Picnic Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 220
  • ISBN: 156970872X
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Picnic

Picnic Vol. #01

By Patricia Beard     June 26, 2007
Release Date: June 26, 2007

Picnic Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yugi Yamada
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
Adapted by:

What They Say
Relationships are tough, but relationships between friends can be even tougher. That's what Koreeda
discovers when Noda - one of his college buddies - offers to become "friends with benefits". Until
recently, Koreeda had a serious girlfriend. But now he's on the rebound and looking for something
different, something real.
Despite Noda's bold proposition, He seems to pull away every time Koreeda tries to get close. Maybe
all they need is some time alone - a vacation...a picnic even. That is, if they can distract their
circle of friends long enough to sneak away together.

The Review
DMP's standard trim is accompanied by paper quality that preserves the legibility of art and the tone that accompanies it. The front cover art interrupts Koreeda and Noda in an intimate moment and the back cover shows Koreeda and Noda either on their way to, or back from, said intimate moment. There is an author profile on the inside flap and the usual June advertisements at the back.

Yamada sensei's character designs are defined by bold, sure strokes that lead to a highly dramatic page presentation. Her character types can be unmistakably masculine, with sharp jaw line and narrow, penetrating gaze, or they can be soft and yielding with round liquid eyes and the hint of a post-coital blush. She also demonstrates that she can modify her designs to depict more comedic situations and apply the conventions normally associated with it. My only complaint, and it's a small one, is that she gives short shrift to the designs of the supporting cast of the story "Picnic". This "circle of friends" is supposed to be an important part of Koreeda and Noda's relationship, yet they're caricatures and sometimes off-model at that. Panel placement is visually dynamic and Yamada sensei's fine design sense is supported by DMP's print quality.

Sfx are a combination of overlay and sub, all small and unobtrusive. The text reads well with all characters having distinctive voice. There are no localizations.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
This is another volume of individual stories presented by June, the longest of which, "Picnic", covers some pretty well-worn territory - the tender, sensitive uke, Noda, is uncertain about his relationship with his sometime lover, Koreeda. Yamada sensei has added some interest to the story by including quite a bit of lively interaction among the group of friends. While this does lighten up the tired premise, the attempt to inject some drama via the possibility of a love triangle within the group is half-hearted and dismissed almost as soon as it is introduced. The emotional drama between Koreeda and Noda is nicely realized, but not particularly distinctive. Pleasant enough, but we've been here before.

Yamada sensei does an about face in the next three stories - "I Have an Excuse, Too" (Parts One and Two) and "The Reason You Sleep Beside Me". These stories, featuring virgin Oikawa and uke Hashimoto, turn convention on its head with hilarious results. Oikawa and the unforgettable Hashimoto, long time roommates, have decided to become more than that, but things quickly turn into a comedy of bad manners and bad attitudes. Hashimoto, lover of all things male and beautiful, is hardly the representative "bottom" - he's surly, he's commanding, with nothing shy or sensitive about him. Oikawa, very much the naif, is constantly confused and kept off-balance by Hashimoto's demands. There is an eye-opening revelation that's a perfect close.

Of the shorter stories that round out the volume, only "But Sometimes You're Kind, warrants any comment as an odd little piece that shows Yamada's quirky sense of humor.

"Picnic" is a title rescued from its averageness by the exceptional Oikawa/Hashimoto stories (worth the price of admission), and elevated by Yamada sensei's wonderful drawings. In an environment where the overabundance of titles pushes publishers to find distinction primarily in material that is simply more graphic sexually, it's encouraging to see stories that are funny and unconventional. We don't see enough of them.


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