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Review: breath (Vol. 02)

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo

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Manga-ka: Chifumi Ochi
Publisher: Yaoi Generation
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: May 2009

Synopsis: “Yanagi and Arata’s encounter started off as a simple pick-up at a bar, but Arata – who balks at homosexual sex – upsets Yangai to the point of being blackmailed into a sex-slave relationship. It is Arata’s charming and innocent personality, however, that breaks through Yanagai’s resolve and deeper feelings begin to form between them. Just then, Yanagi’s sex friend and Arata’s younger twin brother, Takashi, notices Arata’s strange behaviour…”

One old boyfriend, an inquisitive brother and a relationship that begins to teeter between romantic and purely physical are boys’ love staples awaiting readers in this second volume of breath. Yannagi, still laid back and ready to go, may seem more apt to push forward but a sharp blast from his past puts a damper on his enthusiasm and begins a renewal of old concerns, levelling out the proverbial playing field of emotion between him and Arata.

I recall finding Arata submissive and victim to various uke-tendencies in the first book, but I have to say that here I found him often un-likeably wimpy. He doesn’t feel very strong as a character, more a possession that happens to have some page time for reflecting on his current situation. Thankfully his passive approach doesn’t go so far as to have him feeling especially used, per say, but it’d still give the book a better balance to have him be a bit more assertive.

This I believe is part of why volume two doesn’t have as much as much individual impact as the first volume did, though does maintain a pretty even tone from start to finish. At times I feared things could begin getting dull, but despite the monotony of events, this never proved a problem. After how much emotional confusion and drama the first volume packed, volume two did a nice job slowing down the pace a bit – though of course not without some foreshadowing.

Arata’s twin brother, those of the two born with all the guts and gusto, begins to take keen notice of Arata’s change in behaviour. Protective, and a tad consciously controlling, his brother looks into the change and it doesn’t take long for him to make the connection to Yanagi thanks to cell phones, a keen eye and bar gossip. Creepy and conniving things are now most definitely afoot!

A new character is also introduced near the book’s end, one who played a pinnacle role in Yangai’s past. The book takes some time divulging their time together via flashbacks and works towards giving Yanagi a little more bulk to his fairly confident-character. It is worth noting however that Yaoi Generation made the decision to cut out a couple pages, in lieu of the underage sexual content. Regardless, the story isn’t negatively impacted and the flow doesn’t skip a beat despite the editorial choice.

The same can be said for most of the book on the Japanese-to-English side of things, which continues to impress me with solid production values from Yaoi Generation. The binding on my book (whether restricted to my copy or not, I don’t know) was pretty weak but the translation and letter placement in the interior was still fantastic. The staff did a great job juggling multiple fonts while keeping a strong unity throughout the volume, something that irks me when done wrong but proves very pleasing when done right.

Though not as wowed by breath’s second volume as I was with the first, I was still given no reason to give pause at picking up the next volume. Things may’ve cooled off considerably between Yanagi and Arata for the time being, but the author does a good job easing readers into their new “blushing school boys” phase. It’s hard not to keep interested in knowing where things are going as the dual-dangers of an overly curious twin brother and a potentially sleazy ex-boyfriend enter the mix with undoubtedly messy results to come.

Review written September 27, 2009 by Lissa Pattillo
Book purchased from Yaoi Generation

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of Kuriousity.ca. Residing in Halifax, Nova Scotia she takes great joy in collecting all manners of manga genres, regretting that there's never enough time in the day to review or share them all. Along with reviews, Lissa is responsible for all the news postings to the website and works full time as a web and graphic designer.

Kuriousity does not condone or support the illegal distribution of manga online.
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