Author/Artist: Judith Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “Yagate was happy to help his best friend Yoshitaka with his girl troubles, but it’s Yoshitaka’s turn to return the favor. Yagate’s ready to escape his female admirers and find the man of his dreams. He’s got his heart set on Ra-Myun, a handsome college student. Unfortunately, Chana has her eye on Ra-Myun too and is ready to put up a fight! Meanwhile, Ju-Jin’s long-awaited photo shoot ends in total disaster! Will Yoshitaka finally tell Ju-Jin how he feels before she turns to another?”
It looks like things may finally be going Ju-Jin’s way when she gets her first modelling gig and she drags the snarky but dependable Yoshitaka along for the ride. But where’s the fun in a smooth road? Now Ju-Jin is angry at Yoshitaka yet again and it looks like his feelings may not get through as clearly as he’d hope. On top of that, he owes his best friend, Yagate, help finding a boyfriend of his own. When it looks like Yagate’s dreams arrive in the form of Ju-Jin’s older brother, things might not be so easy when there’s a little female competition.
Ah, classic character drama. I really enjoyed this teen drama however, which managed to bypass all stereotypically angst scenarios and be a fun, light-hearted read. The story keeps itself focused on the lead cast consisting of five friends and their everyday, having fun, wanting to hook up, joking, playing, teasing and generally just being a good group of friends. In place of much of plot, readers instead can enjoy this one for the evolving character relationships that take place over the short duration of the book.
While this book does get by on the seat of its entertaingly casts’ pants, the story itself does seem to be struggling for a focus. While the book opens with Yagate in a lead position (almost misleading as a boys’ love story), the focus then turns to Ju-Jin, and then to Yoshitaka. Rinse and repeat and you have a bit of an indentity crisis. Fortunately amidst the uncertainly of who the book wanted to give its attention too, most of the characters were still given enough balance page time to show just how quirky and entertaining they can be. Y Sqaure Plus is a sequel and final volume to the series Y Square and would probably seem less sporadic to those who know the characters and can appreciate the divided attention among the different characters. While it didn’t impede my enjoyment persay, it was noticeable and a little distracting.
The artwork is definately one of the book’s strongest features, sporting some wonderfully detailed panels. The book does suffer from some inconsistantcy throughout, with the syle of the lineart changing quite noticeably or a difference in the use of tone. The middle of the book has much lighter tones and thinner lines, which, though still nice, wasn’t nearly as eye-catching as the thicker more weighted lines and balanced screen tones that Judith Park used to gorgeous effect in the book’s first few chapters. Also a treat, the first couple of pages of the book come in full, lush colour and they make for an attractive opening piece, the group chapter image in particular. My only solid complaint would be the school uniform, which on the girl’s looks like a bathing suit with frills, suffering from some out of place shines and occassionally over-defined shapes.
Yen Press as usual shows they know how to treat things with a balance of simplistic function and shiny gloss. Their decisions to maintain full colour interiors is always appreciated and this whole book was obviously treated with care, including a nice translation, tidy text and solid printing.
Overall, Y Square Plus was an easy book to pick up and read, despite being the end of a series I’d never heard of until now. The characters were fun for this short time I had with them, even if it was a little uneven, and I really enjoyed Judith’s artwork. Now if only she could keep some of the style a little more consistant! But really, that’s a small complaint in an otherwise beautiful book. It made for an enjoyable one-shot and I’d definately like to see more work from the artist.