Truly Kindly Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Release Date: Thursday, August 30, 2007
What They Say
A collection of short stories by the popular manga-ka Fumi Yoshinaga. From modern-day tales of romance in Seattle, to eerie stories from historical Japanese fantasy, to Yoshinaga's further depiction of the class conflict before the French Revolution, there's a little something for everyone! The characters Claude and Antoine, a young aristocrat and his butler, are initially introduced in this volume, and we see their further adventures in the sister volume, Lovers in the Night.
The cover features two men in an intimate embrace, in Yoshinaga's distinctive watercolors. Unfortunately, the her art doesn't translate well into color here, making the cover less attractive than it could be. The overall cover design is minimalistic and attractive, with a simple blue bar separated from the rest of the cover with a lace design for the title and artist. The overall print quality is good, with minimal muddy lines and screentone replication
Yoshinaga's distinctive art might be familiar from titles like Gerard & Jacques or Antique Bakery. The art and panel layout is overall very minimalist, with sparse backgrounds where they are included at all, and fairly simple screentones, but it's a style that is used to great effect. The real strength of her artwork is in the character's expressions, which can convey volumes without words.
Some sound effects are replaced with English equivalents, while others are left untranslated. There doesn't seem to be any system to which were replaced and which ones weren't, but this partial translation is a welcome change in Blu's standard operating procedure
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In this short story collection from BL darling Fumi Yoshinaga, she tackles a range of topics and even time periods. The titular story of the book, Truly Kindly, deals with Satoru, a gigolo who strangles his lover in a fit of rage, then takes off. He's taken in by Yuu, and exceedingly strange young man who seems to have some severe mental issues.
A Slightly Malicious Confession, my favorite story in this volume, deals with two men, Shawn and Gil, who were old friend from college. They had sex once, at Gil's insistence, but Gil went on to marry their mutual friend Abby, and they never discussed the matter again. They still see each other every year at Christmas, but this year things seem to be different as the two come to terms with the past in their own way.
Oyua is having the worst day of his life in A Today Completely Different Than Yesterday, with failing to get into the school he planned to attend with his friend Shinomiya just the start of it. He even comes down with a fever, which makes the unreality of Shinomiya's visit even stranger.
Pandora is possibly the most unusual story in the book, a Japanese historical piece dealing with two former accomplished lock pickers who have since gone straight. An impassioned plea from a convict desperate to find a way to care for his wife and unborn child, despite Tatsu's fears that attempting to pick the lock will lead them back to a life of crime.
Returning to what seems to be her favorite time period, Chinoiserie is set thirty years before the French Revolution, and follows the odd relationship that grows up between an aristocrat attempting to court a difficult woman and the valet who acts as their go-between.
The final two stories in this volume return to the butler Claude and the young aristocrat Antoine, who readers may find familiar from Lovers In The Night. They fill in holes left by the previous volume - the first dealing with Antoine's family's actual poverty and the outbreak of the French Revolution, the second tying Antoine's father with the aristocrat in Chinoiserie.
Anthologies are usually a mixed bag, and this one is no exception. Again, Yoshinaga attempts to tell stories with unusual twists, and her success is rather mixed. Fans of her careful storytelling and elaborate character studies are likely to find this volume a little bit of a disappointment, while readers who like unusual stories with odd twists might find this to be an unexpected gem. For anyone who picked up Lovers In The Night and wants to read more about Claude and Antoine, this is one book they definitely can't miss.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Blu
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Truly Kindly