From the stack: DMP boys

April 2, 2006

Every genre of graphic novel has its standard elements and tropes, but most at least try to transcend them and cook up something new and specific from familiar ingredients. When they don’t, you get something like Yukine Honami and Serubo Suzuki’s Sweet Revolution (Digital Manga Publishing).

It’s a generic bit of yaoi about two pretty boys from another dimension who decide to attend high school on Earth. Tatsuki is the seme, and Ohta is the uke. Not only is that all you need to know, it’s just about all there is to know.

Tatsuki is the prince of a mystical realm, and Ohta is a diffident and devoted spirit who handily recharges Tatsuki’s chi with sex. Classmate Kouhei doesn’t really care for Tatsuki, and who can blame him? Tatsuki is cold and entitled, and Kouhei sees his domineering behavior towards Ohta as abusive. It is, but the pair manages to convince Kouhei that it’s what they both want, and the potential triangle dissolves as Kouhei vanishes from the narrative.

This is just shy of the halfway point, so the story moves on to Tatsuki’s family troubles. Tatsuki’s royal father’s health is failing, and he wants his son to return home and marry so he can assume leadership of the kingdom. Tatsuki doesn’t want to, because he’s not prepared to give up Ohta, though he still isn’t very considerate of the sprite.

And then things are resolved. No, really. A friend of Tatsuki’s father points out that dad’s being a selfish hypocrite, and Tatsuki gets his way. The end.

The characters are dull, the premise is flimsy, and the art is attractive but unexceptional. It’s like soup without any seasoning.

Kyoki Negishi and Yuki Miyamoto’s Café Kichijouji de (DMP) isn’t much more ambitious, but it’s a lot more entertaining. It’s a fluffy workplace comedy about the wacky staff of the title eatery, and it doesn’t really have anything on its mind but entertaining the readers. It succeeds.

The cast is an appealing mix of personalities. There’s officious supervisor Kurihara, defensively boyish Ichinomiya, ladies’ man Okubo, and goofball Tokumi. Spooky Minagawa runs the kitchen, and owner Mitaka just tries to stay sane and keep his crew from driving him out of business.

They squabble, flirt with customers, and land themselves in a variety of absurd misadventures. That’s all, really, but it’s plenty, because Negishi and Miyamoto pile on plenty of quirky charm and keep things bustling along. It’s like a perfectly good sitcom that you might not specifically set out to watch, but you’re happy to catch it when you’re idly surfing channels.

All that said it’s a bit slight for $12.95. It would be an ideal library choice, a lucky swap, or an excellent selection for a “get one free” bookstore deal.

(The Café Kichijouji de review was based on a complimentary copy from DMP.)