Clan of the Nakagamis Vol. #1 -

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Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 144
  • ISBN: 1569708967
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Clan of the Nakagamis Vol. #1

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 07, 2006
Release Date: June 28, 2006

Clan of the Nakagamis Vol.#1
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Homerun Ken
Translated by:Sachiko Ken
Adapted by:

What They Say
Haruka Iijima and his teacher, Nakagami Sensei, are in the middle of a bitter-sweet relationship. Being a student and teacher couple isn't easy, but they're about to find out that's the least of their troubles. Hakagami Sensei's family, the gang of impossibly beautiful, age-defying Nakagami Sensei obsessed individuals might just turn out to be the worst nightmare. Will this love be able to survive the perverted mystery that is the Nakagami Clan?!

The Review
The presentation for this title is outstanding. First this is printed in DMP's usual A5 sized book with dust jacket. What is different about the dress for this volume is the addition of the pink band on the bottom denoting that this is from DMP's new June imprint. The cover features each member of the Nakagami clan with main characters Iijima Haruka holding Nakagami Tokio in his arms. This is a pretty surreal image, but this is a pretty trippy manga. The opposite cover is done in the traditional YAOI manga trim with a long volume description beneath a close up of the front cover framed in a circle.

Open the book up and the inside is just as impressive. On the dust jacket flap there is a mangaka bio. The volume header provided is a family portrait that features all the characters from each of the shorts in this book. The print is very good. Inks are very clean and sharp. The alignment is also good. This volume has its share of extras - an ato-gaki, conceptual designs and a couple extra shorts. They also included an ato-gaki from the mangaka's sister. I also appreciated how DMP left the Japanese titles on each of the chapter headers.

When I first cracked into this book, I thought I had run into the art of one of my favorite mangaka - Gokurakuin Sakurako. The line work is very similar. Medium length lines tend to be on the lighter side. The lines tend to make everything look sharp and very clean. Therefore, you should not expect to see round cute looking characters or costumes here. Still these characters retain good sense of proportion. They generally look very sharp, vibrant and youthful. That is done on purpose especially in the title series. If there is a major difference from Gokurakuin's art, it comes from the eyes. These are drawn with a little more feeling. Eyes are generally smaller and much more detailed. Homerun Ken also uses tone more; though, I did feel the inking here was excellent as well. As a whole, these are very good looking characters with fun costumes (lots of variety there from school uniforms to 60's one piece dresses) all able to look good in comedy or romance settings.
Backgrounds are fine when drawn. But where Homerun Ken really excels is the layout. It is so hyper, but somehow the mangaka is able to present the scene well while always framing the characters perfectly. So even with the fast pacing and panels filled with manpu, readers should be able to get all that great character art within the madness. Panel sizes, perspective changes and character placement are all used to the fullest to get the maximum effect at all times. Wonderful art overall.

The translation for Nakagamis sounds very good. First, DMP has kept honorifics, which really helps define the interesting relationships the cast share. In this title, in particular with all the strange roles and family structure this is very important. DMP has also kept cultural phrases in the dialogue, and they define those phrases in gutters and through subs. They have done a solid job with how personalities come through in the translation as well. With a large cast sometimes, dialogue can be pretty flat but as DMP kept honorifics and did not abuse slang the original context came through well.

SFX might get some attention as DMP handled these in a unique way. They are all subbed using a small font as not to compromise Homerun's great art. However, the way they translated some of SFX might confuse some readers. This has improved over the years at these are no longer literally done. So now the SFX have functionality and good aesthetics.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Iijima-kun and Nakagami-sensei have a unique kind of student-teacher relationship. They take the concept of loving the educational process to a completely different level - these two love each other. And while they might think they are keeping this a secret, their behavior is expressing this to the rest of the world.

Now maybe for some this would be a problem. Coming out of the closet can be a touchy subject at times and dating a minor is never taken lightly. However, the Nakagami's are not your normal family. These guys might be the antithesis of a normal Japanese family. They are as close to the Adam's family there is for a family that is not monstrous. These people are just a flamboyant, just as unique and they all have strong personalities as well. They are an all-star lineup of etchi freaks living in a huge Japanese style mansion. The family accepts the relationship, but are jealous of the fact some outsider gets their precious Tokio to themselves. They spend their free time imagining what they would do to the young teacher, while they wonder when Iijima-kun will be able to get the courage to actually put their dreams into action.

This is a story of a love that should not happen, but Iijima and Nakagami know that there is no way they can love anyone else. And the Nakagami Clan seems to understand that as well.

I am not purposely going out looking for student-teacher relationships, but similar to the other one I just reviewed Empty Heart this title has a lot of fun with the idea of younger men wanting their older teachers. What sets Homerun Ken's apart is how this title makes the educational process a light-hearted affair.

Unlike Empty Heart, the world that Homerun Ken set this story in is not too cool with teacher-student romances. The cute couple has to keep their relationship hidden from everyone - friends, family and obviously school staff. But to accomplish this Homerun Ken uses some old comedic stand-bys to poke fun at the idea of such social taboos. So instead of just having a student fall in love with his teacher, the two lovers are both male. And why stop there! The younger brother of the teacher is in love with the educator. And he is not the only Nakagami in love with Tokio. Dad and oni-chan are also. And oni-chan is a cross-dresser. The tension is thick. This is like a harem manga but in this situation, the roles are reversed and the prize is not the harem. So you can imagine the hijinks that are pulled to get Tokio's attention. Taboos are damned; everyone is going to go all out and the readers of this series should have a blast following the madness.

If there is a problem with this series it is that it was a little too short for me. I might be reading the ato-gaki wrong but I think there might be more. I sure hope there will be someday. However, the way this collection ended really left me begging for more. The other stories included are fun shorts. Each one cutely dancing around the concept of BL with characters expressing varying levels of sexual frustration. In many ways, they are extensions of the title story, but the personalities are not given enough time to develop for me to really get into.

All in all, Clan of the Nakagamis might not have much BL "action", but it is possibly the best BL "humor" (if there is such a thing) that I have read. This title has many of the best concepts of the wide world of romance-comedy and gives them a fresh new look through the outrageous personalities of Homerun Ken's unique Nakagami clan. Witty, cute and light this title gets to the basics of high school love and makes the reader recall the fonder moments of first romances and wonder what they missed in all those near miss moments.


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jnager 3/13/2012 5:29:42 PM

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