Stardust Traffic Vol. #01 Hentai Manga Review

Stardust Traffic Vol. #01 Hentai Manga Review

Stardust Traffic Volume 1

Interconnected stories of sex, romance and young lives in motion.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Kobato Takahashi
Translation/Adaptation: Yoko Tanigaki

What They Say
When it comes to workplace romance, any guy will tell you that it’s best to keep your eyes on the clock and your hands to yourself! But what if your gorgeous crush makes it clear that she’d love a little after-hours attention? Can lust, longing and brand-new thrills ever add up to a lasting relationship?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Kobato Takahashi has a couple of books published so far by Project-H Books, but Stardust Traffic is my first exposure to his work. As I’ve talked about in other hentai manga reviews, I tend to gravitate towards the more story driven material, so seeing that this has a second volume as well definitely perks up my interest since it means more to the story. And if there’s one thing that long running hentai stories have, it’s places to go and some very interesting ups and downs to work with. Stardust Traffic is a little bit different with what it wants to do though and it works in its favor as it’s really a series of interconnected stories with some of the characters crossing over with others. Sometimes light connections, sometimes more serious, and that helps to give it a good, expansive feeling.

With this title, the main characters are pretty much the pairing of Tsutsui and Mizuki, though it’s more Tsutsui that crosses into other characters lives. The pair work at a decent business that’s not in the heart of Tokyo and Tsutsui has had his heart and other anatomy focused on Mizuki for awhile that when he finally does get to have sex with her, she makes it completely casual. Realizing that he’ll have his heart broken because of this, he opts to end things early and head to Tokyo to see his fame and fortune in business. Mizuki handles it fairly well and Tsutsui ends up on the outskirts of Tokyo as he starts making his way into the business world. Both come across well and there’s a good nature about them, in and out of the sheets, but there’s definitely something more there as Mizuki ends up moving to Tokyo as well to be with him and to see what’s really there. The two of them set the stage for a fun relationship that begins to spread into other couples and singles out there.

From there, we get an additional eight stories of young love, romance, sexual pursuits and some shy characters along the way. With some of the guys knowing Tsutsui, that provides a connection to work with and we get a couple where Mizuki is a bit of the background focus to tie it together, sometimes just in a cameo/walk-on kind of mode. This provides a nice touch, but the real stories have to focus on the characters of the moment and make us believe them. What also helps as that moves along is that because we get a few familiar surroundings and a sense of connectedness about it as it all takes place in the same area, you feel like there’s something a bit richer to engage in here rather than just a series of disconnected stories. But thankfully, these are stories and not just a panel or two of setup to get us to the sex. Sometimes the sex is even lower on the list than you’d expect, focusing more on the characters relations.

And this is all a big plus because you end up caring about them more. Whether it’s the guy who likes the girl at work but can’t seem to say anything to the couple that’s together but everything feels like it’s cool and distant between them as even sex happens very, very rarely. Watching as each of them discovers each other, for the first time or rediscovering, there’s a good kind of passion about it that comes to the surface. Another story involves a guy who is getting stood up for a date and lucks into a new relationship, not that he knows it, as a young woman in marketing takes him out on a date, cheers him up and has a good romp with him. He’s all in his own head about the woman he lost, but he starts to realize something about the woman he’s with and it’s actually kind of neat since we get a somewhat plain woman, Azusa, who is either widowed or divorced, that does what she can to meet her own needs. There’s maybe an altruistic aspect to it in that she wanted to make him feel better knowing what was going on, but I loved that unlike a lot of the other characters she looks kind of plain and even a bit frumpy in a way, which just made her all the more endearing.

Add in a couple of characters that are virgins, a couple that are quite experienced and the range between and you get a good mix of situations. As I noted, there is a bigger focus on relationship/story here than a lot of other books which means the chapters may be weighted more towards that than the sex, but when it hits the sex it does work pretty well as it’s more controlled and tighter burst. And you feel invested in it which works even better. I went through the book liking the characters, the connections and enjoying the sex scenes that they participated in since it’s all very, very consensual and the majority of it had a loving feeling to it as there’s little in the way of the old wham bam kind of sex that populates the single chapter stories you often see. Takahashi’s artwork is solid throughout, though you can see where it feels like it’s just starting to get polished and a bit more creative with layouts, clothing design and the characters themselves. But it’s filled with a lot of good designs and variety that keeps it moving and fun.

In Summary
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with Stardust Traffic because of the way it connects the characters, but as it went on I found myself enjoying it more and more. It’s not fantastic and it definitely feels like an earlier work with a bit of ambition to it, but it hits a lot of good notes and definitely gives me what I want. After reading so many manga series over the years where it’s all about whether the characters will get together or not, or even admit their feelings and maybe a light kiss, it’s good to see some very fun character romance stories with a good bit of sex thrown in as well. There’s a lot of good stories to be had here with some fun situations for the characters that’s easy to invest it, which makes the actual sexual relations all the more fun. Decent art, solid layouts and some good designs makes this a fun title with the hope of even more interesting and creative things arriving with the second volume.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 18+
Released By: Project-H Books
Release Date: May 14th, 2014
MSRP: $17.95

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