Il Gato Sul G (aka: G-senjou no Neko) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, August 14, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, April 15, 2006
Translated by:Duane Johnson
What They Say
Riya Narukawa is a high school freshman with a tremendous talent for the violin, and an equally large bag of mental issues. He seems to have a split personality. After injuring his own hand to compromise his playing ability, he winds up on the doorstep of college student Atsushi Ikeda. Atsushi's a nice guy, maybe too nice and generous. He takes Riya in for the night and helps him with his hand injury. Atsushi realizes there is much more Riya than is on the surface, and learns just how difficult Riya's life actually is. Not only does he have a personality disorder, but there's an aggressive senior at his school who has his eye on him. Atsushi becomes a sort of safe haven for Riya, an escape from the life of music he's been bound to.
A slightly different take on the love triangle.
This is a very nice looking book, even among DMP's usual quality releases. The dust jacket has a really smooth matte finish and the paper stock inside is thicker and brighter than what is usually used. The book is much denser as a result and the printing looks really crisp, with the whiter paper really soaking up the solid inks. DMP uses the original coverart, a picture of Riya prone and looking disheveled and despondent among some scattered sheet music. The artwork seems to capture quite well the tone of the work inside and the light colors really match nicely here. The logo is also identical, only without the accompanying Japanese text. The only thing that could possibly improve the packaging grade here would be the inclusion of the color plate. The author's afterward and ads for other DMP titles close up the book.
The artwork here is fairly typical for the contemporary bishonen style characterized by lots of thin lines, sharp-ish angles and neat, solid inks for contrast. Proportions are sometimes a little awkward but the designs are attractive, if a tad generic, with mostly gentle-looking characters. There aren't many of them here, which helps disguise the fact that they do tend to look similar, but the artist does a nice job differentiating between Riya's two personalities. The panels focus on the character art so much that backgrounds are mostly neglected, however. Generally bare with only rare usage of structures or tone, the mood and movement of the art occasionally stall in the white space. While the pages do flow relatively well, the book could've been, at times, more dynamic had there been more attention paid to this aspect.
SFX are translated using a mix of subtitle and overlay, although subtitles appear in the majority. Many of the SFX are in bubbles, but among those in the panel it seems fairly arbitrary in which method was used. Overall things do not look bad, but occasionally a subtitle covers art unnecessarily when white space could have accommodated an overlay. There is also little variance in the font styles compared to previous releases, although this is admittedly a very minor nit-pick.
The script reads smoothly overall and there is some use of honorifics, but the dialogue between characters sometimes lacks a clear tone or feeling. Riya's parts fare the best, as they seem to get all the attention. Grammatically speaking, there were a few noticeable errors with pronouns and punctuation, and last I checked "eventhough" is two words, not one. (Worth the mention perhaps as this "typo" has now appeared in at least two recent DMP books.) This isn't the best production job they've done, but it's certainly not bad.
Contents:(please note the following contains spoilers)
University student Atsushi Ikeda is a really nice guy, the kind of person who easily gets caught up helping others. By his very nature he doesn't even realize how much the little things he does mean to others - he's like an adult male version of Tohru Honda. One night he finds a high schooler with badly cut fingers passed out on his doorstep. The boy, named Riya, is a walking contradiction and the only key to his identity is the violin he was carrying. As it turns out, Riya suffers from a type of multiple personality disorder that his "Black" side tries to hide by telling lies and acting out, but Atsushi can see through his rough exterior to the pain and conflict underneath. After coming to his aid a second time, Atsushi gives Riya a key to his apartment, offering him a place of refuge should he ever need it. Innocently wanting to help "Black Riya," he soon becomes drawn to him.
"White Riya" - the side of him that loves being a violinist - has no recollection of the time he spent with Atsushi. Back at school, however, is an upperclassman with whom he shares an awkward relationship. Kousaka is obviously pursuing him but is domineering and abrupt. Riya doesn't seem to like it but can't stand up for himself, perhaps a result of having once admired his sempai. Others also bully Riya at school for his talent, not to mention his mental instability, and things worsen when word gets out that he's likely to be chosen as the school's representative at an upcoming concert.
Riya doesn't understand why Kousaka continually interferes with him and finds his harassing cruel and unbearable. Things escalate when Kousaka finds (and keeps) the apartment key and a conflicted Riya - both black and white sides - seeks out Atsushi. Riya's confusion over the whole situation eggs on Kousaka, and now more than ever, in the wake of betrayal, Riya's white personality is afraid of his inexplicable dependence on the kindness of a stranger.
Black Riya is abrasive, unrestrained and looking to break free of the expectations upon him while White Riya is reserved and polite. He feeds on the expectations his black side hates so much because that is all he can understand of himself. Black Riya, despite his belligerence, wants someone to protect and accept him, while White Riya wants to be stronger on his own. So which is the real Riya? Black Riya claims they're separate entities, but look closely and you'll see his two personalities really aren't all that different -- merely opposite sides of the same coin.
I find the most interesting part of this story to be how it twists the perennial theme of third-party interference. Atsushi is a really likeable character -- inspiringly cool, kind and protective -- but it's no secret that nice guys finish last (especially in BL). Kousaka has a great simmering intensity and he clearly sees through Riya's defenses, but the non-consensual molesting scene at the end was kind of disturbing. Both sides of Riya have chemistry with their respective "protectors" (though I'd hesitate to call it romantic just yet), so it will be interesting to see what becomes of the couples.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it turned out to be interesting, and at times, thoughtful. Although the angst isn't overpowering, (it picks up around two-thirds the way in), it's still a pretty serious story dealing with multiple personalities and how one sees their true self. This book won't be for everyone, but I'm curious to see where it goes and how the two sides of Riya ultimately coalesce.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left