November 10, 2008
by: Adam Beck
Is this a unique romantic comedy, or an emotionless love?
Everyone thinks 16-year-old Ryoko has weird taste in guys because she can't stop drooling over Ryu, the strong silent type who sits next to her in class. When she discovers he works for a host club--where women actually pay men to date them--will she finally wise up? Only thing's for sure in B.O.D.Y.--you can't put a price on love!
Content: (This section may contain spoilers)
I have a strange soft-spot for shojo titles only because I enjoy way love forms connections between two or more characters. But recently, there have only been two titles that really have sparked my interest: After School Nightmare and My Heavenly Hockey Club. Finally, after a long wait, I’ve found a series that has a lot of potential to become one of the better shojo titles out on the market.
We are quickly introduced to our male and female protagonist, and Ryunosuke Fuji and Ryoko Sakura, respectively—although the male feels a lot more like an antagonist than anything else. Ryoko is your typical girl, a bit on the innocent side, but has fashion and makeup to paper things over. She’s scarcely the most distinctive of characters—we’ve seen her kind plenty of times before—but she makes every scene she’s in highly enjoyable.
Ryunosuke stands out a bit more considering he has a somewhat deceptive personality: at school he is the loner, while out in the world, he is a playboy. He may seem like a gentle individual, but if you know his secret he is a complete ass and always is determined to get his way no matter the cost. I personally dislike his kind, but because of his personal hindrances, it makes the story all that more interesting given that the guy is the more seductive character.
The series starts off with Ryoko and Ryunosuke in the rather traditional romantic comedy environment: high school. Ryoko has (what else?) a crush on Ryunosuke, but every one of her friends thinks he is a complete freak. Trying to impress him, she applies all her beauty products only to find out he isn’t quite the person she thought he was. I thought this was going to be your typical “I love you” and “Sorry, I have someone else” or something of the manner. Instead there is a serious twist that makes Ryunosuke look like a complete jerk, but a sexy one at that. It is quite unfortunate that Ryoko has fallen for such a guy. This is about when the story really takes off as the two are faced with many challenges that they both have to overcome … mainly Ryunosuke trying to get Ryoko to fall for his real persona.
Most of what happens is surprisingly absorbing and quite funny—e.g., Ryoko smacking her so-called love in the face with a garbage can without a second thought, and that’s only the first of many blows thrown his way. The first challenge that Ryoko issues to her newly-found enemy (?) is to join the track team and finish first, but like many people, Ryunosuke barks more than he can bite. Ryoko my not like him, but she also feels culpable for putting him up to such actions, and the fact that she owns up to such things makes her a responsible and true girl who sheds some sweet light onto the series.
We are then introduced to a new character: Inaba. He is a smart, mature and a kind individual who always looks out for anyone in need, someone who Ryoko easily falls for. But we instantly notice that he really doesn’t seem to be the exact person she thinks he is (as we’ve seen her perceptions on someone before). Instead of being someone like Ryunosuke, Inaba is gentler and doesn’t necessarily have boyish intentions. His addition is somewhat disappointing only because it feels like he has a promising future in the series, but he is quickly dismissed here in a manner that I wouldn’t be surprised if he never shows his face again.
The final chapter basically opens up the possibilities greatly for Ryoko to fall in love once again. I thought her appearance at Ryunosuke’s house was a great deal of advancement for the character—I doubt she’d do it without having some feelings or concern for him. In the end, I really enjoyed B.O.D.Y., as it sets up a situation I’d love to see a lot more of. I was disappointed the volume had to end as it seems like a title I wouldn’t put down, but I suppose it’s a process all manga titles much go through.
Artwork: I enjoy the artwork of B.O.D.Y. as it is vibrant and flushes out each character’s emotions very well. There definitely are some hitches here and there, but it is one of the better looking shojo titles out on the market. Some of the negative issues I’ve had with the artwork are that, on occasions I found some of the characters are a little rough around the edges. Specifically, some of the characters will appear to have no jaw-line making them awkwardly two-dimensional when the style is trying to be a lot more three dimensional with strong shadowing. And I’m not talking about when things go into comedy mode when things drop in detail; I’m talking about during emotional scenes that are supposed to be somewhat serious. The visual style itself is really good a high focus on the characters. Environments aren’t all that great, sadly, but I didn’t find it to be a disappointment for backgrounds to be non-apparent. I really cared about the characters and not the surroundings, so the minimal detail that was put into the backgrounds is very well maintained. There definitely are awkward pieces here and there, but on the whole it is a good eyeful.
Translation: Viz Media’s translations have always been difficult to grade considering they usually erase all of the Japanese text, so you won’t know what’s missing or overlooked. This is no different as all of the sound effects are only presented in English with sound effects sometimes stylized to the specific actions of the scenes. The dialogue itself is pretty strong as each character, especially Ryunosuke, are given their unique personalities from the text.
For extras, don’t expect much. There are three pages dedicated to extras, and they are basically some notes from Ao Mimori. Some interesting and some not so interesting. But it’s a decent read if you want to hear what Mimori has to say about her adventures on developing the manga.
The Bottom Line: Even though there are issues with the artwork, the overall storytelling and characters are more than interesting and liven up the plot quite nicely. I never really found myself bored, even though there are some slow moments in the first volume, but the execution is done spectacularly and left me only wanting more of Ryoko and Ryunosuke. It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s smart, and overall, it’s a compelling read.