Spell Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Rosato
Review Date: Friday, September 07, 2007
Release Date: Saturday, September 01, 2007

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hyouta Fujiyama
Translated by:Vivian Chien
Adapted by:

What They Say
When second-year college student Takamasa Natori gets dragged to a double date by his friend, Takeda, he meets Junpei Kisugi. The two hit it off instantly; and while both are guys, they are soon getting along as if they have known each other for years. But when Natori hears that Kisugi is bisexual, he doesn't know what to think. The two remain friends but things heat up when Natori runs into Kisugi's current and slightly jealous lover Tohru...

The Review
If given enough time, this book will weave a spell of its own.

Packaging continues in the usual vein from this publisher, the most notable features being the A5 size and dust jacket. Also as usual, June has used the original cover art and the title font is a reasonable imitation of its Japanese counterpart. It's not a remarkable looking book, but that is perhaps part of its charm, as the bright accent colors and blue background do give it a cheery feel. Inside the paper and print are of usual June quality. The author's afterword and several ads close up the book.

The art here won't be called exquisite, nor is it exceptionally detailed, but it's a very pleasing style to look at. Good proportions are maintained and the characters are attractive. Mouths and body language are quite expressive and there is attention paid to details when necessary. There is range enough in the designs to make the men distinguishable from one another, but the women are more generic and Yasuha and Kisugi actually look as though they could be twins. Lines are strong and there is a nice balance with the inks. Backgrounds are present when needed, but like many books of this kind, white space or tones are utilized more often and the work shines best in the close-ups.

SFX are translated using both overlay and subtitles, and generally look good. Fonts are used well and the translations don't overwhelm the artwork. While I didn't notice any major errors or typos in the text, the script isn't as readable as it could be. It isn't terribly jarring, but there are a few lines that just didn't translate well and it's easy to get a little lost in the dialogue and narration towards the end.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Takamasa Natori, a college student from the countryside, thought he'd learned everything there is to know about people from attending lots of mixers in the short time he's been at school in Tokyo. That is, until he meets Junpei Kisugi.

Natori and Kisugi meet at a party neither really wanted to attend and instantly hit it off. Kisugi's friendly, carefree nature really appeals to Natori's senses and in short order they become best buds and nigh-inseparable - much to the consternation of Natori's childhood friend Yasuha. Natori's a bit naive in the ways of the world (and the heart), so at first he's a bit shocked to hear Kisugi is bi-sexual and currently in a serious relationship with another guy... but it isn't long before Kisugi's charisma has Natori experiencing different sorts of feelings for his new friend.

Natori struggles with his feelings, but eventually confesses. Things move pretty quickly after that, but their relationship is hardly ideal, given that Kisugi's got a boyfriend already. Us usual in these sorts of stories, the jilted female (in this case Yasuha) has a hand in steering them toward the right path, but it's up to the guys to actually step onto it. Natori knows his own heart, but what of his friend's? Are they just friends-with-favors to Kisugi, or has Natori cast a spell of his own?

This book is pretty enjoyable, but unfortunately all too likely forgettable for the average, impatient reader. The story is told primarily from the point of view of Natori, who is a broody sort of seme, but who is not particularly aggressive. He spends most of his time thinking about his feelings and fretting over their consequences. Kisugi, for his part, merely pulls Natori along by the force of his charisma, rarely offering insights into his real character. Like Natori, we have no real reason to expect more from him " or the story " for the majority of the book, and it's not until the bonus chapter that we really see a more intimate picture of him.

We're led to believe all along that it's Natori who is under Kisugi's spell, but perhaps - just perhaps " it's the other way around. Some late-in-the-game characterization yields a greater appreciation for subsequent reads, but this sort of storytelling will be lost on readers who rely on big events or dynamic characters to stir their emotions. If you can hang on long enough to let the ending work its real magic, you're likely to find it far more sincere and satisfying.

Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 165
ISBN: 1-56970-806-1
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Your Story I Have Known (Boku no Shiru Anata no Hanashi)