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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Laugh Under the Sun by Yamada Yugi 
4th-Feb-2008 11:59 pm
Yamada, Yugi. Laugh Under the Sun. Trans. Studio Cutie. Gardena, CA: Juné, 2007.
          Summary: Sohei's always dreamed of becoming a boxing champion, but at 25 years old, he's yet to make his dream a reality. Now that he's finally decided to go for it, maybe his childhood friend Chika will decide to go for his dream also--to make Sohei his. By the end, Sohei is still boxing his way to the top...and Chika is happily on top of Sohei.
          Comments: When you take in this single-volume BL manga from the standpoint of the broad strokes, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about it. We have the feisty uke, and the silent, emotionally-blocked seme who, in moments of unblocked passion, forces himself on the loudly protesting uke. Yet it is a testimony to Yamada Yugi's prowess that she can take the genre standard and make it feel fresh and innovative. Mostly, she accomplishes this through the inclusion of Naoki, Sohei and Chika's openly gay friend, a richly-described supporting character who is easily more complicated than the main couple. (In later works, as the BL genre continues to expand, Yamada apparently finds that she'd prefer to write stories specifically about characters like Naoki.) I also liked the way that she depicted Sohei at last starting to come to terms with his teenage ambitions and dealing with life as it truly is in his mid-twenties. She struck a profoundly realistic chord vis-à-vis modern young people here. Anyway, this book is nearly a decade old, and there's so much creative promise that it virtually overwhelms. Subsequent years have been decidedly disappointing, but I still hold out remote hopes that Yamada will one day make good on what it's so obvious she's capable of.
          Notes: A5 paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Houbunsha in 1999
          Rating: 7.5/10 - A brilliant manga that transcends its genre yet is nonetheless sure to please its fans (and then some!).
7th-Feb-2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this one and it helps to hear it placed in context of Yamada's development as an artist. I've been trying to find out more about her work but haven't found much information in English... most of her work seems to run pretty short, which is frustrating since a lot of her characters are ones that I'd like to get to know better. Is the bulk of her work short stories, or is there a lot of longer series like Close the Last Door that have gone untranslated?
7th-Feb-2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Actually, most of her work has already been licensed for US release, so you're not missing some long, multi-volume series that no one wants to touch. I'm deeply disappointed that she's never really tried to go mainstream as Yoshinaga Fumi did, but continues to write exclusively for BL mags. (At least as far as I know.)
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