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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/12/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi revew: Party"

Story and art: Tatsumi Kaiya
Publisher: June, imprint of Digital Manga, Inc
ISBN-10: 1569707790
ISBN-13: 978-1569707791

Review by Cat

I thought a character chart on the first page was a nice touch. Mostly because at a glance, Kaiya's characters seem to look alike. However, when I reached the end I was a little confused, so I double checked by creating a list of characters from the story and comparing it with the flow chart. Half of those characters don't appear in the story itself.

Only then did I bother to read mangaka Kaiya's afterword that I learnt Party is part of an ongoing series since 1996 and that the original name of this book is Let's Kiss and Hold Hands. Kaiya makes a note that she hasn't edited it much for the English version. The chronological-order freak in me isn't that happy, but still.

The story opens with Mamoru Iishi making a love confession to his college friend, Natsuki Suigura, who immediately says yes. Mamoru, surprised, accepts that he's now in a relationship with Natsu. Easy-going Natsu takes their relationship in stride while getting on with their life at a college of the arts where they study art and design.

Meanwhile Mamoru begins to be paranoid. It seems to be too good to be real and this feeling of insecurity - and a growing suspicion that Natsu might be secretly in love with his cousin, Kei - begins to haunt him to the point where it affects their relationship.

All the while their college friends - including their former high school friend Hime; Natsu's cousin and childhood friend Kei - around them begin to interfere, on purpose or by accident, the supposedly smooth sailing of their new relationship. Especially Hime who, for reasons known only to her, meddles with their relationship by providing, feeding and withholding information and suggestions. This mostly increases Mamoru's insecurity.

How will it all work out in the end? Will Natsu get fed up and dump Mamoru for being such a nit? What's Hime up to, anyway? How about the mysterious Kei? Is he as lonely as he looks? Will there be someone in the waiting for him?

On the whole, these questions will have the answers, but satisfactorily? No. There is a very few that actually requires me to check or re-read to remind myself how certain something goes or to find a name of someone. It's quite difficult to remember almost anything about Party.

It's not even that bad. It's just bland, even though it's not quite that bland. I think it suffers from too many walk-on characters and Mamoru's irritating tendency to navel gaze and to make a mountain out of a molehill. And Natsu's weird blindness to Mamoru's stupidity issues. Actually, when I think about it, there isn't any real plot nor character development. Nothing much for me to chomp on for this review, really. It's just there. I think the short side story involving Natsu's cousin Kei is more interesting than the main story in a way.

On top of that when I read this story, there were some puzzling random references. I didn't know until I read Kaiya's afterword at end of the book that it's part of an ongoing series since 1996. She also ssays she hasn't edited this much, which I think is a mistake because it'd sort out the continuity issue. However, since I haven't read her other works, I had to withdraw the 'confusing!' comment. Well, as a standalone, it is a bit confusing, especially whenever a character refers to a person or incident that doesn't appear in this story at all. This makes it a frustrating read.

It's a pity, really, as I expected more. I don't quite know what exactly I expected, to be honest. Perhaps it's my expectations that make it a mildly disappointing read. I think when I received this book, I for some reason expected it to be a meaty read and got a skinny bone instead. It's a strange expectation, considering that I hadn't - I think - read her works before. I think it's to do with the fact that I'm a design graduate that got me expecting more. I'm not sure, to be honest. It's no one's fault but mine.

All in all, it looks nice, it reads nice, it sounds nice, and it feels nice. And that's all to it, really. In other words Party is only good for a day when there's nothing to read. Art-wise, it's easy on the eye, which has to be counted for something.

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