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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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03/25/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review; Loveholic, Volume 1"

Loveholic, Volume 1
By Toko Kawai
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ginger Mayerson

Not so long ago, I read that there are seven basic plots:

1. man vs. nature
2. man vs. man
3. man vs. the environment
4. man vs. machines/technology
5. man vs. the supernatural
6. man vs. self
7. man vs. god/religion

I think "Loveholic" sort of fits into number 2 and number 6.

"Loveholic" is the tale of fashion photographer Kentaro Nishioka and his business relationship with advertising executive, Daisuke Matsukawa, how they fell in love, eventually figure it out, and how their relationship changed. I think this falls under a different kind of plot category: boy meets boy; boy confuses boy, boys circle each other for several pages, etc. I have become a huge Toko Kawai fan. Huge Toko Kawai fans will buy this book. But what about the rest of you?

Being a confirmed Kawai fan, I'm not sure what I can say that will persuade new readers to try this book. It's a sweet, sometimes ornery story in a charming art style. I recently read a review that called her line "sloppy." I'm not sure what that means; her line looks pretty clean to me. I also like the way she layers her images to create a montage effect (I think montage is the right word, corrections welcome), and doesn't overdo it either. There's refreshing restraint and balance in her artwork, so the eye never tires or gets bored ticking though one panel after another. Kawai's narrative pacing is good and her story never drowns in angst or treacle. Her women are cute, but are there mainly to move the plot along. She establishes her characters in a few panels and then develops the ones she wants you to pay attention to over the course of the book. And this is only part one of two, so there IS something to look forward to.

I found these very likeable characters overall. Nishioka is an annoying, but talented, brat occasionally, and Matsukawa's cool perfection is a little grating. However, not for the reader so much; these two rub each other the wrong way and yet work together like a trapeze act when it really counts. Nishioka bails Matsukawa out of trouble twice in the book, and Matsukawa is sending photo shoots Nishoika's way that would make any Art Center photography MFA drool on their portfolio.

About Matsukawa's cool perfection, well, there's a bonus story in this book that gives you the backstory on all that. Actually, there are two bonus stories in this book that are directly related to the story. One is about Nishioka and Matsukawa set a little ways in the future, and the other, "Cold Person," is about the younger, reckless, selfish Matsukawa and why he changed. It's a gently sad story, bittersweet, and simply told.

Long time readers of my reviews — all three of you — will probably have realized by now that I liked this book and happily recommend this book. I think that covers it, yes?

PS. Hey, Publishers Weekly liked this book, too, and for the same reasons I did. (Scroll down for the review)

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