Red Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1-56970-714-2
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Red

Red Vol. #01

By Danielle Van Gorder     June 05, 2008
Release Date: May 27, 2008


Red Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Sanae Rokuya
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
Burdened by the responsibilities that come with being the future king, Taichi left the palace and went into hiding. Then one day, Taichi saves the life of a mysterious boy named Jiei. This boy has a golden shadow and came from a faraway land.

In this country, foreigners are immediately beheaded. But Taichi takes Jiei back to his house, and asks his reason for coming to this land. Jiei wraps his hands around Taichi's neck and says, "I have come to kill you." But what Jiei takes instead are Taichi's lips!

The Review
Packaging:

DMP's books always look great, and this is no exception. There's a full-color wraparound dustjacket, with an attractive shot of Jiei and Taichi on the cover, and shots of the five key characters on the back. The paper is a nice, bright white, line reproduction is clear and crisp, and the screentone looks great, free of artifacts or muddy spots.

Art:

Crisp, clean lines, varied angles, and an attention for detail (especially in costumes) are the elements that stood out the most about Rokuya's art. While she doesn't exactly excel at action scenes, her page layouts and panel choices are visually striking - in some cases, a large panel will contain only an eye, which is more striking than it might sound. She's quite good at varied and expressive faces, which really drive the story in some places. All in all, this is an extremely nice looking book.

Text/SFX:

Following their standard practice, most sound effects are translated on the page with the English equivalent in a matching font. There were a few I noticed that were left untranslated for some reason. The translation itself felt very natural for the most part, although a few lines struck me as somewhat stilted. This may have been an attempt to replicate more formal speech.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Taichi is the successor to the ruler of the nation, but a childhood failure to protect someone important to him left him with crippling doubts about his ability to protect anybody else - much less an entire nation full of people. Rather than facing his fears, he escapes from them with the help of a palace guard and goes off to live on his own in anonymity.

Four years later, Taichi is living with Yoichi, a young man with a difficult past who knows nothing of Taichi's true identity. Taichi is hardly undefended, however - a high ranking policeman named Yasuda knows Taichi's secrets and helps him by passing on important information. When the lord collapses from an illness that he might not recover from, Yasuda passes on the warning that even though Taichi has abandoned is position, that position hasn't abandoned him. Without proof of his death the nation will not accept another ruler, which leaves the hopefuls for the throne with little choice but to assassinate Taichi.

Jiei is the man selected to kill Taichi, but when chance draws them together he finds himself unable to follow through. Despite knowing his intentions, Taichi continues to welcome Jiei's presence. Politics stand still for no man, however, and all of these men will find themselves drawn into the whirlwind of intrigue, where true intentions are hidden, everybody has secrets, and nobody's loyalties are certain.

Comments
I am a sucker - a huge sucker - for historical drama, even if the history part just borrows elements from the real thing. Even so, this was very well done from start to finish. You're introduced to all of the characters fairly early, but bits and pieces about their pasts, goals, and true motives are woven in as the story progresses. Nothing is handed to you up-front. Instead, it's revealed as the flow of the story demands, adding layer after layer to the characters.

This book isn't for readers looking for hardcore smut - in fact, this is a book that would likely appeal to some non-BL readers because what's there is so light, just a kiss or two and some implication. It's there, but it's hardly the focus of the book. Rather, it's just one element of the unfolding drama, plot element rather than sole purpose. The characters were very well developed, and that (along with the draw of the political machinations) is where this really shines. It's hard to say too much without giving things away, but Jiei's master especially had murky motivations that really appealed to me. Just when I thought I had him pinned down something else would happen that would have me reevaluating him. The other characters were equally well thought-out and complex.

I can easily recommend this to anyone who likes their manga with a side of intrigue, fans of samurai drama, and BL fans looking for more than just costumed sex.

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