Sunflower Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Friday, November 30, 2007
Release Date: Sunday, September 30, 2007
Translated by:Andrew Marshall
What They Say
Ryuhei Ohno has finally graduated middle school, leaving behind the pains of unrequited love and the trials of adolescence. He is determined to make a fresh start in high school. On the first day of class, he meets Kunihisa Imaizumi. Kunihisa has joined the school not knowing that 90% of the student body is gay! To put it mildly, he's a bit wary of his fellow classmates. Ryuhei appoints himself as Kunihisa's protector, but he soon finds himself being drawn to his firm gaze...
Another story set at the notorious Kinsei High...
The cover features an attractive shot of Ryuhei and Kunihisa in their school uniforms against a field of sunflowers. While the logo doesn't blend especially well with the rest of the cover, it isn't a huge distraction either. DMP's standard dust jacket is included, and the print quality inside is very good, with clean lines and dark blacks.
Fujiyama's art could be described as slightly sketchy, but her linework is more assured than that would usually indicate. The side characters here are as easy to differentiate from each other as the main characters are, so the reader isn't likely to get confused over which is which. What I found most impressive were the two versions of Ryuhei, and how they were clearly distinct from each other, but at the same time recognizable as the same character. It's not something every artist can pull off, but she does it effortlessly. Her panel layouts are varied and she's not afraid to go outside the panel borders when it serves the flow of the page. Overall, this is a very attractive book.
All sound effects are subtitled on the page in a font that closely matches the original. The translation flows smoothly with no obvious rough spots.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
When Ryuhei was in middle school, he fell in love with his tutor, Aikawa, and even openly confessed his love. Aikawa, however, didn't take him seriously and was already in love with someone else - Ruyhei's new rival, Furuya. Despite his best efforts, Ryuhei is completely unable to win Aikawa's regard, and finally breaks down and forces the pair together.
After a substantial growth spurt, Ryuhei entered Kinsei High School, the notorious school where 90% of the student body is rumored to be gay. Ryuhei immediately stands out among his peers - not only for his looks, but also for his intelligence. The other standout student in his class is Kunihisa, another smart, attractive student who didn't know about the school's reputation before transferring in. He and Ryuhei both attract the notice of Noze, the student council vice president, who wants them both to join the council as his assistants.
Noze successfully recruits Kunihisa, but a slip of the tongue alienates Ryuhei, who rejects the student council's offer. Noze isn't one to give up easily, though, and sets Kunihisa the task of finding a suitable replacement for Ryuhei. Kunihisa concludes that that the only possible candidate is Ryuhei himself, and takes it upon himself to persuade Ryuhei to join.
Working together with the council proves to be an educational experience for both of them. Kunihisa seems to be perpetually surprised by the relationships between the various council members, while Ryuhei is caught off guard by the working relationship that's growing between Kunihisa and Noze.
This volume concludes with a side story about Ryuhei's former tutor Aikawa and Furuya (who might be familiar from Ordinary Crush), as they deepen their bond and learn to trust each other
Fujiyama know how to write a good story, and this is no exception. The characters aren't static cutouts - Kunihisa's growing acceptance of the status quo at Kinsei and his place in the student council makes a nice contrast to Ryuhei's growing attraction to Kunihisa - attraction that he doesn't even seem to recognize until near the end of the volume. It's going to be interesting to see how their relationship develops in future volumes. The members of the student council are unique (and twisted) characters with clear connections of their own, even though they aren't the focus of the book, and the fact that romance between two characters isn't the sole goal here is refreshing.
I also enjoyed how she brings in characters from other books and manages to enhance their stories while exploring a new group of characters at the same time. The fact that prior knowledge of those other stories is entirely unnecessary just goes to show how good a storyteller Fujiyama really is.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Mamiya Doll House