Taro has always dreamed of becoming a superhero. After literally crapping out on his high school entrance exams, he enrolls at Saint Claus Academy in the middle of nowhere in Northern Europe. But the local スーパー部 (super club) turns out to be a wrongly translated スパ部 (spa club), which consists of four loaded sauna fans. Luckily, Taro owns a special bottle of magic essence that will make every wish, even the weirdest one, come true. Now it's time for sauna, not drama!
Sweet! Sweat! Swoop! is a comedy light novel that spoofs well-known Magical Girl series, giving them a fresh infusion of typical German and European essences. In a total of twelve chapters the nervous and stressed out Japanese Taro Yamada starts to learn that there is more in life than work and that you can literally let it all out in the sauna. It's a story full of stereotypical teenage problems, Japanese-European culture shocks, conspiracy theories and a generation conflict.
Flatulence tended to occur at the most impossible times. In the supermarket, when you had a hard time deciding whether to buy mackerel, sea bass or cod. In the metro on the way to school when it was getting cramped and you were hoping that the class teacher sitting three seats away would not discover you. Elevators, group work and exams were also one of the moments your stomach started to feel like butterflies on a stormy sea. Even today, this distress at sea had driven Taro Yamada to seek refuge in the place that even kings only visited alone. His stomach had been rumbling since last night, so that he could hardly get a bite down in the morning. While his room neighbor, also a rather shy fellow, who had given him a long lecture about waste separation and energy saving, had sawn down the entire boreal coniferous forest last night, Taro could not sleep. His belly groaned and ached, complained and wailed, and he didn't even dare to go to the room toilet, because he feared his roommate would be woken up by the loudly rattling defective fan or his equally loudly rattling wind orchestra.
At that moment he had missed Japan a lot. Japan, his home country, the land of electric toilets and vending machines, the land of etiquette bells that made gentle water sounds that could drown out even the worst flatulence, and the land of hot springs that smelled of rotten eggs, against which every diarrhea, no matter how bad, smelled as tenderly as a baby diaper. So why was he, Taro Yamada, even here? It was cold and dark here in Northern Europe, and while the cherry blossoms in Japan were migrating from Hiroshima towards Kyoto, he was on a small island covered in ice in the Gulf of Bothnia. The toilet seat, which Taro had been occupying for ten minutes, was also ice-cold. There was no control panel for the warmth of the toilet seat and no cleaning water jet. At the toilet tank you could only choose whether to press the big or the small button. Barbaric. Simply barbaric. Even the toilet paper felt as if a Viking had knocked it out of a piece of wood. It was gray and rough and scratchy. No comparison to the one- or two-layered papers from his homeland, which caressed his buttocks like a gentle rain of cherry blossoms.
Thor struck once more with his hammer from the inside against his abdominal wall. Taro bent forward and breathed heavily. Tears had formed in the corners of his eyes. He lifted his glasses a little and wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. It couldn't be true that today the same thing happened as on the day of the entrance examination for high school!
He remembered exactly how he had studied like a madman last summer, climbing Mount Fuji, then studying again and climbing Mount Fuji again. In the end, his grades were good enough to be admitted to the desired high school. But then the oral exam happened and he, Taro Yamada, 16 years old and the youngest son of a typical average Japanese family with three children, crapped out big time. Literally. Never before in his life had he been so nervous that he had left before the teachers' committee had even looked at him. His raging heart and belly roaring like a wild lion put a damper on his plans. The next time he climbed Mount Fuji in pouring rain, he couldn't stop crying. Why was he such a coward? Why couldn't he accept, like any other person, that sometimes in life you have to take a different path and at least try to get through it, even though you were nervous and about to fail? While he stood on a viewing platform and watched the autumn woods dying in bright colors, something in him seemed to die, too. He clenched his fists, took a deep breath and shouted: "From now on I am strong and serious! Matchless and marvelous! Energetic and fearless! I will definitely change myself!" But when a group of Chinese and European tourists took a critical look at him shortly afterwards, his self-confidence crumbled again and he disappeared to the nearest toilet house. The thought of this embarrassing situation made Taro blush with shame. He wiped his eyes again. But this time he had to smile. Yes, he was still a hopeless coward. But now he had at least made it to a toilet at the other end of the world.
