How long has it been since I started this series? According to MyAnimeList… almost eleven months ago. Sounds accurate. Recommended to me long ago by a commenter whose name I do not recall, I had actually seen the above cover image while browsing the site I use to read manga. It was enough for them to suggest that, despite the use of sexual fan service, it had enough heart to be a fun read. Taking their word for it, the journey began. Not sure if I regret it… yet.
This may seem silly to suggest, but this manga gains points for making a memorable opening few chapters, as in I actually remember specific images and/or scenes that take place. I’ve read a decent amount of manga, I’ve watched a lot of anime, I’ve indulged in a lot of fiction. It may be a “me” problem, but I don’t remember how everything starts; Sono Bisque Doll starts similarly to another series I used to find dear. With heavy Toradora! vibes, the story presses forward upon the meeting of a local school gyaru/gal girl and a meek dude who’s super into painting porcelain dolls. Through a series of interesting coincidences, these two agree to work together to make a bunch of cosplay outfits for the gyaru to wear. Together, they’ll learn what it’s like to live and to love while struggling to adjust to an entirely new world… just kidding, it’s nowhere near that deep.
Let me preface what I’m about to say by stating beforehand that I was initially pretty taken by this series. Its artistic quality can be, at times, pretty striking, and the characters, outside of some dubious intentions, can remark in naturally humanistic fashion. Many positive descriptions of this manga include its faithful and detailed cosplay representation, providing intuitive and relatable situations for those who indulge in such. One can sense this early on in the story, when gyaru girl and meek doll dude (I can remember their interactions but not their names) are preparing for their first cosplay event. Even their interactions during, and the elation they have after a job well done (spoiler?) can be rather cute.
And then the story continued. The characters were given little to do but squabble over superficial things and introduce characters that, while varied, provide little to the overall experience. Rather, these additional characters only end up exacerbating the one thing about Sono Bisque Doll that is a noticeable irritation early on: trendiness, my old foe.
Some people don’t see the issues with trendiness, so allow me to elaborate from my viewpoint. This series, which has been described as wholesome and realistic by its fans, incorporates a lot of trends that have been used in the industry lately to sell stories. The addition of a gyaru girl (1) as a main character that occasionally teases the male counterpart (2), who is meek and not very assertive (3), already sets the precedent of a story that may not go far for those looking for something more complex. Throwing in cosplay as a major part of the story could also be seen as something that “kids are into” nowadays, so, (4). Finally, as a part of a historically prominent trend in fiction, this story features quite a bit of female exposure (5). Wait, hold on! Later on in the story they pull the “middle school girl has a very busty body” card (6), which leads to a whole lot of wacky situations in cosplay! How fun!
Imagine a scenario where you’re walking around in your local grocery store and you come upon a delicious looking cake. You like cake, you want this cake. Upon the tag, you see a variety of different selling points, such as “Gluten free” and “Reduced fat” and “Less sugar than commercial brands” or whatever else. Convinced, you end up buying it, returning home, and digging into that cake immediately… and it’s not that great. All those selling points had you convinced that it was worth your money AND held the advantage of being healthier, yet it ended up tasting like shit.
Similar scenario occurs here with Sono Bisque Doll: It has all of these selling points—a cute gyaru girl, female exposure, cosplay—and if you like manga, you figure you’d enjoy it. But when all of this is stripped away, what kind of ingredients is it really using to make itself? What’s the writing like? What’s its purpose? Are the characters any more than their base personalities? All, to me, fringe upon the negative (at this point), which is why these trendy additions only make the experience all the more disappointing. It makes it seem as though the author desires turning a profit over writing a fulfilling story, however one may interpret what it means to be “fulfilled.”
What was a likable dynamic early on has turned into the typical mush of sexual tension that the meek dude will never act on because he’s meek; while the gyaru is at least honest about her attraction to him, she only goes so far as to tease him. Concluding the first cosplay event shifted the story into this weird purgatory of nothingness where the characters lounge around waiting for anything to happen. A few other characters help carry the burden, though with foresight, the “growth” that occurs from their interaction pales in comparison. As of now, the story seems to desire focusing on the relationship between the gyaru and meek dude, though any emotional attachment I’ve had since the twentieth chapter or so has been left on life support for some time. This may also have to do with Sono Bisque Doll being ongoing and scanlated chapters are typically infrequent and far between.
As of now, the story doesn’t seem to have any destination. I suspect they’ll participate in a few more cosplay contests and get a lot of mileage over displaying the gyaru girl’s bare ass and cleavage. Any sort of emotional development between the two leads will hinge entirely on whether or not they can be open with one another, but let’s be real, this is manga. That will not happen until its inevitable end. Whether I’m there to witness it will depend on the next few chapters, as the desire to drop it has been growing ever since the once-new side characters came and gone. The story has its moments, but ultimately flusters after a certain point near the beginning with finding anything worth writing about. It’ll probably resort to some pseudo-wholesome foundation of trust between the two that doesn’t feel very earned, considering their closeness may very well be another cheap ploy at retaining its audience. At least it can fall back on the ecchi crowd.
If you’d like to see more reviews like this, feel free to look at my full list of manga reviews!
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.