LAUGH UNDER THE SUN (ADVANCE REVIEW)

Posted On December - 12 - 2007
  RELEASED BY:   DIGITAL MANGA PUBLISHING
  AUTHOR / ART:  

YUGI YAMADA

  FORMAT:   JAPANESE / B&W
  PAGES:   200
  RATING:   M
  RELEASE DATE:   12/19/2006
  REVIEW DATE:   12/12/2007
  REVIEWED BY:   HOLLY ELLINGWOOD

Sohei is a 25 year old whose high school dream of becoming a pro boxer has long since been left behind after a tragedy in an early bout ruined his nerves. Now he lives off his looks, hooking up with one sugar mommy after another. When that fails him, he ends up on old friend Chika’s doorstep. With the advice of his old school buddies Chika and Naoki, Sohei gives the boxing dream another round. But now he’s considered past his prime in athletic terms and has to face opponents younger, faster, and hungrier than him. On top of his own struggle for direction in his life, he learns that Chika has always been in love with him. Strong and stoic Chika, who has been Sohei’s rock all these years. Now it’s time for Sohei to grow up and decide what his real dreams are and what he’s willing to do to get them in the gay male romance Laugh Under the Sun.

From the creator of Close the Last Door, Picnic, Spring Fever and Glass Sky, this all new manga story from Yumi Yamada holds a romance and coming of age story for a young man who has discovered that it’s well past time for him to actually grow up. Sohei has lived off of luck and his looks for years. He’s short-tempered and impulsive, recklessly so. It gets him into trouble and his mouth often runs away with him. But for reasons that later become clear, Chika and Naoki have always supported him and stood by him. He makes an attempt to reenter the ring, but it proves harder than he could have imagined. Will he give up and run away like he has before or face his failures and shortcomings to work and rise above them? The same could be said for his love life. Merely using women to get by in life has left him empty and alone. Now that he sees what Chika is offering, will he have the maturity to explore it? After all, this is the man Sohei keeps running to and crying in his arms. It wouldn’t be so hard to fathom that Sohei may have unrealized feelings for his longtime friend. But he sure has a way to go. Personal and professional challenges face him and are what make this a coming of age story in many ways.

The storytelling style has some subtle moments and unexpected quirks of humor that work well. I like that it isn’t your typical setting for yaoi. The manga has a pretty boxer, a manly writer who’s the out gay one, and a more conventional gay male in the friend Naoki. There’s a certain maturity to the characters and a believable touch of teasing, meddling, and friction that occurs amongst long time friends. It’s a nice and attractive touch of verisimilitude to the story, making the characters and the flow of it feel slightly more realistic than the regular yaoi tale.
The art style is clean and show unexpected detail in the backgrounds at times. There is a sense of roughness to the drawings. Almost as if some of them were rushed. I can’t even begin to imagine the time constraints and deadlines pressures any and every mangaka must face. But it would be lovely to see illustrations of Yumi Yamada’s that allowed for her to spend more time and detail on the figures themselves to help refine them and add to the already appealing illustrations. With the promising storytelling talents and budding art style, Yumi Yamada is a talent to keep watching and see how she progresses. There’s a lot of potential here to keep tuned to.

IN SUMMARY:
Laugh Under the Sun is a romantic comedy about growing up, coming out, and realizing love and long forgotten dreams have been waiting right in front of a person all this time.

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