Manga-ka: Sakuya Kurekoshi
Publisher: June/DMP & Oakla Publishing
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: November 2007
Synopsis: “You think your life is weird? Imagine being the reincarnation of an ancient priestess from a thousand years ago. That’s the unfortunate fate that has befallen Yuuto, a high school student and kendo competitor whose life is turned upside down when he is visited by a thunder god named Kazuchi. The disgruntled god claims that he is bound to Yuuto and that the only way he can be free is to have Yuuto remember something he’s never done in his lifetime! Will Yuuto be able to tap into his priestess past to remember the magic word to set the thunder god free? And if he does, would he really want the dashing Kazuchi to leave?”
The story begins with Yuuto, a young high school student, who finds he may not be as ordinary as he once thought, when a lightning strike leaves him without a scratch. What it did leave him, however, was a raijuu, a thunder god, who enters Yuuto’s life proclaiming the student is actually the reincarnation of a priestess, the same priestess that sealed the god away! Now the raijuu needs Yuuto to remember his true name so he can be free again.
From Up Above has a strong start as the story begins straight away, turning Yuuto’s life upside down with a flash of lightning. Whether he likes it or not, Yuuto is now stuck with the persistent, but fairly patient, raijuu, and in charge of keeping the thunder god fed with his energy. Despite the many directions one’s mind can take the concept, the energy is transferred with a simple kiss. While other, more potent, ways of giving energy are touched upon by other characters, their implication is only enough to earn this story a 16+ rating.
While the book does a nice job of setting itself it up with multiple characters and entertaining antics, the real let down of the story is the ending itself, or lack there of. Though cited by the manga-ka in the after word as only volume one, this book is released as a stand alone one shot with no sign of any continuation, here or in Japan. This book ends with no resolution to any of the problems and is in fact a simple chapters turn away from what could’ve proven to be the climax of the entire tale.
Sakuya Kurekoshi’s artwork is one of the treats of the book. It’s simple and lightly screen-toned, each image popping off the pages, well suited to the stiffer, bright paper quality. Characters are unique against each other and show a range of emotion and expression. The manga-ka manages to have very attractive pretty-boy characters who don’t go as over the top and carelessly feminine as some with similar artistic styles. Especially striking are the subtle demonic features of the raijuu, done in a way that allows him to realistically fit in with the simple designs of the other characters while still remaining noticeably different to the readers. The cover art is bright and eye-catching but may seem a little crusty to those who stare closely.
With the exception of releasing a book that may offer fans no conclusive satisfaction, DMP has done another nice job with this book. It is also one of the first DMP/June books to carry the Oakla Publishing stamp, a symbol of the joint release with the Japanese company. Some may find the initial speaking of the raijuu a little awkward to read, an accent that seems fairly inconstant, but it seems to fit with the already out of place thunder god and is soon rectified through plot.
Altogether, From Up Above is an attractive and entertaining read that’s only glaring fault lies in the cliffhanger ending and perhaps its stand in the yaoi genre, offering very little relationship between the two main characters. While it does set itself up for a strong continuation, and further boys’ love interactions, with no word on a second volume or continuing story arc from this artist, those who enjoy this book could rethink it when the tale cuts off too soon with no resolution. Those who can remain hopefully optimistic will probably be pleased they picked up this title as they await its conclusion with fingers crossed, From Up Above merely the tip of what could be a very enjoyable yaoi-iceberg.