Duetto Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978156907647
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Duetto

Duetto Vol. #01

By Patricia Beard     February 11, 2008
Release Date: December 30, 2007

Duetto Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Aoi Kujyou
Translated by:KobeCal and John Werry, HC Language Solutions
Adapted by:

What They Say
College mates Shinobu Miura and Eiichi Tashiro have more going on between them than classes and studies - close proximity and animal attraction can create strange bedfellows - but they also have little-to-nothing in common. For starters, Shinobu seems rather embarrassed about the whole "doing it" thing, and wallows in denial over any true feelings he may have. Eiichi, on the other hand, is a reckless free spirit, quick to acknowledge his affections and eager for commitment. When Eiichi accepts an offer to work overseas, for an American photographer, will Shinobu realize too late how much too opposites can make a perfect duo?

The Review
The usual DMP trim with the print quality one has come to expect from this publisher. The paper quality is the better quality that finds its way to some of DMP's publications - not completely slick, but not the fat, spongy type of some its releases. DMP produces attractive images of Shinobu and Eiichi for the front and back covers.

Duetto is a compilation of Aoi Kujyou's work over the span of her career and demonstrates the range of her character design and layout skills.
She has a competent, attractive, if somewhat generic style - individualized but stock character types, minimal backgrounds, static layout. However, she does show a more robust, confident style that is more personalized in character design, more dynamic panel placement, with backgrounds that contribute to the definition of the characters' physical and emotional locations, along with a masterful use of screen tone that makes the pages visually pop.

All sfx are translated through unobtrusive inserts. The text reads well with no observable errors.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Duetto is a collection of stories, the majority of which tell of the evolution of the love affair of Shinobu and Eiichi. These brief vignettes follow their relationship from college students, who form a sexual relationship out of a combination of physical need for one and honest affection on the part of the other, to professionals who find the reconciliation of their needs for each other with the pursuit of their respective careers.

"Glasses and He" and "Step by Step" are short, intimate stories about two high school students and their tentative, stumbling reach for each other.

In "Secret 1" and "Secret 2", a young man reflects on the feelings he has for the man who calls himself his father.

Aoi Kujyou's manner is very much understated in these stories and this low-key approach is a refreshing and a welcome relief from the overwrought. Every story, especially in an episodic series, should have a defining moment, no matter how subtle. This is essentially the problem with the stories that make up the Shinobu-Eiichi series in this volume. Low-key is one thing, flat-lined is another.

These six stories are intended to present pivotal moments for Shinobu and Eiichi, but with the exception of the stories that bookend the series, the stories show an affair that is dull and unmotivated. Shinobu and Eiichi never seem to connect in any meaningful way. Also, it doesn't help that some of the story elements don't make sense. However, "Duetto", which closes out the series, is notable in that it has almost no dialog; the art and layout are dramatic and affecting, the panels cinematic in description and looking as if they belonged to another series. Although the ending is mawkish, it does have an impact that the preceding stories lacked. If only the previous five stories could have been like the last!

The two groups of stories that comprise the rest of the volume fare better. In "Glasses and He" and "Step by Step", the often told story of a high school crush made reality is a sweet, tender story. The relationship turns on very small everyday events; this mangaka is not one that relies on a lot of angst for effect, she has more of a slice-of-life" approach to BL. As with "Duetto", the art really sells this story. It may not be original, but it's competent and pleasant.

"Secret 1" and "Secret 2" are the most satisfying stories in the volume. Kujyou lays down a challenge to the reader in that she introduces the idea that Misaki may not be Taki's father, but really doesn't resolve it, keeping the reader looking for something that is never there. The situation gives an edge to Taki's current predicament, and poignancy in his reflections on the past. Kujyou is a mangaka who doesn't provide many explanations in any of her stories - events are small and they just happen. In this case, her reticence gives the stories their emotional power.

Readers who prefer an angst-free, romantic read might find a lot to like in Duetto, even with the lack-luster Shinobu-Eiichi relationship. This is a mature title (18+), though the sex scenes are few (mostly romance - lots of kissing, done well) with the height of passion represented by buckets of sweat pouring off the lovers. Those looking for more exuberant (and explicit!) sex will not find it here.


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