L\'Etoile Solitaire Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1569708819
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: L\'Etoile Solitaire

L\'Etoile Solitaire Vol. #01

By Patricia Beard     November 15, 2007
Release Date: October 30, 2007

L\'Etoile Solitaire Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuno Ogami
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
Adapted by:Studio Takomanga

What They Say
Micah Remington is a serious businessman who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. A shark when it comes to hostile takeovers, Micah has been buying, restructuring and hotel chains for years. His next target - Hotel Kurahashi, a small hotel chain in Japan...Things soon become complicated when Micah meets and falls for the young president, Yuuki. Yuuki has just succeeded his late father as president; and while he tries hard, he's really a management failure. But is Micah's infatuation with Yuuki just another ploy to seal the deal without a hitch?...

The Review
A first! A Japanese Original English language (JOEL) manga from DMP/June. That's too much for my mind to get around. Just a fancy term for a commissioned work.

L'Etoile Solitaire has the usual DMP trim with book cover. Paper is good quality which only enhances the resolution of the artwork. There is the usual author afterword and DMP/June adverts. Unfortunately, L'Etoile Solitaire suffers from an over-descriptive back cover blurb, a situation seen on many recent DMP/June titles. A postcard with Micah and Yuuki is included as a very nice extra.

The artwork in L'Etoile Solitaire can be attractive, but it can also be very rough and ungainly. Yuno Ogami is a new mangaka and L'Etoile Solitaire is one of her first published works. The skill and beauty that is visible in her single illustrations (available via her website) needs to find accommodation in manga format where the number of drawings, the requirement of various poses and gestures, and the demands of panel and page layout can be daunting. There is a real problem in rendering characters in full face frontal view. In this pose, most characters have no suggestion of depth or much definition of facial feature except eyes and chin. Ogami has not been able to develop a visual shorthand for foreshortening facial features that is convincing. By omitting or minimizing these features, she leaves heads and faces either looking disembodied or dissolved into their primary shapes. This is not a question of Ogami's style, which is fine and not too dissimilar from many other mangaka. It's a matter of practice and experience.

There are a few panels that I would have pulled since they contributed nothing to the story and had the effect of jarring the reader out of the moment because of off-model depiction and sub-par drawing. However, this is a decent debut and Yuno Ogami is a mangaka worth watching.

The dialog is easy, natural and very readable, as is expected of a commissioned work in which the client obviously has input. L'Etoile Solitaire is a story for which cultural differences play an important part, and the translation and adaptation reflect these differences in the words and manner of the respective characters. The Americans speak in the way we would expect Americans to do so, and the dialog demonstrates a sensitivity to Japanese manner and conduct.

Original Japanese Sfx are subbed and there is the addition of English-only sfx where the adaptors determined it necessary. Honorifics are maintained and used appropriately.

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

Micah Ryu Remington is an American businessman looking to acquire a small group of Japanese hotels to add to the Remington hotel chain. In Japan for meetings on the matter, he takes some time to explore the city only to be caught in a downpour. He takes refuge in a bar to wait out the storm and happens to meet a young, diffident college student with whom he strikes up a conversation. It becomes clear that the two are attracted. Micah eventually takes his leave with the comment that he is sure that the two will meet up again. The bartender, noticing Yuuki looking crestfallen, hands him a book of matches with the name of the bar, "L'Etoile Solitaire".

Of course, the two meet again at the conference table, where Micah is as surprised as Yuuki to find each other as business rivals. while Yuuki does his best to protect family interests, Micah doesn't seem to be as aggressive as his reputation suggests, and the deal falls through. Can Micah and Yuuki leave business behind to return to their original infatuation? Will they overcome the impediments presented by distrustful associates, romantic rivals of both sexes and the burden of family legacies to find a future together?

As a commissioned work, L'Etoile Solitaire takes advantage of its bicultural roots and presents a story that is informed of both. The misconceptions and misunderstandings of the two cultures form part of the story and provide welcome relief from what seems to be a finite number of BL scenarios, all of which we've seen way too many times. Unfortunately, the promise of the corporate takeover scenario is never explored in any depth and is presented without much drama. Once Micah and Yuki meet and the initial takeover meeting occurs, the matter is pushed into the background with an easy resolution. L'Etoile Solitaire then flits from scenario to scenario, giving some of these very promising story lines very short shrift.

And creating an original work is not without its problems, especially when there seems to be no editor willing to stop things such as the short story entitled "Happy Birthday". The impulse to create this should have been quashed very early. It came off as the pictorial equivalent of bad fanfiction and very self-indulgent.

L'Etoile Solitaire is a pleasant but shallow read. And, while the rating is mature (18+), there is no excessive graphic sexual depiction.


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