Sky Over My Spectacles Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 26, 2007
Release Date: Saturday, March 31, 2007
Translated by:Chiaki Kang
What They Say
Azuma's "spectacle fetish" is infamous. The poor boy can't resist a cute girl in a pair of horn-rims, but guys are out of the question - no exceptions. Especially Sorachi, who's so serious, Azuma can barely carry on a conversation with him. Then one day, Azuma finds Sorachi asleep without his glasses and can't resist kissing him! What's that about! Was it Sorachi's specs that Azuma, or could it be...something else?
This inaugural title for 801 Media imprint is an entertaining read that should have June readers feeling right at home. But is a "more graphic June" the identity 801 Media wants as its introduction?
Anyone who has seen DMP's June volumes will recognize the format, albeit smaller. The dust jacket displays the original Biblos cover with Azuma embracing Sorachi. Inside there is a color plate along with a short author bio on the inner flap and the back flap introduces "801chan", the imprint's mascot, with a small four panel comic. Additional material for The Sky Over My Spectacles is provided consisting of four pages of character bios interspersed through the story, and two pages of four panel comics entitled "the Mysteries of the Sorachi Family". There volume closes out with a section of translator's notes, author afterword and a three page peek at bond(z).
Mio Tennojhi's style is defined by a long and lean look with her characters expressive and distinctive. There is a lot of tone work here, competently done and competently printed. Tennojhi does not break down her character types rigidly by style " she will likely have an athletic, brash beta as a quiet and taciturn one, and has a variety of distinguishable characters. However, portraying girls is not her strong suit, they look too much like the guys, but with this genre, females are minor characters, so not much harm done.
All sfx are subbed or replaced with English text, both are unobtrusive and well placed. The text reads well with no glaring grammar or spelling errors. While not exactly localization, the use of the phrase "friends with benefits" was a bit jarring and already dated.
Contents: (please note the following may contain spoilers)
This volume is a series of short stories, the longest of which, The Sky Over My Spectacles, lends itself to the title.
"The Sky Over My Spectacles" is, as the cover blurb states, the story of Azumi in the pursuit of Sorachi, a quiet, studious young man sporting glasses. Although originally conflicted about his attraction to a guy, once Azumi makes his decision, he pursues Sorachi whole-heartedly. There is the usual miscommunication and misinterpretation of events that accompanies these stories, but without the angst that one usually finds. As expected, there is the introduction of a purported rival, the sensual, sloe-eyed classmate, Mitsuru Sugisaki, to provide some agitation to the romance. This is a sweet story, very competently drawn and told, but not a deep one. There is an attempt to provide more meaning to the notion of what wearing spectacles could really mean, but it comes off as weak, even if it does motivate some narrative.
The second of the stories is another school story, "Let's Fall in Love", which takes place at the same school as Spectacles, and continues its theme " the recognition of attraction and the attempts to realize it.
Tennojhi moves away from school and into the world of adults for the last two stories involving the Saegusa Investigative Agency. Both are very short and demonstrate Tennojhi's talent for small, well told stories. These are my favorites of the entire volume.
"Let's Meet at 1 PM" is the touching story of finding and accepting love after betrayal.
In "Tell Me You Love Me with Earnest Eyes", the eight-year crush of a short, high school grad, low-income businessman for his tall, handsome, med school bound kohai is romantically and sweetly resolved.
"The Sky Over My Spectacles" has been much awaited since it was first announced under the June imprint and then moved to 801 Media because of its more graphic sexual content. June fans of high school romance who appreciate a bit more sex in their BL will be pleased with these nicely told, well-drawn, non-angsty stories. As a June title, one of the better ones.
However, this is not a title that will define 801 Media as a distinctive imprint. It will take more than volume size and a $15.95 price tag to do that. And on the subject of pricing, I understand the need to create a physical distinction to 801 Media from the June line, thus the smaller size, but the $15.95 seems out of line for the offering.
While it does introduce readers to a mangaka new to them, one certainly worth reading and watching, I would have preferred to see something more cutting edge as the initial release for 801 Media.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: 801 Media
Orientation: Right to Left