Otomen Volume 1 Review: Does viz’s best seller shojo title deserve it’s popularity?
Asuka Masamune is number one at Kendo in Japan, a first-degree black belt in Judo and a second-degree black belt in Karate. However Asuka has a dark secret, he loves sewing, cooking and reading shojo manga! However due to a traumatic incident during his childhood he feels a need to hide his femininity and play the part of the school jock. Unfortunately for him, when he begins to fall in love with Ryo Miyakozuka he can’t help but let his feminine side show, despite soon finding himself helping her with sewing and cooking he still denies his true self to her. Will Asuka ever be able to show his true colors to anyone?
As a guy who thoroughly enjoys reading josei and shojo manga I couldn’t help but emphasize with Asuka’s fears that those around him would begin to discriminate against him if they discover his real interests. Despite this however I did find his personality a bit extreme occasionally and I also found other character personalities to be a bit flat. As of the end of the first volume I still know hardly anything about Ryo despite the fact that Asuka’s feelings for her are apparently reasonable and well founded. Whilst I understand that he is there for comedic effect, I found Juta’s character difficult to believe, as an artist myself, I also felt his career to be slightly unbelievable. Despite these flaws I strongly believe that if Aya Kanno can simply give some back-story to her characters and develop Ryo’s personality a bit the rest of the series can be compelling. Whilst story lines were quite typical of the genre there is a great balance of slice of life, romance and action. Therefore there’s enough for a wider audience to be interested in reading this series, so if you’re put off by it being shojo title it’s still worth while giving a try.
Aya Kanno’s character designs are fantastic. They’re pleasing to the eye and the emotion in each character’s face gives an insight into what they might be feeling. Backgrounds on the other hand are infrequent and when they do appear they aren’t as impressive as the drawings of Asuka or Juta. From the amount of assistants listed who helped to create these chapters I get the impression that Kanno put too much of an emphasis on them working on character designs and applying screen tone rather than creating detailed backgrounds – thus this could be the reason for the unbalanced feeling I got throughout this volume when it came to the artwork. Whilst action sequences are well drawn, I felt that through having several short sequences of action the emphasis on what was going on during each fight was often lost.
Whilst this first volume just contained a few rather cliché story lines and had unbelievable characters, Aya Kanno’s character designs made up for these flaws. Through adding some back-story to the protagonists and perhaps introducing some new characters to the mix I strongly believe there’s a possibility for the second volume to be compelling.
What do you think? Leave a comment.