Tough Love Baby Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Friday, July 11, 2008
Release Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2008



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shiuko Kano
Translated by:Ari Werry
Adapted by:Jessica Stewart

What They Say
Tough guys need love, too! This tale of tough love revolves around the bittersweet romance between four tough guys: Yoshino, Sachi, Tamotsu, and Sora.

Three years ago, after realizing he had feelings for not his lover Keiko but her little brother Sachi, Yoshino escaped the city without ever revealing his attraction. When he once again returns, will his love for Sachi remain unrequited or will he finally gather the courage to confess his long concealed desires?

As Yoshino and Sachi struggle with their feelings for each other, Tamotsu, Sachi's childhood friend, continues to struggle with his own unrequited love. However, with the appearance of a younger classmate, Sora, he may finally be able to experience the happiness of mutual love.


The Review
Even tough guys need love.

Packaging:

Aurora has put together another nice looking book here. The cover has a simple yet elegant design that works really well with the art, quite an improvement over some of their earlier designs. The paper is a nice, bright white, and the printing is crisp, with dark blacks and clean lines. If there were color pages, this would be just about a perfect release.

Art:

This book is chock full of Kano's trademark manly men, all tough and manly men with tougher eyes. Readers familiar with her other works such as Affair and Maybe I'm Your Steppin' Stone are in for a bit of a surprise - while it's still recognizably her art, this looks like an older work, and isn't quite as polished as some of her other titles. It's almost simplistic at points, although it never loses its bold assurance.

Text/SFX:

The translation felt very natural, with no noticeable rough points. All sound effects are translated on the page with the English equivalent subtitled under the original effect. Where word bubbles contained smaller Japanese text, the Japanese is retained and a translation included near it, which was a somewhat unusual choice. In some panels this left the page looking a little cluttered.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Yoshino is back in the city after being away for three years, but it's his bad luck that his new neighbors are his ex-girlfriend and her brother. Sachi isn't the cute little boy that Yoshino fell for anymore, though - he's grown up quite a bit, and now is a genuine high school punk, prone to picking fights and skipping classes. He reacts badly to Yoshino's sudden reappearance, and Yoshino himself can't seem to stop his old emotions from coming back up to the surface. But where he was able to resist a cute younger Sachi, this older Sachi, lashing out at the world in his pain, seems to be breaking through all of his barriers.

There's a rival for Sachie's affections, though - the equally tough Tamotsu, who's gay and has been hiding his love for (supposedly straight) Sachi. He doesn't take Sachi's new relationship with Tamotsu well, but Tamotsu's whole-hearted charm might thaw even Tamotsu's hard heart.

Sora has a tough time of it as well - undersized and too poor to even afford a new uniform, a chance encounter has him falling, and falling hard, for Tamotsu. Tamotsu isn't quite sure what to do with Sora's devotion. His usual behavior just leaves Sora upset, so he's forced to express himself in ways that make his tough-guy exterior suspect.

Comments
For a book filled with so many tough punks, this was unexpectedly sweet. The characters were all well realized, the story was well executed, and overall it was a fun book. But it never seemed to really transcend that and reach the level of Kano's best works. It's better than the average BL book, but not the sort of thing I'm going to find myself wanting to reread on a regular basis. Fans of Kano, tough guys, and untraditional high school romances should check this one out.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Aurora Publishing, Inc.
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1934496114
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Tough Love Baby