Because he couldn't get into his dream high school, he had feverishly searched for something else. But all the school websites he had visited had a boring selection of clubs. He found clubs for sports, music and literature, natural sciences and handicraft. But he neither wanted to knit nor dance, nor become world champion in Fortnite or Counter Strike. Since he and his two big sisters had been watching TV and playing together ever since he could remember, Taro had only one wish: he wanted to become a hero. And here, at this boarding school, in a place where the sun shone for just four hours a day in winter, his wish was about to come true. Because at Saint Claus Academy, there was not only a club for figure skating and cattle breeding, but also the one, the special one - the Super Club! Encouraged by this thought, Taro ended his session. He took out his smartphone from his bag and looked at the clock. If he hurried, he could still make it to class in time for the first lesson. His lock screen showed the image of a pair of female twins in short frilly dresses embroidered all over with sequins and pearls. The twins were accompanied by two cute plush dinosaurs. Taro's thoughts drifted away for a moment. He had visited one of their concerts shortly before his departure for Northern Europe. While Asami and Yumi were doing their best on stage, Peppi and Peppo, the two dinosaurs, were dancing on a 3D screen behind them. When he closed his eyes and focused on it, he could still smell the mixture of cotton candy and dry ice that filled the air of the concert hall. He sighed and pressed the phone to his chest. "Asami, Yumi, I love you!" The next moment the school bell rang. "Aaaaah!" In panic, Taro wiped the drool from the corner of his mouth and stuffed the smartphone back into his bag. A small bottle, which he also carried around with him, clanked softly against it. He pressed the flush button once more, made sure that his shirt was in his pants and his fly was closed properly, then he pushed the door open and sprinted to the sink. The soap dispenser on his right was empty. His heart started galloping in his chest. On his left there was only a small amount of liquid soap in the dispenser. As he soaped up his hands as best he could, he looked at his reflection critically. To do so, he had to stand on his tiptoes, because someone must have thought it was a great idea to hang up the mirror only for people between one meter sixty-five and two meters tall.
He himself, without stretching, could only see his tired eyes and the slightly reddened tip of his nose. As well as another boy who stared at him with a sinister look. Taro let out a surprised cry. Since when did the other guy stand there? His hands trembled as he washed them off. But maybe he had only imagined it, because as pale-white as the other one was, he couldn't possibly be a real person. A ghost, yes, exactly, a ghost. The male, European version of Hanako, the toilet ghost! No doubt the ghost was gone as soon as he turned around again.
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
Sweet! Sweat! Swoop! will not eliminate social injustice and wars, nor climate change, but is there to bring a smile to everyone's faces. A weird story and even weirder illustrations will come together to help the reader to get a little break from the stress of everyday life. The story is aimed at teenagers and young adults. With five different heroes, everyone will find a characteristic boy-band character to daydream about.
Why would you support this project?
Good illustrations require time and money! With your support you will help a freelance illustrator to pay for rent and food. You also help a young small publishing house to expand its portfolio with another magical title.
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
The illustrator can be paid fairly. In these days a good payment is unfortunately no longer the standard in the publishing industry. A part of the book printing is covered and the author also gets more than the obligatory publisher's Euro.
Who are the people behind the project?
We are the German author Anne Atsusa and the illustrator Nana Yaa, as well as the Austrian publisher CatMint.
Anne Atsusa has lived in a world of stories since she can remember. She has been typing her own stories since her primary school days. She loves books and Japan more than anything else. From that passion she studied book science and Japanese studies from 2012 to 2016. After obtaining her bachelor's degree, she worked as a graphic designer for an online printing company and recently started working for a German manga publisher. Her style is characterized by putting indescribable banalities into the center of the story in a humorous way. Her characters always experience a chaos of thought fragments. Anne Atsusa, who also gets lost in her thoughts quite often, sees this as the greatest energy in her work. She recently moved to Hamburg and enjoys nothing more than travelling to Japan, spending time in nature, rock concerts and stimulating sauna infusions. Her four-volume sports, comedy and boys love-light novel "ASS! of BIKE" is also published by CatMint.
Nana Yaa lives and works in Dusseldorf and has a Bachelor degree in Communication Design since 2015. She has been drawing since she could hold a pencil and is one of the most productive artists of the German manga scene. Besides some short stories in anthologies for the independent publisher Schwarzer Turm, her first longer work Patina was published by Comicstars Droemer Knaur in 2011. In 2016 her slice-of-life drama MCS was awarded the German Doujinshi of the Year. From 2015 to 2019 her fantasy adventure manga "Goldfisch" was published in three volumes by Tokyopop. She is currently drawing two slice-of-life web comics: the sports and boys love drama CRUSH3D!! and the LGBT+ drama Java Bonds.
CatMint Verlag (publisher) was founded in 2018 and specializes in illustrative projects. Its goal is to support illustrators and authors in the best possible way and to give them more freedom in the design of their projects.
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