Wild Rock 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: 17 & Up
  • Released By: Blu
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59816-101-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Wild Rock Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     January 26, 2006
Release Date: January 01, 2006


Wild Rock Vol.#01
© Blu


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kazusa Takashima
Translated by:N/A
Adapted by:

What They Say
Meet Emba and Yuuen, two very different heirs to two very different warring clans. When they meet, it's love at first sight...and a wild romantic odyssey is about to unfold. But the odds are stacked against this primitive Romeo and Romeo! With their resentful clans providing no support for their budding relationship, can these star-crossed lovers get behind each other to stop the long-standing family feud? BLU hits boys’ love fans with a hot, new manga Wild Rock, set in a fabulously fantastic prehistoric backdrop!

The Review
Love is an animal print loincloth.

Packaging:
BLU has used the original cover art for this release, a stunning picture of Emba standing in the lake, with the setting sun at his back. The back cover, taken from the interior color plate, is a picture of Emba and Yuuen lying in the lake together. These are very attractive pictures, done in beautiful warm, earthy tones. The logo design is set up similar to the original release, placed vertically along the right side, and looks good. I am, however, extremely disappointed at the lack of color inserts, particularly as this title has been advertised as having them – including in the ad in the back of this very book. (At least the first is partly reproduced on the back cover.) The author’s afterward is included at the end, along with a few bonus illustrations. No English translation credits have been given.

Artwork:
One of the things that make Wild Rock such a huge fan favorite is Takashima's gorgeous artwork. Panel work and layout master tension, pace and emotion beautifully, and the color work is absolutely stunning (I never get tired of gazing at the cover of this book). Emba is ridiculously sexy with his well-muscled body, piercing eyes, and wild mane of hair. And even though Yuuen’s a bit feminine, he’s far from the girliest uke the boys-love genre has ever seen. I particularly like how expressive the eyes can be here, and how facial features are strong but still manage to look soft. Lines are clean and distinct and bodies are well-defined. There is very little in the way of backgrounds, mostly empty space or tones with a bit of vague scenery, but this serves to keep the artistic focus on the characters. (Though with a book full of bare-chested men in loincloths, who’d have it any other way, I wonder?) BLU's art reproduction is of the usual standard, serviceable but not spectacular.

SFX/Text:
There are occasional SFX translations, using both the overlay and subtitle methods, but they are very few and inconsistently chosen. While this book isn’t particularly laden with sounds effects, several of those left untouched utilize empty space, which, at the very least, should have made it easy to tastefully overlay them. And those that were translated do not appear to have any particular similarities between them, either. This sort of inconsistency is typical for the publisher and just doesn’t make sense to me. Otherwise, the translation reads well enough and the small panel text is always translated, though text sometimes extends too far into the inside margin or outside of the bubbles.

Contents:(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story opens on the hunt, with two brothers from the East Forest clan trying to kill some big game. Yuuen, a rather inept hunter, freezes in the face of danger but is saved when Emba, the heir to the rival Lakeside clan, intercepts to steal the kill just in the nick of time. Longstanding enemies, these two clans have fought each other over hunting lands for generations. In an attempt to gain leverage in the feud over territory, the East Forest clan chief tasks Yuuen with confronting Emba -- using a plan only his effeminate son could carry off.

Masquerading as a girl, Yuuen begins a daily routine of observing Emba at the lakeside from afar. Though Yuuen is too embarrassed and intimidated to outright address him at first, a quiet attraction gradually grows between the two. Emba never lets on that he knows the truth, but as his gentle nature becomes more apparent Yuuen begins feeling anger and guilt over the deception. Eventually Yuuen realizes that his feelings have changed into love, though naturally he assumes Emba’s kindness towards him is due to his mistaking Yuuen for a girl. One day after having a bit of a meltdown, Yuuen goes into the lake. Emba shows up just in time to rescue him from a giant alligator, though the two are injured in the process. They retreat to a nearby cave where they tend to each other’s hurts and Emba’s actions inspire Yuuen the end the lie. However, before he has the chance to tell Emba the truth, Emba confesses his love. Devastated, Yuuen runs away, having mistook Emba’s affections. Once back in his village, Yuuen decides he will take up hunt duties again the next day, putting behind him the entire experience – and his feelings.

