Clear Skies! Vol. #01 - Mania.com



Anime/Manga Review

Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translation Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16+
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 9781569705759
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Clear Skies! Vol. #01

By Danielle Van Gorder     November 14, 2008
Release Date: August 12, 2008


Clear Skies! Vol. #01
© Digital Manga Publishing

As if four brothers weren't enough, can the Obinata household take two more?

Creative Talent:
Writer/Artist: Akira Sugano and Etsumi Ninomiya
Translation: Mary Kennard
Adaptation: Mary Kennard

What They Say:
Obinata Taiga, editor of a science fiction magazine, one day discovers there's a new addition to the family! Out of the blue, his older sister's married, and his new brother-in-law is Shu Asuo, one of the authors he edits and a high school classmate. Taiga's dead set against it, but then his sister suddenly disappears! Because of that Taiga ends up taking care of his little brothers, and living with Shu!

What We Say:

Packaging:

DMP has done an excellent job on this book overall.  The print quality is excellent, with sharp, crisp line reproduction, relatively bright paper, and the blacks are dark and even.  There's the usual color wraparound dustjacket, and several ads in the back for other new and forthcoming DMP titles.  Presentation is one aspect where DMP rarely disappoints.

Artwork:

Etsumi's art is pretty standard BL fare, all wispy hair and sharp chins, but despite the large male cast, the character designs are nicely distinct and for the most part remain recognizable, although there were a handful of panels that weren't as clear.  She seems to love drawing eyes, and puts a lot of care into them, and also uses them to convey emotion to great effect.  There's some nice use of negative space here as well, although the panel layouts were strictly standard.

Text/SFX:

All sound effects are translated, but unlike most of DMP's books, most of the original effects are replaced rather than being subtitled.  The translation itself flowed very smoothly with only a few lines that felt rough or out of place, and did a good job of giving each character a distinctive voice.  There was one point in the story where the actual Japanese text was key - the English adaptation and cultural notes did an excellent job of explaining the intent of the original, despite the impossibility of a direct translation.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Taiga Obinata has it rough.  He's the head of the household, with three younger brothers to keep in line, a wild older sister who's always absent, and to top it off he's an editor for a science fiction magazine - hardly a low stress job.  But his life abruptly gets much more complicated when Shuu, an old friend from high school shows up on his doorstep without warning one night. 

That's when things get really interesting.  See, Shuu and the tough-looking Yuuta (they claim to be brothers, but Taiga isn't convinced) have apparently come to live with the four Obinata brothers. Why?  Because he's married to their older sister Shima!  Never mind that he's hardly seen her since they got married, or that she takes off on their honeymoon by herself.  Shuu's determined to make a place for himself as the older brother, despite the objections of all four Obinata brothers, but especially Taiga.

But that's hardly all.  Shuu just happens to be the star writer at the magazine Taiga works for, which means that personal matters have to be occasionally put on hold for the sake of meeting deadlines.  Can these six unlikely siblings somehow forge a family together, or will Shima's absence drive them all apart?

Comments:

Like an even more unlikely version of the Brady Bunch, this is a strange comedy about the family ties that keep us together and the way they're forged.  Each of the brothers has a distinct personality that comes through nicely, but Taiga and Shuu are really at the heart of the story, and they're harder to get a read on.  At first glance they're both pretty straightforward characters, but the brief glimpses of the past that we're given in this volume seem to indicate that there's more to each of then than what shows above the surface.  If there's supposed to be some sexual tension between them, though, it's hidden pretty well.  There are some interactions between them towards the end of the volume that could be interpreted as a sign that there's more between them, but it's ambiguous at best.

It's not really clear where this story is going or what it's ultimate goal is, but as a funny comedy of family it works very well.  I enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the novel version as well as the second volume.

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