B.O.D.Y. Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Erin Jones
Review Date: Friday, June 27, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ao Mimori
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:Kelly Sue Deconnick

What They Say
Everyone thinks 16-year-old Sakura has weird taste in guys because she can't stop drooling over Fuji, the strong silent type who sits next to her in class. When she discovers he works for a host club - where women actually pay men to date them - will she finally wise up? Or will he leave his job to be with her? Or will she take a job at the club so he can quit so she can be with him so...? Only one thing's for sure in B.O.D.Y.: you can't put a price on love!

The Review
Another standard Viz release, B.O.D.Y. has no color plates and a lot of advertisements for other series. Unfortunately the cover is also rather weak, although it isn't Viz's fault--the only thing different from the original cover is the added background pattern. The image of Ryoko and Ryunosuke with linked arms looks fine when given just a quick glance, but the art is just as amateurish on the outside as it is on the inside. Ryoko's too-large hands and over-lined eyes are the worst part of the piece, but it's just bland on the whole. Extras include four pages of notes from the author, advertisements for other series, and a Shojo Beat subscription card.

Mimori's art is pretty much standard shojo, and its quality is about what you would expect after looking at the cover. Ryoko is the wide-eyed heroine whose generic design would be at home in almost any other high school romance. Ryunosuke, on the other hand, is given a somewhat less wholesome look than most romantic interests, which fits nicely with his personality. All in all though, the art is simply unpolished. Character proportions do not always stay the same through different angles; there is also very little play with different line thickness. Jaw lines remain the same thickness in every frame, no matter what character they belong to or what angle they are viewed from. Hands are usually cut out of the panel or shoved into pockets, but just look generally awkward when they're actually drawn. Backgrounds are also standard shojo fair, with lots of sparkles and screen tones.

As per Viz's usual, all sound effects are translated with attractive overlays. One thing that bothered me was how almost every character refers to each other by first name alone; I could only find one point where Ryunosuke refers to Ryoko as "Miss Sakura." The translators added to this somewhat casual atmosphere by giving some of the female characters a valley girl-style accent, which doesn't remain consistent throughout the book. Nothing about the translation really stands out as "bad," but it didn't read as smoothly as I generally like.

Ryoko Sakura is in love with the boy who sits next to her in class for the usual reasons. His eyes are pretty, his glasses are cool, and his book bag is always full. Despite her friends attempting to dissuade her from pursuing said classmate, Ryoko nevertheless finds herself truly head-over-heels for Ryunosuke when she discovers that he enjoys the same manga she does. Yet no shojo high school romance can ever be that easy.

The very next day, Ryunosuke doesn't show up at school. Ryoko coincidentally catches a glimpse of him on her way home from school, sans glasses but with a woman. When her two thugs try to force Ryunosuke to get in a car with them, Ryoko leaps into action and drags him away. She can't squelch her curiosity, though, and eventually asks him who the other woman was. Ryoko is stunned when her crush admits that he's a host, and the woman was nothing more than a client who got too attached. Ryunosuke proceeds to laugh at her high ideals, after which Ryoko declares that she doesn't like him at all any more. Naturally, that only makes Ryunosuke vow to regain her affections.

Ryoko is surprised, then, when he doesn't so much as look in her direction for the next several days. This is all soon revealed to be part of his master plan, which makes Ryoko angrily insist that he doesn't fit into her preferred "type." Yet even though he's hardly the prince that she describes, Ryoko challenges Ryunosuke to finish in the top five at the upcoming school marathon. When he doesn't finish and she goes to look for him, Ryunosuke pulls another fast one.

And by a twist of fate, a boy who looks exactly like Ryoko's ideal "prince" appears to check on the runners who didn't finish. She later discovers that his name is Inaba, and he's on the library committee. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to remember her--at least, not until they encounter each other a third time. Ryunosuke tries to talk Ryoko out of meeting with him at the library, but she ignores his vague warnings. When trouble strikes, Ryunosuke is there to defend her honor, but the end result isn't quite what our main duo had expected.

I went into B.O.D.Y. expecting the worse, and came out pleasantly surprised. There are a few slight twists in the set-up of this high school romance, although that doesn't necessarily equal a new or exciting story. Ryunosuke's standoffish fašade at school does not endear him to his classmates; Ryoko's crush on him based solely on his appearance is something her friends try to talk her out of. The one rival for Ryoko's affections that does appear is set aside by the end of the volume. Yet in the end, it is just another shojo high school romance that was created from the same generic mold as many others.

Ryunosuke's personality is the worst thing about the first installment. His experience as a host causes Ryoko to fall right into most of his traps, all of which take advantage of her innocence and concern for him. Some people will probably find her willingness to be tricked annoying (I certainly did), but Ryunosuke still comes off looking like the bad guy.

On the plus side, some of the humor actually works. It's hardly funny enough to create laugh-out-loud moments, but I cracked several smiles due to Ryoko's various antics. However, one's tolerance for her is going to have a lot to do with the enjoyment of the first volume. At many points throughout the volume, I found myself wishing that she would wise up to Ryunosuke's tricks. Recommended only for high school romance fans with a strong affection for na´ve and stupid heroines.

Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1-4215-1802-2
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: B.O.D.Y.