Doubt!! Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-908-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Doubt!! Vol. #01

By Megan Lavey     March 30, 2005
Release Date: March 15, 2005

Doubt!! Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kaneyoshi Izumi
Translated by:Kelly Sue DeConnick
Adapted by:

What They Say
Average, unremarkable Ai Maekawa navigates school life unnoticed...until one day when a spiteful classmate totally humiliates her in front of everyone. Determined to jettison her embarrassing past, she overhauls her image and enrolls at a new high school where no one knows the old Ai. From the start, Ai is the target of romantic advances and jealous gossip - can a formerly invisible girl handle this avalanche of attention? And is Ai's erstwhile identity as a loser really as far behind her as she hopes?

The Review
The packaging of this book reminds me a lot of S.O.S., which I received about the same time as this book. A soft blend of warm-hued colors (yellow, pink and orange) blend together on the front to form the clothing that Ai is wearing. She blends into the background leaving the logo as the prominent feature. It's understated and draws your eye to the book title itself. The back features a smaller version Ai on the front that gives you a better idea as to the actual dress she is wearing. Having been immersed in a lot of Viz action series lately, it's an interesting contrast to see the relatively calm shojo titles. The book is rounded out with an extra short story and ads for other Viz titles.

Kaneyoshi Izumi uses the standard shojo art here that I've seen in other works centered around high schoolers. There's really not much here that makes her stand out from other authors. Reproduction here is pretty solid, with the black and white artwork looking fantastic and the original color pages retaining most of their contrast from their original magazine run.

There's a pretty solid translation here that keeps the lewd jokes that were most likely part of the original series. A very nice touch here is the addition of honorifics, something that I haven't seen in too many other Viz titles. I'm hoping that this is part of a growing trend for the company. They also keep in the references to Japanese actresses, including a soft porn model, but added in footnotes explaining who these people were. Compared to other titles like Fushigi Yugi (which had Japanese singer mentions swapped out for American), it's refreshing to see.

However, the one thing that does bug me about the translation is that they refer to Ai as a high school freshman, when she's not. She's a first-year high school student, which is the equivalent of a sophomore here in the United States. Freshmen as we know it are ninth graders, but Ai has already completed the ninth grade (when she took her entrance exam.) Because of that, in the review, I plan to refer to the students as first- and second-year students rather than freshman, etc.

Content (may contain spoilers):
Doubt!! begins with Ai Maekawa still in junior high school. She's studying frantically for her high school entrance exams when they discover that Yumi, a fellow classmate, has recently lost her virginity. But when Ai discovers that the boy she has a crush on was the one who Yumi slept with, she lashes out at them. Yumi strikes back by humiliating Ai - flipping her skirt up and revealing the pair of old-fashioned panties with cartoon characters on them that she's wearing. Ai vows to get into a high school where no one knows her and to become popular.

Six months later, Ai gets her wish as she goes through high school orientation with a brand new look (and set of underwear) and is promptly swept off her feet by a cute guy who literally drapes himself around her and his tagalong best friend (who is doing his best to keep him on the straight and narrow.) Ai decides to make the cute boy, So, her boyfriend after he gets her to become head girl in class. But Ai's concentrated on the boys so much that she neglects to become friends with the girls - a move that promises to return to haunt her.

But when Ai reveals it's So that she has feelings for, not his best friend Yuichiro, her rival in class, Mina, decides to make peace with her and turns Ai's debut as a first-year high school student into a relative success. But then Ai gets a disturbing letter that lets her know that she hasn't quite buried the past. But when a letter fails to reveal the past, Yumi comes along and forces the issue quite nicely just as a former girlfriend of So's arrives - as their student teacher.

The book is capped off with an unrelated 16-page story about finals which is kind of funny, especially if you're used to the intense finals that you get as part of a university setting or have taken an AP-class test.

Doubt!! is the actual living out of a fairy tale that many girls dream about during junior high school and high school - especially when facing problems like bad hair, zits and weight issues. I know I felt the same way that Ai did, and I think that's why this story starts out being enjoyable. I found it highly ironic that the girls in Ai's high school are targeting her and claiming she's been beautiful all her life when Ai struggled to get and maintain her current look. It really shows that what's on the surface isn't always underneath.

I find it funny how whenever Ai manages to get one thing right, she screws up in another direction. If she manages to get something right with So, she screws up things with the girls and vice versa. What I don't care for is how Ai's endeavors to become popular seem to be turning her into a stereotypical snob - and it's that teetering on the line that makes me interested to see how things will turn out here - especially when Ai realizes that she sacrifices her true self in the quest to become popular.

Doubt!! resolves the issue about Ai hiding her past early on and it was a smart move to make. But the closing storyline between Ai and Chiharu, the student teacher, is too similar to the Ai/Yumi fight early on for me to really make a distinction at the moment. With high school-based stories like Boys Over Flowers and Happy !!! tends to be on the average side with some good moments. But with Doubt!! being only six volumes, I expect the future volumes to move by pretty quickly.


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