Her Whisper is the Lucifer: An Introductory Sensual Phrase Review

There comes a time in every young manga reader’s life when they start wanting to read comics of a more mature vein than many of the mainstream choices presented. Well, all right. Admittedly the market for manga over the past decade has increased in quantity as well as content, so it’s completely unfair for me to say that the manga that you can pick up from Barnes and Noble are baby comics for babies. The market has matured with its audience and I’m truly glad for that fact. However, back in my day—pretend I’m waving my cane at you—the choices on the shelf were much more ‘safe’ or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, completely pornographic (i.e.: the ones in the plastic wrap). This is the story of the manga that leveled me up, so to speak. And, for better or worse, that manga was Sensual Phrase.

Aucifer Kaikan PhraseIf you’ve never heard of the manga, don’t feel bad: even while it was for sale barely anyone touched it. For kids coming out of the Sailor Moon and Cardcaptors kick, seeing this manga touted as a ‘shoujo’ but then being rated mature—and even having some of the volumes plastic wrapped—presented a very confusing image. Even now while I do admit it’s a shoujo, it’s a very un-shoujo shoujo: it’s more Hot Gimmick than Kitchen Princess. That is to say it deals more with darker themes than the basic love stories of shoujo past. This isn’t always a good thing, but I’ll get to that later.

To Sensual Phrase’s credit, it does start out with a recognizable shoujo story. High schooler Aine Yukimura doesn’t exactly have dreams for the future, but is prodded to write lyrics for a contest by her friends. If she wins, Aine’s lyrics will be used by a top band in one of their new singles. As to be expected, on the way to submitting the lyrics she stumbles into a bit of trouble when she almost gets run over (yes, this qualifies as only a ‘bit’ of trouble).

Ey yo ma, wanna move in even though we've only known each other for a week?

Ey yo ma, wanna move in even though we’ve only known each other for a week?

Feeling terrible for freaking Aine out, the driver apologizes by giving her a backstage pass to a Lucifer concert: another popular band.  Even though Aine’s not really into the whole music scene and she lost her previous lyrics, she might learn something from this concert and try re-writing what she wrote before. (Just better—which in this manga means smuttier.) Surprise, surprise, the dude that almost made roadkill of her is the lead singer of Lucifer, Sakuya Ookochi, and he snagged her lyrics for their new hit song. In fact, he is so taken with her lyrics that he offers to hire her as their lyricist full time. Though their manager has his reservations, Aine eventually takes the job. Everything seems perfect, but Aine soon learns that the rock star life is not all glitz and glamor.

Although conflict is necessary for a story, and someone getting used to the hard work that comes with the music business is a great source of that, I really do believe the conflict is the main weakness of Sensual Phrase. There is never any moment without conflict. The audience has no chance to relax because there’s always some disaster waiting in the wings. And let me just say, Sensual Phrase is not a short series: there’s seventeen volumes in total, not including the bonus volume. That’s a long time to run with a main conflict of “is Aine going to stay with Sakuya?” Stay being the operative term. By the second volume the couple is already dating—admittedly keeping the will they or won’t they plot going on much longer would have been boring. Yet, by doing this, for the next fifteen volumes the drama gets progressively crazier and crazier. We go from jilted ex-lovers, to hypnosis, to attempted rape, to attempted murder and back again ad nauseum. It goes from being a dark drama to making a mockery of itself, and by the time it reaches its end, the only thing you’re thinking is ‘thank fucking god’. But I still love it.

There are literally only two images of Aine without Sakuya. If that doesn't speak volumes about their relationship, I don't know what will

There are literally only two images of Aine without Sakuya. If that doesn’t speak volumes about their relationship, I don’t know what does.

There is one thing that this series does sort of right: positive portrayals of sexuality. Sex in Sensual Phrase is never shown as a bad thing—the only time someone is called a slut is when fan girls are attempting to knock down Aine (which is a scarily relevant portrayal of modern fandoms) or when power is trying to be taken from Aine by the men in the music business (also still scarily relevant). Kinks are not shown as deviant, being flirty is not labeled as being slutty or leading someone on, and being pressured into sex is continuously shown as wrong. For all of his shitty possessive boyfriend tropiness, Sakuya does back down when Aine is clearly not ready to have sex: a trait more music stars should be willing to embody. I’m looking at you, Robin Thicke.

This aspect is the reason why I’m willing to even consider Sensual Phrase as a shoujo manga. Looking past all the smut and all the drama, at its core Sensual Phrase is a manga about Aine growing into her own as a woman. It’s about finding her own path through life and pushing back against the barriers that try to confine her where she obviously doesn’t fit. Really, that’s what any shoujo is about: girls carving out their own lives, from the more literal Sailor Moon building Crystal Tokyo to the less ostentatious Miracle Girls who just want to find normalcy in their lives. For all its misgivings, it’s important to have stories about girls discovering their preferences as a sexual being in no uncertain terms because it helps to break away many of the fears and stigmas associated with it. For this, I applaud Sensual Phrase.

For everything else, I want Sensual Phrase to burn. But that grocery list of problems is something for another post.

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About Tsunderin

Greetings and salutations! Feel free to just call me Rin—we’re all friends here, or nemeses who just haven’t gotten to know each other well enough. I’m a video game lover from the womb to the tomb, and Bioware enthusiast until the day they stop making games with amazing characters that I cry over. And while I don’t partake as often as I used to, don’t be surprised to find me poking around an anime or manga every once in a while either. A personal interest for me is characterization in media and how women in particular have been portrayed, are being portrayed, and will be portrayed in the future. I’m not going to mince words about my opinion either.

6 thoughts on “Her Whisper is the Lucifer: An Introductory Sensual Phrase Review

  1. Pingback: Her Whisper is the Lucifer: An Introductory Sensual Phrase Review | Ladyserenity's Weblog

  2. Shinjo Mayu used to be my guilty pleasure. I’ve never thought of her works as being sex positive, but it is true and on a level, I probably became more accepting of sex through her works. However, I can’t really enjoy them anymore because her heroes have abusive tendencies and every story seems to have rape or an attempt of it. Sakuya is one of her better heroes, and I do like how despite her image, Aine writes dirty lyrics (something I could relate to). Still the series gets really tiresome after a while.

  3. Pingback: Her Whisper is the Lucifer: Sensual Phrase and Its Forgotten Heroine | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  4. Pingback: Her Whisper is the Lucifer: True Love or Abuse? | Lady Geek Girl and Friends

  5. I stumbled across love celeb manga without knowing that it was by the same author of Kaikan Phrase, until Sakuya and Aine were featured in one of the later chapters. I noticed the author has quite abusive heroes (after reading a few of her mangas), which I don’t like. What I hate even more is that the heroines are always put in a situation where they are pressured and blackmailed into having sex with someone else other than the hero. That’s just disgusting.

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