Monday, November 25, 2013

Manga Review: Coda

Augh, sorry that I didn't get this up on time folks, I'm really late now, for a bit of an odd reason. You see, this was recommended to me on tumblr over the summer and I really enjoyed it but it doesn't seem to have updated since September so I was wondering if I should take it off my list of things to review this year. I should have skimmed back through it earlier than I did to prep but apparently this was the week that a lot of my tv shows/manga decided to have really important updates so I wasn't able to find the time or the focus just to think about Coda. But I've got it now and expect what should have been today (Monday's) review up on Wednesday!

Coda by Ichimura Hitoshi

Haruichi is part of the dance class at his school, known for being a fine fine art school, with a concentration in Japanese Dance and he likes watching ballet quite well too. He knows his father would be angry to hear about it (why we never know, probably because it would be seen as a distraction from his studies) but he even practices some of the female parts on his own time. And so, through a series of odd events and blackmail he ends up becoming the partner of the internationally renowned dancer Yuri and practicing with him for an upcoming performance, except he's playing the female role!

Some series I love because they're like a good cake, full of lots and lots of layers and so rich that you occasionally need to stop eating and just sit and think about the flavors for a little bit, maybe go for a walk, and then keep devouring it. This series reminds me a little bit more of pietit fours, they still look great and taste wonderful but you can cram but you can cram a surprising number of them in your mouth at once without feeling too full. This is a fun little breather series for me, it has a simple plot that holds everything together, not too many characters, has a concise goal, and a bit of cross-dressing. Funny enough even though the main characters are two boys, and two boys doing ballet together at that, I wouldn't really call this even a BL series, it wasn't written with the sly *wink wink nudge nudge* that many other slash-able series are but of course that's just me, I'm sure that for some fans this is more than enough to make them excited. 

There's not a lot of plot to speak of in this story per-say, it's complete at three volumes and up to the first part of the third has been finished, and it really is a straightforward story, Haruichi is drawn in, half against his will half not, into doing ballet with Yuri and practices to get better, to better understand his role, and to better understand why Yuri has refused to dance as someone's partner for so many years while puzzling out why he suddenly choose him. He meets other people who provide some insight, I felt like none of the characters were too stiff (although these aren't the roundest characters, this story is so much Haruichi's that there just isn't a way to flesh out some of the supporting characters), and for once the cross-dressing gag feels just like that, a silly detail in the story that doesn't demean anyone but does make everything slightly more awkward (often I find that cross-dressing gags in manga don't make things awkward for the characters as much as it feels hella awkward to me because Gender Politics, which is far too long to get into here).

So, do I think this stands a chance at getting licensed? Yes and no, the fact that it's complete at just three volumes is great, however the publisher is Mag Garden and they haven't had a thing in print in the US since JManga went down and took down all the titles they had license-rescued from TokyoPop with them. It's rather strange to think that there's a good sized publisher out there who doesn't have a single story currently licensed in the US, I've never heard anything so I doubt that they have terrible relationships with any of the current US companies but there was some eye-brow raising when I realized that (funny enough they published Carat as well). I feel like this title might work at Seven Seas (especially with the recent news that no I wasn't imagining it, they really are doing better this year with sales that are something like 100% higher than what they were last year) although I wonder if the fact that it's not particularly "slashable" BL might mean it appeals to a smaller audience. So, not especially but it's not something that's completely unlicenseable either?

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