Manga-ka: Aoi Futaba/Kurenai Mistuba
Publisher: Kitty Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2005
Synopsis: “Mizuki is a popular male fashion model with a promising future. When the mysterious Haruno sees him, she wants to make him the centrepiece for her company’s latest promotion. To lure Mizuki in, she calls on the talents of her twin brother, Kazuomi. He is quick to seduce the young super-model, but things soon escalate beyond business as usual. As Kazuomi’s feelings run away with him, it looks like true love for him and Mizuki.”
Level C is one of those yaoi titles that any long time fan of the genre has heard of. It’s considered one of the classics and the staples, both the manga and its short OVA. Level C is a generally well-loved series but in different ways for different people; you either love it for being good or you love it for being bad, and probably for all the same reasons.
The story begins with a quick Mizuki back-story inclusive introduction via his half-brother manager. Meanwhile, Kazuomi, a confident businessman who lives to find a warm body to sleep next to, finds himself kicked out of his apartment after a failed ‘relationship’, and is immediately captivated by Mizuki’s appearance and kindness. After some short words, and with a level of trust that shows why so many dote on him, Mizuki allows the stranger to spend the night in his apartment. In exchange, Kazuomi offers the young man “a night of ecstasy you will never forget” and promptly delivers.
Level C is a series that is probably most renowned for the sheer volume of sex scenes contained in each book. Kazuomi seems to enjoy nothing more than pleasuring his new lover and, of course, Mizuki continuously finds himself unable to protest. That said, with so much yaoi revolving around initially unwilling partners, its pleasant to read something where both involved very much enjoy being together from the beginning. Kazuomi and Mizuki have upbeat and entertaining personalities that keep the story moving along with their humorous and revealing interactions with both each other and the secondary cast of characters.
Because the chapters weren’t drawn in the chronological order presented in these compiled graphic novel forms of the manga, a look of inconsistency often occurs at points in the book. While some of the artwork seems more polished than the rest, it all maintains the same simple, thin line art and general character structure so it all flows together well regardless of small changes in quality or style. Cloudy screen toning is used to censor the more graphic parts of the sex scenes while still allowing readers to follow exactly what’s going on.
Kitty Media did an average job with Level C’s release. The pastel colours of the cover is attractive and suiting to the content and a nice job was done with the cover’s design, keeping the back cover simple and connected to the cover via the white flowers. The wording of the translation inside doesn’t often flow as smoothly as one would like and it uses the same unattractive font as most of Media Blaster’s (Kitty Media’s parent company) releases. Sometimes it’s almost necessary to break the book’s binding just to read some of the words that are cut off. Most of the original sound effects are kept in place with translations placed next to them.
Level C comes across as a bit shallow, feeling more like a line of sex scenes strung together using small bits of plot and the characters don’t always come across as believable in anyway (Mizuki’s been with a woman before?). It works well as initiation into the world of yaoi for those ready for the 18+ step; a classic seme and uke coupling with plenty of sex and little initial substance makes it a great overall combination of what you’ll find in your average yaoi story. However, with completion in 1993, Level C still holds a strong spot as one of the pioneers of the genre and maybe that’s what keeps fans holding onto it so strongly. Regardless, Level C is a book that really needs to be read to determine if it’s a series for you (non-yaoi fans need not apply) and volume one is probably all you’ll need to determine this, offering a good glimpse of what readers can expect for the remainder of the story.