Brother Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: DramaQueen L.L.C
  • MSRP: 11.99
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN: 0-9766045-0-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Brother Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     November 26, 2005
Release Date: July 01, 2005


Brother Vol.#01
© DramaQueen L.L.C


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuzuha Ougi
Translated by:C Pellikka
Adapted by:

What They Say
Momoki Asuka and Momoki Yui are two stepbrothers who were the best of friends until an unfortunate incident one summer's day. Ever since then, Yui has avoided Asuka at all costs, even going so far as America to study. A super tennis star, Yui no longer needs a big brother, so where does that leave poor Asuka? What happens when brotherly love transforms into something more?

The Review
Every yaoi fan should have this book in their collection.

Packaging:
DramaQueen has managed to be the first domestic company to reproduce a Japanese tankoubon in English. Wholly impressive is the only way to describe this book; the perfect printing, color plate illustration, dust jacket (complete with author profile on the flap!), even the paper stock -- this book is as close to the original as can be. DramaQueen uses the original cover art, which makes no bones about what's found inside; the picture features Yui embracing Asuka in a playfully sexy pose surrounded by flowers. There are lots of vibrant colors and the logo, which is nearly identical to the original, is well matched and complimentary.

Artwork:
Yum! These boys are pretty, without being feminine. (Though how any kid Yui's age could look so old, I'll never know!) This book has some great style, and being a relatively new work, really looks the part. The artwork is pretty consistent throughout and there are a lot of details, particularly with regards to clothing and bodies. The action is explicit and the characters are sexy -- well proportioned and muscled -- although the designs (and in particular the faces) have an overly angular quality typically found in many Boys-Love titles. Lines are clean and careful, but backgrounds are largely nonexistent (but who's looking?), generally consisting of only what's necessary. Panel layout doesn't do anything special, but it gets the job done (and particularly well with regards to the sex scenes).

SFX/Text:
SFX and panel text are translated and overlaid, using a variety of fonts and overall look excellent. The SFX in general appear to make good use of the empty space rather than cover up artwork, so overlaying is an easy choice, but even where panel art is concerned the process looks to have been done very carefully, with every effort to keep the art intact.

There were a couple of minor errors with the text/translation – specifically some punctuation oversights and what I think should have been an "I'm leaving" was translated as "I'm home" – but otherwise the translation is wonderful and reads quite smoothly. Yui's age has not been changed, (nor has the fact that he is still in high school), and all the honorifics are intact. A page of translation notes, which includes a guide to honorifics and pronunciations, is included at the back after the author's freetalk pages. Overall a very solid release.

Contents:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This is the story of how two stepbrothers came to realize, admit, and act upon their love for each other. First we're introduced to Asuka, the life of the party at his advertising company, who guards a terrible secret: he's got no party in his pants! Rendered impotent by a humiliating experience in front of his younger stepbrother Yui, Asuka now finds himself in a sad state of social affairs. Yui on the other hand is a gorgeous, extremely popular high school tennis champ, who has been living abroad for some time. Once very close, these two brothers have barely spoken a word to one another for five years, thanks to an awkward incident that happened between them during one summer vacation.

While playing around in an old abandoned building the summer of five years past, the two boys got locked in cabinet. There, at the tender age of 12, Yui became sexually aware - of his older brother! The shock of this revelation, combined with his feelings of guilt, confusion and horror caused Yui to avoid his brother and naturally shaped him into the hovering, brooding type. Asuka, not realizing what had happened, never understood why Yui had become so cold and soon developed an inferiority complex. Now Yui has returned from studying abroad to join the family on vacation, and he has decided to confess his feelings of unrequited love to Asuka!

Naturally, the brothers find themselves trapped once again in the abandoned building and, this time, facing certain death. Yui restrains Asuka so that he may confess his feelings, but he is apparently also determined not to die a virgin. Though Asuka resists at first, he soon realizes his feelings are the same. After some time (and lots of sex) the two boys manage to escape the ruined building, but their relationship has evolved into something entirely new.

A year passes and Yui is back at school in Japan, and the brothers have picked up right where they left off. Sex every night, dates on the weekend; these two have really got it bad for one another. But as any good Boys-Love relationship shows, theirs too must eventually hit a bump or two. Seeing Yui at school, Asuka begins to realize that the difference in their ages is, developmentally, quite profound and worries that Yui is merely going through some sort of experimental phase. To make matters worse, the frequency of their nighttime activities has been declining, thanks to Yui's vigorous training schedule. Convinced the strength of his feelings will only hurt Yui and keep him from being able to live a normal life, Asuka tries to put some distance between them.

Coming to the story’s climax (no pun intended), the final chapter brings resolve to the brothers’ insecurities. While Asuka pretends to be on a business trip Yui goes on a ski trip with his class, but neither can keep thoughts of the other at bay. After news of a bus crash in the mountains Asuka rushes out to make sure Yui is safe, but along the way he gets trapped in a snowdrift. Meanwhile Yui, who has spent the trip fretting over Asuka’s avoidance of him, begins to worry when he can’t get through to Asuka’s cell phone. This chapter, with its focus set more on Yui, finally shows the reader how deep his affections are rather than continue to simply illustrate his desire, a fault perhaps of his shy nature and the story being told primarily through Asuka’s eyes. Though having seen small glimpses of his adoration earlier in the story, it’s through Yui’s anxiousness here that the reader truly sees that Asuka’s worries are unfounded –- Yui is completely, earnestly in love and their separation is tearing him apart.

By an act of divine intervention Yui finds himself rescuing Asuka from the snow. Once reunited, Yui makes clear his emotions and he and Asuka reaffirm their love for one another. Everything settled, they head home and happily resume their secret courtship.

Comments
Proof positive that a true yaoi title can be done right in English! The fans that have had their appetites whet by the early wave of tamer titles in the domestic market have been waiting for this book -- even if they don't know it yet. Brother is sheer sexy smut, chock full of hardcore sex scenes in all their unadulterated glory. But how does one grade the content? On the plot, or the sex? While these two things needn't be mutually exclusive, seasoned yaoi fans know how it really works. In this case the plot gets about a B, but the sex gets an A. Providing a series of staple Boys-Love events, I wouldn't say Brother brings anything new to the genre in general, but the domestic market doesn't have many stories like this one.

The plentiful (and detailed) sex is welcome, but Brother also manages to provide just enough angst, emotion, and story to get from one sex scene to the next without things feeling rushed. We've seen the characters before; there's the quiet, dark and brooding Yui and the outgoing, boisterous and emotional Asuka. Theirs is also a struggle is so well-worn it might as well be a beloved old sweatshirt: grappling with their feelings of forbidden love, (made even worse by the familial/incestuous taint), the brother-loves must also face the doubts and challenges their romance may bring. But it isn't all drama -- sprinkled with a fair bit of sexual and situational humor (bonus awarded for cute little sisters, too), this was a very entertaining read.

The ending is conclusive but leaves room to grow. The author is continuing the title but hasn't yet published enough for a second volume (and there is no word on whether or not DramaQueen holds the license for more), but it reads fine as a stand-alone volume either way. The story and characters may be fairly typical, but that needn't deter the discriminating fans; there's something to be said for familiarity and the ease with which we can relate to a plight we've seen before. And what really saved things for me was the cultivation of Yui toward the end, especially in the last few pages, where he was given some much-needed personality development. Plus, this book is HOT. And excellently packaged. And the penis smiley face? Hilarious! The silliest thing I ever loved. Yaoi fans, get this book.

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