Say Please Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Friday, May 09, 2008
Release Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Translated by:Kyoko Shapiro
Adapted by:Michelle Ma
What They Say
Sakura meets first Ryouichi at a male brothel and buys him for the night. As their supposed one night stand ends up becoming a somewhat stable monetary-based relationship, feelings start to change. Can these two awkward people garner the courage to admit that their true feelings run deeper than merely sex and money?
The production values overall were excellent on this book - while no color pages are included, the paper is a nice, bright white, the art reproduction is very clear, and the blacks are dark and solid. The cover really isn't the most eye-catching design, with a simple washed-out looking picture of Sakura and Ryoichi, the Deux logo, and the title and artist name in a plain white font. But to stand out from the general flood of BL releases, Aurora might want to look into putting a little more effort into their graphic design attempts.
The art struck me as being somewhat unpolished, almost hesitant in places. It works, but it's not likely to win awards. Miyamoto shares that odd habit that some manga artists have of dropping some or all facial features in some panels, especially the eyes - in most of her non-close-up shots, you can expect that they're going to be at least partially missing. She does do some really fantastic facial expressions, though, and the overall impression that I took away from this is that it was an attractive book. With as much love as she put into the cover, I would have loved to have seen more color plates of her art.
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. The translation itself was slightly awkward, with a few panels that just didn't read as smoothly as they might have.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Sakura is a teacher at an all-girls Catholic school. He's gay, but not open about it, and for various reasons hires a "boy" for the night. The boy in question is Ryoichi, who sells himself out of a club just to get by. After their night together the two feel an inexplicable connection that drives them to see more of each other. Ryoichi finds himself falling more and more for Sakura the more he discovers about him - the way the picture is used to show that attachment is really well done. Sakura, though, is walking wounded after a former relationship blew up in his face, and pushes Ryoichi away even as he secretly wants to become closer.
Almost despite themselves the two gradually grow closer to each other as their relationship progresses and they move beyond the baggage of the past. But Sakura's job comes under fire from an unexpected source, and their still-fragile relationship might not be able to handle the pressure. Then again, this could be just the thing to bring them even closer.
In "A Bird At Sea, A Door In The Sky," Ryu is the new guy at school, but he's making no real attempt to make friends or fit in. Instead, he goes out to the beach and stares at the sea for hours on end. Can the oddball American who befriends him help Ryu overcome the trauma of his past?
This is the stuff of High Drama, with little to no humor and the characters indulging in almost manic-depressive behavior. Sakura's tendency to lash out when he felt vulnerable and Ryoichi's almost aggressive passivity that he demonstrated at times made for an odd combination, to say the least. The violence and abuse that characterized much of their relationship didn't work particularly well when it came to convincing the reader that there was more to their relationship than just pathetic need. The ending partially redeemed it - the fact that these two broken, damaged people could find a way together to make both of their dreams come true was a nice, if not entirely believable, thought.
The second story in the book was much better overall. Ryu was also tormented, but it worked much better played against Stephan's oddball goofiness. Here, too, I felt like the ending made the story, although I'd like to know more about what happens to Ryu later. Overall, this wasn't a bad book, but it didn't really have anything that particularly stood out, either. If the description piques your interest, I'd recommend going for it, but if you're not completely sold on the premise, you're probably better off looking elsewhere.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Aurora Publishing, Inc.
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Say Please