Ciao Ciao Bambino
Author/Artist: Momoko Tenzen
Rating: YA – ages 16 and up
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, School Life
*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***
On Kaname Imai's first day at work is somewhat jazzed up when he saves young Yuuta Fujimoto from some aggressive men. Initially Kaname thinks Yuuta is an adorable young girl but Yuuta is all male. Kaname is a cram school teacher and a year after he saved Yuuta; Yuuta attends his cram school. It seems that Yuuta has developed a crush on Kaname, but there are some objects in the way. Kaname is a college student and kind of clueless and Yuuta is a middle school student and likes to look out for Kaname's best interest. A relationship at this juncture is not in the cards but Yuuta is determined that one day he'll seduce Kaname.
A related story called Honey Citron features Yuuta's two friends Kei and Makoto. It seems that Makoto may have developed a crush on Kei but doesn't know how to deal with the possibility of the change that may appear in their relationship. The volume is rounded out by Brand New Wednesday, which is the tale of a high school student falling for his tutor.
This is a title that I really wrestle with. Any time there is a student/teacher pairing I always proceed with caution. When we deal with a high school student I'm usually able to look on but in this case we are dealing with a middle school student here and it just doesn't sit quite as well. I guess the only thing that makes it a bit more palatable (only a bit, not very much) is that Yuuta is the aggressor in the relationship. Kaname also seems to be a bit reluctant to enter into a more physical relationship. But still there is a seven-year age difference and we're not really sure how old Yuuta is when they finally consummate their love. He's still in school but I don't know if it's middle or high school.
The other two stories are great though. Honey Citron shows us the turmoil that Makoto finds his feelings in. Kei is rather clueless and Yuuta worries that he was the one who planted the idea that Makoto likes Kei as more than friends. In this case we see first love develop and we are dealing with characters that are of the same age. Brand New Wednesday was also a good read. The age spread wasn't as large and Kana (the student) is in high school. It is a little older story and features some of Tenzen-sensei's older art. I have to say that I much prefer her newer art style because some of the features are softened somewhat.
Art wise this is a beautiful volume. It features typical Tenzen-sensei art, which are thin lines, perfectly windswept hair, thick lips, and long lanky limbs. She is rather detailed with her character sketches but backgrounds are sparse yet when there is a background involved it is done with painstaking care and are very detailed as well. I think that Juné is a great publisher for Tenzen-sensei. She's not terribly explicit but is a great mangaka in her own right. With Juné's larger trim size makes it that much more amazing to look at. Juné's new branding is an improvement over the pink branding bar by leaps and bounds.
I'm going to struggle with recommending this title because of the issues of dealing with a relationship between a middle school student and his college aged cram school teacher. It's a must have for Tenzen-sensei fans which I am one but I'm leaving this up to you to decide.
***Review Copy provided by Juné***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***