Confidential Confessions: Deai Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 1-59816-386-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Confidential Confessions: Deai

Confidential Confessions: Deai Vol. #01

By Connie Zhang     May 08, 2007
Release Date: May 30, 2006


Confidential Confessions: Deai Vol.#01
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Reiko Momochi
Translated by:Michelle Kobayashi
Adapted by:Darcy Lockman

What They Say
Welcome to the seedy underbelly of the enormous deai-kei industry, where men pay exorbitant fees to send emails to various girls whom they hope one day to meet in person...

Rika is a young teen in need of a job. When the opportunity to join a deai-kei site presents itself, she decides to go for it "the money is good and the interaction seems innocent enough. But the longer Rika works, the more her inhibitions and boundaries are pushed to the limit "and she begins heading down a path from which there is no return.

Emotionally moving and brutally honest, Confidential Confessions: Deai is an unflinching portrayal of teens in crisis.

The Review
Emotionally stagnant and brutally shallow portrayal of "teens in crisis."

Packaging:
Tokyopop opted (rightly) to forego the glossy cover in favor of a soft cover embellished with a patchwork of pastel colors. The heroine " clad in a school uniform with a manga-length skirt " sits front and center and is drawn attractively enough to warrant a second glance. But what really makes the cover stand out is the collage of images in all different shades in the background that come together to form quite the eye-pleaser.

Unfortunately, the back cover isn't much to look at, especially since the summary is written in a font that clashes with the more aesthetically pleasant title. Tokyopop completes its advertisement that this is indeed a shoujo work by tacking an image of two bishounen boys onto the back. The print reproduction looks great here with sharp lines, minimal shading and no bad distortions. The only extra included is some preliminary sketches of the various characters juxtaposed with the final version.

Artwork:
Momochi's artwork is not easy to distinguish from other current shoujo manga, but the lines are sharp, the pages generally uncluttered and the faces distinct enough. There's not much background to speak of, but since this is a dialogue-heavy story, much of the empty spaces are filled with speech bubbles " sometimes overflowing on any particular page. Most of her detail can be found in the clothing that changes, as one would expect throughout the day: from a generic (but equipped with an exceedingly short skirt) school uniform to gym uniform to fashionable teenage clothing.

Ironically, of all the characters (and there are quite a few), the heroine is the least differentiable, but perhaps this was done on purpose to emphasize her mediocrity and status as the every-girl. Overall, her art is polished with no inconsistencies, no running off the page and no overuse of shading, but at the end of the day, there's simply nothing about it that's really noteworthy.

Text/SFX:
Being a dialogue-heavy manga, the translation becomes especially important and fortunately, it's dead-on most of the time. Completely error-free and without any noticeable awkward phrases, the text is clear and concise, even decorated with the casual slang that anyone of high school age can identify with. In particular, Rika, the protagonist, has a unique voice that is, at the same time, marked by the experiences of an average high school girl. While SFX aren't translated, it's not terribly important here since there's little to no action.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
High school student Rika has a serious boyfriend with a serious problem: he's the only one she knows without a cell phone. Finding this a devastating flaw in her otherwise affectionate, though sometimes absentee, boyfriend Kiichi, she sets out for a part-time job to buy him one for Christmas. But she soon finds an easier, albeit substantially more risqué, way to earn quick cash ... as a "Sakura" (read: glorified call girl) in the deai-kei scene. Cautious, she drags along good friend Shu (read: obligatory shallow sidekick) to a "date" with a lonely, but married middle-aged man who only wants some dinner company. At the end of the evening, Rika and Shu find themselves handsomely rewarded for idle chatter and free food.

Before long, Rika becomes careless on dates, loading up on multiple dinners per night and cheerfully selling her underwear to the men. Inevitably, some perverted old guy wants some more bang for his buck and she finds herself in a dangerous situation. Luckily, Rika accidentally runs into two high school guys " one of whom is coincidentally carrying a bat, which is mistaken by the pervert as an attempt to extort more money from him. Inspired by this event, Rika shows us that she's not incorrigibly stupid when she decides to hire the two students " Kaji and Nanase " as bodyguards for Shu and her on their dates, forming the deai group: "Peace."

Unfortunately, Rika does prove to us that she's a bad judge of character, as she decides to blindly trust Kaji and Nanase despite some indication that they're not exactly knight-in-shining-armor material. Soon, there are so many requests for dates that "Peace" becomes overwhelmed and they decide to enlist more members with Rika as manager (read: pimp). For a while, business is great, but when the new members become too busy with other obligations, "Peace" begins rapidly losing money. That's when Kaji and Nanase, unbeknownst to Rika, show their true colors by manipulating Shu into joining them in a blackmail scheme: they snap pictures of men on dates and threaten to reveal them for the lecherous perverts they are unless they cough up hush money.

From there, the once smooth-running operation breaks down and everything goes to hell as the blackmails begin to backfire ... and soon, every member of "Peace" " past and present " find themselves at a point of no return.

Comments
It's not that the characters are unrealistic or the premise is outlandish. In fact, it's mostly due to its unique subject matter that I've rated it as highly as I did. Confidential Confessions simply fails to connect to the reader on a fundamental level. There's just no emotional bond to the characters. I was indifferent to Rika being attacked on a date, because it was completely predictable. I was indifferent to Nanase's callous exploitation of Shu's feelings, because it came out of nowhere. I was indifferent to Kaji's violent hazing, because it felt so tacked on as a last-minute plot device.

Confidential Confessions has an unusual premise and an interesting story to tell, but it hasn't made me care.

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