May 8 2007
Ichigenme…The First Case is Civil Law, by Fumi Yoshinaga. Published by 801 Media. Retail: $15.99. 1/2 volumes released. Rated 18+ (Mature content, graphic sex between males showing at most some blurred [Japanese self-censored] naughty bits, NOT FOR KIDS). A-.
A law education in
So most of the law school students don’t have much hope at gaining such an elevated position. Combining that with the relief all Japanese college students feel at finally not having to live for exams, and law college turns into a place where they can finally relax, enjoy themselves, and learn about life. Except for those few who still work like crazy to move onto the next step.
Tamiya is one of those few. Very serious about law, he enters into a zemi (a seminar) on criminal case law. But when he gets there, he finds it’s a dumping ground for the sons and daughters of the rich and influential. They don’t prepare for class, and don’t even care about it because they know they’ll pass. And the worst of these is a flirt named Toudou, who introduces himself at a party with a kiss that Tamiya can’t forget.
Even as Tamiya struggles to get the most out of his education, he slowly finds himself being pulled into an awareness that there are other things out there of equal importance. He finds himself defending these students at various times and becoming friends with them and actually enjoying it. And for the first time he’s feeling physical and emotional attraction, and it’s for men. He resists this, but when his naÃƒÆ’Ã‚ ¯ve hopes in one relationship are crushed Toudou is there to pick up the pieces, and he slowly begins to understand that there’s much more to this frivolous man than he thought, and he begins to care for him.
I consider Yoshinaga-sensei to be one of the masters of the manga art form. Her style is unusual but her characters are deftly drawn using both words and pictures. Her art is spare, but communicates so much (as always, start at the far right, and read panels read right to left, top to bottom):
She doesn’t just spend time on the main characters, as is common in romance, but has arcs about secondary characters that flesh out the story as a whole, and make it a real thing. What happens in these two volumes could very likely have happened in a real Japanese law school ten years ago (when the story was written).
The romance in this story is such a sweet thing. All her romances are about personal growth. The best romances always are. It may seem like Tamiya is doing all the growing but in the second half of the volume, like Tamiya, one begins to realize that there’s an interesting story behind Toudou’s faÃƒÆ’Ã‚ §ade as well.
The romance could be considered complete in the first volume. Those readers who prefer less graphic sex may want to stop at just that one. Volume two, coming out sometime this month, contains a few sexually graphic shorts that take place seven years later. It’s the standard romance epilogue, plus heat, and minus babies. To be honest, I feel that the second volume detracts from the story which seemed just right to me in the first volume, and so don’t recommend buying it unless you really have to have more about the two. Because of that, I drop the series a half point.
In case you haven’t noticed, this is a male/male romance manga. It is of the category yaoi (pronounced yah-oh-ih), which in
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