Manhattan Love Story Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translation Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 and Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1569700389
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Manhattan Love Story

Manhattan Love Story Vol. #01

By Patricia Beard     June 21, 2009
Release Date: April 08, 2009


Manhattan Love Story Vol. #01
© Digital Manga Publishing

No, I'm not sure what Manhattan has to do with it, either.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Momoko Tenzen
Translation: Melanie Schoen
Adaptation: Melanie Schoen

What They Say
Diamond leads a pretty typical life in Manhattan - New York's city of love. He is an attractive florist, and has an equally good-looking lover, Locke, who is the influential head of a large Manhattan corporation. Unfortunately, Locke is constantly consumed by his work, but his love for Diamond remains an undying flame. Can this love stand the test of an over-zealous, workaholic boyfriend?

The Review!
Packaging:
This has to be one of the most attractive covers on a June manga. The stark line drawing against the solid back ground manages to be subtle and dramatic at the same time.  The back cover image, done in conventional color rendering, loses the delicacy that makes Momoko Tenzen's art so effective.
There are no extras here save the author afterthoughts.  No wrap-around cover; no color insert. Lots of advertisements. 
 
Artwork:
The artwork here is gentle with a light stroke and lively line work that supports the tender and subtle subjects. Characters designs are elongated with a visually pleasing disproportion. 
   
Text/Translation:

The text reads just fine.  Individual voices come through clearly and distinctly. There is a puzzling moment concerning Diamond's given name and a very odd time lapse with respect to the age of a character, but these look to be errors in the original material. There are no obvious spelling or grammatical errors and all sfx are subbed.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Momoko Tenzen's characters have never been aggressively  masculine. She seems to favor the sensitive, reflective male regardless of who is on top.  In Manhattan Love Story, she seems to crib from the sketchbook of Lily Hoshino in her design for main character Dan "Diamond" Loving, even providing him with some of the delicate sensibilities of Hoshino's frail and fairy-like ukes. He's a character that has a presence on the page, but the one-dimensional Rock Melville, Diamond's lover, is a cipher and unworthy of Diamond and the distress over the relationship.   This is a relationship where the personality and passion are all on one side and this makes for a very unsatisfying romance. It's a good thing that there are other couplings here.   
 
All the events in these stories originate or have close connection to a visit to Diamond's flower shop.  In a manner much like passing a baton, a character introduced in a story, even in a minor way, will appear as the central character in the following story with an occasional return to the flower shop and the frustrating romance of the pining Diamond and the much-absent Rock. The author is more successful with Kanan, Diamond's employee, and foreign student Kenji in a tender story about attraction, abandonment, disillusion and commitment born out of longing.

New York is evidently quite the melting pot and the next story belongs to Kenji's nephew, Raphael(?!!), who yearns for a relationship suitable for someone quite a bit older. There's some sweetness here, but the cheesy ending makes this seem very creepy and detracts from the effect that Tenzen intended in this tale that she described as one of "dangerous love". This is one story that, if it needed telling, would have benefited from more character development in a longer format.
   
Secretary-in-training to CEO Rock Melville, Jessie, who had delivered a message to the tryst-bound Diamond from his boss, becomes the main character in the last of the romantic pairings. The story of Jesse and his older lover, Louis, seems to strain for a point.  Very much slice-of-life, it has Tenzen's characteristic sweetness and tenderness - and that just may be enough.

Comments:
Momoko Tenzen's works (Seven, Paradise on the Hill) tend to subtlety with a low and slow buildup to romantic climax and the short story form may not be the best vehicle for her style.  With the ancillary stories in this volume, the aims are modest as they should be in this form, but the stories are sometimes too low key or don't have the narrative space to make the impact intended.  The most successful of the stories, that of Kanan and Kenji, works well, largely because the characters are engaging to the reader and to themselves. Unfortunately, that can't be said for the centerpiece couple.  Rock Melville's distance and late entrance into the story combined with his dull personality make for tedious romance, no matter how hard Diamond may try.

Fans of Momoko Tenzen might find this interesting, but readers new to the works of this mangaka are encouraged to seek out her other works first. 

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