Author/Illustrator: Tamaki Fuji
Rating: 18+ Explicit Content...for some frank discussion, not for graphic sex.
|EXPLICIT CONTENT NOTED!|
Dear Readers, occasionally I come across a manga that I should not like, and yet...I do. Ata is such a manga. And not because it's risky, or raunchy, or because it contains questionable aesthetic choices, because Ata doesn't really do any of those things...in a lot of ways it's just another straight-forward, predictable, sloppy-love-triangle yaoi. But it's also less than that, in that it is really badly written. And it's also more than that, in that behind that bad writing and predictable scenarios there is something raw and powerful and heart-wrenching about the art and the genuine emotion that is expressed by these characters. To be honest, it surprised me. I mean it really surprised me. I said aloud to the computer screen, and the dog who happened to be listening in, "Holy crap, am I crying?" And, Dear Readers, I was.
Let's start with the bad:
- Straight away (no pun intended) I am annoyed at the protagonist, Kagerou, who is complaining that his troubled, middle-school drop-out, foster-brother and childhood friend has "decided" that he is gay. So, my hackles were raised. Raised! "Decided?" Grrrr. Thankfully this attitude is diverted quickly by a more reasonable discussion, almost so quickly that I thought, maybe they didn't mean "decided." I'm fairly sure the author didn't. Unfortunately, this manga is riddled with not only so much bad writing in general, but also so many blatantly obvious proofreading errors that it's hard to tell if "decided" was a mistake or intentional.
- Clunky translations might not bother every reader, but they make me want to throw things. If translation is an art (and it is), whomever translated this just handed you a placemat with a crayon drawing of a cat which wound up looking more like an eggplant with a deformity. And typos? Typos are unacceptable, and yet...
Faught is not a word.
- Poor translations can do more than just sound clunky. Sometimes they can change the meaning of the passage. For example, rape is a serious word. Rape is violent, brutal and is NOT about the physical act of sex as much as it is about the concepts of power, control and viciousness made physical. It is not a word to be thrown about lightly. And it is not molestation. Molestation is bad too, but it isn't rape. Molestation is unwanted sexual advances and can lead to rape, but these two things, although related, are not the same things. Language is subtle, friends, and often things that seem like synonyms to the (kill it with fire) thesaurus, are not things that are synonyms in the real world. No one is raped, thankfully, in this manga. People are, however, molested. But even that seems like the wrong word at one point. Maybe the word was coerced? Seduced doesn't seem right? Translations ARE hard, but words need to be used wisely, Dear Readers.
- Sometimes poor translations just make a mess of everything. At this point I don't know if it is the translators or the original author who should take the blame for one of the stupidest and most biologically improbable discussions of ejaculate ever. I'm assuming here, Dear Readers, because I don't read a lot of ejaculate discussions. If the translator is to blame then okay, status quo for this manga, I suppose. But if the author is to blame, then I have to ask that manga writers do a little research when dealing with the male anatomy and its functions.
- The plot is predictable in a lot of ways, boyhood friendships grow into unrecognized adult affections and it takes a love triangle for the characters to realize their true feelings. Nothing special or startling happens plotwise, but...I still wound up in tears. Let's explore why.
Kagerou doesn't seem to understand Ata at all, but he still sets himself in the role of protector, a role he took on when he and Ata were very young. Ata was a foster-child in Kagerou's home, and had a troubled past. They formed a close brotherly bond and spent much of their time together.
|Little Kagerou (dark hair) comforting a little Ata (light hair) after a bad dream.|
|Adult Kagerou and adult Ata after one of Ata's nasty breakups.|
The problem is that Sanuki knows Ata's feelings for Kagerou, and eventually tires of playing second string, forcing Ata to admit his feelings to a broken and astonished Kagerou, who has been waiting for Ata all along.
|Argh! Why am I crying when this is so badly written?|
I am totally ashamed of myself right now.
So, despite the bad grammar and the stupid assumptions about male physiology, there's something so painfully raw and beautiful beneath the surface of this otherwise cliched story that it moved cynical old Dr. M (who does not believe in things like true love, or soul mates, or unicorns, or tragic-pretty crying moments in the rain) to tears. And that, Dear Readers, is a pretty significant thing. I just really wish the writing were better. I can't approve of this manga, or recommend it as is...the writer/teacher/reader I am will not allow me to do that, but I can say that IF you can tolerate bad writing, then the story may be worth the effort it takes to slog through this train wreck. Better yet, just look at the pictures. The pictures are very nice.