Childhood friends reunited amidst the gossip of nosy neighbors - this is fun.
What They Say
Shusuke, a young man who works at a liquor store, is stunned when his high school crush Atsushi returns home after several years of studying abroad. Why is he back when he had sworn to stay away forever? And after all this time, do these two still have feelings for each other? It'll take more than missed opportunities and a kinky match-up party to keep these two from finding the alley of their love!
The print quality is here is excellent, with sharp, crisp lines, deep blacks, and good screentone reproduction. To justify the higher price on Blu titles there's a color page included, although it runs a little too far into the binding. The cover is really very interesting in the way it's designed, with an interesting overall balance and good use of negative space.
The art here has a boldness that's really refreshing. Technically, it isn't without flaws, but it's easy to overlook those in the face of such self-assurance. Her faces aren't the greatest, all square chins and large lips with little to distinguish one character from another other than the hairstyle, and there are some definite weaknesses in the anatomy department, but her expressions have a surprisingly genuine depth of emotion that makes these flaws charming, rather than a distraction. The page layouts are fairly standard, but nicely varied.
Some of the sound effects are translated on the page, others appear to have been replaced with the English equivalent, and still others are left completely untranslated. Tokyopop's seemingly haphazard treatment of sound effects remains disappointing. The font they use to translate effects could use some work as well. The adaptation was very good overall, with only a few rough points, and several lines that fit incredibly well.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Shusuke and Atsushi were best friends up through high school, but Atsushi's decision to study abroad without consulting Shusuke caused a rift between the two that never really healed. Now, six years later, both are older but not necessarily wiser, and have faced some professional disappointments that have left their marks on both of them. Shusuke is both thrilled that his old friend is back, and disturbed when he realizes that his love for Atsushi hasn't faded despite the years and misunderstandings between them.
Faced with these emotions, Shusuke puts an end to his playboy ways and cuts it off with all of his multiple girlfriends, igniting speculation in the shopping district about who it is he might be lovesick for. After a night of drinking the truth comes out, but even that might not be enough to clear up the years of misunderstandings between them and ensure a romantic happily ever after ending.
I'm not entirely sure where the "kinky" match-up party the back cover promised was - in fact, this isn't a particularly kinky or daring book at all. It is, however, an exceedingly sweet romance with a group of quirky side characters that kept things interesting. The gossip mongering in particular was really fun, and I loved the panda confrontation as well. Shusuke is definitely the most well-defined character out of the bunch, but while we don't have much insight into Atsushi and what he's thinking for most of the book, the last two chapters change that and show off what an unusual character he really is.
Close friends falling in love, a long-term separation, romantic entanglements, jealousy, and a drunken confession - these are all standard BL elements, but are written with charm and a surprising flair that makes it all somehow OK. The angst isn't overwhelming, and is balanced nicely by the humor. All in all, this was a pleasant surprise that I can easily recommend to anyone looking for decent romance story.