Blue Sky Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Rosato
Review Date: Thursday, September 04, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Not so overdosed on angst or too lovey-dovey to gag the reader's sensibilities, Blue Sky is enjoyable on the warm and fuzzy scale.

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuko Kuwabara
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
Kihara longs for some stimulation in his life at the boarding school. As the dorm leader, he decides to use his authority and tamper with the new student housing lottery. He ends up living in the same room with Yoshimi, who's known as "The Beautiful Ice King," and Kihara's life is now anything but dull!

The Review
Packaging:
Blue Sky features June's standard packaging; original coverart, A5 size and glossy dust jacket being the significant features. With this book, we're treated to a full cover image on the back side as well. Unfortunately the image reproduction suffers a bit from bleed and grainy quality, doing no justice to otherwise nicely colored images. Perhaps of small consolation is that the title logo doesn't clash horrifically, and actually compliments the colors. Inside, the printing looks good and the paper is decent. Bonus pages and author's afterword are included.

Artwork:
Kuwabara's style works quite well with the overall tone of the story; her artwork is light and a little on the sparse side, but never forgets the living details. Hair and curtains blow back from open windows, expressions are easily read, and characters always seem to move through the panels as if in a real environment rather than look stale or stationary. The occasional use of chibi style works with the humor and not against the seriousness of the story. Kuwabara also makes excellent use of tones to compliment background settings without ever overwhelming characters or scenery. Lines are thin but neat and distinct, and panels are easy to follow but never feel flat. Reproduction is about as good as it gets with this publisher.

SFX/Text:
The script here reads considerably well for a June book. Free of typos and stumbling lines, the dialogue is easy to follow and gives just enough voice to the characters to do them justice. SFX are subtitled in complementing fonts nearby, or else completely overlaid.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Seika Academy is an elite boys' high school that sits atop a distant mountain, and Chief R.A. Kihara, the "Prince of Warm Sunshine", is bored. What better way to spice up his senior year than to room with Yoshimi, the "Beautiful Prince of Ice"? Add to that the superstitious prediction that anyone who rooms with the senior R.A. becomes romantically involved with him, and Kihara is guaranteed some amusement, right?

Kihara plays up the gag for reasons not entirely understood by himself at the time, but soon learns that Yoshimi isn't all cool beauty, and is actually the sensitive and naive type. Kihara finds himself wondering more about the accuracy of the prediction with every one of Yoshimi's cute overreactions, but Yoshimi finds all the attention a burden. Unable to properly understand each other or the feelings they're experiencing, the two quarrel constantly and eventually end up splitting as roommates. Naturally, because this book has a happy ending, it's not long before they come around ... with a little help from their friends, of course.

While the book is mostly concerned with the main couple, there is plenty of life in the side characters and bonus chapters about them are included. They're good stories on their own, and in some ways better than the main story, although no less typical in nature. They round things out nicely, though, filling in blanks previously hinted at. We learn Yoshimi's older brother has complicated dealings with school nurse Hino, and Kaga, one of Yoshimi's spurned suitors, mends a broken heart in his friendship with roommate Suzuki.

Comments:
We’re not exactly entering new territory here with a school story set in a remote boys' dormitory, but this book is so darned cute that I don't care. The story is predictable in nearly every way, but we get a nice time all the same. The characters don't break molds either – the sensitive uke, the plotting seme, the fervent jock, the protective older brother, and the knowing ex-roommates who're sometimes reduced to comic relief – yet still, they work. Kihara and Yoshimi carry the troubled twosome banner well enough, though admittedly they aren't the most engrossing characters, or even the most entertaining in the book; the secondary characters are the bigger treat and certainly worth a few laughs. There's some range here for everyone who likes these kinds of stories, provided expectations are typical for the premise.

Blue Sky depends heavily on the youthful feelings its setting demands and therefore has less grown-up sensibility than Kuwabara's other domestic release, Alcohol, Shirt & Kiss, but it shares a similar style of story telling and humor. Fans might be especially interested to see how Kuwabara handles a school story, but it also fits the bill for just about anyone looking for a calm, cute read to pass a lazy Sunday with.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1-56790-719-7
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Blue Sky