Ichigenme: The First Class is Civil Law Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: 801 Media
  • MSRP: 15.95
  • Pages: 240
  • ISBN: 978193412901
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Ichigenme: The First Class is Civil Law

Ichigenme: The First Class is Civil Law Vol. #01

By Danielle Van Gorder     March 13, 2007
Release Date: March 31, 2007

Ichigenme: The First Class is Civil Law Vol.#01
© 801 Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Fumi Yoshinaga
Translated by:Andrew Marshall
Adapted by:W. Johns

What They Say
Tamiya meets Tohdou at Teinou Universtiy, a school for kids from well-off families. Tamiya is shocked at the different values that Tohdou and his friends have, but begins a curious friendship with them. As graduation nears, the two friends strike up a fledgling love.

The Review

801 Media is really trying to make an impression on the market, and packaging is definitely one of their strong suits. While they use the same trim size that's become the industry standard, the addition of a dust jacket and color front piece is really eye-catching. The cover is fairly simple, with Tohdou wrapping his arm around Tamiya's shoulder and laughing, while Tamiya looks less than thrilled with the situation. The logo isn't anything spectacular, but while it works well on the cover, the title is rather difficult to read on the spine due to the font choice. The paper quality is very good, and the printing is dark and crisp.


Yoshinaga's art might be familiar from titles like Gerard & Jacques or Antique Bakery. The art and panel layout is overall very minimalist, with sparse backgrounds where they are included at all, and fairly simple screentones, but it's a style that is used to great effect. The real strength of her artwork is in the character's expressions, which can convey volumes without words. There are some absolutely beautiful pages later in the book that show a progression of different expressions that shows you exactly what's going on, even without background or text. In general, she has two art styles she swaps between when it comes to the character design - her standard style, as on the cover, is fairly detailed and really beautiful. She also uses an even simpler style where all line work is the same weight, and faces become blocky and simplified (and sometimes lose features entirely). It's used sparingly and for sometimes comedic effect in this series, unlike some of her other titles.


All the sound effects are translated, some by replacing the original effect entirely, and others with translation on the page near the effect. I'm not entirely sure how the decision was made to go with one or the other, but my guess is that any effect in a sound bubble (including slamming doors) was replaced, as well as others where the impact on the art was minimal. For larger sound effects, or where they were well integrated into the art, the subtitling method was used.

The decision to leave the translation of "zemi" to the last page in the editor's notes struck me as a rather poor one, since the word is used frequently starting from the very first page. A footnote would have been a better choice, even if it just said to refer to the editor's note on the last page.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Tamiya is a third-year law student interested in procedural law attending a prestigious school. He joins the only zemi, or seminar, that studies procedural law, only to discover that all of the other members are from extremely wealthy or influential families, and have no real desire to study. They just joined this zemi because it was considered the one where even a monkey could pass.

Definitely the odd man out, Tamiya turns down an offer to go to Hokkaido to ski after school, stating that he'd only participate in activities if it's something where he can pay his own way. This really makes an impression on his fellow students, especially Tohdou, the son of an influential politician, who later invites Tamiya out to a bar. Tohdou hits on Tamiya, who doesn't quite know how to handle it. With exams coming up, Tohdou and the other members of the zemi realize that they actually need to start attending classes. They suggest that Tohdou should ask for a copy of Tamiya's notes, but later in class, Tamiya sees several students thanking Tohdou for favors from his father, and declares that Tohdou can get notes from any of his other friends. But once the school gets wind of a scandal involving Tohdou's father, everybody refuses to have anything to do with him for fear of being tainted by the scandal, much to Tamiya's dismay. Tamiya is disgusted by this, lends Tohdou his notes, and the pair repairs their fledgling friendship.

When their regular zemi professor has to take several weeks off to take care of some personal business, they get a substitute, Ikeda-sensei, who won't tolerate the slacking that the members of the zemi have been able to get away with thus far. Ikeda finds himself impressed with Tamiya's dedication, the two become friends. Tohdou is unhappy about the situation, and warns Tamiya away from Ikeda. When Ikeda and Tamiya go out drinking one night, Tamiya finds himself very confused when Ikeda kisses him. At Ikeda's going away party at the end of his substitute term, Tamiya finds out that Ikeda did the same thing with a female student in the zemi, but had gone farther, and the two were now seeing each other. Tamiya is takes the news hard, and gets drunk enough that Tohdou has to escort him home, where Tamiya invites Tohdou to do whatever he wanted.

As the year progresses, the different members of the zemi find themselves dealing with more scandals as Tamiya gradually grows to accept Tohdou's feelings for him. In the end, Tamiya and Tohdou both graduate, but decide to continue in school for their own reasons - Tamiya as a graduate student, and Tohdou pursuing the bachelor's degree he originally wanted.

Watching the characters grow and change over the course of this single volume really drove home what an exceptional storyteller Yoshinaga can be at her best. While Tohdou and Tamiya are the focus of the story, even minor characters had their chance in the spotlight to shine, especially as the spoiled rich kids in the group are influenced by Tamiya's maturity and dedication. We get to watch the characters growing up, making decisions for themselves, maybe for the first time, and learning exactly what it is that they want to do with their lives. It's really a refreshing change from the usual high school romance, and I find myself eagerly awaiting the next volume.


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