Don't Blame Me Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 184
  • ISBN: 1-56970-741-3
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Don\'t Blame Me

Don't Blame Me Vol. #01

By Briana Lawrence     May 19, 2008
Release Date: March 31, 2008

Don't Blame Me Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yugi Yamada
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
University student Toshiaki Kaji is in the middle of a delayed phase of rebellion towards the world. Determined to live an exciting and eventful adult life, he is intent on defying all the rules. And after meeting a strange group of people at the school cafeteria, his life is anything but boring. In fact, it's becoming gayer!

The Review
There's a man in a bear suit. There's a man in a freakin' bear suit!

It'll be hard to miss this book when walking through the bookstore. It's not necessarily the characters on the front cover that stand out. The group on the back appears to be having a lot of fun, a girl holding a video camera and taping two guys kissing, one wearing a bear suit and laying in the other guy's lap. But this really isn't what stands out either. What stands out is the ultra-bright yellow background, bright like those laundry detergent commercials that boast about keeping colors fresh and looking brand new.

There are two things about the art that I think work really well in this manga. I like the black frames that line the pages when it's a moment in the manga that's being filmed; it makes the scene feel more important than the rest and makes you focus on it more. I also like the way the sex is illustrated. It's done in a few frames and it's always just a part of a sex scene. You never really see any full-blown penetration and the sex is never more than a page long, but when it is shown it definitely earns the mature rating.

All Japanese honorifics are kept in tact. Like most DMP books, the sound effects are left in their original kanji and the English translation is written by the kanji. The chapters are broken up into scenes, like a movie, and each scene focuses on a different aspect of Toshi's life. The first scene is in present time, then the scenes that follow are flashbacks of Toshi's life in college. We start out in Makoto's point-of-view then the narration switches to Toshi telling his own story, looking back at his life as a college student.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Makoto has looked up to Toshi for as long as he can remember, but when he visits him again he sees his cousin as nothing but a boring adult. Toshi has given up his dream of making movies, telling Makoto that the movie he was a part of was boring with too little pay. To top it all off, his once very cool cousin is a walking ball of depression after being dumped by what Makoto assumes to be a girlfriend. Just when Makoto thinks all hope is lost for his cousin, the birth of a friend's baby brings everything back together again and Toshi is able to make amends with his girlfriend... who is very much a male, much to Makoto's surprise.

After the first scene, the manga turns into a flashback of Toshi's life, showing how he met the friends he has now. The story primarily focuses on how he became obsessed with making movies, which happened while looking at the lives of his new friends. Watching their experiences (especially Jun and the mysterious man in a bear suit) gives him the urge to capture it all on film, and a lot of the time he finds himself holding a video camera and watching their lives unfold before him.

The final scene shows how Toshi starts his relationship with Nakamura, ending on a cliffhanger that hopefully gets resolved in volume 2. This volume ends with a short bonus story that shows Jun and Yutaka's (guy in bear suit) relationship as kids, and a gift Jun gave him that is obviously part of his bear suit craze.

It's not a secret that I love Yugi Yamada's work, but I always fear that the day will come when the manga-ka I love will come out with something that I don't like, or that I feel isn't as strong as their previous works.

Well... it hasn't happened yet.

It's not so much the plot of this story that makes it such a good read, though the movie obsession part is very interesting to me. It reminds me of a few friends I have who have movie collections that reach the ceiling, you know, the type of people who can name the director of a film without looking at the back of the box, then they proceed to name every other movie said director has made. The "flashback into the main character's past" has been done before, and so has the "unrequited love story" that happens between Jun and Yutaka. But the characters in this manga make it an unforgettable story, and I think it'll make everyone remember that one group of zany friends you have that will stay in your lives forever, whether they're with you all the time or if they can only visit occasionally because they live all across the board.

The movie aspect only makes things more interesting, serving as a tool to highlight the more important things in the manga: Jun and Yutaka's relationship, Toshi and Nakamura's developing relationship, the birth of Miki's baby, and we get to see all the major plot points through the eyes of a camera. I also like the way the story is told, starting in Makoto's point-of-view, which sort of gives us a child-like fascination towards Toshi. Then it switches to Toshi's point of view, and we get to see him develop into the person he is today as he watches everything with the same child-like fascination that Makoto has.

This manga is definitely worth it, and the ending will leave you impatiently waiting for volume 2.


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