Passion Fruit Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-591827-97-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Passion Fruit Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     March 20, 2005
Release Date: February 01, 2004

Passion Fruit Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Okazaki Mari
Translated by:Amy Forsyth
Adapted by:

What They Say
Passion Fruit is a unique, unforgettable collection of stories that examines our innermost secrets and hidden desires. Here, two female cousins learn that living together may bring them closer to each other... or drive them apart; friends discover the true meaning of "loving yourself", and clashing neighbors make a startling discovery about what is lacking in their lives. With uninhibited authenticity and pathos, passion is stranger than fiction!

The Review
TOKYOPOP's packaging does not have the bells and whistles that other publishers use, but it is sill very respectable. Presented in a tall B6, Sweat & Honey is the first title in their new Passion Fruit line. The cover, done in a matted finish, features a wrap around image of two characters from two different stories huddled together under a blanket. The art is on a white background with an orange fruit filled frame wrapped around it. The opposite cover has an image of a jar full of jellybeans emptying its contents onto the blanket, which is under the volume description. TP's goes minimalist with the logo by simply using a fancy font (could not find it on my Mac) and including the artist's name in the title.
Inside there are no real extras, no color pages or editor's notes, but there is some great printing. Lines are very clean and tone is clear and free of moiré problems. TOKYOPOP also included a preview blurb for the next installment of Passion Fruit, Kawakami Junko's Galaxy Girl, Panda Boy, and ads for Lethal Drug, Alichino and Tarot Cafe.

Okazaki's art here is luscious. Character designs tend to be a tad on the long side, but for the most part, they focus on natural bodylines. Bodies tend to run lean, with long necks, long legs and arms. Lines are medium thick and are not very tight. Okazaki has a good sense of body form and she shows it off with a generous amount of skin. Characters tend to be in their undies quite a bit and there is some nudity and sexual behavior but it is all done purposely to progress the writing. Faces tend to look best from only the front; profiles present strange jaw lines and weird noses. Costumes tend to run modern, but as I said before levels of undress - slips, undies - play a role.
Backgrounds are okay. They are their best when scenery is an active character in a story. The rest of the time readers are confined to small rooms with very little furniture. The layout is very active in presenting emotion and dictating pace. It also gets into some subtle foreshadowing (pay close attention if you are looking for this).

Amy Forsyth's translation sounds very good. Actually, this has to be the best I have read from her. It properly brings out the themes for each story and it maintains the emotions of the characters very well. I really felt the frustration, the melancholy, and the curiosity portrayed. Most importantly, it did not compromise Okazaki's pacing at all. Every chapter moved nice and slow, which had to be the best way to enjoy these stories.
SFX are not translated at all, which is typical of TOKYOPOP. This was pretty frustrating as the few that are present are active in the progression of stories they are in. For example in one story, one of the leads does not talk much, leaving it up to her best friend. Readers can figure out her feelings by reading the SFX, but they are not translated. Eventually readers should figure out what is going on, but it is not as obvious or as easy to relate to without the SFX. Getting to read a heartbeat during an embarrassing moment or reading how quiet living alone can change the tone for a reader and make it more real.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The title chapter of this collection of shorts sets the tone for what is to come.
After Sex, a Boy's Sweat Smells Like Honey is a sensual experience that tries to bridge the gap of youth and adulthood. There is curiosity and some instinctual knowledge in every young person. There is spite and frustration that comes with maturity. Sex brings out all of that in people. Sex, the feel, the passion, the sights and smells, it is a powerful experience that many will say is at the core of human existence. Sex is raw, but oh so necessary. Sweat is dirty and delicious at the same time. With age and experience people begin to understand that. Sex is not as taboo as it might seem, but when it is a foreign concept imagination runs wild.
Okazaki starts with this because her entire collection is like this. Her stories can be harsh and cruel, but it can be sweet and honest at the same time. Just take your time and go with the flow. Think about how these stories call back to when you were more curious about the future. The present might be full of sweat and work, but along the way, there were plenty of sweet moments to remember. Okazaki wants to go back then.

Okay, I started the content section with sex on the brain. Sorry! Nevertheless, in all truth sex and the transition from youth to adulthood happen to be the focus of this collection from Okazaki. The relationship is obvious. As youth come of age, topics like identity, friendships, loneliness and sex move to the forefront as young people begin to question their roles as individuals. Practically everyone goes through moments of self-reflection, but as Okazaki has shown, there are different ways to express growing pains. Learning how to grow up and be a friend, be a lover, be a man or be a woman is unique to each individual. It can be equally exciting, painful and lonesome. At the same time, Okazaki makes sure to make each story sensual and full of emotion and symbolism, for each story as unique as they are can be easily found in reality.
Sweat & Honey is a must for readers looking to get into josei. By focusing on emotions people go through as they come of age, Okazaki delivers modern stories that takes readers back to their youth to a time when ideas like the future and sex were still more scary mystery than jaded fact of life. These characters are testing their roles through sex. They are trying to force adulthood onto themselves by noticing what they consider adult behavior. They are running away from their future, dreading the day when they will be on their own. They cling to the present to use it to its fullest. These examples are not unique; they do not distort or reframe what youth is like. Instead, it celebrates this age, which is often full of memories, daydreams and lousy dates. The feelings are honest and justified by how easy they are to relate to. Like the title states, Sweat & Honey may not sound like two extremes, but there are many things in life that happen to be full of both. Okazaki's stories are like that. Salty and sweet, both vital to life.


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