Interesting review of the first Hot Gimmick volume. She reads it more from the teenaged-girl point of view, which I suppose is more valid than my fanboy vantage-point. They're the actual audience, after all.
I've noticed a strange tendency on the part of reviewers to view the social milieu of the comic as somehow fantastical or imaginative. As far as I can tell, those company apartment complexes are very real. I like the way the author, Miki Aihara, shows how communal, hierarchical village life can recapitulate itself in the very urban setting of a company apartment complex, divorced totally from the rural village life one usually associates with this kind of dynamic.
I'm not familiar with how other countries handle urban dynamics, but in my neck of the woods, it's very easy to disappear into the crowd, to become totally detached from the social structure in an urban setting. I'm still trying to figure out if my neighbors in the front downstairs apartment have moved out, to be replaced by new people, or are very slowly moving out. If there's a new couple in there, they haven't introduced themselves yet.
I find myself fascinated and a little obsessed with urban-village stories like Hot Gimmick and the recent Rumiko Theatre short-subjects TV series, at least in part because I don't really have much of a sense of community. I'm a loner by nature, and social interaction never comes easily to me.