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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/25/2007 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: L'Etoile Solitare"

L'Etoile Solitare
Story by Yuno Ogami
Art by Yuno Ogami
Published by the Junť Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ginger Mayerson

The first original English language (OEL) manga from the Junť imprint of Digital Manga, Inc., LíEtoile Solitare, the lonely star or the solitary star, is the story of soulless, rampant Western capitalism rampaging all over Japanese family values. Capitalist running dog hotel raider, Micah Remmington, sets out to forcibly take-over a family owned Japanese hotel chain, ably aided by his ruthlessly blond executive assistant, Richard. The head of the Kurahashi family has recently died and the new head of the family and family business is 11 year-old, sorry, university student, Yuuki Kurahashi. Yuuki is adorable, passive, indecisive, his executive assistant, Wada-san, walks all over him, his younger brother is even taller than him, and, as you have probably surmised, Yuuki is no match for Micah Remmington. So, of course, they fall in love at first sight when they both dash out of a convenient rainstorm into a conveniently sleepy saloon called, yes, LíEtoile Solitare. Also, of course, the course of true love does not run smoothly - evil girlfriends, evil executive assistants, stupid uke tricks, etc. - but thatís not unusual in yaoilandia.

Maybe Iím burning out, but I was somewhat disappointed in this manga. Or perhaps I had unrealistic expectations on plot and art for the first OEL manga in the history of publishing. Thereís nothing new or exciting in this manga. It treads the old tired boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back formula. Yes, I know itís yaoi. The main characters are one-dimensional idiots, Micahís girlfriend is the main villain (Iím really getting sick of that yaoi trope), thereís unrequited love (frankly I thought that person was a better match for Micah than the washed-out, juvenile Yuuki, but Iím not in charge of these things), thereís spa sex (okay, the sex is pretty good, but by the time they got down to it, I wasnít that interested in it), and itís a longer story than it needs to be.

Sorry, June Manga, you know I love you, but this one just didnít do it for me. But, other than perhaps playing it a little too safe with formulaic plot, mundane art and, possibly, an affordable mangaka, itís not really your fault.

In the creator afterword, Yono writes:

ďAs I drew (LíEtoile Solitare), I noticed how immature as a mangaka I still am, and I think this might be the manga where I grew the most as I drew it.Ē

But maybe didnít grow enough. And, you know what? Iím also getting sick of these weird, groveling creator afterwords apologizing for not being good enough or whatever. Stop it! Stop it! Stop apologizing! Either be good enough or brazen it out! And you June editors could just save a few bucks and stop translating and printing these weird artist anti-statements.

So, maybe itís me. Maybe this manga is actually okay for what it is. Maybe Iím being unreasonable hoping for an intriguing plot and dynamic art. Maybe I thought because this OEL manga is, essentially, a commission, the June editors would have more input and control over the content. Maybe Iím wrong about that. Maybe Iíve just grown jaded on ukes that look like children, weird anatomy, wafer-thin characterizations, cookie-cutter plots, and self-debasing mangaka messages. Sorry, but the Project X: 7-11 book was a more exciting read than LíEtoile Solitare. Yes, I know their different things, but, yíknow, itís not like Iím comparing Moby Dick to All Star Batman and Robin here.

A good story is a good story. Good storytelling is good storytelling. Good art is good art. The reverse of those is also true, whatever the medium. LíEtoile Solitare isnít especially bad, it has Juneís wonderful production values and I was able to finish it without a stiff drink, itís just mediocre compared to the rest of their list.

And that magnificent June list has spoiled me rotten.

So perhaps Iím not burning out and this malaise is really the June listís fault. Yeah, that sounds good.

I look forward to Juneís next OEL attempt. I wish I could have given their first one a rave review. But we donít pull our punches at J LHLS.

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