La Vie en Rose Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 165
  • ISBN: 1-56970-832-0
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

La Vie en Rose Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     June 19, 2007
Release Date: May 23, 2007

La Vie en Rose Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Sakurako Yamada
Translated by:Emily Ohno
Adapted by:

What They Say
Fujimori is an up-and-coming novelist whose debut skyrocketed him to the top of the bestseller's list, but a year later, he's suffering from a case of performance anxiety...err, writer's block. The fans are demanding a sequel to Fujimori's first romantic tale. How can he explain to them that this work of "fiction" was really all about an unrequited love toward his best friend Yoshizumi - who's actually a guy?! Will Fujimori be able to write his happy ending? Or will he be doomed to express his true feelings anonymously forever?

Centered around the happenings inside an upscale bar, Sakurako Yamada's collection of seven romantic shorts present the ins-and-outs of life and love through rose-colored glasses!

The Review
The packaging for this title is striking as far as June books go. The dust jacket has a smooth matte finish and also a wrap-around cover image. Shiraishi-san on the front and Abe-kun on the back are looking sharp, all dressed up for work at the bar. The colors are vibrant despite being neutral, earthy tones and really make this cover stand out. Inside the paper and print are of usual June quality. The author's postscript and several ads close up the book.

Yamada's art will fool you when you first open this book " at first glance it looks unrefined and rough, qualities that soon prove to be part of its strength instead. It's a nice to see June embracing art styles like this that diverge from young-faced bishounen and flowing, breezy lines. Characters have lots of strong, prominent features that make for easy expressions. In profile and three-quarter angles the hard set jawlines and arching eyebrows tend to make the characters look stern or angry, but personality and atmosphere ooze out of the cracks here, diffusing any harshness felt by the art. There is very little background art, but there is plenty to keep your eyes occupied as they travel across the page, and I particularly like how Yamada brings the characters out of the panels and into the foreground. June's reproduction is decent, but a bit dark due to the frequent mix of solid inks and tones.

SFX are translated using both overlay and subtitles, and in general look good. The script maintains some use of honorifics, reads well overall, and is free from major errors or typos.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
Once again the back of this June book describes only the first story in a collection, glossing over what turn out to be the real delights instead.

The stories here start out with a young writer named Fujimori who has only been able to express his love for his friend Yoshizumi secretly through his novels, but dreams of getting his own happy ending someday. This is a good story and has a wonderfully tense "confrontation" scene, but Fujimori is a weak lead and before long someone much more interesting comes along to steal the focus away. Cue Shiraishi, the manager of a local upscale bar that Fujimori frequents, and a man so mysteriously charming he catches the eye of every guy around. Though he rejects the idea of a relationship, he's quite unable to resist the attentions " and manipulations " of those who visit his establishment.

Shiraishi's chemistry shows up immediately in the second story, when a young fan of Fujimori's shows up at the bar looking for the novelist only to set his sights on the bartender instead. The Fujimori angle disappears completely after that, and we get a set of stories about a pretty barfly (and favorite of Shiraishi's) and the lengths he'll go to get noticed. Throughout all of these episodes the part-time bartender Abe plays an entertaining opposite. There's also a flashback episode to Shiraishi's school days, a neatly-told little tale of love and growing up. But finally, and in the best story of the bunch, an unexpected visit from the bar's owner really stirs things up between Shiraishi and Abe!

Like many of June's one-shot releases lately, this is a nice collection that reads as more adult, without being more explicit. The stories are pretty straightforward alone, but linked together paint a more intricate picture of the characters and the complexity of their desires. The deliberate games being played by the men in the bar tales make their interludes less about idyllic romance and more about the physical, and often bitter, side of adult relationships. Despite the romantic entanglements Shiraishi finds himself in, what's really worth watching is the undercurrent between him and the part-timer Abe. Originally these two were meant to be bit players but they completely steal the show. This book is a good, collective read; it has a lot of charm in unexpected places and a subtle depth with plenty to read into if you're so inclined to spend the time.


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