I feel like we’re seeing more and more manga dealing with sex not as some titillating fan service, but as an aspect of life and the world we live in. Or maybe that kind of manga is just on my radar. Because I do appreciate the smut in its many forms. I honestly love that people are willing and able to write more openly about a part of our lives that tends to be relegated to the shadows because we are not supposed to talk about getting off in polite society. It feels like maybe we’re slowly moving past all this body-shaming, slut-shaming stuff and opening ourselves up to all the possibilities of being human and having a body. Bodies are great and fascinating! And weird and terrible, but that is a different conversation.
Mine Nayuka has been happily writing about bodies and sex and people for a while now since she came onto the manga scene with her Arasa-chan, a NSFW look at sexuality and dating and relationships between men and women, way back in 2011. And now she’s doing a series about how her time as a porn actor, which is great so far, but that first volume was released at the same time as this how-to-sex book Chijo Lesson. In a departure from the usual manga way of writer and artist being one and the same person, Chijo has Mine as the artist and her friend and fellow porn star Noa handling writing duties.
Noa brings to the book her powerful presence as a chijo, a woman who takes the lead and knows what she wants from sex and how to get it. Although there is some overlap with a dom, chijo is more about being in control and getting/giving what you want in a sexual relationship. All of this is explained in the first couple of chapters, which is where we also learn about Noa’s love of virgins and initiating them into the world of sexual pleasure. Yeah, this one gets smutty. In the three-way conversation at the end of the first volume, porn star and man-about-town Shimiken tells Noa and Mine that he was compelled to jerk off on two different occasions while reading.
But this book is not about jerking off. Or at least not entirely. There is a chapter on masturbation. It’s mostly about getting comfortable with communicating with your sex partner and figuring out what you want, an education that is sadly lacking for not just women in Japan but maybe everywhere. The general messaging from the world around you is that being a woman is to be wanted rather than to want. We are supposed to be objects of desire and gatekeepers of that same male desire. We are not supposed to desire. (Forget queer desire. That does not exist.) We are not supposed to be active, and that goes double in Japan where the image of the “maguro” is prevalent, a women lying back and taking it like a dead fish. Mine inserts herself into the story more than once to tell women to stop being a maguro and ask for sex they enjoy instead of sex they must merely endure.
Like AV Joyu-chan, there is a definite feminist bent here, made explicit in the conversation at the end. Each chapter focusses on a different aspect of chijo with a mix of silly sexy story featuring Noa as the teacher, poor virginal Chintaro as the hapless guy who wants to get some but doesn’t know how, and Noa’s student Michiko, your average buxom lady who has never tried to assert herself in the bedroom. We learn about proper grooming in the downstairs area (the main message there being “keep it clean” but there is also a concerning panel about singeing your pubes off with a stick of incense), how not to instigate anal sex, giving good head on both men and women, strength training for when you’re the top, and so much more.
Each chapter is short, only six or seven pages, so this is some nicely digestible sex advice for short reading sessions. Every other chapter or so features a sexy photograph of Noa being sexy in some way which all looked weirdly eighties to me. I’m not sure if it’s the wardrobe or the set or what, but I swear, if you told me these photos were from 1982, I would believe you.
I find Mine’s art a little off-putting sometimes since it is so stylized in her very unique way and very busy with words and characters. But one thing I love in this book is the way sexy costumes push into flesh. It’s such a small detail, but so often missing from a lot of sexy comic depictions. But a bra or a thong or a harness or a carnival costume is tight and does actually push into your skin, leaving little bits of yourself hanging over the top and bottom. And Mine captures this so perfectly every time, lending a strange reality to her world of black hole eyes.
Even if you are not looking to become sexually dominant, there’s a lot to love about a book featuring a woman who is just really down to fuck and is not particularly concerned about what gender she gets busy with. It’s one of those things where the passion of the person speaking makes the whole thing interesting. It’s entertaining and educational!