Star Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1569708150
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Star

Star Vol. #01

By Patricia Beard     October 26, 2007
Release Date: September 30, 2007

Star Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Keiko Konno
Translated by:Vivien Chien
Adapted by:

What They Say
Hoshimi Sudou's reputation at work is legendary. But it isn't tales of his astounding performance as a scientist that has everyone talking: rather, his affairs with his female coworkers fill the daily office gossip. Talk of his exploits and prowess have made him a target for many aspiring young ladies, but no one has yet reformed this contemporary Don Juan.

However, Sudou is not the heart-breaking Romeo that he has been made out to be. His misanthropic personality and anti-social behavior are really defense mechanisms to hide his sensitive nature. And while his scorn for the world around him seems to attract the ladies, his exploits are grossly exaggerated.

When his coworker, Hirokawa, stumbles across Sudou playing in a street corner jazz band, he begins to see the sensitive side that Sudou hides at work. And after a night of unforeseen passion, the pair begins to develop a complicated relationship that unfolds into a stirring drama between their professional and private lives.

The Review
The cover artwork is a standard configuration for the genre- Sudou and Hirokawa seated casually at home in not quite an embrace. The back cover inset picture gives the professional face of the relationship with Sudou in his lab coat and Hirokawa in a business suit. In so many cases, cover artwork fails to represent the particular qualities of the art inside, but not here. Kanno's pen and ink translates well into pastels. What you see on the outside is what you get on the inside. Fonts are unobtrusive. The DMP/June standard trim is here as well as the usual book cover. The print quality meets the standards seen on previous DMP/June volumes. There is an author afterword and the usual DMP/June advertisements. However, the back cover blurb gives away too much: STAR is not a title for which the story is so poorly told that this much exposition is necessary.

The most striking feature of Kanno's artwork is her handling of facial features, especially eyes. Her use of thick and bold line gives faces depth and drama. Kanno often clothes her figures in suits, coats and outerwear, which adds weight and seriousness to them and to the story. Overall, the artwork may look "sloppy", but these lines that look haphazardly placed give the drawings a visual energy that more controlled styles never achieve. Kanno also has a good sense of surface design: her panels show a good balance of light and dark, pattern to solid, with a judicious use of tone in clothing and in facial modeling. Background art provides a sense of place without overpowering the characters.

Sfx are translated through unobtrusive subtitle and honorifics are used throughout. There is a problem with readability, however. In quite a few instances, the dialog isn't completely senseless, but the reader only gets an impression of the situation. The words may be right, but they are strung together with no consideration for the flow or the aggregate meaning. There is also a problem with the use of the wrong word when the context of the situation indicates another.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hiroshi Sudou is an R&D scientist whose professional reputation around the firm may be solid, but it's his distant and cold behavior to his fellow employees that everyone remembers. That, and the rumors of his conquests among the female office workers.

Out for an evening, Hirokawa, a member of the sales group for the company, happens on a street band whose lead singer and guitarist is none other than Sudou, looking happy and socializing with the crowd. Hirokawa is surprised, so much so that he approaches Sudou who makes it clear that he resents the intrusion of his work life into his private life.

However, Hirokawa isn't bothered by the rebuff. He continues to solicit Sudou's friendship through attending his street performances and socializing with the band, who come to regard Hirokawa as a valued sempai. Sudou begins to change himself and others' opinions of him through Hirokawa's attentions and support, but can he trust enough to allow himself to accept Hirokawa's love as Hirokawa offers it.

Sudou and Hirokawa are a likable couple. Sudou's difficult personality and poor socialization skills are sympathetically and realistically depicted. It's not difficult to get caught up in his emotional dilemma. Hirokawa is patient, persistent and understanding of Sudou's emotional makeup. And while Hirokawa may desire Sudou, it is evident that getting Sudou to trust, to be happy, to bring his warmer, more thoughtful self to a wider social group is of primary importance to him. Sex, which forms an important part of the type of trust that Sudou needs to regain, is depicted as a slowly unfolding process - considerate, tender, and sometimes funny.

But Star is not without its problems. The readability in some scenes calls attention to itself and blunts the impact of the intended meaning. Star can make and impart some insightful observations, but the occasional clumsy dialog, where there should be direct and clear communication, detracts from the whole. In addition, Sudou's outburst at Hirokawa (at work, no less), intended to be the critical point in Sudou's confrontation with his own feelings about Hirokawa, seemed over-played and histrionic with Sudou, always concerned about his "female" role in the relationship, appearing "girly" to a degree outside of what could be expected of his character. But Hirokawa's response to Sudou - "Was it fun, showing off to me?" is nicely observed and well on the mark.

There are no non-consensual sex scenes in Star and the action is recognizable without the elaboration of throbbing organs or bodily fluids.

The dynamic between Sudou and Hirokawa plays out nicely and the story is well told in spite of the occasional issues with readability.


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