Challengers Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Release Date: Friday, June 30, 2006
Translated by:Libby Maxim
What They Say
Mitsugu Kurokawa and Tomoe Tatsumi have come to an agreement. The agreement allows tenant Tatsumi to reside with landlord Kurokawa without feeling threatened by his homosexuality. Both are ready to go on as though nothing ever happened ... but they're not the only ones with a say in the matter. Family, friends, and rivals pressure both young men to assert themselves - or suffer the consequences!
Included in this volume are "The Unspeakable Truth," a side story exposing the unspeakable irony behind Souichi's prejudice; and the "Rejected Idea Special," a hilarious 15-page manga "gift" from author Hinako Takanaga.
Unrequited love is such a killer. Kurokawa's taking it like a champ though, doing his best to stick to the landlord-tenant agreement and restrain himself from making Tatsumi uncomfortable. It's tough though, what with Rick interfering and Tatsumi waffling back and forth all the time. To further complicate matters just as they begin to get interesting, Kurokawa's mother drops by... to stay! Naturally he'd love to keep her from finding out the truth of the situation, but the funny thing about truth is it has a way of coming out. (Would you believe me if I said no pun intended?) Having all sorts of challenges thrown their way seems to be the catalyst though and Tatsumi begins to examine his feelings more acutely. Although it's not until Rick lays the moves on Tatsumi again, this time in an attempt to shake his own overzealous admirer, that the light bulb finally goes on inside. Tatsumi's confession is just super cute, and makes you want to cheer on Kurokawa's behalf. After all that is a side story about the tyrant - er, Tatsumi's brother. Told through the eyes of his assistant and kohai Morinaga, we learn just why Souichi has such a dislike for gay men.
Things are finally getting down to business with the story taking a few hesitant steps forward, but there are still plenty of mishaps and laughs to be had along the way. Kurokawa's grown on me a lot - he has such punch under that thin veneer of responsibility that I can't help but laugh at his every outburst. On the other hand, it does get a little frustrating to see Tatsumi overanalyzing his feelings so much. I can't say that it's surprising either, given his sort of character, but at least he gets a little bolder (and cuter!) as the gates slowly start to creak open inside. There's hope for him still, even if he makes you want to bully him a little. The story does play out like lots of other BL, and certain "revelations" are about as surprising as sand on the beach, but I'm so entertained by what Takanaga does well that I barely even notice.
DramaQueen continues to get the gold star for presentation. The color plate, dust jacket and cultural notes are the premium extras, though other technical aspects such as text overlays and printing continue to impress as well. As expected honorifics are used and the adaptation has done a nice job maintaining the voice of the script. Whether or not it was necessary, I'm sure it will please some fans to know that Rick's "Japanglish" has been toned down some, making it a little easier to read. For what it's worth, their releases are also about 4mm wider now, apparently to keep the loss of art and text in the margins to a minimum.
I did catch a typo and a couple (very tiny) missed asides, however, and yen have been converted to dollars in this volume. Colloquialisms weren't particularly disruptive, but there were a couple that stood out to me. Critically I am compelled to take notice of these small mistakes or shifts in style, however the big picture asserts that this is another fine (and immensely enjoyable) release.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: DramaQueen L.L.C
Orientation: Right to Left