A review of the first volume & first impressions
(WARNING: I mention some NSFW things. 🔞 Also, I talk about the intimacy that happens in this first volume, which may be considered as "spoilers." These are unmarked and drive home the point/appeal about this particular manga and series.)
So I read Outbride: Beauty & the Beasts (Out Bride - Ikei Konin) by Tohko Tsukinaga, and whoo-boy where to begin? 🙈 First, this manga is officially rated 17+, which is just a step below Seven Seas' highest rating "Mature" reserved for Ghost Ship manga, the absolute spiciest manga they offered...until now. Outbride is the first of four new licenses under Seven Seas' new imprint Steamship. Steamship is dedicated to "sexy romance for women, with manga in the genres of shojo, josei, Teens’ Love, and beyond" per the announcement back in January, and boy, does it deliver on the smut part.
The story follows Mashiro, a normal 17-year-old, second-year high school student with a bad case of boy phobia, but all that changes when she punches her one-way ticket to a new world courtesy of car-kun. Yep, Outbride is an isekai. When Mashiro wakes up, she finds herself surrounded by four gorgeous beastly men who call themselves "celestials." They tell Mashiro that she's the final human female left in the world, and they implore her to mate with them and bear their children. The reason? Because war is coming and they need strong soldiers, which she can provide. But wait, there's more! This new world is poisonous to humans, and the only prescription is "fluid" from the celestials. 😉
Alright, from the description and cover, you can guess whether this is "for you" or not. It's just that sort of manga. Whatever your gut reaction is, go with it. You're not missing anything. Is it good tho? Well, there are good things about this manga. The illustrations are smutastic. We have sparkles and hot monster boys. The girl is cute. We get hot action. I'm talking sloppy, desired-filled French kisses on the mouth and down south. Yeah, she gets eaten out, twice. It's heavy but restrained intimate action, no genitalia or other uncovered body parts. Nothing as explicit as Fire in His Fingertips by Kawano Tanishi, which is a mature-rated josei manga offered under the Ghost Ship imprint.
About the dudes, each one has his own personality. Much like an otome game, they wear their types on their sleeves. It is telegraphed who each of these characters are from the beginning. (Best Boy Noel is front and center on the cover.) Also, this volume speeds through the premise and explanation. By the end, you get everything but the girl, and a hint of what's to come in the next volume. So, there is hope that the story and characters will evolve beyond its initial premise. Perhaps, it won't be the repetitive but genuinely delightful sex fest that is Yakuza Lover by Nozomi Mino. That's about all of the "good" things that I can say about Outbride.
Everything else? Well, it's #problematic. From the age gaps, dubcon/non consent, and helpless, shy heroine to name a few issues, Outbride isn't going to win any feminist awards. Hell, it's not going to win any awards. It's all-caps TRASHY. I'll be honest. There's better guilt-free, mature smut coming from the Steamship line like Game: Between the Suits by Mai Nishikata and Ladies on Top by Nejiganameta, but as far as maiden voyages go and setting the tone for the Steamship brand, Seven Seas hits it out of the park. They are not f*kin' around. If you're looking for fluffy, run-of-the-mill romances where shy hand-holding is the lewdest thing you'll see, abandon ship now.
In summary, if you're looking for a smut fantasy romance with monster boys and a reverse harem, you might enjoy reading Outbride. If you have read the (m/f) omegaverse Bite Maker: The King's Omega by Miwako Sugiyama, you may enjoy this manga. Finally, if you have read I Guess I Became the Mother of the Great Demon King's 10 Children in Another World by Ema Toyama (try saying that 10 times fast), you may enjoy this manga.
So far, I am enjoying Outbride on a guilty-pleasure level. 🙈 I am invested, and I want to see what happens next. I'm also curious as to how the Steamship line will be received. I think there's enough ladies (and ladies at heart) to enjoy a mature, smut romance line. What do you think of this manga and Steamship? Let me know!
Check out Outbride: Beauty and the Beasts here.