Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Collection Review: Yellow

Goh on the left; Taki on the right.
My last review tackled Fake by Sanami Matoh. Although I didn't read Yellow next, I am reviewing it next since I read Yellow because of Fake.

When I first starting reading yaoi, I had no idea what to read or where to start. (There are many more shojo series in libraries, so it is easier to try-out-discard-and-move-on with shojo than with yaoi.) I ordered a few volumes through Amazon (more on this later). In the meantime, since Yellow was advertised at the end of a Fake volume, I decided to give it a try. Two guys--neither androgynous, however slender--who investigate possible crimes!

That was my introduction to Tateno. I now own several of her series.

Tateno is an interesting mangaka since, like Fumi Yoshinaga, she captures the plot, characterization, and tone necessary to the genre in which she is working: sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary mystery, etc. She also includes strong female characters in her yaoi (I admit to being bemused by yaoi that completely eliminates female characters from the plot-lines).

Yellow is contemporary mystery/suspense. It is in some ways more classic than Fake since Taki is an uke who thinks he is straight. However, Tateno provides him with a complicated psychological reason for being so confused (doesn't he know he is fated to be with Goh?!).

Goh and Taki are not as fleshed out as Ryo and Dee--we never learn, for example, who is better at saving money. But they do fulfill their archetypal roles: Goh as the brash romantic; Taki as the troubled philosopher. By the time I read Yellow, I had begun to realize that simply creating distinct manga characters was a feat in itself. I remember who Goh and Taki are. I don't think, "Oh, yeah, it's that manga where there's some guy who really wants another guy and he's handsome and, uh, um, yeah, like that . . . "

The crime stories are not as well-plotted as in Fake--a few resolutions depend entirely on coincidence. But the stories have plots and the dialog is fresh, often reaching classic comedy banter quality.

Tateno's art is not my favorite but I still enjoy it. It is often non-proportional--she uses elongated lines, so people's arms and legs are often far too long for reality. Yet like Matoh, she captures motion and energy. She also has the ability, like Fuyumi Soryo of Mars, to create images that evoke moments and vistas full of yearning.

It is not altogether fair to compare authors/illustrators to each other. In a future review of a Tateno series, I'll discuss her work more specifically. But since I came to Yellow from Fake, a few comparisons to other mangaka seemed appropriate here.