Manga-ka: Toko Kawai
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2009
Synopsis: “Chiaki Sakaguchi appears to be a sociable, popular high school senior, but he carries a dark secret with him that he can tell no one about – not even his closest friends. When Chiaki meets fellow student Eiji Yukimura – an under-achieving social misfit – for the first time, he believes he’s found someone who can understand his inner pain. As the two become closer, Chiaki learns that Eiji has a secret also – a secret so dark, it threatens to overshadow his own. United by common dysfunction and angst, Chiaki and Eiji begin to search for pleasure together beyond their pain.”
Notably heavier than your usual boys’ love fluff, Cut is the story of two young students whose dark pasts have left their toll both mentally and physically. Their growing love for one another becomes a gateway to a kind of peace that neither has known before and together they weather the storm of their own personal issues.
Chiaki Sakaguchi’s social and smiling outward appearance hides an inner self-loathing caused by the childhood loss of his Father. Using one pain to distract from another, he’s taken to Cutting himself (admittedly I never assumed the now-fairly-obvious title reference) and has a pension for rough sexual play. Eiji Yukimura, in contrast, buries his fears inside before erupting into bursts of violence, as he shoulders the burden of his own past, one that though much less Cut and dry than Chiaki’s, is dealt with the same quick exposition.
Cut is not a book for the light-hearted and readers can expect some violence, blood and sex scattered throughout this angst-ridden tale of death, child abuse and incest. At times I found the drama to be a bit over the top and often too pandering to its target audience with the constant ‘woe is me’ attitude.
While reading Cut though, I could at least see why so many people are fans of Toko Kawai’s work. The pacing of the manga is very well done, blending together all the melancholy in a way that was hard pull away from. Even when the plot itself felt a little tiring to me, it was still well written enough that I appreciated the less-than-subtle dramatics. I had much the same feeling about the artwork, which though not especially attractive, was still very effective in its presentation for telling the story.
As for the English release, I didn’t have any notable issues reading through this one and as usual the larger Cut-size, and more recently the removal of cover slips, make it both an attractive and easy-to-flip-through book. Kudos to Digital Manga for the nice work on the cover design also, which sports a creative logo that suits the story.
This one-shot will undoubtedly appeal to readers looking for a deviation from the usual sweet and fluffy high school romances that boys’ love is renowned for. Though I found the book a little too into its own angst at times, it was a still a surprisingly well written work that shouldn’t disappoint Toko Kawai’s fans and is worth a read for those who enjoy their fiction teetering on the dark side of reality.