Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Manga of the Month: Aozora Yell

Well all you lovers, shoujo lovers and shoujo mangas alike (yes, I DID call you a piece of manga), I hope you're ready for the Manga of the Month!

For the month of June, I'm going to have to deem Aozora Yell the Manga of the Month. Now, I don't know if it's because it's relatively new that it hasn't gotten much recognition, but I've been pretty surprised by the lack of coverage this manga has had so far. Coming from KAWAHARA Kazune, the brilliant mangaka that brought you Koukou Debut, Aozora Yell (Blue Sky) looks just as promising as its predecessor - and maybe even more so. So far, there are 2 official volumes out in Japan, and only the first has been scanlated and translated. But just from that one volume, it's gotten me even giddier with excitement than Koukou Debut. The fangirl in me has been awakened!

So, this delicious little number (it seems I'm hungry again) starts with a heart-warming colour page. The main character, Ono-san, starts off by looking at her shoes. I love these shots. It’s simply from her perspective, looking down at her feet. Well, it’s not hard to guess – our heroine is this timid girl (not shy, just timid) always apologizing for herself. She’s gone to this specific high school because she’d seen a brass band perform at the high school baseball finals and, well, she got inspired. She says, “Oh yeah, bitches, I’m going to be in that band.” But, in more polite terms, and not so many words. Basically, she’s always felt that it’s what she wants to do – cheer on the baseball team with a proud and motivating performance. And she wants to play the trumpet!

So she’s there at the school on her first day, staring at the trophies the school’s prestigious band has won, and she meets Daisuke, our leading man. What a dashing fellow he is – tall and all that junk. Here that little cliché I love to talk about appears. Ono-san talking to Daisuke is like a fairy talking to a giant. There’s a colossal difference in their height. But it’s just lovely. Here it brings out more of that timid air to Ono-san – but it doesn’t bring out weakness. As the manga progresses we’ll discover more of the strong side Ono-san has tucked away inside her shoes or something.

Daisuke is that gentle giant type, and for some odd reason, it pleased me to see his lack of luscious locks. He feels more like a boy in that sense. You know when you pick up manga and the boys have all this tousled hair just nestled about their face and tumbling across their forehead? I think it bothers me if a boy has nicer hair than I do. He’s the type that smiles no matter what, encourages Ono-san because she’s the musical half to his baseball dream, and as the manga goes on, you can tell he completely adores her.

Now, let me make this clear. The thing about their adoration, which is the same thing that attracted me about this manga, is that it doesn’t stem from romantic feelings. The root of all adoration comes from the fact that they’ve resolved to aim for the same dream, thus they’ve supported each other quite well. In the beginning it was mostly Daisuke supporting Ono-san – until Ono realizes that Daisuke has a human side to him, even if he IS smiling all the time. Sweetly enough, this drives Ono-san to try harder and become stronger, so that Daisuke won’t hide his struggle and actually share it with her.

The charm of this manga so far has been their attachment to each other, without necessarily basing it on being romantic feelings. It’s heart-warmingly pure and puts you into that fuzzy shoujo mood. As if your heart just had some nice warm hot chocolate with marshmallows :3 Ono-san’s attachment to Daisuke in turn makes her realize her dependency on him, and therefore she resolves to make more of an effort so he can depend on her. Not your typical helpless heroine, is she? That’s what I love!

One last note: I think Daisuke’s reminder to Ono-san to be more confident was just adorable. Since she’s always looking at her shoes, he draws a smiley face on her shoe – which she ends up naming her trumpet after. Whoever thought! It’s sweet. Later, as you realize Ono-san’s growing confidence, those ‘feet’ shots become less frequent – and she realizes too. There was one point that made me smile when she just goes “Oh no! I looked at my feet!” as a sort of reminder that she should hold her head high =) The Daisuke effect works!

Artwork? Brilliant and heartfelt, as expected from Kawahara. My only concern is that it takes the same turn as Koukou Debut, where you could see her attention slipping a little towards the end of the manga. If she keeps going strong, she’ll add some really nice spice to this potentially well-drawn manga.

The ending to the volume is just perfect. I love the phrasing. Instead of it being all “I think I like him” or the typical “What is this feeling?” it’s a simple phrase that makes you smile quietly. She simply says “My shoulder is warm” Ono-san contemplating her feelings towards Daisuke is quite honest and isn’t drastically out there. She just really wants to get along with him (as she states in the manga).

I shouldn’t say much more since this is supposed to give you an idea on the manga of the month, rather than a complete review of it. However, since I love it so much and since it’s on-going, I’ll start to review the chapters as they are released! :D So ya’ll have something to look forward to, and I’m going to have some toast since I seem to have the munchies and it’s a long way to lunch :D


(Images © KAWAHARA Kazune. None of these images belong to me)


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