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Sunday February 5, 2006

Good for a tear or two


SOCRATES IN LOVE 

Story by Kyoichi Katayama 

Art by Kazumi Kazui 

Publisher: Viz Media, 192 pages 

(ISBN: 1-421-50199-6) 

For teens 16+ 

 

BE warned, Socrates in Love does not offer a “and they lived happily ever after” ending. And, no, I’m not giving anything away because this fact is revealed in the very first page?. 

Kyoichi Katayama’s story begins conventionally enough with Aki Hirose and Sakutaro “Saku” Matsumoto meeting in middle school, becoming buddies and then, eventually, falling in love. But their brief romance soon turns tragic when Aki is diagnosed with leukaemia. Told from Saku’s perspective, the story shows how he struggles with the fear of losing his girlfriend and how he eventually accepts it and moves on.  

Aki does not stand out much, however. Most of the time she looks bright and cheerful ... but she lacks a certain lustre, that tragic sheen that could have made her memorable. Saku, however, matures from a carefree schoolboy into a responsible and caring adult. He learns to recognise his love for Aki and boldly confesses his feelings before he loses the opportunity, he learns to deal with his physical attraction for Aki and then how to behave around her as she copes with her illness.  

For a single volume manga, it is pretty disappointing to see wasted space and a lack of detail in the art. There aren’t many frames in the pages and the characters’ expressions tend to look the same. However, I like how artist Kazumi Kazui depicts Saku’s fear of losing his girlfriend: dark clouds envelope him, making him look really lonely.  

Not everyone will like the sad ending to a romance but if you liked the movie A Walk to Remember (2002, starring Shane West and Mandy Moore) then you might like to try this manga. It’s nice and simple, and with bittersweet moments that will make you shed a tear or two, perhaps. However, I must say that Socrates in Love is one manga I’ll read once but honestly, never again. 

What is rather intriguing, though, is the excerpt in the back of the book from Kyoichi’s novel. That holds promise.  

(Rating: 3)  

  • Cheeky Monkey, who is unapologetically into ‘romantic girlie stuff’, became hooked on manga and anime eight years ago, long before it was fashionable. She is captivated by exquisite drawings and would love to be Naruto. 

     

    PRINCE OF TENNIS Vol. 11 

    Story and art by Takeshi Konomi 

    Publisher: Viz Media 

    THIRTEEN-year-old Ryoma Echizen is a former US junior tennis champion who attends Seigaku High School, famous for its tennis club. He awes his juniors but the older tennis team members think that he’s an upstart. Thanks to this, he gets in trouble with the bullies. 

    In this volume, the Seishun Academy intra-squad games begin, but the semi-final match between Fudomine and Yamabuki at the city tournament is halted because of a car accident. Seishun Momo is supposed to play against Yamabuki’s Kiyosumi Sengoku. Will he win, or does Kiyosumi have an ace up his sleeve? 

    DOUBT Vol. 6 

    Story and art by Izumi Kaneyoshi 

    Publisher: Viz Media 

     

    AI Maekawa used to be pimply, slightly overweight, nerdy ... basically a nobody. Fed up by this, she goes through a complete makeover and emerges thinner, prettier and, hopefully, more popular. Buoyed by her transformation, Ai starts the new term in a high school where nobody knows her with great hopes – until she receives anonymous notes from someone who claims to know about “her past”. 

    In this volume, Ai faces a challenge when her boyfriend So’s first serious girlfriend, Shuko, returns. Will So return to Shuko? And if he does, will Ai beg for him to return? 

     

    HERE IS GREENWOOD Vol. 8 

    Story and art by Izumi Kaneyoshi 

    Publisher: Viz Media 

    WHEN Hasukawa Kazuya left home to avoid his brother’s new wife (because he secretly loves her), he didn’t think he’d land himself in an even messier situation. His new abode, a student dorm called Greenwood, is the last place to find peace of mind. For one thing, it’s filled with weirdos! 

    It’s Ryokuto’s annual sports festival, and thanks to Kazuya’s speedy legs, everyone wants him to be on the team. That includes one creepy person who wants to train Kazuya up for the Olympics, even if it means training him to death! 

     

    RED RIVER Vol. 10 

    Story and art by Chie Shinohara 

    Publisher: Viz Media 

     

    YURI is just a typical teen, but one day evil Queen Nakia draws her across time and space into the ancient Hittite Empire. There, she is thrown together with Prince Kail, a young warrior and sorcerer. Prince Kail has the power to send Yuri home, but that could be a problem since the evil queen wants to murder them both. 

    KAMUI 1 

    Story and art by Shingo Nanami 

    Publisher: Brocolli Books 

     

    WHEN the sacred spirit of Okikurumi is taken from Atsuma’s village, the spirits called Kamui are thrown into chaos. Not only that, the imbalance threatens to destroy Earth! Armed with the spirit of an ancient sword, Atsuma leaves his village to reclaim Okikurumi. 

    He then meets NOA, an organisation of youths who wield the power of the Kamui, that recruits him. It is NOA and Atsuma’s mission to find Okikurumi before the world is obliterated. – Compiled by KITTY SENSEI 

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