Skyscrapers of Oz Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: AW Productions
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 182
  • ISBN: 1-58655-999-0
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Skyscrapers of Oz Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     August 24, 2004
Release Date: August 01, 2004


Skyscrapers of Oz Vol.#01
© AW Productions


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Somei Yoshino/Takaura Roh
Translated by:Kitty Media
Adapted by:

What They Say
From tailing your spouse to walking your dog - no job is too small!
Mari Kudoh and his partner Yoichi are drop-dead gorgeous "Handymen", as they prefer to call themselves. With a dangerous "back-door" operation, these two lead a double life as seductive hitmen!

Their latest assignment is from the vengeful wife of a prominent CEO. She's determined to humiliate her aging husband's paramour, a handsome young man named Yu Kaito. But before Mari can begin this mission, he finds himself rescuing the intended target from a vicious street attack... and then sheltering him in his own apartment.


The Review
Packaging:
Published in a tall B6 this GN is right-to-left and labeled under the Kitty Press BoyBoy imprint. For their first graphic novel the packaging is very good. The front cover uses the original cover art featuring the three main characters for this title - (from left) Yoichi, Yu and Mari - on what appears to be a city skyline in the background. The opposite cover has a more casual image of the three and Mari's younger brother Miyuki (wearing the hot pants and lace stockings) hanging out together. This image is placed beneath the logo and above the medium sized volume blurb all over a purple background.

I do not know who designed the logo, but it looks great. Actually comparing it to the original, this one wins hands down especially since it emphasizes "Oz" which is pretty important to the story. Inside Kitty keeps the original volume headers, chapter headers, and the original kanji on both. They have also included the Skyscrapers of Oz extra story, an ato-gaki and a few pages sharing information regarding SFX translation (even though they translate all of their SFX). Nice job!

Artwork:
In the ato-gaki Takaura-sensei discusses how this was her first manga title. I have to say that I was impressed overall. Her designs are a little on the long side, but that is typical of manga with beautiful men. Mari and Yoichi were tall, long, with narrow waistlines and broad shoulders. Their features were not very distinctive but their facial expressions had a feel of maturity. The younger characters Yu and Miyuki were much smaller and on occasion would be almost feminine. Their faces had more detail - more detail to their eyes and lips - their costumes would change from school clothes to casual wear and pajamas to women's clothing (lacey thigh-high stockings, sleeveless off-the-shoulder cowl neck sweaters, cowl-neck tube tops). Interesting.

Backgrounds were pretty stale and were not used as often as I would like for a story like this. Mangaka like Tsukasa Hojo use detailed backgrounds to show the extent of his "sweepers" (is everyone in this business in the maintenance field??) awareness of their surroundings. Takaura relies on Somei's writing to clue readers in and it works for a short series like this (though I would have like to have seen more detail myself). The layout is very nice. At times perspective is a little strange, in general it kept the pacing relatively slow and set up the twists at the end very well by working on the emotions of the characters through manpu and panels dedicated to aside thoughts and commentary.

There is some nudity and sex in this manga. Genitalia are not detailed, but there is plenty of bumping and grinding and body fluids in those scenes.

Text/SFX:
Kitty Media does a good job with the retouch of SFX. They have decided to use subs that are of similar appearance to the originals. For this manga it works, as Takaura does not have a lot detail in her background art; though, at times I felt the subs were a little large.

The translation sounds good. I did not notice any problems with grammar or spelling. At times I thought the dialogue was a little catty but it worked. Overall a solid production for their first manga.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Oonishi Yoichi and Kudoh Mari are "handymen" for hire. If you need a dog to be walked, an apartment to be cleaned or a friend to be protected they are the guys to call. They are in the handyman business, because according to Mari "It's better to offer one stop shopping." Fortunately, these guys do the job right and really there are few things they cannot do for the right price or the right guy.

Today these handymen just got a really big job. By the details given to them by their client it is what they in the business would call a "backdoor job." They have to go about this operation through seduction and entrapment. But this job will not be easy, actually for some strange twist of fate it is almost hitting close to home for these guys. However a job like this, no matter who is involved, must be taken seriously and will more than likely pay off big.

While Yoichi gets the jobs in the office, Mari handles the actual labor hands on. In his position he must come up with the plans to make the operation work within the allotted time and hopefully under budget. This job will not be treated differently on that level, but the way the tools used might be very different. He will have to get really close to his subject, whether he wants to or not, and once he has gotten into good graces the real work will begin. Mari knows that whenever someone uses Yoichi's Oz account the job is pretty serious. Sometimes Yoichi may not describe the gravity of the situation, but when the time arrives he will figure that out and hopefully get paid handsomely for finishing up the job. However, Yoichi has not elaborated on the "backdoor" aspects about this job yet, in part because he has not yet completely figured it out. But if Yoichi's hunch is right, someone will soon realize the true identities of these "wizards of Oz!"

Comments
With only a few chapters to tell this story there really is not much time to develop the cast very much, Somei's Mari and Yoichi are two characters that by their trade would possibly not want to share their history too much. . Fortunately their personalities are such where they not only could be anyone but because of their job they might not expect to learn much more about them anyway. The concept of them being handymen, being an all-in-one shopping source, as a cover for their job as arms for hire gives them an aura of mystery that works well with the short format. Moreover by giving these two defined roles and characteristics from the start readers can quickly get into their world and the fast paced plot. Personally I really ended up liking the drama set up by Somei-sensei. There were so many twists in this one shot; it was possible to miss some of the little details here and there. The romance on the other hand, was already pretty much set with Miyuki and Yoichi already getting it on like crazy from the beginning. There is some sexual tension between Mari and Yu but that does not get resolved until the extra manga at the end of the story (Takaura noted that some people were asking about their relationship, so I guess they answered).

Overall a very good start for a new studio. I loved the title; drama and the cast are great. I love the production values, though there is room for improvement. And most importantly I like the fact that Media Blasters took a chance by launching with a title like this. This is an adult title for a specific market, but upon further inspection I have to say Skyscrapers of Oz can be enjoyed by mature audiences looking for a solid suspense drama... which just happens to be full of nekkid bishies!

Very good

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