Direction: Right to Left
by: Doton Yamaaki (Husband & Wife team)
Publisher: One Peace Books
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Seinen, Romance
A battle ensues over life and death, machines or clones, create synthetic hearts or grow them? Two boys, Sei and Oishi, fall madly in love for Yuko. Her loss wreaks havoc in their young lives as relentless memories cease to fade. As a result their tender hearts are dedicated to a dream that no one will ever suffer their excruciating pain again. But, is what they had thought been a lie? Is there still a chance that their suffering may end? Will mercy and love prevail?
While there are several characters who play important roles in this manga it all boils down to the three leads.
Yuko, the heart of the story (no pun intended). Yuko is both the foundation and the driving force force behind the story. As such she needed to be a good character with a even better personality, Doton Yamaaki pull this off spectacularly. From the outset Yuko is a character you can’t help but love and feel immense pity for. She’s dealing with the fact she’s dying, and yet also tries to build bridges between the two people she loves the most; despite what it does to her.
Sei, the first love interest we get introduced to is a genius, and like a lot of geniuses he has some social issues. Yet he gets on well with Yuko, and their relationship feels right, smooth and free flowing. He does have the arrogance, and over-bearing personality, but Yuko manages to handle it well and stop it from smothering the other characters.
Oishi is the second love interest. He’s the complete opposite of Sei, and initially feels threatened by him. He’s a little menacing at first, his inadequacy issues come through great, as he’s barely done basic schooling.
As lead characters I feel Doton Yamaaki gave created a great balance of characters.
I have to admit that this was a hard read, the science involved in this story is rather complex but thankfully never gets to in-depth.
There are loads of medical styled manga out there (Team Medical Dragon and God-Hand Teru being two of the best), but I don’t think there are any others dealing in stem cell versus morality. Also the others tend to have a bit of a comical undertone to them, where as this one doesn’t. It’s serious all the way through out, which helps make it all the more interesting.
I loved the way the story develops and the way the characters grow. Yuko’s death has a huge impact on the main characters, and results in them becoming ‘enemies’ of a sort. Sei becomes an expert in using polymers (plastics) to make artificial organs, where as Oishi becomes an expert in stem cell research.
The battle between the two is frankly, amazing. The way they’ve gone from being friends to hating each other, not to mention becoming leaders in their own fields (sorta); was done spectacularly. For Sei this was not unexpected given his genius intellect. I love the way the death of Yuko turns him even colder and remote than he was originally. His dispassionate and disconnected attitude cause problems though-out and cuts him off from those around him. They tolerate him however because he brings in the results.
For Oishi the journey was harder and frankly all the more amazing. He starts with going to night-school and ends up competing equally with Sei’s intellect. However like Sei he has a lot of issues along the way. Due to his beginnings he’s not accepted by those around him, and ends up having to become manipulative to win his seat at the table. However even when he gets there and finally confronts Sei again, Sei knocks him down by casually giving the answer to a problem that he had spent a long time coming to, adding salt to their still open wounds.
The roles end up reversed with Oishi taking the leading roll from Sei, who doesn’t seem to really care, until a major plot twist. (I’ll try to word the rest of the review so as not to reveal this).
The focus of the story does go through a rather drastic change which is a bit disconcerting, since the story up until now had been focused on Sei and Oshi’s development and rivalry.
The new focus takes a little time to get used to, but it does get interesting. The story goes from a relationship manga to a science manga, as the science we’ve been reading about until now comes into play.
We also get some revelations about Oishi, which frankly blew me away. While they were unexpected, they made sense and the time of the revelation was done perfectly.
Then just when you think you understand and have a sweet ending, we get another plot twist that just blew me away. The ending was totally out of the blue and made for a very interesting and though provoking ending.
The art style of the series is interesting, and took some getting used to. However once I settle on the art I found I liked it’s style. The way it goes from dark and bold for there here and now to the soft and faded style for the past made following the time changes with ease. As the story went buy I found the character designs to be both right, and at times bloody funny.
Doton Yamaaki have clearly done their research both on stem cell science and on artificial organs. Since the story uses that as the back drop the research is well used and what’s more makes the story believable. At no time during the story did I get the impression this was pure fantasy, it’s easy to believe that these sciences, and story were happening now, or in the not to distant future.
One Peace aren’t really new to publishing Japanese books in english, but this is only their third manga.
The first one “So I need to lose 15pounds” wasn’t a good release, both because of it’s content ( I mean come on a diet manga >.<) and it’s style of release. Flipped and more comic book style. The Second Tenken went to more traditional styled manga releases (and will be reviewed as soon as I get my damn copy from Amazon), and this one. However they do have a lot of experience in bringing Japanese books (novels, both fiction and non-fiction) over to the west.
Frankly I think they did an excellent job of the release. It is a bit larger than your normal manga, but is left un-flipped. The translation is done really well, and I found it free flowing and smooth. The editing was done perfectly, the use of fonts was well chosen, the placement of translation note both as a glossary and inline were done right and neither to small or to large. Frankly I think this is the first time I’ve ever not had an issue with a publishers editing in some way.
Overall this was an excellent story that I really enjoyed and got into. I’m looking forward to seeing what One Peace release as their next manga.