I\'s Vol. #04 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-4215-0054-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

I\'s Vol. #04

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 19, 2005
Release Date: November 08, 2005

I\'s Vol.#04
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Katsura Masakazu
Translated by:Joe Yamazaki
Adapted by:

What They Say

Ichitaka’s birthday is around the corner, and there’s only one thing he wants: his beloved Iori – wearing nothing but a ribbon and a smile. Sadly, that won’t be happening anytime soon. Barring his initial wish, Ichitaka will settle for a delightful evening on the town with Iori (most likely, with her clothes on), but his childhood friend Itsuki shows up and totally ruins the mood. Bummed out and bedraggled, Ichitaka manages to ask Iori out again, but she already made other plans! Will Ichitaka let the b-day blues get the best of him, or will a kiss from Itsuki make him change his mind about his entire angst-addled existence?

The Review
Viz does a great job with the presentation of this title. First, they use the original cover art and formatting. This cover features Itsuki running in a park wearing her I”S staff varsity jacket (with ITSUKI across the back) while autumn leaves fall all around her. The image shows off Katsura's great ability to do color and looks really very fun and energetic. The colors look great together – lots of violets and reds. Viz has also kept the original logo with katakana, which is something I would like to see more publishers do. The opposite cover has a long volume description and another Itsuki image (lots of violet and purple here too).

Inside, the printing looks pretty good. More importantly, this was a volume without alignment problems. I was glad to see Viz really keep an eye on these two issues, for I did not want to have Katsura's art compromised. At the end of the GN, Viz kept the 5-page illustration collection and added a preview blurb for volume 5.

Katsura's art is some of the best received in the shonen genre. Not only are his designs cute and full of personality, but they tend to show a passion for fashion that Katsura has. As this title does not feature sci-fi or fantasy elements to it, his costume designs are not as original as those seen in Video Girl AI or Shadow Lady. However, Katsura always seems to be able to create designs that give definition to the bodylines of his characters. One of things I have noticed over the year is how he draws his faces has changed. Eyes are smaller and there is much less definition on them. Actually, in many ways, this has taken a step back since VGAi, as these expressions can look over simplified creating faces that look strangely distorted (eyes to far apart, huge chins on women and everyone is cross-eyed).

While his layouts can be simple, Katsura tends to keep his panels looking good by giving his background art a good amount of detail. His detail is quite refreshing, especially when one considers how often his contemporaries in the shonen world ignore backgrounds all together. I have also begun to appreciate how he is able to show so much emotion in panels that do not even have dialogue. The layout, perspective and sequencing used really helped set up the mood for each character interaction.

Having done a comparison with my original tankoubon, my impression of the translation is rather positive. There are a few situations where the dialogue was out of context, but neither time affected the story much. If there was a problem with this volume, it had to be mistakes in dialogue placement. There was at least a pair of situations where the dialogue was in the wrong text bubbles.

Viz has translated all of the SFX in this series. The touch up is fine, but at times, I really wished they did not use such large overlays.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of the previous volume, Ichitaka thought his chances to confess his feelings to Iori were over. He had blown his chances at the beach and now he was starting to look like a fool.

When we see him again, the gods or whoever has given him another last chance to say what has been weighing on his heart for so long. He was so close earlier and this was not the time for hesitation. And with his birthday coming up maybe he can parley the situation into something really special.

When it comes to romance, many people are not fortunate enough to get second chances. Third chances, forth or fifth chances are generally unheard of. Well, in this volume of I”s Katsura-sensei gives his main character his share of chances and he might have finally given the “angst-ridden” punk a real break. Yet in typical Katsura form, this will not come easy to his main character, as “suddenly” there appears to be some doubt and some wavering when things start to look bright.

Maybe Ichitaka has been searching for something that was never meant to be. Maybe he should be looking elsewhere. Maybe he really does not even have to look, for someone might be waiting for him. Trying so hard and failing so many times must mean something, right. After all, he cannot blame all of his pratfalls on bad luck.

But, if he is going to give up, he has to go down swinging right? So, after the birthday plan ends up failing, Ichitaka’s “final” opportunity arrives in the form of a class field trip. Nothing says romance like walking the streets of Kyoto with the person you love. With Ichitaka’s luck he just hopes he even gets a chance to just that.

Volume 4 of I”s finally puts this title back on track, and this could not have happened at a better time in the series. Up to now, I was starting to regret picking this old favorite of mine up again. Reading this for what had to be the millionth time, I began to see that as entertaining as this title is, Katsura’s storytelling had not changed much over the years. In some ways, I almost felt much of what I was reading was much of the same Katsura I have read for more than a decade. Some of these old plot devices actually turned me off for the selection was poor.

Moving into this volume, he ends up moving in the right direction. I felt that the way he created a sense of doubt in Ichitaka’s character was the key here. We already knew he is an obsessive person and not a very bright one either. By using that and turning it around to where Ichitaka can obsess over his confusion more, I thought Katsura begins to make Ichitaka the angst filled character he is advertised to be. Now, Ichitaka has to question his emotions and what he has been doing for so long. That self-reflection makes him easier to connect with. In addition, it gives him an opening to check out the rest of the world he has been ignoring all this time. This actually moves the story into more of a standard love-triangle romance but Katsura actually works a way out of that as well.

Katsura begins to bring some of the relationships some closure. Unlike most manga make people think, sometimes people can move on. Creating a situation like that on top of Ichitaka’s already confused feelings can only end up bringing more heartache for the kid (and I like that). That also gives a sense of maturity to this title, as it can actually move away from the confines of manga stereotypes and create its own version of how relationships build and break up.

Behind all of that is Katsura’s art, which impresses in a different way this time. I have always been a fan of his character designs - the fashion, the sensual look his females have and their vibrancy really makes his art unique. While, I have to say he seems to be a little lazy with his facial expressions in this series, his characters are very nice to look at. But this time his backgrounds had be really impressed. When he took his cast to Kyoto, I really had a good sense of the town. The station looked just right and some of the streets had so much detail to them, I almost could hear the sounds and smell the food.

Altogether, with this volume Katsura reeled me back in to I“s. He almost lost me there, but as soon as he began to give this story its own identity I could not put this down. There are just so many touching moments that after all these years, I cannot forget in this volume, which keeps me coming back wanting to experience them repeatedly. That’s what storytelling is about.


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