9th Sleep - Mania.com

Manga Review

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translation Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 and Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1569708347
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: 9th Sleep

9th Sleep

9th Sleep Manga Review

By Christopher Nadolski     February 24, 2010
Release Date: January 13, 2000

9th Sleep
© Digital Manga Publishing

A heterosexual yaoi fantasy, minus the sexual... but yes, definitely steady on the hetero—read on :)

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Makoto Tateno
Translation: Vivian Chien
Adaptation: Vivien Chien

What They Say
The planet had died once before. On the day of Despaira, a god appeared in the sky and saved the world. His name was King Shishioh. But now with the throne of the king empty, a viscious battle between two brothers is unfolding. Who will ascend the throne?

The Review!

The brothers appear on the front cover, and Malchus gestures towards Luke with a ceremonial blade in a posture which could be interpreted as either threatening, or protective.  Luke bears a dazed, swooning expression and his dainty, lady-like digits hold aloft a single fuchsia hibiscus. On back, another image of the brothers surrounded by roses stands alongside the summary. Gothic and floral aesthetics dominate the design of the packaging overall with Old English font, flowery graphical flairs, and soft, muted tones with saturated accents. 
The art throughout is wispy and elegant. A fine, soft touch graces every element, from the smooth, flowing line-work to the silky, subdued screen tones—a very pleasant, sensuous style. Malchus and Luke rarely appear without their lithe, petite chocker necklaces, and sporting primly groomed looks overall, they seem constantly poised to suddenly hit the ice in a men's figure skating competition. Frame layout is beautiful, with several full page spreads and the translation reads very well. The good quality paper is easily handled and ink is great, but has a certain fresh-off-the-press odor to it. Four pages of after words include notes from the mangaka and a tame doujinshi scene.
If you find yourself yearning to see some kind of homosexual consummation, you may be disappointed, possibly angered or confused by this pseudo-yaoi volume. It presents a curious kind of boys love conundrum for anyone fan enough of that genre to be titillated at the ever present (though in this case, highly improbable) possibility of some gay sexual/amorous activity between the men and/or boys of the story. All the trappings are there: languishing, graceful men  with precious, delicate gestures, impossibly fair countenances framed in flowing gossamer locks, and adorned in perpetually stylish, slimming attire—but ultimately having no actual homoerotic payoff for fans of that fare. Mangaka Makoto Tatemo herself even apologizes to pining BL readers for the lack of voyeuristic gay content—"there isn't even any kissing, sorry!".
What we have then, is a work that actually stands entirely on its non-prurient merits and this review approaches it as any other PG rated magical fantasy. The story begins by plunging us into the middle of a brotherly feud. Sky city dwellers Malchus and Luke are fated to fight each other for kingship. Apparently though, Luke, the gentler soul, is not up for all this bloody dueling, and kills himself rather than face his brother. Well, these guys are god-like, so Luke is able to re-incarnate in a mortal woman's womb down on Earth. Some years later, the new Luke is once again at that ripe old fight'n age and the tensions resume. Same result, Luke dies and re-incarnates in another Earthlings womb. 
Believe it or not, this cycle actually looks to be making a third turn, but by now Malchus is beginning to warm up to Luke's softer ways and doesn't really seem to have much of that killing drive left. This pisses off some legalistic clerics in the sky city who reveal several new twists, namely that there truly is no contest for kingship after all. It was in fact just a sham story, made up to paper over the true reason for the feuding—Luke has actually been chosen for the kingship all along, and Malchus is only being used to toughen him up. Well, Luke will have none of it, so the clerics try killing him, but he is saved by Malchus who has now completely softened. The brothers escape to Earth and happily run a healing clinic out of the magical garden that sprang up around them from the sky city seeds which had clung to their cloths while escaping.
In Summary: 
To readers lusting for some kind of male on male action this must seem like a cruel joke—no gay sex for you, BL fan! But don't be so quick to judge, and non-yaoi readers, you can completely disregard that yaoi label on front—this clean, stand alone volume is quite an interesting little tale. Though some plot devices are repetitive, it all comes together in a satisfying story of compassion and love.


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