Emba has something else in mind however, and that’s to go retrieve what he wants. Prepared to lose everything, he heads into enemy territory where he confronts both Yuuen and his father. Yuuen is shocked to learn Emba knew the truth all along, but Yuuen’s father had already recognized their mutual feelings. With his blessing, the two leave the village. Once again Emba confesses his feelings, and this time Yuuen accepts, and they spend the night together. The next night, much to everyone’s surprise, Emba and his family arrive at Yuuen’s village, where a ceremony is held to end the rivalry of the two clans. Emba and Yuuen then have their own ceremony, where they make a more private sort of vow.

What follows is a side story about Emba and Yuuen’s fathers, Selem and Yuni. This story takes place many years ago, shortly before they each come of age and assume leadership of their respective clans. Deep in the woods in search of an oath flower, Yuni falls into a hunting trap set by Selem, who has taken up refuge there for an undisclosed personal reason. Injured in the fall, Yuni must stay with Selem until he is well enough to go home. Selem is kind and dotes on Yuni and before long these two kindred spirits form an unexpected bond of friendship. Over the days their feelings for each other intensify but they both know that soon Yuni must return to his clan. Before that happens however, Yuni accidentally finds out that Selem is the heir to the rival clan, and doesn’t take the news well. Amidst flaring tempers and despair, the two succumb to the love they know they can never share again, and the next day part ways, down the separate paths their lives will take.

Next there is a short bonus chapter featuring Emba, Yuuen, and their nephew. Sentimental, sweet, and way too cute, it gives a glimpse into their lives a few years later. Rounding out the book is a quick omake scene.

But I’ve just got to ask: Is that loincloth being passed from father to son in some sort of clan ritual, or did Emba just really like his dad’s fashion sense?

Comments
Wild Rock is probably the biggest score for BLU’s early line-up: A highly-anticipated fan favorite. In fact, I was afraid I might be too biased when reviewing this book, but there really are a lot of reasons why I love it, and on so many different levels. The story is an incarnation of the ages-old (but still beloved) tale of enemies in love, but its execution never sells itself short. The artwork is an exercise in the beauty of form and emotion practically leaps off the page. My favorite scene is the first double-page spread – not only is it a beautifully composed shot (and another reason to loathe the lack of color pages), but the entire story is born there, in the look they give each other. This is an undeniably sexy work, and one that needn’t rely on frequent acts or explicitness to be so.

Emba and Yuuen are fairly archetypal, but their story is tightly told, without a lot of wallowing in the emotional devices found in most boys-love. Naturally there’s the frustration and doubt that Yuuen endures due to his cross-dressing, and Emba must bear the burden of responsibility, but the angst is kept to a level of functional necessity from the very start. Additionally, though Yuuen dresses as a girl in this book, never once do I feel cheated out of the male-male relationship. Perhaps because Takashima never lets us forget that he IS a boy, or because Emba never acts like he isn’t -- either way it’s what allowed me to tolerate it as a plot device here, since I don’t generally care for the kind of story that relies on an overly feminine uke to make the relationship okay.

Then there is the story of Yuni and Selem, which even on its own has become one of my favorite single-chapter stories ever. It’s another take on the same romantic staple, but despite the obvious similarities it’s both a more emotional and, ultimately, more tragic story than that of their sons. Their love, despite the strength it inspired, got only a single night to shine. (Even though Yuni and Selem are able to meet again as friends when they are older, the passions they felt in their youth belong to another life and I don’t see them ever hooking up again.) I absolutely adored Yuni in this story and his ending monologue also gave me a new appreciation for Emba and Yuuen’s relationship.

Wild Rock is, quite possibly, the most loved tankoubon on my bookshelf, and long coveted the top spot on my boys-love licensing wish list. The story is very sweet and Takashima’s art is beautiful, and if ever there was an excuse to draw hot, half-naked men, a prehistoric tale of rivals in love is it. I’d say every boys-love fan should go get this book, but I don’t really think I need to.

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