Mania Grade: A-
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: B-
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 18 & Up
- Released By: Be Beautiful
- MSRP: 15.99
- Pages: 222
- ISBN: 1-933440-03-1
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
Embracing Love (aka: Haru wo Daiteita) Vol. #02
By Julie Rosato
March 18, 2006
Release Date: January 01, 2006
Embracing Love (aka: Haru wo Daiteita) Vol.#02
© Be Beautiful
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
Adapted by:What They Say
Who said love was easy? It's been a month since Katou ingratiated his way into Iwaki's tiny one bedroom apartment, but the impossibly beautiful blonde refuses to make love to his dark and handsome host. Poor Iwaki's lust has reached the boiling point, and if he doesn't achieve full release... and soon... there's no telling what may happen!The Review
This series could well be my favorite torture. Packaging:
BeBeautiful uses the original cover image of Iwaki and Katou and places it over a new lavender background. It’s a nice picture but again the color schemes are not very well-matched, further hindered by a slight but unfortunate color variance from the original image. However the logo design, which includes the Japanese title, is quite nicely done. The back cover again sports another sexy shirtless shot of Katou. Extras include character profiles and the author’s afterward. Ads for other BeBeautiful properties close up the book.Artwork:
Youka Nitta manages to do so much with so little. There is a sleek quality to her style, wherein the details are simple but easily convey the desired effects. Her men are incredibly sexy, with well-defined features and great facial expressions. I love the cleanliness of the lines, and the reliance on tones and shading here is more artistic than crutch. Backgrounds have a bit more presence in this volume, but still only do what is necessary. Panel layout is a little more dynamic in this volume, moving with the passion, intensity and ache of their contents.
The art reproduction and printing in this book is a bit problematic, however. Printing is crisp and solid (and thus faring better than in some other BeBeautiful books of late), but is also sometimes too dark and occasionally marred by smudges. The nice toning work laments this fact particularly. (The first volume actually suffered these problems as well, though it didn’t seem as badly affected.) The margin cropping that plagues virtually all of the books from this publisher is still an issue here as well, so there is some loss of art off the sides.SFX/Text:
SFX are translated using the subtitle method, which at times felt a bit more obtrusive in this volume. I’m entirely grateful for the translation and the panel flow/font matching is generally very good, but in panels particularly laden with large SFX, perhaps fewer repeated translations, or a smaller font size is in order. Again in this volume I noticed a typo (Kikuchi’s name), but overall the translation reads very smoothly and emphasis and fonts are used well here. As with the previous volume, the only honorific retained is Katou’s “Iwaki-san.” Overall, this is a decent production job, but one that can be also improved. Contents:
(please note the following may contain spoilers)
With Iwaki still unable to accept his situation outright, this volume fires one test after another at him. Picking up a month after Katou moved in with him, Iwaki is still ill-at-ease over the arrangements, bothered most by his own mixed feelings. Katou hasn’t made any real advances on him either and he’s starting to get frustrated with the younger man’s seemingly selfish behavior. Iwaki tries to convince himself that he’s angry over the disruption of his personal life, but he can’t run from the fact that he really does care for Katou, too.
Next a sexy ad campaign for Katou has Iwaki ruffled and angry. Made jealous and insecure by Katou’s soaring popularity with women, Iwaki doesn’t recognize that he is in fact falling in love with Katou. This does not, however, slip by unnoticed by Katou, who is openly enthralled by the development. A sliver of realization must have hit Iwaki though because he volunteers to pose with his lover for the next campaign, despite the fact that he is still very much concerned with the matter of their public image. The campaign, of course, is a big hit. (This chapter also demonstrates that sometimes a love scene can be hotter without sex.)
The next hurdle for Iwaki and Katou is far more personal and offers some really wonderful characterization. After hearing that Iwaki has lost the closeness of his family as a result of his scandalous lifestyle, Katou invites him to his sister’s wedding in Hawaii. Iwaki is uncomfortable with the idea but agrees, not wanting to hurt Katou’s feelings. Katou is proud of his relationship with Iwaki and means well of course, but the situation is not well received by his father. Iwaki, while often rather childish and immature in dealing with his own feelings, shows an amazing amount of rationale and maturity in his counseling Katou. In the end their relationship is recognized by Katou’s family, but more importantly, it’s obvious that the two share a closer bond after this experience.
It wouldn’t be the life of a star if not fraught with tabloid trouble, and things don’t stay peaceful for Iwaki and Katou for long. While overseas, Katou is photographed with a mystery woman and the media goes wild with stories of the pair’s break-up. Though the incident is eventually cleared up, Iwaki has an especially hard time dealing with the possibility, his insecurities and unwillingness to believe completely in Katou causing him to retreat back into his shell after even the slightest waver in his confidence.
The last chapter introduces Katsuya Kikuchi, a former star scandalized by a same-sex relationship several years earlier, who has come back to Japan and is now starring in a new movie with Katou. Burned by his experience, Kikuchi’s miffed over the current climate of acceptance and takes it out on the happy couple. Taking advantage of Iwaki’s friendliness, Kikuchi assaults him, though Iwaki manages to fend him off before too much happens. Unfortunately Kikuchi can’t leave well enough alone and eggs Katou on, creating friction on the movie set and at home. But Katou and Iwaki seem to have someone on their side - Urushizaki, (the stalker turned photographer from the last volume), who uses his paparazzi status to help reconcile things. I didn’t really understand the necessity of using Urushizaki here, but the result is a very revealing confrontation between Iwaki and Katou (naturally followed by hot make-up sex).
Iwaki and Katou’s life together isn’t an easy road, but they’re slowly learning to walk it together. Comments
This was a great follow-up volume to the first. I was nearly blown away by the honesty of the emotions in this book, and I can clearly see the story improving already. Katou is really adorable in this volume; he’s so giddy over Iwaki that I couldn’t help but smile. Even if Iwaki is still having a hard time acknowledging their relationship, Katou clearly sees it growing and changing. Sometimes I just want to shake Iwaki out of frustration, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t thrive on the angst. Iwaki also has some surprisingly tender moments and growth in this volume as well, which really give me hope for him. I’m definitely rooting for these two now. This book also has a ton of sex; every chapter has a love scene of some kind, but they’re much more emotionally powerful than those of the first volume. This series is a rollercoaster for my emotions - one certain to intensify in future volumes - but I absolutely love the abuse.