Manga-ka: Fumi Yoshinaga
Released: Febuary 2007
Synopsis: “Tamiya meets Tohdou at Reinou University when he is unexpectedly French kissed by him at his zemi’s, or seminar’s, launch party! While Tamiya is somewhat put off by the unexpected kiss, considering the other students were forced to strip, he is grateful to Tohdou and they soon begin a curious friendship. But things become a little rocky when Tohdou admits he is gay and asks Tamiya to become his lover…”
Another in a long line of Yoshinaga’s work, Ichigenme should not let down any of her fans. Contained in its pages are all the classics of the manga-ka’s style, well-written dialogue, several different characters to bounce the story off of and a simple layout for which to follow it all.
Our story begins as the synopsis states, with the main character, Tamiya, attending a seminar with his teacher and peers. After being ‘rescued’ with a kiss from classmate, Tohdou, the story begins. We the readers are thrown into the classroom setting of their university life, introduced to new friends and faculty, including a passionate substitute teacher. As with most of Yoshinaga’s work, she is never afraid to give secondary characters some spotlight time and, though you will obviously be focused on Tamiya above all others, you will learn bits and pieces about the other characters through their interaction. This helps give the story a well-rounded feeling, though some people may not enjoy being sidetracked from the main characters for short periods of time. Ultimately, however, the focus stays true to its genre.
Now don’t expect to fly straight into the relationship. We follow Tamiya and Tohdou as they begin spending more time with each other, work their way through school and, eventually, begin opening up their feelings to one another. Of course there’s a bit of reluctance on one side. There are happy moments, sad moments and moments that just make you give a good chuckle as humor and drama are well balanced.
The art is consistent and easy to follow. Particular detail is given to faces. Subtle mood changes, and not so subtle ranges of emotion, really bring life to these characters. Mixed with the well paced and written dialogue, the events and interaction in the story feel much more true to life then many other mangas.
Overall, to fans of Yoshinaga’s work, this is certainly recommended. To readers who prefer a quick paced story, action or explicit sex, this may not be what you’re looking for. However, the story itself is a journey, and to those patient enough to follow, will be given a bit of everything by the end. As this is only volume one, much more can be expected in future volumes as we get to see where their relationship has progressed in the years that follow.
801Media, the company that is publishing this manga in English, is a newly put together group. Ichigenme is officially their first release. Because of this I am also going to give a short review on how I believe they presented this book to us.
To further test the group, I ordered directly from their website. Not only were they very fast in responding to a shipping problem, they were also very kind about dealing with it. They shipped immediately and I received the book after only a few days. It was well packaged and in perfect condition. Along with that, it came in a soft, semi-transparent slip complete with a small bow. I thought this was a really neat little thing for initial presentation’s sake and had a much more personal feel to it.
The book itself is a nice size (11.5×9.5 inches), a bit smaller than most other English published mangas. It’s a thick volume, immediately telling you that you have a substantial amount of reading material here. It is published with a simple cover slip that includes use of the original colour image. Everything essential is included on this cover slip, while remaining clean and uncluttered. The back in particular, with the simple border and clean, paragraphed synopsis, stood out to me. It all looks great. Included at the end of the book, on the cover slip, is also a short, cute comic with some of 801media’s mascot characters.
The font inside is nice and clean, kept consistently sized. Certain sound effects are replaced with their English equivalent but for the most part the translation is placed neatly next to the original symbols. The translation was well done and it flows well, true to the original feel intended by the manga-ka. Honorifics were not kept with the exception of –sensei.
For various reasons I was a little nervous about this group putting out books, especially with several of my favorites currently in their hands, but I was very happy with what I received. I now look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in the future as I proudly place this first release on my bookshelf.