W-Juliet Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 190
  • ISBN: 1-59116-598-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

W-Juliet Vol. #01

By Sakura Eries     May 25, 2006
Release Date: October 01, 2004

W-Juliet Vol.#01
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Translated by:William Flanagan
Adapted by:

What They Say
Sixteen-year-old tomboy Ito Miura has been chosen to play Romeo in Romeo and Juliet! The problem? She doesn't want the male role! So, who will be Juliet? The favorite for the part, beautiful and vain Tsugumi, must compete with the cute new transfer student, Makoto Amano.

Makoto not only has the looks, but her audition proves that she has the acting chops to play any role assigned. But Makoto has a secret, and if rival Tsugumi, or anyone in the school, finds out, it could ruin Makoto's life, dragging Ito down as well!

The Review
The front cover shows Ito and Makoto in their Romeo and Juliet costumes. They look like they are flopped on the floor with their fingers linked together. The background is kind of a pale beige-ish color that closely matches their skin tones which gives the overall cover a faded look. It is cute though. The title logo, which is a white quill with W Juliet in brown script in the foreground, is at the top. There is a reddish brown header and footer bar framing the cover. The top header bar has the Viz Shojo logo to the top left in white, and the bottom bar has author's credits in white.

The back cover is the same reddish brown as the bars in the front. A white story summary panel is placed in center and slightly to the top of the back cover. Inside the panel are the W Juliet logo, the summary in script font to the left, and a picture of Ito getting a nougie to the right. Below the white panel are publisher, book orientation, and rating icons.

Binding and materials are about average. The print quality is pretty good, not too dark. Extras include a manga afterword, story behind the story author's notes, glossary of honorific terms, and ads for other Viz titles.

Character designs are about average. Emura seems to have consistency problems though; the only character that seems to be drawn consistently is Makoto (even with his switching back and forth between boys' and girls' clothes). Other characters have slight variations in appearance throughout the volume. The proportions of Ito's face in particular seem to change a lot.

Backgrounds are pretty good, and, in true shoujo fashion, there are lots of hand-drawn flowers popping up with the entrance of certain characters. Unfortunately, her panels tend to be very crowded. Because of that cramming, there are several areas where it's difficult to tell whose dialogue belongs to whom, and a few areas where it's difficult to tell which lines are author's commentary and which are story dialogue.

Viz keeps the honorifics, which are explained along with some Japanese cultural references in footnotes in the glossary at the end of the volume. Signs are translated with overlays.
As usual, Viz has done a nice job of replacing the original Japanese sound effects with English sound effects and varying font styles.

However, the dialogue translation was less satisfactory; a few dialogues come off as confused. There's also some confusion about Ito's age. The back cover summary says she's 16, but the text in the manga says she's 17. I also caught a typo in the text and in the author's notes. Some of the font sizes are a bit small although that seems due to Emura's crowded speech bubbles more than anything else.

Tall, athletic, and popular drama club member Ito Miura is a tomboy. So much so in fact that everyone at school treats her as if she really is a boy. She has a contingent of fawning fangirls, and "to her dismay -- the drama teacher has just assigned her yet another male role: Romeo of Romeo and Juliet! But who will be Juliet? The frontrunner for the part is Makoto Amano, who has just recently transferred from Naruminishi High School. With her demure manner and feminine aura, her appearance is the exact opposite of Ito's. Despite their differences in personal style, however, the two girls have a lot in common and instantly become friends. However, looks can be deceiving...

Quite by accident, Ito discovers that Makoto is actually a boy! His real name is Makoto Narita, an only son and heir apparent to his family's dojo. Makoto, however, wants to be an actor. His father is dead set against Makoto's dream. He tells Makato that the only way he will allow such a thing is if Makoto proves his acting ability by impersonating a girl for the remainder of high school without anyone finding out. Makoto accepts the challenge without hesitation. He transfers schools, moves out into his own apartment, and, with the help of his make-up artist sister, transforms himself into a girl.

At first, Makoto thinks that he's blown the challenge, but Ito immediately reassures him that his secret is safe with her and that she will do everything she can to help him achieve his goal. It's a good thing that the two of them are such determined people because challenges start flying at them almost immediately.

Makoto lands the role of Juliet for the class play, inciting the jealousy of Tsugami, another drama club member and an Ito fangirl. After some investigating, she suspects that the male Makoto Narita that recently transferred out of Naruminishi High is their school's new female transfer student and plots to blow Makoto's cover just before the opening of the play! It takes some quick thinking and a fortuitous find in the costume room to save Makoto's secret!

Then there's the "Juliet challenge" at the pool where all the female drama members will compete to claim the prize -- Romeo Ito! But will Makoto be able to pass as a girl in a swimsuit?

Things get even more complicated when Takayo, the girl that Makoto's father wants him to marry, appears at their school with the intent of dissuading Makoto out of his acting ambitions.

As Makoto and Ito face and overcome each challenge, the two become better friends and start falling for each other. With Makoto's huge secret, it's hardly the easiest circumstances for dating. But, then again, the course of true love never did run smooth...

This story is fluff, pure and simple romantic comic fluff, and it's a lot of fun. I even find that the Shakespearean reference in the title fitting as the Bard included cross-dressing in his own arsenal of comic elements, and there's plenty of it in W Juliet. Its silliness does get a little out of hand. Ito's fangirls still swarm about her even when she's in a bikini (HELLO people, she's obviously NOT a boy!), and the dastardly Tsugumi and her minions are reminiscent of inept Team Rocket from Pokemon.

However, despite the over-the-topness, Emura does portray Makoto and Ito's relationship with depth, which is probably why I enjoyed this title as much as I did. Ito experiences the same confusion and insecurity that any girl would feel with an first boyfriend, and Makoto makes the same blunders any boyfriend would make (though I must say he's awful quick to correct his mistakes! What a guy!). There's chemistry between them, and it's fun to watch. As I noted in the Art Section above, Emura does overstuff her panels. However, the benefit of that is that you get a lot of storyline in this one volume as each chapter is a self-contained story.

This title is rated teen for some swearing, people in underwear in locker room scenes, and comic violence.


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