Tuesday, May 12, 2009

breath vol. 2 by Chifumi Ochi

breath vol. 2

Author/Artist: Chifumi Ochi

Publisher: Yaoi Generation

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: B

Kohshi Yanagi and Arata Kirishima are still holding to the master/slave contract that Yanagi came up with in last volume (if interested click here to read my review). Things seem to be going OK, well at least OK enough when forcing someone into a sexual relationship. Yanagi started bringing Arata to his home instead of a hotel because of convenience, which this fact really does come in handy. Arata has the tendency to not eat, especially when he's busy. Soon Yanagi starts cooking meals for Arata. As far as I know when you're blackmailing someone you usually don't show much compassion. Yanagi is a bit confused by this new feeling. But Yanagi isn't the only one who is confused. Arata is also feeling something but he doesn't know what it is.

Complications soon arise. Life is busy for Arata at work and he is initially unable to meet up with Yanagi. Yanagi gets worried (another emotion you'd think you wouldn't feel when it comes to blackmail) and waits for Arata in front of the door to his apartment. Things look like they are progressing to falling in love with each other. But soon Ten (Arata's twin brother and one of Yanagi's sex friends) becomes suspicious because Arata seems to be eating. Soon a clue falls into his hands in the form of a cell phone. It seems that Arata and Yanagi accidentally switched phones and Ten does some snooping. The final complication comes in the form of the first man Yanagi slept with.

I have found myself thoroughly and utterly drawn into this story. The forcing someone into a sex contract, blackmail, and rape are common yaoi plot devices. Also you see a lot of falling for your attacker, which is the case with breath. Even though Arata agreed to sleep with Yanagi the first time, he's now just trying to save face because he doesn't want his precious brother to find out what he's been doing. But Arata is starting to fall for Yanagi, and vice versa. I find the character of Ten to be rather intriguing. Initially he seems to be a happy-go-lucky guy but it seems like he conceals darker sides that I'm pretty sure we'll have the opportunity to see it further develop in subsequent volumes. With the introduction of Yanagi's first love also throws a wrench into the plot. I guess there were a few pages that had to be cut due to the law here in the states so at the end they just included the text without images, which now makes curious to see what those pages contained image-wise. I guess I'll either have to be in the dark forever, or pick up the Japanese version.

The art is spectacular. There really are no words to describe it. Chifumi Ochi-sensei has good eye for detail but doesn't overdo it. She has a great sense of humor in some of her outside comments. She uses great placement for her chibis but doesn't go overboard with them. This may sound really bizarre but the thing I love most about her characters are their noses. I know that sounds really weird but often times with manga (and anime) is that the characters often have small turned up noses but here prominent noses abound (and I love it!)

Yaoi Generation has been doing a great job with this title. It looks like they are going to focus on getting this title finished up before they move on to their next series. The physical books are gorgeous. The books are a little smaller than your typical manga volume but with a story that packs a big punch, like breath, it doesn't have to be a larger trim. It has a beautiful glossy cover that is scored near the binding to make it easier to open the book and keeps the cover from getting an ugly crease. There is a full color cover sheet featuring Yanagi and Arata on the verge of kissing. The paper is a brilliant white, which makes Ochi-sensei's beautiful artwork jump right off the page. With this paper the volume is a little bit stiffer than what your mainstream manga publishers use, but it's still flexible enough that it's not uncomfortable to open. The translation is done smoothly and is an all around great read.

I recommend this title first, for the beautiful art, second, for the fact that the characters have gorgeous noses, third, for the quality of the physical book, and fourth, it's a fascinating story. I guess I should have listed the fourth reason first. The characters possess a certain depth that grabs your attention and keeps you hooked and leaves you wanting more.

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

1 comment:

Margaret said...

I actually thought twin brother Ten showed ominous signs of devolving into a rather cliched stock yaoi character in this volume. In volume one Ten initially struck me as a superficial, "no emotions involved"-type sex friend with even less depth than the often unsympathetically self-absorbed Yanagi. But when his connection to the uptight Arata was revealed, Ten's more substantive one-on-one interactions with his brother, and his tender concern for Arata's well-being, made him seem much more three-dimensional.

(potential spoilers ahead)

Unfortunately, in volume two Ten's reaction to the evidence suggesting that Arata may be secretly having a sexual relationship with a guy, and the penchant for psychologically abusing his more vulnerable brother he displays in the flashback story about their childhood, make it look as if his feelings toward Arata are less apt to involve genuine affection and concern than incestuous brother-complex jealousy and possessiveness. In the grade school flashback, Ten seemed infuriated at the idea of Arata's hanging out alone with another boy even for the innocuous purpose of looking at the other kid's new puppy. I really hope that this volume's ominous hints of evil seme tendencies on Ten's part (complete with a cryptic transaction that looks alarmingly as if he might have just picked up a packet of roofies) don't lead to Ten, in turn, trying to coerce his previously apparently asexual twin into paying for "betraying" him by sleeping with Yanagi by having sex with his own brother as well.