Dost Thou Know? (aka: Kimi Shiruya) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Rosato
Review Date: Thursday, April 13, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, October 01, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Satoru Ishihara
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:

What They Say
Rivals, friends... and something more. Tsurugi and Katsuomi bring passion, dedication and hours of practice into every kendo match. Fighting comes naturally, but matters of the heart create a different battle. As their younger brothers Masaomi and Saya draw closer, it looks like the next generation may also follow in the family footsteps. Victory is decided in a split-second... who will come out on top?

The playful passion of competition ignites every page of Dost Thou Know? Two sets of brothers become heated rivals for the respect, affectionate attention, and much more. The ultimate prize for the victor? A chance at the kind of love that never knows defeat. Take a ringside seat...the first round is about to begin!

The Review
Sometimes anticipation really is the best part.

Packaging:
DMP has been providing the market with some of the best packaging all along. This book is presented in a big A5 size, with a beautiful glossy dust jacket, complete with author profile on the inside flap. DMP uses the original cover art, a casually striking image of Tsurugi and Katsuomi leaning against one another under a shower of cherry blossoms. On the back cover is a cute picture of the two in festival clothes, from the second chapter opening. The logo (which also includes the Japanese title) has been translated into English and placed across the top, but nicely imitates the original's coloring. Inside the printing is excellent, there are few publishers who do better with production. Closing up the book are the author's afterward and ads for other DMP properties.

Artwork:
One can really see the progression of the artist through the chapters here, not at all surprising given the fact that this book took three years to complete, according to the afterward. Many of the attributes that start out weak become much stronger as the book progresses; designs tighten up as lines become cleaner, more even and have more expression, eventually peaking at some lovely panels towards the end. The younger brothers are cute in a lanky, not-yet-grown way, while the elder have broad, strong features and attractive faces with generous mouths and full lips. Age progression occurs nicely toward the end, although no doubt some of it can be attributed to the improvement in form. Backgrounds are fairly simple and the layout pretty cookie-cutter as far as manga goes, but there are several scenes that capture wonderfully the pace and expression of tension between characters. The last chapters are particularly well done in all aspects. DMP's art reproduction looks great; lines are crisp, darks are solid and without bleed and the impact of delicate tone work is not lost.

SFX/Text:
SFX are translated primarily by the subtitle method though occasionally white space calls for an easy overlay. Most in panel text is treated the same way. The SFX handling looks very good; the translations being complementary in both size and style and rarely obtrusive. The script reads smoothly, with no noticeable errors and a good use of emphasis, and the little moments of humor are well written and timed. Although the honorifics have been translated, there are several Japanese terms (mostly relating to kendo) left intact with explanations or footnotes. Overall, a great job by DMP.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
High school students Katsuomi Hanamori and Tsurugi Yaegashi are rival kendo champions, intensely competitive against each other. From different backgrounds and training, even their styles clash, Tsurugi's quickness and elegance against Katsuomi's brute strength. Their younger brothers Masaomi and Saya are also budding rivals in the junior high divisions. After the city tournament finals, Tsurugi's family moves in nearby and a chance meeting of the two sets them on a path of apprehensive friendship, marked by intense feelings of rivalry, passion, denial and determination.

Katsuomi and Tsurugi are inexplicably drawn to one another, but reluctant to be friends, lest it dull their competitive edge, until one night when a frantic search for their missing brothers brings the two together. Katsuomi can no longer ignore the feelings that have been growing inside of him, an attraction Tsurugi appears to harbor as well. The two share a hesitant kiss (though we only see it in a flashback later) and it seems there is no turning back. Instead of hindering however, their feelings drive their competitive spirits forward, each determined to face off at their very best. Time and again the two meet as opponents, but as Tsurugi can never best Katsuomi, his attraction wars with his feelings of resentment and becomes burdened by his pride. Katsuomi won't give up though; he's determined to see Tsurugi surrender to his feelings.

It wouldn't be boys-love without the obligatory (and ultimately fruitless) romantic triangle, though. After the Yaegashis moved into the neighborhood, Masaomi helped Saya with bullies at school and he gained a friend in his own rival as well. But Saya, now a member of Katsuomi's dojo, has special feelings for his friend's older brother and doesn't like how close he's getting to Tsurugi. Saya's sulking and wanting to keep Tsurugi and Katsuomi apart does little more than create tension between himself and Matsuomi though, as this side of the triangle is not an overwhelming part of the story. It actually acts more as a foil for the relationship between Tsurugi and Katsuomi, and serves as the impetus (providing the tension and humor) to repeat the elders' coupling in the younger siblings. (Hey, doesn't that make this a love rectangle?!)

By the end both Saya and Tsurugi have a personal battle to fight " one to submit to his feelings and the other to let them go. It's a joint summer training camp that sets the final stage, and all the feelings of doubt, resentment, pride and fear are laid to rest in one decisive confrontation in the dojo. Katsuomi and Tsurugi's scene on the hill watching the sunrise beforehand was the winning moment for me though; beautifully written, heavy with emotional undercurrent yet still carried out quickly and as light as a breeze " the perfect expression of Katsuomi and Tsurugi themselves.

Comments
After getting caught up in a rush of the harder stuff, it's sometimes a treat to step back and experience a romance that unfolds quietly, but determinedly; the kind of romance that the lighter side of the boys-love genre thrives on. This is a story told in understated angst of a love that can't be denied, no matter how hard one tries; the pages sprinkled with longing and just enough tension between the leads to make it work. This is a story that makes you feel good to read -- not just because it has a happy ending, but because it can tug at your guts without pulling them out.

By using rivalry as its central conflict the story treads down a familiar path, but it does so tactfully, confidently and earnestly. The really poignant moments happen quickly but show a level of complexity in the characters not often seen in boys-love, like Tsurugi's simultaneous confession and rejection at the summer festival or the scene on the hill at training camp. There's humor here too, in the gruff exteriors, boyish charm and random bits that remind us that these are high school boys. If you're looking for sex you won't find it here, but there's plenty of entendre if you want to look for it (certainly there are several rather symbolic kendo swords...). Overall, this is just a sweet and engaging romance that is at once both revealing and modest. Recommended.



Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 176
ISBN: 1569709343
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left