A dream of stardom. A chance encounter. Restarted in 400 pages.
Writer/Artist: Maki Murakami
Translation: Ray Yoshimito
Adaptation: Jamie S. Rich
What They Say
Shuichi Shindou is determined to be a rock star. Eiri Yuki is his most brutally honest critic. When their paths collided, the two find their futures inexorably intertwined...The force that brings them close together is like gravity - and there is nothing they can do to stop it! The original shonen-ai masterpiece is here - repackaged in this gorgeous 400-page collection of the bestselling manga, featuring the first two volumes, a brand-new cover and hot exciting extras. "Gravitation" is a must-have for all manga lovers.
400 pages. That’s all I can think about when I see this monstrous book. This book includes volume 1 and 2 of the “shonen-ai masterpiece,” letting new fans dive right in and letting old fans -- like me -- just stare at it and wonder how someone is supposed to read so much Gravitation in one sitting.
Seeing the cover brings back memories. These two were one of the first boy’s love couples I obsessed over with Shuichi’s wannabe a pop-star look, shirt falling off of him and microphone in hand. And Yuki, dear Yuki, with his smoky bedroom eyes, arm draped around Shuichi‘s shoulders. Once upon a time I loved this series, and the cover is a clear reminder as to why. The art overall for the manga is… o.k., but to be fair the manga did end way back in 2002. But even taking that into account the art is world’s different from the cover, the biggest difference being the fact that Shuichi looks much older than he does on the cover. The art is also very random. Now I don’t mind a little bit of crack in my manga, but there’s moments where Shuichi will bang his head into a table and he’ll break it apart, his forehead bleeding. And the characters are self-aware of the crack, commenting on it and moving on like its normal. This is funny, sometimes, but other times it pulls away from the story.
There’s something about the writing that irritates me and I’m pretty sure it’s a translation issue. I hate the American references that the manga makes, mentioning famous American superstars instead of leaving the Japanese ones that I’m sure they referenced, and phrases like “take a chill pill” or “he’s a couple of rice balls short of a bento box” just don’t flow well with me for some reason. This bugged me back when I read the series years ago and it bugs me even more today, especially after reading a ton of manga that do leave in the Japanese references and make a note to the side of the page. There’s also the extreme pet peeve of the word “rape” being used so lightly. Shuichi says it a couple of times in reference to the things Yuki does to him in bed. I just… argh! That ruins the entire moment for me.
By now, every boy’s love fan and their neighbor’s mailman knows the story of Gravitation. But for fun, let’s take a trip down memory lane to one of the most well-known boy’s love stories ever told. The only downside is that there is a lot of information to take in with two volumes combined into one. There’s quite a few character connections to keep up with and a couple of different plots going on so find somewhere comfortable to sit and have a beverage handy.
Shuichi is in high school with his best friend, Hiro, and both of them -- mostly Shuichi -- have dreams of making it big in the music industry. While the anime already had the two of them working in the music industry, the manga shows them at the very bottom of the barrel, crashing school ceremonies and performing at random clubs whenever they can. We also get to see both of their lives at home, Shuichi’s mother wanting him to get better grades while Hiro is already at the top of the class with an opportunity to go to a good college. One day, Shuichi meets a mysterious man (Yuki) in the park who flat out tells him that his lyrics suck. Shuichi isn’t able to shake off the man’s words, nor is he able to forget the man and spends a lot of time obsessing over him. This, of course, leads him to do what any normal high school boy would do… dart in front of the man’s car on a rainy day, nearly being hit by it.
Yeah… Shuichi isn’t quite bright.
Yuki takes Shuichi back to his place and once again tells him that he’s a loser with no talent, and tops it off with a warning that if he runs in front of his car again he‘ll not only hit him, but he‘ll back up and hit him again for good measure. Ouch. This, of course, makes Shuichi obsess over him even more.
Gotta love those crazy ukes in training.
