Cold Sleep (novel) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 250
  • ISBN: 1569708878
  • Size: Shinsho
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Cold Sleep (novel) Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     January 30, 2007
Release Date: September 01, 2006

Cold Sleep (novel) Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Narise Konohara / Artist: Nanao Saikawa
Translated by:Douglas W. Dlin and Iori
Adapted by:

What They Say
Having lost his memory in an accident, Tohru Takahisa is taken in by Fujishima, an older man claiming to be his friend. However, Fujishima is cold and unwieldy, refusing to tell Toru anything about his past. What unravels is a dramatic love story that entangles the intricate relation of past and present.

The Review
This is a story of surprises and innovation ... until the last page.

DMP uses the original cover art for this novel, English logo and all. Pictured on the front are Fujishima and Tohru clutching each other in a desperate-meets-willing sort of way. It's sexy, but rather looks like a role-reversal based on the contents of this volume. The back cover is pretty boring by comparison, but it gets the blurb job done. Paper and coverstock are nicely sturdy, but a more pliant binding would do wonders (although a couple of reads will loosen it up). A color plate and several black and white illustrations by Nanao Saikawa are included inside. Konohara's afterward and ads for other DMP titles close up the book.

The novel line from this publisher, in spite of the improvements of late, is in major need of editorial help. That said, and in trying to establish a barometer among existing titles, Cold Sleep fares better than the oft-incomprehensible Ring Finger series, and about the same, if not possibly better, than the more recent Don't Worry Mama series.

Though the readability and flow of the script have improved, there are still times when it reads little better than your average fanfic -- but at least this time I wasn't left scratching my head over the point of a paragraph. There are also fewer typos, but the proofreading is still far from perfect, especially towards the end " a disturbing trend across all of these novels. Someone also needs to note for future works or reprints that thoughts should be in italics, rather than quotes, especially when aligned closely with dialogue!

Contents:(please note that the following may contain spoilers)
Tohru Takahisa is a young man afflicted by amnesia after a terrible car accident. Three months after regaining consciousness in a local hospital his wounds have healed, but he still knows nothing of his former self, or about Keishi Fujishima, his benefactor, only apparent friend, and the man whose home he now shares. As housemates, their relationship is polite but lacking warmth, Tohru forced to guiltily rely on a stranger's unfounded kindness and Fujishima keeping a cool distance, letting nothing personal slip out.

Fujishima appears to genuinely want to help Tohru start a new life; he even goes so far as to offer to finance a photography career Tohru can recall no interest in. While his good intentions do put some undue pressure on Tohru, resulting in a bit of worrisome angst, a subtle shift in their relationship gradually occurs as the months pass. Their evenings take on a new shape when Tohru discovers a love for cooking, and even better, Fujishima's love for cake. Still far from "friends" Tohru and Fujishima slowly become emotionally indebted to the other, little do they realize. And for all his lack of expression, Fujishima clearly cherishes Tohru, whose needs never go unmet and whose every casual whim is granted.

Despite finding happiness in his new life, Tohru can't shake the despair that nags at him over his previous one. Investigating his former self -- much against the wishes of Fujishima -- yields only unsettling news of his character, more questions and even seeds of distrust. Worse than failing to reconstruct the puzzle of his past, it seems the pieces don't match at all. Tohru's determination causes the two men to fight terribly; one because he can't let the past go, the other because he wishes to.

Thankfully, diplomatic relations in romance can be restored simply with cake. But because every good story needs a grave twist, it is only when Tohru realizes it is the "now" that is important, that his past comes back to take it away. Tragedy meets with truth by the end, but what affect on their relationship will newfound discoveries have?

Also included in this book is a cute two-part bonus story in which former classmates find a surprise friendship " and more " during their 11th year reunion party.

There are some interesting twists here, including a play on what appears to be the author's own tendencies, making this my favorite of the novels released by DMP so far. The air of mystery that surrounds these two characters, along with a downplayed " and not antagonistic " romantic beginning makes it far more enjoyable than the (often-needlessly) angsty wallow that is Only the Ring Finger Knows and the sadistic relationships found in the Don't Worry Mama series.

Fujishima's coolness bares shades of similarities to the unlikable protagonists of Konohara's other works in translation, but he's never truly malicious here and once his reason is unveiled, he not only becomes sympathetic, but interesting too. Even more than Fujishima, I found Tohru a really interesting character because he bucks certain BL stereotypes. He analyzes the unfurling emotional situation so deliberately it appears almost calculating " not only does he suspect (and accept) his own feelings, he sees Fujishima's running a parallel course. It's nice to read a story in which the object of affection is not shocked to find himself in such a position, or one in which the leads hate each other yet inexplicably still fall in love.

My only complaint may be in what others rejoice: that this is but one of three volumes. The way it's written the reader could easily be unaware of the serial nature of this story until either the last page or the afterward. There is a climactic romantic scene and the addressing of loose ends, after which a neat, satisfactory conclusion would be simple ... but instead Konohara drops in a little seed of discontent. I enjoyed this book for its surprises and apparent innovation, but a continuation that forces the couple to slog through what I predict will be a lot of banal, formulaic angst and frustration might otherwise ruin it for me.


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