Friday, July 30, 2010

Calling by Miu Otsuki review


Author/Artist: Mio Otsuki

Publisher: BLU

Rating: M – for ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Grade: B+

Kazuaki Hinamura leads a rather boring life. He works in the General Affairs division of his company, he lives alone, has no love life, and no ambition. Every day is lived in a rut. That is until his life is turned around by his encounter with Kira Aratani. One day while Kazuaki was headed home he decided to cut through the park. He accidentally came across a couple getting it on in the bushes. In an attempt to try to make a hasty retreat he accidentally trips on a can and spills his groceries all over the ground. While gathering up his scattered goods a rough looking young man with a beauty on his arm emerges from the foliage. Truly embarrassed Kazuaki apologizes and heads for the hills fearing for his life.
Thinking that he made it out safely Kazuaki tries to go on with life but he has no idea what’s in store for him. Waiting for him at the train station is the man from the park. It turns out that Kira is a porn star and they had just wrapped up filming when he ran into Kazuaki and it seems that Kira has fallen in love with Kazuaki. Kazuaki tries to ditch Kira but all Kira wants to do is hang out as friends with the hope that more will develop later on. Kazuaki has no idea what to do but he eventually agrees to it. Will Kazuaki fall for Kira like Kira wants?

I really didn’t know much about this story and I don’t know much about the artist but because I read a lot of yaoi I decided to order it. I am so glad that I did. I immediately fell in love with it after the first chapter. The story spans the entire book but it is written well enough that it leaves you feeling satisfied. One thing I appreciated about this title is that both characters are adults and behave as such. Another thing that’s great about this manga is that it even though its yaoi it doesn’t seem to follow the usual stereotypical plot devices. Kira waits patiently for Kazuaki to come around and doesn’t force anything on him (with the exception of his declaration of love - which is the typical love at first sight scenario, and a very passionate kiss). There is one female character that has a recurring role. Natsumi is a porn actress who often works with Kira and happened to witness the very first encounter between these two (she was the beauty on Kira’s arm.) Often in yaoi when women are portrayed they are generally used as set dressing or play the villainous roles. In the case of Natsumi she’s the opposite. She supports the relationship from the moment that Kira steps on Kazuaki’s tofu (hence Kazuaki gaining the moniker "Mr. Tofu, just read it, it makes more sense in the book.) The characters are charming and immediately latch onto your heart. I loved this manga!

The art is simply adorable. Because this is a comedy Otsuki-sensei utilizes chibis regularly and they are so cute, but I’ve always been a sucker for cute chibis. Something that I’ve noticed in yaoi is the artists will draw the seme with smaller, narrower eyes while the ukes are drawn with big, bright shojo heroine type eyes. In the case of the leads in Calling there are no distinctions between the seme’s eyes and uke’s. It’s a really fresh change and I liked it. Also you are able to distinguish between all of the characters. They are unique in their looks so there is never any confusion. I have been so impressed by this single volume that I hope we’ll get a chance to see more from Miu Otsuki-sensei.

Now I know it seems strange that I’m giving a title that I loved so much a B+. Honestly I normally would have given this an A but my issues stem with production quality of this title. I have a love/hate relationship with Blu. For the price one pays for one of their titles (the cover price is $14.99) you would expect a higher quality product than what you actually get. Yes, they include a full color cover page but the quality of paper that the rest of the manga is printed on leaves much to be desired as well as ink on your fingertips. Also there could be some improvements on the placement of text inside the bubbles. Finally the way that the sound effects are dealt with could be done better. Instead of translating the sound effects they generally leave them alone and not translate them or completely remove traces of the Japanese and replace it with the translation. I really wish they would make up their mind, translate them or not but don’t do it half way.

Even though I have issues with the actual physical product I love the story contained within. For someone looking for a fun, sweet yaoi featuring something other than schoolboys Calling is definitely for you.

***Review Copy purchased through***

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