Vanilla Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Release Date: Friday, November 30, 2007
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
What They Say
Morio is fascinated by his new high school teacher, Saeki-sensei. Despite Saeki-sensei's unsociable, cold and unfeeling attitude, Morio finds himself following his every move. But does Morio simply admire his new teacher, or does he desire something more...?
Could these be actual gay characters?
This book has DMP's standard large trim size and full color dust jacket. The print quality is very nice, with sharp lines and dark blacks, while the paper quality isn't quite as good as DMP's best.
Yamakami's art has an almost classic shoujo feel to it, being softer and less sharp than the more modern styles usually seen in BL. It's cute without being cutsey. She definitely focuses most of her attention on the two main characters, so the supporting characters are much simpler and less visually distinct as a result. Her panel layouts are fairly standard but not boring, and add plenty of visual interest.
All sound effects are subtitled on the page in a font similar to the original. The translation flows smoothly without any rough spots.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Morio is different than other boys his age - he's painfully aware of that fact, even if his friends aren't. When he stumbles (literally) on the new teacher Mr. Sakei, he starts to understand exactly how different he really is. Mr. Saeki is a cold man with few redeeming qualities, but Morio is drawn to him without knowing why. When he accidentally finds Saeki having sex with another male students, he's forced into the realization that he might be gay, and attracted to Mr. Saeki.
Unwilling to just let things be, Morio confronts Saeki, and ends up confessing his love to him, something even he wasn't really aware of until that moment. Saeki rejects him, as cold as ever, but at the same time acts in a way that leads Morio to believe that there might be something more under his cold and unfeeling exterior.
Morio continues his pursuit of Saeki, undaunted by Saeki's attitude or cold comments, but it isn't an easy conquest. Saeki is willing enough to sleep with Morio, but he wants more than that, even if he isn't entirely sure what it is that he wants. In the end, his earnestness may be enough to wring some honest emotion even from the seemingly heartless Saeki.
Fans looking for something other than your standard BL angst or the old "I'm only gay for you" tripe will find quite a bit to love here, with characters who are actually believable in their homosexuality. Morio's confusion as he comes to realize his orientation is remarkably well done, and feels much more authentic than the standard high school BL story that we usually see over here. In addition, his uncontrollable fascination wars with his unwillingness to lay down and tolerate Mr. Sakei's control is unexpectedly charming. Mr. Sakei's return fascination isn't quite as believable with what we know of the character, but I'm looking forward to seeing how things develop in the final volume.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left