service needs no explanation, but narrative fan service may need some elaboration. When reading a story, one might notice some odd events transpiring without any sort of build-up, commitment, or any contextual continuity. Something along the lines of a hero saving a princess, only to end up with a random cohort they met along the way, with an added ending scene where the couple live peacefully with children and all their hopes and dreams fulfilled. The sort of fairy tale “Happily Ever After” fill-in that occasionally feels shoe-horned in to appease the major audience. While I understand the peace that comes with revealing a satisfying ending and giving every character a “good end,” there are moments when I feel the intentions behind it feel arbitrary, leading to a metaphorical blow to the jaw rather than a warm hug from Heaven.
What most dissatisfies me with the execution of SE is that everything feels so two-faced. To appease the audience, to appeal to those primal urges. To give the smug sense of the author knowing what the common reader wants and doing so without doing enough to conflict with the impact of the story. The main couple almost had sex. They’ll be embarrassed about it tomorrow at work, hahaha! Let’s repeat the process about eight times before having them actually do anything substantial! That’ll fill the chapters up! It’s so convenient that the female lead was in love with the male lead on first sight because he looked in her general direction like a stalker. It’s common sense that women are attracted to potential sexual predators because they’re secretly super horny!
The carefree nature of the manga only adds to the narrative fan service I’ve previously alluded to. Nothing is at stake, and whatever is will obviously come to fruition because everything has to be accomplished for the sake of a good ending. That’s assuming anything is at stake, as despite the fact that the female lead’s company sports a whopping five employees, including herself, who single-handedly develops most of the shit she thinks of because she’s a “genius,” nothing ever really gets done. There is a false assumption that something may get done during the opening chapters when everything is being explained to the male lead, but is quickly derailed once the power couple finds an interest in railing each other. Whenever something is getting done, then faces a problem, it’s usually the fault of the female lead, who’s too occupied with thinking about sucking dick (Not exaggerating) to use her “genius” abilities to get said thing done. The manga in its entirety feels like a show, a raunchy, empty show about a girl who wants to fuck until she’s ripped in half playing Bill Gates with her “supreme intellect” and a boy who happens to wander inside and become the object of the female lead’s sexual urges. It’s okay, though. It’s totally consensual. She’s super hot, why wouldn’t it be? Icing on the cake, nothing ever goes wrong long-term. Everything is resolved and the company becomes successful and every conceivable couple becomes a couple and everyone is happy. Fuck me.
There is a glimmer of satisfaction, however, to those hoping for any sort of positive feature to SE. Despite the story and characters being gobs of gleefully sexual goop, there is a single character who is, to some extent, tolerable. He joins the cast late and is implied to have a sort of romantic connection to another established character who is actually two-faced. Non-affectionately referred to as the “Silver Bullet,” this old man has a tendency to insult the ever-shitting fuck out of the little puny-pussies in the office, similarly to the way I’m phrasing his introduction in this post. Call it my cynicism identifying with a character who has zero-tolerance for others and takes their job seriously, but despite him being an obvious pain in the ass and only slightly useful to the tasks assigned of him, he makes the pages go by with more enthusiasm. This character is probably the only good I can really say about SE as a whole, as its attempts at comedy, romance, and THE POWER OF EMOTIONS! are all putrid. The art isn’t too bad, though compared to more chic titles that have come out in the last few years, it doesn’t much hold up. Need any more indication? Look at the cover image of this post and look how s-k-i-n-n-y the female lead is.
A long, hard, and stiff story short, SE would be good as a mindless, sexual guilty read. Something along the lines of Yomeiro Choice, but more grounded in reality (in some ways). It doesn’t challenge itself and only gives the reader the most mundane of narrative and character foundations. The intrigue presented by the premise baited me into a victim. Don’t let it get you, too.
Oh, and the female lead has some sort of disease that is possibly fatal but she lives in the end anyway so whatever.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
One thought on “Ruining SE (System Engineer)”
“Oh, and the female lead has some sort of disease that is possibly fatal but she lives in the end anyway so whatever.” – What is it with characters having these miscellaneous diseases that seem to only be an issue when it is narratively convenient?
While I don’t really read manga anyway, I now at least know if I ever decide to change that stance not to bother with this so thanks.