Suki (aka: Suki, Dakara Suki) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, February 01, 2004
Writer/Artist:Ohkawa Nanase & Nekoi Mick (CLAMP)
Translated by:Ray Yoshimoto
What They Say
Hinata Asahi is a high school student who lives alone with only her teddy bears to keep her company. Her life becomes much more exciting when the handsome Shiro Asou moves in next door. Not only is he really cute, but he's also her new teacher! Hina has a bit of a crush on him, but when the older man seems to take an interest in her as well, is it forbidden love or something else?
Presented in a tall B6 Suki is right to left like the original (the original size is a shinsho). The cover is taken from the original version used by Kadokawa Shoten. The front cover features Asahi Hinata with teddy bear Tono. The front cover like the art on the back are framed with a checkerboard print. The backcover has a small image of Hinata and Asou Shiro sitting on a couch. Both images are bright with greens and oranges and the color is really close to the original. Unlike the original this volume does not have a matted cover this features a thatched finish. Pretty cool.
Logo Check!! ( 2003 Megs)... the logo is cute and original. The "s" in Suki is framed in a rectangle in a contrasting color than the "uki." It's okay but with my attachment to the original title "Suki. Dakara suki" I cannot say I enjoy it. TP keeps the little bear faces that hold volume and chapter counters. Cute!
The printing is strange. While the chapter headers are always light, the rest of the GN is a tad dark. You can really see the tone get weird on Waka the teddy bear as one can hardly see the seams in his fur.
This volume features an additional volume header (a new two-page image of Hinata and Asou-sensei in class) and ads for Wish, Kare Kano, Shirahime-syo, Fruits Basket and Forbidden Dance.
Nekoi is my favorite CLAMP artist. Her lines are thin and long but her shapes are not quite as extreme. I love her soft subtle eyes which give the expressions more emphasis on the emotions these characters struggle with. Backgrounds are nice and the layout while pretty simple really works well with the pace and flow of this series.
SFX are not translated. The translation is very good. There are only a few occasions where text was added to the original dialogue, and nearly everything seemed spot on from my comparison. I liked that TP kept the honorifics and kept in some cultural nuances as well. TP really had a tough job on their hands with this one. Suki has quite a few songs to translate. Making sure they make sense, keep the original context and occasionally rhyme can be almost impossible but TP pulled it off. Sometimes I had to think about the text they added but I would have to say they really had no other choice.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Asahi Hinata has been living alone in her huge house for a while now. Hinata doesn't consider herself alone there; she has two teddy bears keeping her company, Tomo and Waka. Together they eat, hang out and dream about the empty house next door. Wouldn't it be nice to live in that other building? Too late! Someone else has moved in and this new neighbor will soon start to move into Hinata's heart.
Why Asou Shiro moved in is still unknown, but it is hard to shake the feeling that he may be there because Hinata is next door. At 32-years-old and a new teacher at Hinata's high school you would expect him to keep his distance from his students. Neighbors in particular could cause even more trouble with the local PTA and child protection groups. Instead Asou-sensei never refuses Hinata's requests to spend time together at each other's homes. But all of this is not going unnoticed as Hinata's classmates are very cautious towards this tabooed relationship.
Hinata's classmates, Touko and Emi, are well aware that Hinata lives all alone. They know that despite Hinata being very smart and athletic, she is also na´ve, too trusting, extremely curious, immature, and alone. She may not understand the situation that she could be in and as her friends they want her to be happy, but cannot help but fell she could be endangering herself.
Hinata takes a different approach. Asou-sensei happens to do everything that she feels passionate about. He seems to know almost everything about her and when they are together life is extremely comfortable. Being able to express ones feelings and have a mutual relationship is a wondrous experience. At the same time, understanding what kind of relationship you are sharing is just as important and that is something that could be the difference between love and like.
In my opinion the pacing for volume one is perfect. Almost the entire GN is used to present the two main characters and build a relationship between them. There is not much in regards to history, but their personalities (or the sides they express to each other) are clear and consistent. But towards the end things start to take shape for the series overall. The more Asou-sensei fills in his role the more loose he gets and his actions, mannerisms and words all begin to cast doubt in his position and creditability. The same goes for Hinata. As time goes by, she starts to wonder about her part of the relationship. She is starting to understand what she is feeling and what she wants, but she does not know if what she feels is right or not. Love the growth and at the same time love the creepy feeling I get when I see those two together.
For those looking for a slow paced title that is much more than it seems pick this up. Suki is a unique coming of age story where a character with so much talent is so naive that readers can find humor, frustration and even fear in how she goes about growing up. It is hard enough to find out what love/like means, but learning the steps with someone so much older can be difficult (but entertaining) in so many ways.
For those looking for romance you might not find it here. Hinata has to learn what she thinks love is. Complicating such a tough subject are Asou-sensei's real intentions. Could there be love or even like shared between these two?
Suki being my favorite Clamp title really had me a little tense when I heard it was licensed. I was sure that TOKYOPOP would handle the presentation well and I trusted that their translation would be good, but I did not expect it to be this good. As a fan this is almost everything I could wish for. The printing might be a little off and I would have liked to see which of the Clamp members worked on this title (which is present in the dust jacket flaps of the Kadokawa Shoten version), but everything else was very nice.
I have always said Suki was not for everyone. It really is a title that is on the border of "love and like", but for some reason as much I find Clamp to be stale and over-hyped I love this title. Its pacing, the characters, the mood, and the overall cuteness is perfect and Nekoi's art really presents all of these good characteristics beautifully. Thank you TOKYOPOP for bringing this over and for loving this "like story."
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left