Manga-ka: Eiki Eiki/Taishi Zaou
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: June 2009
Synopsis: “When art student Takashiro Tsuda chose to show his painting, Color, in a gallery exhibition, he never dreamed that an uncannily similar painting would hang next to his – with the same title, even. Works of art come from the deepest depths of an artist’s soul, so how can anyone else be expressing themselves so much like Takashiro? Filled with a yearning to find his artistic soulmate, Takashiro goes off to art school in Tokyo and meets classmate Sakae Fujiwara. Soon, Takashiro learns that this is the artist he’s been searching for – the one who created a Color so much like his own – but Sakae is a guy! Can such a profound connection between two people transcend gender and become something more?”
Takashiro is a young artist whose work has recently been displayed in an art gallery. However upon his visit he sees a very similar painting hanging next to it and immediately becomes enthralled with the idea of meeting its creator. When discovering that the painter Sakae-san is a young man, and soon a classmate at that, Takashiro’s quickly growing affections may’ve hit a speed bump but it’s only sent them flying.
When Takashiro and Sakae have their eventual open revelation of identity, the story quickly shifts gears, throwing itself so unapologetically into boys’ love mode that it’s almost refreshing. The young men find themselves quickly enamoured with each other and their hugging and hand-holding quickly turns into daily meetings for kissing, cuddling and hopes at privacy eventually leading to more physical exploration with little work-up. Warning to the sixteen year olds out there, you’ll get some sex in this one – obvious but not graphic genitalia-wise.
These opening chapters of the book are pretty cute, albeit in a way that oozes so much fluff and embarrassment on the characters’ part that some readers may have similar sentiments to the group of background-friends constantly sharing their very vocal opinions about the lovebirds. It’s the kind of sweet that gives you cavities but you’ll suffer through a few for that feel-good fluff.
The story has a whole takes place over their years in school and along with a small notation of how many years has suddenly gone by, visually the characters age as well. Takashiro in particular grows from a slender pretty boy to being a taller, ganglier slender young man. The changes are obvious without being dramatic and it’s nice to see attention to how much teenagers do grow in a mere two years. The art in general is pretty pleasing to the eye and the characters, through obviously not without a certain manga-style grace, still look notably male. The overzealous expressions add a lot of physical humour and charisma to the characters as well.
Like many constructed boys’ love stories, Color takes its leave with a chapter that sees Takashiro and Sakae at odds with the prospect of being separated. Family issues add some darker drama to the story, such as the hospitalization of Takashiro’s Father, but the over-dramatics of their reactions stop it from being very distressing. Those looking for a deeper, down to the Earth story may find themselves disappointed with the superficial handling, which reads more comedic than compelling, but the story never seems to take itself seriously long enough to expect that of the readers either so it’s an enjoy with suspended belief kind of read.
Interestingly however, the characters of Takashiro and Sakae are based on the story’s creators. The book itself is a collaboration between the two relatively well-known manga creators, Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou and they share credit for both the art and the story. Those familiar with their styles, similar as they are, will be able to see at first glance which artist was responsible for what parts of the artwork. The plot itself actually follows a loose retelling of the two getting to know each other, told under the glazed-guised of these two high school artists (and boys at that in contrast).
What this manages to create is possibly the most relevant point about the book for potential buyers and that’s your affection for the artistic duo behind it. The book could still prove a good read for those not familiar with their work, and in fact would work as a gateway release, but the story has a different level of entertainment for those who’ve enjoyed Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou’s work before. The end of the book sports some explanatory pages of the book’s plot comparatively to Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou’s first encounters, as well as some humorously candid mini comics that don’t shy away from addressing some of the obvious questions readers will have when learning this book is based on them.
Color is an interestingly constructed take on the personal lives of these manga creators but it still works as an intended boys’ love one-shot that any fan of the genre can pick up. The two artists have managed to mix their interests with their lives to create a fun, silly and overall charming story about two people finding their other halves in each other. Not intended to be taken too critically, but still emotional enough to float above being entirely shallow, it’s an enjoyable one-shot that warrants a read.