Steal Moon Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
What They Say
After Nozomi loses a street fight, he gets sold to the online peep room "Digital Angels." Though repulsed by Coyote, the incredibly beautiful, mysterious man who captured him, as time passes Nozomi begins to grow attracted to him...
This release is up to DMP's usual standards, with a full color wraparound dustjacket, fairly good paper quality (although not the best that we've seen DMP use), crisp lines, dark blacks, and clear screentone reproduction.
Tateno's art is likely to be familiar to some readers from her other titles such as Yellow and King of Cards. Her characters have sharp, piercing eyes and dramatic flowing sweeps of hair. There isn't much variety in the faces which can make telling side characters apart a little challenging, but the main characters are distinctive enough. She does an excellent job of portraying emotion - frustrated anger seems to be a favorite of hers - and uses screentone, dramatic angles, and well-placed backgrounds to great effect. If she has any weak points, it would probably be in portraying action, where she relies on speed lines entirely too much, but that's just a nitpick. This is a beautiful book with stunning artwork.
All sound effects are translated on the page in a font that closely matches the original. The translation itself flows smoothly, with no rough points that I noted to detract from the story.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
"If someone could [defeat me], I'd willingly become his servant." With those words, undefeated street-fighting champion Nozomi sealed his fate. The mysterious Coyote took him up on that offer and easily defeated him, then sold his new servant to the electronic peepshow "Digital Angels," where subjects are kept in small rooms and can be spied on 24x7. The only way Nozomi can get out of there is to rack up enough hits to pay back the money that Coyote sold him for, but his unwillingness to pander to the voyeurs means he's likely to be there for a long, long time.
Hermes, the mysterious owner of Digital Angels, sends two young boys to help Nozomi adjust, but when he remains unwilling to bend, they warn him that a "forced event" can occur to drive up hits without his cooperation. But all this is just a front for the real purpose of Digital Angels.
Just as Nozomi hasn't had a moment of privacy since being there, with any number of people able to watch him at any time without warning, so do is the entire city without privacy, being watched by a mysterious presence on the moon. Coyote and Hermes are part of a mysterious organization called Selene, whose purpose is to put an end to this surveillance. To do so, they need Nozomi's help to access a computer called Mother Isis, one of three systems that can access the surveillance systems on the moon. But there are motives within motives here, and things might not be what they seem. Even as they get closer to reaching their goal and Nozomi falls for Coyote, it becomes increasingly more clear that things are not as they seem. It's going to take all of Nozomi's wit and strength to find his way to freedom from this strange world that he's been dragged into.
This book hooked me, and hooked me hard. The plot is king here, and any BL elements are entirely driven by it. The story is extremely well executed - it starts out straightforward enough, diverges rapidly into strange but engrossing territory, and then starts salting in science fiction elements that weren't immediately obvious at the beginning in a way that leaves the reader dying for more. As readers, we're in Nozomi's shoes, unsure of what's going on and with no real recourse when it comes to finding out more - we're at the mercy of the mysterious Coyote, terrifying and mesmerizing all at once.
It's hard to say much without giving things away, but there are twists and turns here that, while not wholly unexpected, still manage to make this a very different book than it could have been. Makoto Tateno's books are always hit and miss with me - some work, and work well, while others leave me cold. With this one, I truly have no idea what's coming next, and I dearly want the next volume to find out. Extravagant praise aside, this book does have its flaws - some of the twists are telegraphed, while others seem simply out of place - and it's not going to be for everyone. But science fiction fans especially should be sure to check this one out.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Steal Moon