Paradise Kiss 5-6: Shall We Model?

I’ve decided to combine chapters 5 and 6 in a single post, as not a whole lot happens in chapter 5. Yukari agrees to model for the Paradise Kiss studio, and the Yazawa Arts kids throw a party to celebrate. Thinking the champagne at the party is non-alcoholic, Yukari accidentally gets drunk and falls asleep at the studio. She misses cram school, and George takes her home.

There’s not a lot of substance in this chapter. As I read through it, I only ended up making two notes: there wasn’t a lot of George this time around, and the art is very pretty.

The sexual tension ramps up at the end of the chapter, when George takes Yukari home. He leans in, and it looks as though he’s going to kiss her. Instead, he only tries to wipe her makeup off, so Yukari won’t get in trouble with her parents.

A lot of romance fiction, as I understand now, is really about the build-up between the presumptive couple. I don’t really feel this moment of a potential kiss, though. Maybe it’s because I already know where the series is going, or because George still hasn’t gotten a lot of screen time so far. Maybe romance stories just aren’t my cup of tea.

At least it’s nice to look at.20180709_1158188767141281503960383.jpg

The next chapter has a bit more story to it, and goes back to the potential love triangle between Yukari, Miwako, and Tokumori. Love square, if you include Arashi in that as well.

I also noticed another moment that might not translate well to American audiences. After several instances of non-sexual physical contact between Yukari and George, Yukari wonders, “why does he always touch me?” It was something that I wouldn’t have even thought of the significance of when I first read this.20180709_1157294692829488967709785.jpg

I took three semesters of Japanese in college with a professor who taught the class with a large focus on Japan’s culture. The personal stories he told us and some of the cultural difference between his life in Japan and in America are things that I remember long after I’ve forgotten katakana and how to conjugate verbs.

In college, many of my friends were very physically affectionate. There were always lots of hugs, play fighting, and back scratches. During my first semester taking Japanese, there was a girl who sat next to me and often hugged me. Then one evening, my professor addressed the class about our American habits that wouldn’t be permissible in a Japanese classroom.  Make sure your cell phones are off, always arrive on time, and please, cool it with the hugs. The lesson was further reinforced when we watched the Japanese film Shall We Dance? Our sensei explained that the film had been inspired by the fascination of American couples, openly taking each other in their arms, and dancing. Watching the American version of the film only further accentuates the differences between American and Japanese culture when it comes to touch.

Americans still like their space, but casual touching between friends or relatives isn’t uncommon. Whereas in Japan, touching others, particularly those you don’t know well, wouldn’t happen often. George constantly touching Yukari could be seen as downright weird, or George may be implying that they have a deeper relationship than they actually do.

Chapter 6 also gave me the first real reminder of how much time had passed since this manga was published. The first volume of Paradise Kiss was released in 2000, and for the most part, it holds up well. However, there are a few instances where (as TV Tropes puts it) Technology Marches On. Here’s the first one, when Yukari and Miwako exchange phone numbers.20180709_144952104498298163815428.jpg

Had this come out today, those phones would have looked very different. Furthermore, Miwako has to teach Yukari how to become “pen pals” with her. There’s no way a seventeen-year-old today wouldn’t know how to do that. Later in the chapter, Yukari wants to invite Miwako, Arashi, and Tokumori out for tea but doesn’t know how to get in touch with them. Then she remembers that she has Miwako’s phone number. Had this come out today, or even five years ago, Yukari wouldn’t even have had to wonder. Texting has basically become second nature.

20180709_1159415981331058126958235.jpg

The reason Yukari wanted to invite Arashi and Miwako out to tea is so they can reunite with their childhood friend, Tokumori. Yukari had been startled, and a little jealous, when she realized that Miwako and Tokumori knew each other. This is because Yukari has a big crush on Tokumori, or at least is trying to convince herself she does.

When Yukari’s mind wanders over to George, she tries to shove him out of her mind. Instead, she even makes herself list the things she likes about Tokumori, and manages to come up with about three things. Then, when she asks him to tea, the conversation is…incredibly awkward.

All this makes me wonder: Has Yukari ever actually had a conversation with Tokumori before, outside of exchanging pleasantries? Until now, we’ve seen him compliment her new haircut, and nothing else. No wonder she’s attracted to George: he’s handsome, interesting, and they’ve had real conversations together, even if it’s only once or twice.

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