Othello Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 165
  • ISBN: 1-56970-822-3
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Othello

Othello Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     September 20, 2007
Release Date: June 30, 2007

Othello Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Toui Hasumi
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:

What They Say
After Atsushi dies in a horrible accident, his twin brother Ayumu decides to steal his identity and returns to school in his place. He attempts to hide his reckless behavior and assume persona of his honor student brother. However, for some reason, Ayumu is unable to hide his true colors and composure around his classmate Kirishima.

The Review
A surprisingly good collection of moody pieces.

Packaging for this title sports the usual elements for June, most notably the A5 size and dust jacket. To original cover art is used, right down to the title font. Good use of contrasting colors make this a very eye-catching cover, even before one notices Ayumu's beautiful face and penetrating eyes. I especially like how Ayumu's expression practically dares us to pick this book up and read it. Inside, as I was pleased to see, is the heavier, brighter paperstock that is sometimes used by this publisher. It improves printing clarity a great deal, doing more justice to the artwork. The author's afterword and several ads close up the book.

I've been a fan of this artist for some years now and it's not hard to see why. Characters are exceedingly pretty and expressive without exaggeration. Steady lines, good solid inks and contrasting tones all work together, creating a nice, clean style. There is plenty of attention paid to setting and background artwork. Though overall design and style are easily identifiable across works, individual characters are all varied enough to stand apart in this collection. A good sense of timing and panel placement also serve the flow of the short story model here.

SFX are translated primarily using subtitles, and although there is less diversity in font use here, most of the translations are well-matched and placed. There are some that aren't and those tend to crowd panels unnecessarily, but the instances are few and usually do not detract too much. The script maintains some use of honorifics and is free from major errors or typos. Thought it reads well in general, there were a couple of scenes where an awkward phrase or use of emphasis made it necessary to re-read to properly understand what was being inferred.

Contents:(please note the following may contain spoilers)
This is a collection of four short stories, though the title work, Othello, takes up about half of the book. Ayumu is sixteen, half of a twin set, and his estranged brother has just been killed in an accident. He's a troubled boy, having been raised in a rather dubious environment by his father, but after the accident he's determined to shed his old life and assume that of his perfect, angelic brother. Most of the student body at his new school buys the act - how different could twins be, after all? Unfortunately for Ayumu, a slip into his old habits is witnessed by a classmate, Kirishima, whose resulting attentions throw Ayumu into a tailspin of questioning and doubt. Nonetheless, he finds respite in Kirishima's company as pretending to be someone else is mighty hard work indeed. But as their friendship grows, so do the rumors at school, and confused by the relationship he may have once shared with his brother Atsushi, Ayumu tries to push Kirishima away. What Ayumu doesn't understand at the time, however, is that it's Kirishima who'll help him find peace " and himself.

Next is another school story which was actually the manga-ka's BL debut. High school student Kaoru Sakamoto moves back to his hometown after a long time away, where he is reunited with a childhood friend, Snow Nanjo. Snow has grown up a bitter emo-kid who hates any reference to the story Snow White and refuses to let anyone call him by his first name - citing Sakamoto as the cause! Sakamoto's a good, honest kid and the poor thing just can't figure out why Snow hates him. Suggestive advances and some brooding later, Sakamoto realizes the source of the (rather childish) misunderstanding. In the end they manage to make up " and Snow's eager to make up for lost time! This one's a bit of a stretch, but it's a cute enough story, especially for fans of spunky, tsundere-like ukes.

The third story is a dark, moody piece that shifts the tone back again. Interested in doing an article on a famous but recently deceased artist, Miyaji calls upon the artist's "foster son" for an interview. The boy, Masanari, has a mysterious aura about him that seems tied to the dark, lifelessness of the house. As it turns out, Masanari harbors plenty of dark secrets, all of which leave quite an impression on Miyaji. Over the course of their brief acquaintance, Masanari's strange aura draws Miyaji in and consumes him, while at the same time it is he who frees the young boy from that which keeps him captive, like a light dispelling the darkness.

Continuing with this slightly darker edge, the volume closes with a short, sexy bonus story about a dragon god who eats men's souls and the writer who moves in next to his swamp.

Like the black and white opposites of Othello, these stories are loosely connected by a theme of change between dark and light, of one winning over the other. Overall, the stories are good, moody pieces that let you think and feel. There's a proper amount of angst present to do this, but never does it over-saturate the story or its theme. The young adult rating is deserved for a few suggestive scenes and dialogue, but there is little explicitness to speak of.

I was very pleased to find the title story well crafted and not leaving me in want of more exposition or characterization, which is a frequent drawback of these sorts of collections. A bit surprising, actually, as it handles a wide range of elements and a good deal of angst with efficiency and impact, without straining believability. To some it may seem too little attention is given to the contrast of Ayumu's previous life to that of his brother's, but we're given enough to understand, and it is perhaps less important who Ayumu was then " because like his time spent pretending to be Atsushi, that wasn't his real self either. All in all, it's a tight storytelling effort the likes of which I rarely see in these collections. As is also sometimes unusual, I found the additional stories to be mostly well "matched thematically and enjoyable in their own rights, too.


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