Full of knife-edge emotion and trauma, there's something in here for just about everyone.
Writer/Artist: Youka Nitta
Translation: Melanie Schoen
Adaptation: Melanie Schoen
What They Say
Keshiki and Izuru were best friends as little kisd. After all, they're exactly the same age! But when a heartbreaking family tragedy changes Keshiki's world forever, he pushes away all of the wonderful things that used to fill his carefree days with joy... including the confused and hurt Izuru. Many years later, the two boys find that they're students at the same school. Has time healed Keshiki's wounds, or does he need a helping hand to lead him out of the darkness and into the light of friendship?
White Brand plunges headfirst into the dizzy, dangerous world of men who must challenge convention in order to stand on their own two feet! Sometimes estranged cousins must put the past behind them in order to reconnect, and sometimes prejudices that have existed for decades still take their toll on the innocent. No two stories in White Brand are exactly the same... and each gorgeous couple is as unique as their special, secret passion!
DMP has done an excellent job on this book overall. The print quality is excellent, with sharp, crisp line reproduction and dark blacks, the paper is a brighter white than some of their recent releases, and the blacks are dark and even. There's the usual color wraparound dustjacket, and several ads in the back for other new and forthcoming DMP titles.
Youka Nitta's art is among the most recognizable in BL, and this bears all of her signature traits. Clean lines, beautiful men with strong chins and intense eyes, and jawlines that could slice like knives are readily found, and shown off well with varied but simple layouts that flow well.
All sound effects are subtitled on the page in a font similar to the original. The translation flows smoothly without any notable rough spots.
Asano was deeply traumatized by his father's death, left unable to deal with anything that isn't pure white, including his cousin Izuru who's tanned dark from sports. Izuru takes the whole thing rather personally, but when he finds out the reason behind Asano's aversion he's determined to rehabilitate him. It goes well for a while, but when a well-meaning friend forces the two of them into close contact, Asano's reaction drives a wedge between the two of them again. Can Asano push past his phobia and let Izuro close, or has he driven him away forever?
In "Teal End," Keith is an American who has apprenticed to Takeshi's father, studying Japanese painting and lacquerwork. He feels like he's progressed well since coming to the town years before, but the fact that he's not Japanese is still an insurmountable barrier that may drive him away forever if Takeshi can't be honest with his feelings.
The last three stories are a decidedly odd lot. From an actor who takes method acting a little to far to a wealthy heir mourning the death of his parents to a small men with a fetish for big things, Nitta manages to pack a whole lot of story into just a few pages.
From start to finish the emotion in this book is raw and brutal, which is definitely a plus. The stories are well executed for the most part, although there are weak points in the anthology. I thought "Exhibition Painting" was probably the weakest story of the bunch, and "Hasta la Vista, Baby" bothered me enough that I had trouble reading through it a second time. Which, considering the subject matter, is more of a compliment than not. Fans of Nitta's longer works are definitely advised to check this one out, along with anyone who's looking for a different sort of anthology.