Beyond My Touch Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 174
  • ISBN: 1569709289
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Beyond My Touch Vol. #01

By Josephine Fortune     May 19, 2006
Release Date: October 01, 2005


Beyond My Touch Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tomo Maeda
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo
Adapted by:

What They Say
Mizuno and Mamoru never saw eye-to-eye in school. Nervous glances, crippling shyness... every day, a tangled web of feelings threatened to keep them apart forever. But when Mamoru dies and returns as a ghost, the boys unearth a truly special connection. Can this new love from the great-beyond bring Mizuno back to life, or will his shadowy past bury all hope?

A supernatural pulse beats inside the entwined human hearts in Beyond My Touch, the series that takes on new love and hidden loss, the day-to-day dilemmas of growing-up and sheltered, secret passions. When you find your life's soulmate, shouldn't you go to the living end to share yourself completely?

The Review
A cute shounen ai ghost story that's not "Eerie Queerie."

Packaging:
This is my first volume from DMP, and I was quite impressed with the presentation. Though it doesn't blend in very well on my shelf, I tend to like books with larger trim size and bigger art. There weren't any color pages, but the cover features a really nice dust jacket with art on the front and back along with a small illustration on the inside front cover flap where it talks about the mangaka (the back flap is an ad for DMP goods). The cover design is okay, if a little on the plain side. There's an illustration of the main couple taking up most of the real estate on the front, with the title in a floaty, translucent font just below their heads. The mangaka's name is put in a rather tiny size in the upper lefthand corner, and there's a purple band across the bottom that identifies it as a DMP yaoi title. I appreciate the effect that was attempted with the series logo, but the font chosen is a bit too hard to read. The back is pretty simple, with an illustration of the same couple from the front and the summary right next to it right below the series logo. The summary is balanced almost perfectly with the image on the left, but the font is again a bit strange and unconventional, and again probably not a good choice as far as legibility goes. It also crosses over onto a blue stripe pattern that takes up the bottom half of the back cover, which makes the last bit of it even harder to read, and the same could be said of the price and DMP URL that are located at the bottom around the barcode and rating.

Aside from the dust jacket, there's quite a bit of extra content in this volume. The first page is the title page featuring an illustration (black and white, but originally in color), followed by a table of contents. The table of contents and publication info are combined onto one page with no frills, and immediately after follows the first story. The first story, which is the main story and the one the volume is named for, starts off with a pseudo-splash page with some panels and a large illustration of the main couple. The second chapter features a regular splash page, while the third features another large illustration of the couple with some text panels superimposed after it. When "Beyond My Touch" concludes, there's a gag panel with both characters, then a four-page bonus comic that sort of wraps up the loose ends. The second story, "Cool Lips," features once again an illustration of the couple from that story with some text panels superimposed on top of it. It also concludes with a gag panel, and the third story features a bonus illustration before the splash page, which is a full-page splash illustration. There's a two-page author omake at the end featuring comic art for a short explanation of the book, and a full page dedicated to the inspiration for each story.

Text/Translation:
The translation was really good, there were no grammar or spelling errors, and everything read really well in English. All the boys sounded great, and the conversations with one another, both internal and external, flowed really well. The sound effects were left in their original Japanese, with an English translation written nearby, or within the sound effect. About the only picky text detail I had a problem with was the way that if the speech bubble was clear, the place where the Japanese text was on the background toner wasn't touched up very well, but that's such a picky detail and the overlap so slight that you'd almost have to be looking for it, so it really was just a minor thing.

Artwork:
I really disliked the art style in this series for two reasons. One was the way the eyes/faces were drawn and the other was the character designs. All the characters look very similar, to the point where I was extremely confused about some of them appearing in other stories... but I think all the characters for each story were unique. The faces and eyes were really, REALLY angular, and the eyes were turned up on the outside corners and slanted upward on the face along with their eyebrows, which was really weird. Otherwise, it was sort of plain, but very functional and easy to read. The pages were a bit busy with panels, but since a lot of what was going on was dialogue (especially in the first story), this didn't feel too out-of-place. Her style went extremely well with her stories though, where the tone of the stories was light and fun overall, and the way the actions flow, the scenes are drawn, and the character interactions play out went extremely well with this mood.

Content:
This one-shot volume is comprised of three stories. "Beyond My Touch" is the main story, it takes up a little more than half the volume and is comprised of three chapters. Mizuno and Takayama were classmates who didn't know each other very well. Mizuno hardly knew Takayama existed. That's why when Takayama died, he was shocked to see the ghost following him around three days later. It turns out that the cheery ghost of Takayama had a regret that's keeping him bound to the mortal plain, and that regret was never getting together with Mizuno, his secret crush at school. Since Mizuno is his regret, Takayama winds up "haunting" Mizuno, staying at his house and making a loud, cheery pest out of himself in the rather somber, otherwise quiet Mizuno household. In death, Takayama is rather open about his feelings, but Mizuno outright rejects him again and again, even as Takayama does favors for him around the house and tries to be as pleasant and nice as possible. But slowly, Mizuno warms up to Takayama, and each chapter is a new step in their relationship. The second story, "Cool Lips," is a retrospective story that starts off with a kiss from a somewhat distant classmate that completely confused the main character, Hashiba. Ozuki, the new kid, never really fit in at school and always seemed to skip and put off the aura of a troublemaker, but he also attracts attention from almost no one in the class. After Ozuki makes an extremely out-of-character move and speaks to Hashiba, one of the more popular kids in their class, Hashiba quickly befriends Ozuki and the two become friends due in large part to Hashiba's effort... but then the event happens. Fast forward to the present as an extremely hurt and confused Hashiba deals with and comes to terms with what he thinks his relationship with Ozuki ought to be and what it means to him. The last story, a fun one called "Recipe," is short and is mostly about a student named Takahashi cooking sweets every morning for his friend Minoru. Though everyone else in the class swears up and down that Takahashi is a master sweet chef, Minoru only gives him a simple "good" or "tasty" with every sweet, which sends Takahashi into a rage, as his goal is to get him to exclaim over his cooking the way he did when they were younger. Takahashi tries to find out what his cooking is missing from what it had back then, and he begins to wonder if it has anything to do with the way he feels about Minoru...

