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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/19/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Camera Camera Camera (volume 1)"

Camera, Camera, Camera (volume 1)
Story and Art: Kazura Matsumoto
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1-56970-757-x
ISBN-13: 978-1-56970-757-9

Review by Cat

I have understood that when you read something, it's supposed to be a fun, pleasant ride. No one's told - or rather, warned - me that reading Camera, Camera, Camera would be akin to taking a ride on a roller coaster while high on booze and certain class A drugs. And not in a good way, either.

If this review coming up is confusing, it's because I'm not bright enough to follow this damn story. Or rather, Kazura Matsumoto's - shall we say - unique storytelling style.

Since their parents' marriage ten years before, Akira Togawa's in love with his step-brother Satoru. It's something Akira still doesn't quite understand nor has he any plans to tell Satoru. On a bike ride for school one morning, they have a collision with a scruffy blond stranger. It quickly becomes apparent to Akira that the scruffy stranger knows exactly what goes on in his mind, particularly towards Satoru. Enraged Akira instantly becomes hostile towards him. As soon as he leaves for school, he dismisses the seemingly arrogantly rude guy from his mind.

But guess who's at school? Right. The scruffy stranger.

He's Karou Nakahara who works a professional photographer. He's at school to take photographs of the everyday school life. Akira is asked to assist Nakarahra as he has an arm injury from Akira's bike accident earlier. Akira isn't happy, especially when he realises Nakahara's particularly interested in him in a way he isn't used to. It, however, forces him to examine his own feelings for Satoru and soon, Nakahara.

It seems simple and straightforward enough, but unfortunately it's not.

It requires you to rub two brain cells to figure out what's happening. I mean, the story started off confusingly as it immediately takes you into the scene at a room apartment containing a jaded, scruffy, cynical and chain-smoking photographer named Akira Togawa who randomly paws and leers at a handsome young man named Maki.

It becomes clear that Akira is Maki's tutor in photography and that Akira is Maki's uncle. Akira makes some cryptic comments and then, to Maki's annoyance, he disappears without trace. Then, the following page opens to Akira as a young clean-cut high school boy who acknowledges he's in love with Maki who's now named Satoru.

I was confused and then I realised Maki is actually Akira's step-brother, Satoru. It doesn't help that Satoru looks just like Akira, either. It also took me a minute to realise the rest of volume 1 is, basically, a long flashback to jaded photographer Akira's past when he was a high school boy.

It revolves around six people - Nakahara the photographer, Daisuke the weird child model who's in love with Nakahara; Miyato the girl who's determined to become Akira's step-brother's wife; and a mysterious woman from Nakahara's dark past, Mariko Natsume. Having a big cast is good if the storytelling flows well, but this jumps around too much, which makes the tracking of characters kinda tough. Especially when many look like each other.

I honestly don't have feelings of like or dislike for Camera, Camera, Camera. I feel that if I could rub two brain cells harder or learn to get used to Matsumoto's style of storytelling, I'd probably enjoy (or make sense of) it a lot more. Perhaps, volume 2 will make it all clear to me. Like the way people see the Light.

And to whether it's worth getting this book? I honestly don't know. Perhaps considering the pace of romantic development between Nakahara, typical 'yaoi' readers might find it too slow and in a way, frustrating because it's not that "yaoi"-driven. If anything, I'd classify Camera, Camera, Camera as a character-driven, shounen-ai drama with a couple of suggestive sexual situations. Oh, I forgot: it's also a comedy. -_-

Production-wise, it's great because the book is not heavy nor so stiff, like some June/DMP books. It's flexible enough for me to read it comfortably. This without worrying about creasing its spine (my pet hate), which is the main thing for me. Typesetting looks good, too. To be honest, I was too busy making sense of the story to notice the quality of proofreading.

Having said all that, I really do like Matsumoto's art style. It's clean, strong and easy on the eye. Yes, I do wish she didn't make her male characters so look alike and, occasionally, make her female characters' eyes so bloody big. Even so, her black line drawing style is to die for.

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