L' Etoile Solitaire
Author/Artist: Yuno Ogami
Rating: M – 18 and up
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance
I know the above grade for L' Etoile Solitaire is a bit convoluted but keep reading I'll try to clear it up for you.
Micah Ryu Remington is the president and founder of Sakura Garden Suites; a company that purchases floundering hotel chains and restructures them to become profitable. Throughout the business world he is known as the Ice Dragon (Ryu means Dragon in Japanese). He shows little emotion and is rather cold but he is good at his job. He's Japanese/American and has his sights set on a small company in Japan to take over. Yuuki Kurahashi has taken over his father's company after his father passed away. He's a young college student who doesn't really have the personality traits to be the president of a company. With word of the Ice Dragon looking to acquire the Kurahashi Hotel chain things are pretty strained and it seems to be taking a toll on Yuuki.
When Micah arrives in Japan he escapes from his Administrative Assistant, Richard, to take a walk down memory lane. While out and about a heavy downpour surprises him and he takes refuge in a bar. At the same time Yuuki has just gotten out of class and was on his way home when he was caught in the same downpour and ducked into the same bar as Micah. Even though the bar was closed they allowed them to dry off. The two immediately hit it off and there might be more feelings there than initially predicted. Micah lost track of time and had to rush out but promised to meet Yuuki at the bar, L' Etoile Solitaire, again.
Things in manga never work out normally or there wouldn't be a story, huh! At the meeting about the takeover of Kurahashi both Micah and Yuuki are in for a surprise. They are of course happy to see each other but now isn't the time. The deal gets placed on hold because Micah had to make an emergency trip back to America. When Micah comes back things with Kurahashi will have to start over again but he can start where he left off with Yuuki, much to the chagrin of Richard, Micah's assistant. Toss in a fiancée and what will happen with Yuuki and Micah?
The reason why I couldn't decide on a grade is because I felt that it was deserving of a grade between a B- and a C+. This is Yuno Ogami's first manga and this is Juné's first Japanese Original English Language manga (a fancy term for a commissioned work). As a first time deal I'm really impressed. I find that in many panels throughout the book the art is truly beautiful but in a few spots the art was a bit weird looking. When looking straight on the characters have very pointy chins and Micah's hair looks like it's painted on (well I guess technically it is painted on, huh?). I guess to describe it better his hair looks more like a helmet. Everybody else has decent hairstyles and it looks more natural. When looking at the full body shots straight on the characters also seem to be missing noses. But like I said some of those shots look weird. But when we have the opportunity to see the characters from different angles they look much better. In some scenes the art is very clean and detailed and screen tone is used in a way that really adds to the art but other scenes look kind of sketchy and could use a little polishing and screen tone. But overall the art is nice (not spectacular but is fairly pleasant).
What I really liked about L' Etoile Solitaire was the story. Again it isn't a groundbreaking new type of story but it is very sweet. I have to say the one thing that really caught my attention was the lack of constantly bringing up the "I'm a guy but I'm in love with another guy, what am I to do?" Micah and Yuuki fall in love and they don't focus on gender. There is sex but if you want it graphic you won't find it (you just get the white shafts and stuff like that). The side characters create enough mischief to move the plot along, but the biggest obstacle in the way is Yuuki's personality. He's very unsure of himself and doesn’t want to be in the way and he feels that he isn't good enough for Micah.
All in all I did enjoy L' Etoile Solitaire. I would have given it a higher grade but for a first time work by Ogami-sensei the grade I did award it is pretty good. I have high hopes for Ogami-sensei because practice makes perfect and the more she produces the better she'll get!
***Review Copy purchased at Borders***