Himeno is a sweet, shy little centaur girl. In her world, everyone seems to be a supernatural creature, and all her classmates have some kind of horns, wings, tails, halos, or other visible supernatural body part. Despite their supernatural elements, Himeno and her best friends, Nozomi and Kyoko, have a fun and mostly normal daily school life!
It’s a very strange manga, fit for those interested in fringe genres.
Centaur girls are awesome – that’s what this manga is about (on the top level at least). Though there’re other species in their world – angels, imps, cat people, etc. and their hybrids – the author is first and foremost interested in centaurs. And the main heroine of this manga, Hime-chan, is a gorgeous example, royal not only in her name. The story tells about her everyday little worries and discoveries, her schooldays and holidays, as well as about the lives of her friends and relatives (there’s also a small centaur girl).
Ah, damn it,
let me skip pleasantries, or I’ll make you think this is a cutesy feel-good series, and the covers are confusing enough already. And, well, maybe technically it is one, if I go by all the major symptoms, but I fear the end diagnosis won’t be quite right.
Somewhere I’ve heard that the mangaka made hentai manga before. Maybe it’s not true, I was unable to find the proof, but it seems very likely. Quality hentai came to my mind a lot, while I was reading this. No, there’s no sex, but when you read a talentedly written hentai, its author may allow himself some non-porn storytelling, and often this results in very cynical and very free-minded remarks. Since the story delivers what it is made for, the fapping material, mangaka can do however he pleases, and he sometimes builds a strange world, comments on social issues or ridicules his readers. This elusive and nihilistic darkness seems to lurk underneath the cutesy stuff in this manga. Although I must also add that it has plenty of sexual objectification, including objectification of minors, and the first chapter seems unsure whether it wants to be a hentai or not (be warned).
The thing is while this manga is drawn rather prettily – with lots of cutesy details (though the art is on the doujinshi level, to be honest) and follows a series of low-conflict mini-plots, slowly, but steadily the author subverses the hell out of the moe-shit. You understand that the characters are privileged and blind to it, Hime especially, and darker undertones appear in their world.
The world is also both creepy and detailed. Each chapter ends with little snippets of info about it, and there’s a lot of stuff explained along the course of events. Actually, I’d call this one of the undeniable strengths of this manga – I haven’t seen such a well-though out clothes, furniture and cars for centaurs in any other fiction. Other species also get plenty of love. It’s fascinating, but goes rather far – for example, in one of the earlier chapters you learn what a centaur-angel hybrid fetus looks like. The world is built thoroughly and extensively, there’re alternative history and laws, that take jabs at those of our own. The cutesy stuff stays, but dirt piles behind, which is not unrealistic – we live like that too, but unnerving nonetheless. Then the author adds aliens and time-travel scenarios, and it all gets pretty grotesque and surreal. Though, personally I find the constant ogling over the (specifically) Japanese centaurs a bit tiring (not that it is unsubverted, but still).
So, yeah, strange. Unless you get what I was saying about the clever hentai mood, the only way to describe it would be “interesting”, but in the exploratory, “there’s also stuff like this” sense. This manga is outwardly cute, but increasingly creepy once you start to notice the subtext, self-consciously disturbing and not-so-consciously sexually pandering to fetishists. Reading this was quite an experience, I can’t really recommend it, though this work doesn’t bite and is quite readable, if you want to get such an experience for yourself.
I just finished reading up to chapter 52 of Centaur no Nayami, and I have to say that I enjoyed this manga very much. It is a slice-of-life, with lots of cuteness, a little mild drama, and just a few political undertones. This all makes the manga very "life-like", even with all of the characters being various species of monsters (the characters themselves consider all of the monster species to be "human"). Like most slice-of-life series, there is no big, cohesive story, but the characters are where the manga really shines.
Like I said, all of the characters make this manga stand out from the
crowd in both the slice-of-life and monster-girl genres. The vast majority of the characters have had their chances to stand in the spotlight and get their stories told. There is a large number of back-stories told and it really fleshes out this manga and really helps you understand the characters. Cute kindergartners to crusty, old guys and even people's ancestors all have something to contribute and it fleshes out the world that the characters live in. Besides, all of the little kids in this series are so cute and adorable!!! I just want to give the little kids lots of hugs and pet their heads!!!
For those political undertones I mentioned at the beginning, it mostly has to deal with the issue of discrimination. The characters themselves are very aware of this problem and they even remind each other about various laws concerning discrimination. Some kids wonder at the issue, and some adults reminisce about their own struggles and fights to make the world a better place. For the characters the issue is very serious and the questions and problems they talk about are real.
There are some parts of this series that would normally be considered ecchi, such as girls comparing themselves to each other, exposed breasts and other such things, but when taken in context it is not actually lewd or perverted. It is just the way people normally behave.
To wrap things up, I would highly recommend this manga to anyone wanting to read a cute, entertaining read. The world the characters live in is amazingly fleshed out and the characters are fairly easy to sympathize with in one way or another. It is a bit off of the beaten path, but well worth the time and you will not think you have wasted it at all. Have fun and cheers!
*mild spoilers depicting contents included, since tag system is broken. still, there's no plot to speak of in this manga, so that shouldn't influence your enjoyment or whatnot you'll get from reading this manga*
Do you like monster girls? do you like slow mangas about school life? do you like to read about bloody history of enslavement and scorching prejudice, about severe anti-racism laws, aliens sneaking in the shadows killing and impersonating inhabitants of earth and about illuminati-sque species manipulating goverments and regulating extinction of a whole race, about which our silly, insignificant schoolgirl centaur doesn't even know about, much less do anything about them? and
yet have to read about another tragedy unfolding to satyrs, angels and whatnot far away?
well, I've got good news for you, there's some weirdo just like you, and he's writing a manga with all those things included.
Now, let me just clear things up, I enjoyed the manga, at least the school-monster-girls part. However, for some reason, the author is hell-bent on making the world he created as realistic as possible.
If he were the one to write, let's say, Monster musume no iru nichijou, he'd stress it very clearly that all the girls in the cultural exchange were basically sold into sexual slavery just so their species wasn't considered xenophobic and potentially dangerous, dooming it to annihilation at the hands of humans.
So, if you read manga so that you can just take a short break from the bleak, cruel reality, this isn't a good manga. The equality among species is enforced by paranoidal laws where every negative interaction between different species is seen as racism(specieism?), and punished with extreme prejudice, there are chapters completely unrelated to the main story that just portray how miserable someone is far away, and after ending, it just goes back to the schoolgirls and their shenanigans.
people sometimes say that "this anime tries to be everything but excels in nothing", or that "it doesn't adhere to the genre it's set in", but honestly, nothing else compares to how "all over the place" THIS manga is.
I do have to admit though that characters, the drawing style and stories are quite good. It's just an absolute nightmare in the enjoyment department.
BIG TL;DR, reading this manga is like being on an amazing date, on which your partner feeds you sparkly parfaits by hand, then sucker punches you out of nowhere until you throw it all up, then returns to feeding and doting over you like there's nothing wrong. rinse and repeat.