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Review: Garden Sky

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo
Garden Sky

Manga-ka: Yuko Kuwabara
Publisher: June
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: August 2010

Synopsis: “When happy-go-lucky Shiro is suddenly murdered by a jealous lover, he finds himself summoned to heaven by the teeny-tiny (and totally bored) God Kami-Sama. The two soon hatch a plot to form a “family” featuring the beautiful ninja Kuro…but little do they know that Kuro has his own troubled past! Will these three lonely misfits find a way to overcome their differences and forge a lasting bond?”

Garden Sky is another of the books I question the validity of labeling boys’ love, especially when Digital Manga has their Doki Doki line-up which fits this one-shot like a tailored glove. There’s the potential for boys’ love here but that’s about as far as it goes. The book is split up into two different stories, each one building itself up like your average tale of boy-loves-boy but then stops just before the point where you’d officially deem it one. This isn’t to say the book will really appeal to those who aren’t fans of the genre, but even those who are will likely find themselves a bit disappointed in more ways than one despite some polished art and likeable characters.

The first half of the book, for which the synopsis denotes, introduces readers to Kami-sama – God of the world. He resides in the body of what looks like a five year old and has lived thousands of years up on a tiny heavenly floating rock, watching humans live out their lives beneath him. Kami-sama has grown bored however and when he sees a young men murdered by his ex-lover, he whisks the man’s body away , resurrecting him in his world to be his companion. Fear not any implications of this child x adult however, this is not the couple of the story. The young man, pretty laid back about his new situation, suggests they form a family and to do so, he will require a beautiful wife. Allowing him to handpick his own wife via a magical view-of-the-world-pond, Kami-sama plucks another newly murdered individual to add to their small family – a beautiful geisha murdered by a samurai. Fear not again though, for this beautiful geisha is in fact a ninja and of course not only a ninja but a male ninja at that.

Thusly the players are in place – but what now? Well, not much. They all talk, get to know each other a bit, Shiro starts taking a physical liking to Kuro despite being a man because aside from the lack of breasts he doesn’t look any different and Kami-sama randomly comments about things they’re doing now that he never did before. It’s all very cute and fluffy and there’re plenty of reasons to keep reading including the beautiful artwork which should appease fans of pretty boys. Unfortunately as much as boys’ love fans will want to keep reading, just as things are starting to get good – end game. No more, cut off. It’s very frustrating, not even getting to so much as a kiss. This is mostly because the art is so darn lovely that it wasn’t fair to be teased by eye candy we never got.

Following the title story, which takes up approximately half the book, comes a separate story about a trio of individuals enrolled in a magical training school, each – in their own way – striving to pass the tests before them and attain the sought-after rank of Taimashi. The central focus of this short story is a very energetic young man who quickly befriends a pretty-boy sorcerer in his past. The interactions between the two are cute, mostly because of the first’s infectious enthusiasm, but like the first story in the book it all feels like it ends before it’s even begun. Even more specifically, the sorcerer is hinted at being the child of a very powerful magic-user, setting up some back story as if building to an on-going story. The third in their group is a cute little healer who’s meek and unsure about her role and ability. Her part to play isn’t huge but she rounds out the group, or at least she would in a continuing story – in a boys’ love one shot the focus it gives her seems unnecessary. The story overall packs a little more punch than the first because of the magical mishaps and dragon-hunting quests that make up their tests and subsequent missions.

Ultimately neither of these stories are bad, in fact they were both quite enjoyable and I’d love to read more by the artist after finishing this book. Unfortunately it’s hard to outright recommend this particular one-shot when it’s just that. These stories read as if intended to be taken further and by being stopped so abruptly, the book falls short of feeling satisfying and the characters’ personalities insufficiently fleshed out. What you’re left with is some attractive eye-candy and a plot full of fluff that misses feeling truly substantial.

Review written August 9, 2010 by Lissa Pattillo
Digital copy provided by Digital Manga for review purposes

About the Author:

Lissa Pattillo is the owner and editor of 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.

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