He finds out from his sister that Yuki is a well-known novelist who she is absolutely in love with -- along with the rest of the female population in Japan. So Shuichi decides to invite Yuki to his upcoming concert because, he wants to prove that his lyrics aren’t crap. Yuki claims that he isn’t coming, but he ends up showing up in the end. Unbeknownst to Shuichi, the famous record producer Tohma Seguchi is also watching the concert to hear the other band, ASK. Shuichi doesn’t really impress him but Tohma’s manager, Sakano, sees something in him. Meanwhile, Yuki and Shuichi’s relationship begins to develop… sort of. Yuki tells another woman that Shuichi is his lover in an attempt to make her jealous -- though it turns out the woman is really his sister. This leads to that famous Gravitation first kiss between the two, but unlike the anime the boys go… a little bit further. Let’s just say that Shuichi has a rather embarrassing moment.
Later, Yuki’s sister tries to coax Shuichi into convincing Yuki to come back home by offering him Tohma, who turns out to be her husband After Yuki’s harsh words about the situation Shuichi reveals that he didn’t take the deal, in fact, he was only using it as an excuse to see Yuki again. Yuki can’t quite understand what Shuichi wants from him if it isn’t money or sex, especially when Tohma confirms that Shuichi did indeed reject the deal. While this is all going on Shuichi gets sick from all of his worrying and angsting about Yuki, but Yuki isn’t there to help him recover because it turns out that he did go back home to visit his father. Interestingly enough, his father is a monk, and we also learn that Yuki has a younger brother who’s just as much of a playboy as he is. Currently, his brother is obsessed with Ryuichi, a singer who Shuichi also looks up to and who use to perform in a band called Nittle Grasper with Tohma and a woman named Noriko. After his visit home, Yuki goes to see Shuichi and attempts to molest him, but we find out that despite Shuichi’s cries of “rapist” -- ugh -- Yuki didn’t even get his pants off.
As if his growing homosexuality and dreams of stardom isn’t enough to deal with, Shuichi finds out that Hiro wants to quit the band and go off to school to make something of his life. The two of them fight, but make up in the middle of their graduation ceremony with a performance that actually gets them one step closer to a record deal. It turns out that Sakano was at the graduation to watch their performance, and he lets them know that he would like to work with them. However, he isn’t a big fan of Shuichi’s lyrics or his skills -- or lack thereof -- on the synthesizer, but he does feel that Shuichi has a really good voice. This sends Shuichi into a temper tantrum that, of course, leads him into Yuki’s arms. The two of them end up having sex -- off screen, mind you, this is a 16+ manga -- and Yuki finally accepts Shuichi as a lover… sort of. Close enough, I suppose.
As the manga draws to a close, Shuichi and Hiro gets a new member to their band, Noriko. She’s a rather aggressive lady and doesn’t make things easy for the boys, but she promises to help them make a name for themselves as “Bad Luck.” And while this is certainly enough to keep up with, the manga decides to throw one more plot point into the mix before it ends. It turns out that Yuki has a fiancee. Splendid.
I know that its becoming a sort of common occurrence to take a manga series and combine a couple of volumes, but it was actually really hard to get through all of this. Definitely do not try and do this in one day, it will hurt your head. There is so much plot in the first two volumes of this series and its hard to believe that later the plot all goes haywire in favor of giant pandas and gun wars in New York City. No, that isn’t a spoiler, just a warning to those who haven’t read this series yet. Enjoy the plot while you can, because it’ll be over sooner than you think.
Re-reading this makes me realize that the plot for this series isn’t bad. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, as the cover so brilliantly puts it, but it is at least interesting. Shuichi is very much a kid while everyone else around him is very much an adult, and he’s being tossed into that world head first and is completely unsure of what to do. But he does know that he’s falling in love with Yuki and he wants to continue his music, and that’s all that matters to him. And the manga goes so much deeper than the anime did. Shuichi is in school, he has a part time job, Hiro’s at the top of his class, they both have siblings, there’s so much of their lives that we get to see.
It’s a little bit surreal reading this story again, knowing everything that’s going to happen and how it compares to the anime. And while this book is a lot to take in, it definitely highlights two of the best volumes of the series. I don’t quite remember when the overall plot of Gravitation fades into ridiculous crack, but when it does you’ll definitely want to go back to this compilation book and remember what Gravitation was like in the beginning. A pretty good story with a quirky, scatter-brained uke, a kind of bastard seme, and a whole lot of characters with different stories and motives of their