Monday, August 24, 2009

breath vol. 3 by Chfumi Ochi review

breath vol. 3

Author/Artist: Chifumi Ochi

Publisher: Yaoi Generation

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: B+

In one of my favorite SpongeBob Squarepants episodes is where SpongeBob and his best friend Patrick are waiting next to SpongeBob's mailbox with baited breath for a much-anticipated package. As soon as the mail fish's truck is spotted they start doing a happy dance until the mail fish makes his delivery. You're probably wondering how on earth a SpongeBob Squarepants episode and a review for a yaoi manga have anything in common. Well me waiting for this third volume of breath by Chifumi Ochi was much like SpongeBob waiting for his package!

Things seemed to be heating up between Arata and Yanagi, but when Yanagi ran into his first love, Kashiwagi, the two hadn't gotten together since. Arata is somewhat confused by his feelings and because of this confusion his co-workers are seeing that Arata is human after all and they want to get to know this new Arata that they see. Ten (aka Takashi), Arata's twin brother, has discovered the relationship between Arata and Yanagi and won't stand for it. So he devises a plan to sever the bond between Arata and Yanagi and reclaim Arata for himself. Ten is rather thorough in his planning. By using drugs, time, and the information Ten got from Kashiwagi, he is sure that his plan will work. He figures that once Arata catches Ten and Yanagi in a compromising position that will be that. But the nail in the coffin is sending Kashiwagi over to Yanagi's to comfort him.

This volume's focus seems to be on Ten really being a blackguard and Yanagi and Kashiwagi's relationship in the past. Chifumi Ochi-sensei has turned up the angst to an all time high. If you thought that Yanagi was the jerk of the century then get prepared for Ten, the devil incarnate! Of course Kashiwagi comes in a close second behind Ten. You can't but help feel for poor Yanagi. If it weren't for Kashiwagi's attitude towards love, chances for Yanagi and love would have been better. But we still have two volumes left and I have hope! Yet it is going to be torture having to wait, and wait, and wait for the next volume.

There was one thing that was always in the back my mind while I was reading this third volume. If you remember Yaoi Generation chose to omit two pages from the second volume but still provided the text letting us know what Yanagi was thinking. I realize that censorship is a big deal but after reading these two volumes back-to-back and then stumbling upon this statement from Yaoi Generation posted in their forum, it really made me think:

As a rule (and with the advice of our lawyers), Yaoi Generation does not publish material showing minors, even fictional, in explicit sexual situations. I believe most, if not all, other publishers pretty much follow the same rule. The two pages we censored contain such material. We are aware of this from the beginning and proceeded only after knowing that the censorship would not hurt the main storyline. As the matter of fact, during the licensing and publishing process, we discussed this with both the original Japanese publisher and the author, and we have their blessing in the decision, and the author herself approved all modifications to the script to link the storyline together in order to ensure that the author’s intent still retains. In this case, the alternative of avoiding the age issue or modifying the character’s age would hurt the story more than the censorship. If you decide to follow through to volume 3, you’ll see why.

We're not lawyers, so we can’t claim to know the law inside out to argue it. We can only do what our lawyers advices us to do, and their goal is to protect the company, staff, distributors, readers, and everyone involved against not only current laws, but also against what they foresee as the direction in which the law leans when it’s vague/debatable, such as the obscenity law, in case of a lawsuit. And the general public tends to lean against sensitive material containing minors.

After pondering this whole thing I feel that just as long as the author's intent came through, that it was the publishers choice to omit the images, and the artist had no qualms then all I can do is support them through their decision. If I remember correctly the whole Christopher Handley mess was going on at the time this volume would have been in translation and printing (if you don't know what the Christopher Handley mess is, just Google it). They were trying to be safe. If it sounds like I'm a cheerleader for censorship, I'm not. Especially if it's the government that is doing the censoring. If I'm not making much sense, I apologize I'm exhausted and my synapses are most likely misfiring! But just know this, breath is a fantastic series and even though they chose to omit two pages isn't going to change the fact that this is a great series and Yaoi Generation has done a great job with the physical publication!

If you're interested feel free to check out my reviews for vol. 1 and vol. 2.

(Permission granted by Yaoi Generation to repost their quote, all spelling errors are theirs and theirs alone)

***Review Copy provided by Yaoi Generation***