Alcohol, Shirt and Kiss Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1569708401
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Alcohol, Shirt and Kiss Vol. #01

By Patricia Beard     March 27, 2007
Release Date: March 21, 2007

Alcohol, Shirt and Kiss Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuko Kuwabara
Translated by:Issei Shimizu
Adapted by:

What They Say
Broken-hearted Naru tried drowning his sorrows with fellow police officer, Kita, only to wake up the next morning Kita-san's bed?! That arrogant smirk on Kita's face tells a tale, but Naru can't remember a thing. Did the alcohol cause him to do something he's going to regret? Or is Kita simply playing perverted games with Naru's mind? What's worse is now the uncomfortable tension will play out at the station house - in front of all the other officers! How can a professional workplace exist when your partner could be your "partner" in more ways than one?

The Review
A salaryman story that sneaks up on the reader with its humor and sweetness.

Another great looking volume from June. The covers shows Naruse and Kita in playful mood along with a police badge that is representative of their profession. The black background makes this cover a standout. Included is a short story, "Moon Kiss". There is an author comment (not bio) on the inner flap along with an author message page at the end of the volume. There are the usual single page advertisements for other June manga.

Kuwabara's artwork cannot be described as "sketchy" although the line is predominant in defining facial form. Facial features are minimal and do not have sculptural definition, but this does not mean that they are unexpressive. Kuwabara sensei gets a lot out of the line she uses and is successful in creating subtleties in a sparse style. This is most evident in her treatment of Kita whose range of emotions runs from indifference and disdain to uncharacteristic tenderness. The emotional expressiveness is put into greater relief by the buildup of body and environmental form through screen tone pattern. Backgrounds are minimal and uncluttered and used to provide a notion of setting. Anything else would overwhelm the figures.

As usual, sfx are translated and placed unobtrusively in the panel. Honorifics are maintained. The dialog reads naturally and well. Each character possesses a distinctive voice, most important for a comedy where how something is said is as important as what is said.

Contents: (please note the following may contain spoilers)
Police detective Yuukichi Naruse, recently dumped by his fiancée, has taken to drinking his sorrows away. Unfortunately, he is a lousy drunk, and his police department partner, Sergeant Riku Kita, accompanies him, listens to his woes, and winds up taking the incapacitated Naruse to his home. Every day Naruse wakes up in Kita's bed wondering how he got there. A change in the pattern occurs one morning when Naruse awakes, again in Kita's bed, but is now naked and greeted by Kita, smoking a cigarette, drolly delivering the line - "I don't know how to put it, but...last night was very stimulating". Naruse is horrified. And so begins this comedy of misinterpretation, deception, and outright lies. Standard BL fare certainly, but it is the voice of the cold, over-confident, often indifferent Kita, showing an occasional and new vulnerability, that makes this seem special.

This is the story of Kita and Naruse's path to commitment and consummation, as most BL stories are. What makes this one different lies in the character and temperament of Kita, whose mercurial emotional states take him from arrogant self-assurance to clinging insecurity, all of which Kuwabara sensei deftly portrays. Kita admits that he is a man who doesn't believe in love, but his strong possessive nature makes him want Naruse. As for Naruse, the recognition of feelings are stock item in BL, but the mangaka makes this much-traveled journey of realization tender and amusing. The only quibble with the story setup is that we don't know why Kita wants to possess Naruse. We are given the reason that Naruse "doesn't bore" Kita. Not very satisfying, but perhaps Kita doesn't know himself.

Kita's new plan to win Naruse has changed their work relationship. This has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the department, most of whom now aid and abet Kita's pursuit in what they halfheartedly believe to be an attempt by Kita to get Naruse to forget his despair over his fiancée by giving him different trouble. The frightened and unsure Naruse finds a confidant in the only female member of the department, Inspector Goto, whose unabashed inquiries into the most intimate details of this and other relationships in the department trigger a lot of fun for the reader.

Kuwabara sensei sets up a wonderful ensemble group for Naruse and Kita. From fanwoman Goto to fellow detective Kuji san (who provides an example to Kita in the pursuit and qualities of a special kind of love), even if their roles are small, the reader is given personal details that enrich the characters and their environment. These people are not simply props to move the story. As good ensemble players, their interactions with Naruse and Kita help to reveal more about them.

"Loving as you please and taking someone like
you're hungry for it is fine, but I think staying
beside each other and letting the warmth seep into your
heart is much nicer".

This comment on love by Kuji san emboldens Kita to pursue his happiness after being confused about how to find it, and this can be said about "Alcohol, Shirt & Kiss" as well. For the reader also finds that what first appears to be an undistinguished story has humor and sweetness, which seeps into the heart just as much.

According to the back cover blurb, this very accomplished story is Yoko Kuwabara's first BL manga. I'm very impressed. This is probably the BL manga I have reread the most in the past few weeks. And I can see this remaining a favorite for some time to come, for the combination of humor and romance in my favorite sub genre of salaryman BL in English is rare enough. I enjoy reading this.

For those over 18 years of age who are concerned about the level of sexuality, there is "consummation" and, while it is explicit in concept, it is not explicit graphically. Verbal references are very few. Graphic depictions are discreet and, in some cases, incomplete.


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