Gravitation Collection 1 by Maki Murakami
Tokyopop is releasing this classic shonen ai series in larger editions. This book collects the first two volumes of Gravitation. Shuichi Shindou is the second-to-last student in his class at school. He spends all of his free time pursuing his love of music. He’s in a two person band with his best friend and guitarist Hiro. They play techno music, so much of Shuichi’s time is spent rearranging tracks on his computer. When Hiro warns Shuichi about working on their music in class, Shuichi loudly proclaims “I’m leading a revolution against Japan’s oppressive educational system! I’m fighting a war for art!”
Unfortunately other people don’t share Shuichi’s opinion of his own talent. Shuichi is walking alone at night when he drops his lyrics. An older man picks up the piece of paper and says “You write like you’re at a third grade reading level. Is this your idea of a love song? Are you nuts? If I were you I’d consider learning a reliable trade.” The poetry critic is the enigmatic novelist Eiri Yuki.
Shuichi becomes obsessed with Eiri, and is determined to prove him wrong. But it seems like his interest goes way beyond simply responding to criticism. Shuichi shows up at Eiri’s house and starts getting pulled into his orbit, meeting Eiri’s sister and a record producer friend of his. Eiri has his own problems to deal with, as his family doesn’t approve of his novel writing and he’s surrounded by hangers-on who want to take advantage of his fame. Shuichi’s music begins to attract more notice in the industry, but he may have to make some compromises in order to sign with a label.
The art in Gravitation has a vintage 90’s feel, with attractive men having big hair and oversized shoulders. Murakami does a good job contrasting Eiri’s cool reserve with Shuichi’s emotional reactions that are so over-the-top they often approach slapstick. I hadn’t read this series before, although I was aware of the general plot. I can see why Gravitation has been so popular as both a manga and anime. The combination of humor and romance works well, and I was entertained by all the music references that were sprinkled through the book. I especially enjoyed Hiro asking Shuichi if he was going through a Morrissey phase after Shuichi’s first encounter with Eiri. The relationship between Shuichi and Eiri is given plenty of time to develop, so fans of shonen-ai who like longer series will want to check this out if they haven’t already. I’m not sure if I’m up for reading the entire series, but I enjoyed reading this first collected volume.
Review copy provided by the publisher.