Generally I'm not a fan of the shounen ai and yaoi genre as they always seem to wind up being not really my type of story. But I wound up being really, REALLY glad I picked this one up, because the sweet, innocent relationships were right up my alley, and I always wind up being fond of good one-shot volumes of short stories. Not all the stories here were good, but it was still a really solid volume. I may as well get the negative out of the way first... "Beyond My Touch" was probably my favorite, as it only ever really contained the two main characters in an extremely restricted environment, plus it was longer and a lot more developed than the other two. Each chapter contained more or less a separate story about the two boy's relationship reaching a new level. However, the development of the relationship felt like it happened way too quickly for the type of character that Mizuno was set up to be, and the end was a bit sloppy and left off in sort of a strange place (and maybe it's just my feelings on it, because it did reach a good resolution). I think it would have been something I really enjoyed had it been lengthened and the story taken its time, but I think there was probably a reason it was shoved in this format, and it's a fine story with a great relationship, so I did really enjoy it for what it was. The way that Mizuno always seemed to react to Takayama, and the way that Takayama brought out these reactions in Mizuno, was a really fun thing to watch, and their dynamic relationship is really what made that story good. But I'll get to that later. "Cool Lips" I don't think I liked too much when I read it the first time, but as I flipped through the volume again to write this review, I really wound up enjoying it a lot. Half is a retrospective and half is sort of a focus on how Hashiba feels about himself and about his strange friend, and I really liked the intensity of the discussion he has with himself and the simplicity, sincerity, and just simple mechanics of the story itself. I don't even remember why I didn't like it, and maybe it was just because Mizuno and Hashiba looked too much alike, but otherwise I really loved that story. "Recipe" was less good for me, I think it was probably the over-the-top Takahashi that did that one for me. I didn't really understand the severity of the conflict as Takahashi was emphasizing it, and I think the entire story failed for me because of that. Of course, it was still (literally) sweet and had a very fluffy relationship, so it still gave me that warm feeling in the end. I really wound up liking this volume a lot despite its flaws, and I think it went a long way towards convincing me to pick up the light shounen ai stuff again.

A lot of the characters, while not developed very well in the short story format, really did strike a chord with me. The problem with them mainly, aside from a few of them falling a little flat, was that they were basically the same two characters in each story. There was always a cheery, upbeat character and a somewhat somber, quiet character. There was still enough variation on this to make each story feel somewhat separate, but they were all very similar relationships from one story to the other (with the exception being the variation with the loud character in the last story). As I said earlier, I enjoyed the relationship between Takayama and Mizuno the most, and it was likely because they got a bit more time to develop than the others. The slow way that Takayama cracks the tough nut that is Mizuno is a wonderful thing to watch, and a lot of their individual characteristics also clash and they have a very odd couple-like living situation. It's fun to watch them argue though, and their relationship just is very light and fun all the way around while still being very serious and having its points of drama throughout. In the second story, while there wasn't too much to like of Ozuki (he's just not given very many lines or much page time), Hashiba was a really enjoyable character, and as I said earlier, I absolutely loved reading all about his inner turmoil and seeing him analyze his relationship and get worked up over what seems like the smallest of gestures. Hashiba more than anyone else in the volume is guilty of being almost a direct carbon copy of Takayama, but they're both such delightful characters that I enjoyed seeing the mold used again. Even though Hashiba suffered through a lot of inner turmoil, the story still has the light and fun quality maintained throughout the book, which is pretty notable. That the last story has a light and sweet relationship is about all I can say for it, because it was a bit too short for me to really be able to sink my teeth into the characters, plus I really didn't like what I saw of either of those two characters... but the plot that was candy-centric and really not about anything serious was hard not to like.

Comments
I'm really not a shounen ai reader, but I found this volume to be on par with some of the lightest and most cheery relationship-centric shoujo manga you can buy out of the general offerings. It's a single volume containing three stories, and while it does have its flaws (the first story being a bit rushed and choppy and the third story being too short and not too likable), I really enjoyed it a lot due to its very upbeat situations and characters. The relationships were also very good, particularly in the first, longer story and the second story. I don't read a lot of other shounen ai/yaoi manga regularly, so I can't say how this may be on par or deviating from the typical title... but I really like it, and I think that anyone who indulges in a lot of shoujo fluff would probably like it too.

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