Title: Velvet Kiss Vol. 1
Author: Chihiro Harumi
Publisher: Project-H Books
List Price: $17.95
Rating: 5/5 – Recommended
The Velvet Kiss series spans 4 volumes, and is in my opinion unique amongst the readily available hentai manga because it, well, has a plot. It’s porn with a plot! Granted, a pretty cliché plot, but a plot nonetheless. The fact that it seems Harumi can carry the plot over 4 volumes is also pretty impressive. Only the first two volumes are available, but they’ve both done a pretty good job upholding overall quality. Shin, a normal salaryman, finds himself incredibly lucky one day… and 80 million yen in debt the next! The only way to keep his collectors from coming after him is by befriending a young woman named Kano. At first he thinks it’s a pretty easy gig, but soon finds out that Kano (and the collectors) has more in store for him than he bargained for.
I’ve read quite a bit of hentai now, and nearly all of Project-H’s releases, and I have to say that Velvet Kiss does the best convincing me to identify with the main character. It’s easy to feel frustration with Kano rise as Shin does, and to be irritated by the conflict between mind and… well, sex-hungry cock. Kano is confusing, as confusing to the reader as she is to Shin, and Harumi does an excellent job making Shin relatable. In part this is because Shin’s emotions have more of a range than in other hentai stories – he’s not focused entirely on having sex with the girl of his dreams. Rather, he’s exhausted at work, hounded by his bosses and their demands for numbers, and enraged by the disrespect of younger wealthy scions. Sex takes place in a context of professional and personal obligations. The mix of distaste and desire is potent, and keeps the story from getting boring or stale.
Kano also makes the sex interesting and hot. While most women in the hentai I’ve read are quite passive, simply enjoying the sex provided by the man, Kano is a very active participant. In fact, in this volume she always initiates. She uses her feet on his crotch under the table at a restaurant. She likes it rough. She uses his tie to tie his hands. (Personally I like being tied up with his tie. But I’ve yet to see a man in hentai be that dominant.) She makes him beg and denies him orgasm. It’s actually quite hot.
Harumi does an excellent job showing, not just telling. By this I also mean that, unlike a lot of other hentai that I’ve read, the focus isn’t just on the guy getting up and then getting his penis into the woman as fast as possible. Rather, there’s a lot of story and visual buildup to the sex. There are plenty of images just of legs, hands, and fingering. And the art is excellent at focusing on faces, conveying the right mix of pleasure and pain that is sex. The only complaint I have is that for a girl who initiates sex all the time, Kano doesn’t seem to enjoy it – she’s never smiling or laughing (in a totally sexy way) during sex. I love sex, and I know that when it’s really good I’m smiling, not just biting back tears.
The censoring can be a bit distracting, since it’s either a cone of light in place of a penis or just empty space. At times, this can make it really weird visually since you’d like to see as much as you can (for maximum stimulation, right?) or because you just aren’t quite sure what is where and what is happening. I can be very detail-oriented about my sex, and I want to know if a penis is in a vagina or not and what is being ejaculated where. And it would be nice to know the women have vaginas. I hear that some of Project-H’s future releases are going to be uncensored, so I’m curious to see if that makes the sex scenes better or weird.
It’s also really obvious that this, somewhat stereotypically, is geared towards a male audience. Many of the panels feature full length visuals of the woman (not always Kano) in the throes of pleasure, but we never get Kano’s view upwards of Shin. As soon as I wrote that I started to think about it, and I admit that while women have breasts (score!) men don’t have much going on. So maybe this is a good thing. But there are still angles at which men can be visually stimulating for a female reader. Instead, I have to settle for knowing that a guy likes watching a woman’s breasts bounce while he pounds her. (Which I’m not against. I fucking love missionary.) And there’s some very nice nipple play.
While Shin is pretty normal looking (not much to fantasize about here, ladies), Kano is absolutely stunning. She’s perfectly shaped and Harumi always draws cute clothes for her. If this were real-life porn, I think it would be more annoying, but when you know they’re fake drawings, it’s a lot easier to just enjoy it. There’s a nice variety of sexual positions too – and given all the other lovely sexy things that the volume gives me, I guess I can’t ask for a lot more variety. The power play could be a lot hotter, but the potential is there and seeps in at the edges. I hope it gets more developed over the rest of the volumes.
Overall, the story is strong enough to carry the volume and probably all the subsequent ones, and that is one of the best aspects of this series. The sex is hot because it’s not just sex, but foreplay and titillation as well. There’s a nice mix of dominance and submission from Kano, and it’s definitely less vanilla than a lot of the other hentai available. The quality storytelling, sex, and art, make this one of my most highly recommended pieces of erotica.
You can purchase Velvet Kiss Vol. 1 from Project-H books here, at the current sale price of $9.95. Additionally, you can purchase it in digital format from eManga for $12.95. At both links you can view (censored) preview images for a better look at Harumi’s gorgeous artwork.
I did not purchase this volume, nor was it provided by the publisher for an impartial review. Review was conducted based on product purchased by a third party.