Kizuna Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, January 15, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, December 01, 2004
What They Say
Ranmaru and Kei's relationship has had some emotional ups and downs, but no matter what the conflict, they have always managed to work through their problems and strengthen the bond that they share. Will this be the challenge that finally puts an end to the relationship of a lifetime?
This book is packaged pretty much as the second volume is, featuring a pink cover with a picture of Kei and Ranmaru on the front and Kai and Masa on the pack. I actually like the picture of Kai and Masa a lot better than the one of Kei and Ranmaru, simply because it's different from the art that we've seen before. The author signed and dated the art on the front cover, and seeing it's from 1995 shows how dated the work is. But, it manages to hold up well.
We've got a mixed bag here with art. The character themselves are drawn pretty well. There are some pretty explicit drawings here, but it's amusing to see how they deal with male genetalia. Nothing is left to your imagination. The layout smoothed out in the second volume and continues to be an easy read here.
This was a solid read with no grammar or spelling glitches.
Content (may contain spoilers):
By any means, Kizuna was a series that should had ended on its first volume. It was a self-contained story that was average at best about two men being in love. About the only ongoing plot that sparked any interest was the one between Kai and Masa.
The second volume reversed my feelings on the series. The fleshing out of Kei and Ranmaru's history added depth to the first volume that really needed to be there, and the story about Masa and Kai is sweet. It left me feeling good about the franchise in general and I would have been completely satisfied if the series had ended there.
Instead, the series continues with a series of three stories - a one-shot, a mini-arc surrounding Kei and Ranmaru and the requisite Kai and Masa story. The one-shot was amusing and made me laugh several times. Ranmaru hates how Kei's hair has grown out and wishes for it to be shorter. In his wishful longing, he accidentally slices off part of Kei's locks. So, Ran decides to play stylist and the result is a disaster.
This story and the following arc empahize how Kei and Ranmaru have to hide their relationship in order to escape persecution of campus. Kei refers to Ranmaru as his girlfriend, for example. This prompts Ranmaru to believe that if Kei ever finds a woman, he will be dumped - and it appears to Ranmaru that that moment has come. The result is an engaging, two-episode arc that has a lot of sex, misunderstandings and an unexpected surprise from the woman that appears as the catalyst.
The thing that disturbed me here was how rape was used. At one point, Kei rapes Ranmaru to show him how sex feels when it means nothing. While it was effective (for both myself and Ranmaru), it was very disturbing.
The Kai and Masa story follow a similar pattern to the ones in the previous volumes - something happens to Kai, Masa gets injured and the two become closer. This time, it culminates in the consummation of their relationship, but I didn't find it as enjoyable as the previous standalones.
Kizuna works out well as a series of standalone stories that progresses through the relationship naturally. There's not an overall arc to the work and it's very much a slice-of-life piece in the life of a gay couple. If you enjoy the characters, you'll enjoy the continuing adventures that they have. Volume two helped this for me, but I'm not sure how long the enjoyment of these stories will last. A series like Kizuna should last no more than three or four volumes. With five volumes to go, I wonder if the momentum will hold.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: CPM Press
Orientation: Right to Left