Socrates In Love Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, October 04, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kazui Kazumi (created by: Katayama Kyoichi)
Translated by:N/A
Adapted by:

What They Say
A sweet high school romance between an average guy and a beautiful girl has just gotten underway. But tragedy ensues when the girl falls ill with leukemia. A bittersweet tale of young love, enduring devotion, and heartbreaking loss.

The Review
Packaging:
As this is an uncorrected proof this copy does not have a cover, contents page or ads. What it does have is a short word from the mangaka who took on this project (Kazui Kazumi).

Artwork:
Kazui’s art is pretty much of the minimalist style. Lines are thin and very wispy. This gives some of the characters a type of blocky long look at times. The only detail comes from the eyes. But this seems to be done purposely to set a tone for the mood of the characters. This style works well for shojo, especially a title like this where the feelings the characters have almost seems to be ready to burst out of them. Costumes and hair styles are simple, but look very clean and casual. At times I wondered if this was set in the 80’s or not, because the background looked old (trains and some technology) but the architecture and clothing looked much more modern.

Backgrounds are okay. They are not present very often, but are applied mainly for transitions, which was fine. The layout has a good mix of panel sizes and really gave me a sense of being right there with these two characters. It does a good job making their world seem really small.

Text/SFX:
I want to warn readers that the translation on my proof is not final as is noted on the front of the bound copy. That said Viz seems to do almost everything right with this volume. This GN was typo and syntax error free and outside of one little error dialogue order (which I am sure should be fixed) read perfectly. Viz did not list who worked on this title, but they got the personalities down just right. What helped that come through was the appropriate use of honorifics. At first the characters call each other by last names, which is something that classmates do. Then they progress to casual honorifics like “-chan”, before simply addressing each other with their first names only. By doing this Viz allows readers to feel how close these two become over time. Readers can chronologically determine when these changes occur and they can begin to understand the relationship even more. Viz also keeps Americanizations out and slang is used rarely. Viz even keeps the currency in yen. Overall a solid translation.

The SFX are all overlaid. Viz is generally good with retouches and this title is no exception. The overlaid SFX look good and are functional as well.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
When you are young and love is completely new to you, you may almost feel as if sustaining that relationship is all you care about. Sakutaro learned about love the hard way when he was in high school.

Back then his world revolved almost entirely around the happiness he received from his first love Aki. The two got to know each other well in middle school and by the time they were in high school it was apparent to those in their small world that their relationship was something special. They knew they shared something special as well, but it took a little time and a little effort to get to express that.

Looking back at those times, it almost seemed silly that these two lovers would ever have doubts or fears when it came to the other's feelings. However, all of this was new to them. They had nothing to lean on and take experience from. Everything they did together was like going into the unknown, confusion, tension and frustration filled their hearts with unnecessary anxiety, but each new experience brought the two even closer together. Whether it was a shared diary, a trip together alone or simply disclosing one's secrets, each interaction continued a process that made their world smaller. Eventually the moments they shared gave them the impression that their world was so small that it only contained the two of them on this huge planet.

Unfortunately, there were times when that feeling seemed to have come true. When life began to take away Aki, no one could help these two. Science had failed them. Family had betrayed them. Time quickly moved to an end for Aki, giving up on her way to early in her life. Sakutaro has not lived a minute without Aki and something was going to realize that long before he ever thought long before he believed it possible. Something was taking his Aki away from him. It was destroying his world, making it suffer for no reason.

Together with Aki, they tried to beat the clock and stop time for a week, a day, an hour or even a minute. They tried to give their world a new chance together where they were truly alone together living for only each other...

Looking back their world was much smaller, but their hearts were smaller for their lives were so much shorter. Sakutaro has made more room in his heart since. Learning about love has given him that and it has allowed him to keep on loving his Aki and also learn to love again.

Comments
Socrates in Love, better known across the globe as Crying Out Love in the Center of the World, is based on the best selling romance novel by Katayama Kyoichi and has been adapted into a award winning movie and hit TV series (both of which could have been seen in select areas of the US earlier this year). With this adaptation by Kazui Kazumi manga readers are able to see yet another perspective of how Katayama-sensei has his lead character Matsumoto Sakutaro reminisces about his first love Aki and the trials they shared over the few years they had on this world together. Each version is a little different – novel, movie, dorama and manga. However there is no denying the passion of Katayama’s original story where two young people find love in a tiny town where the only thing they have is each other.

Twelve years have passed since the last time these two were together, and the world has so much since. However, in this world the love Sakutaro felt has not changed; that is as strong as ever. He has come to understand that love does not end with the end of a person’s life. One’s world is as large as we make our hearts. Therefore, we must open our hearts to love again. Kazui-sensei seemed to really stick to this element of the story. In some of the other adaptations we get to see Sakutaro as an adult much more. We get to see how his has changed and how it has tormented him in some ways. Kazui gives Sakutaro a different perspective – one of optimism. As depressing as life alone can be giving up is much more depressing.

At the same time, Kazui is really able to show the despair and loneliness that Sakutaro has from the start. In the movie version, we mainly see the confusion and depression when Sakutaro is an adult. His life is going nowhere even though he is about to begin something big. In the manga we get to see that there was a time when Sakutaro’s world seemed to be the smile of the person he loved. If that smile were to disappear, his heart would fill with despair. He would try anything to keep his Aki smiling. When she cried his world would shrink and fill with darkness. When she left him he had to leave his little quite world behind for Tokyo.

The world seemed so much smaller in the manga and for good reason, since we do not get to see the town and the people in much detail. We also do not get to experience all of the characters involved in the other versions. But I felt that is was the perfect way to present the world Aki and Sakutaro shared. By showing how much their life revolved around each other, readers can feel the attraction. Readers can understand how empty they could feel without their partner around.

As far as love stories go, this has to be one of my favorites in recent memory. And every time I read this version of Katayama’s creation, I feel as if it fits perfectly with the rest of the adaptations. While you can get to see the love Aki had for Sakutaro in the movie, you get to see Sakutaro’s sadness as an adult in the TV series. You finally get to see the relationship from where it started and how it blossomed in the manga. Each gives you a different perspective, coming from an important theme in the story, but they all show how timeless love can be.

Remember your first love. This manga made me go back over and over again.



Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: N/A / B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 190
ISBN: 1-4215-0199-6
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left