April 8, 2010

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Yellow 2 Episode 1

Written by Makoto Tatero
Illustrated by Makoto Tatero
June Manga

Goh and Taki return to the world they thought they'd left behind to help their former police contact grab a shipment of drugs that might otherwise end up on the streets. Using their talents to do illegal things in the name of protecting the city, our pair must solve an obscure clue in only a little over a day.

Can they return to their roots? Or have they been out of the game for too long? Find out in this short sequel to the original series.

I was a little worried about reading this one, because it's a successor to a series I had not read. Sometimes that requires special knowledge, leaving the reader guessing as to what is going on. That's not the case here. Tatero did a great job of filling in the blanks, with an introduction that explains what Goh and Taki do and the fact that they've quit to live their own lives. Anything else a reader might need to know is given in passing, without slowing the story down.

I'm sure reading the original Yellow series makes this even better, but I was really impressed by the way Tatero keeps the story moving while also catching up anyone who doesn't have or managed to forget the particulars of the original.

The story itself is pretty short, only about the length of two standard manga chapters. However, like the other Tatero book I've read so far, the plotting is tight and the action moves quickly. I really like how we get a lot of characterization without having page after page of talking to each other. We see things develop as the players move from page to page, just like they did in Blue Sheep Reverie.

Yellow 2's tone is completely different from Blue Sheep, however. While the latter book was serious and grim, Yellow 2 is playful. There's action and danger, but you never feel like bad things are going to happen to these two. The pacing reminds me of a 1980s PI show, like Simon and Simon or Magnum, PI, if I may show my age with a few dated references. There's the feel of a good-natured caper, and I like that type of story a lot. While I also enjoy a good drama, there's a lot of fun to be had watching two people bicker as they work to solve a puzzle.

Adding to this fun is the nature of their partnership. Goh is flamingly gay and Toki is referred to as being straight but I guess by this point that's not quite as hard a line as it was before. Watching their sexual tension, especially since Goh appears to be horny all the time, is a lot of fun and definitely adds to the story. My favorite use of their separate backgrounds is when they go to both a gay and straight bar, and watching the other get jealous at the attention received by their partner. Tatero works this all in very well.

Artistically, Tatero seems a bit stronger here. The characters look a bit crisper, though keep in mind I'm reading this on a screen so some of that may be from reproduction onto a virtual medium. There's still not a lot of background work, but I thought the action scenes were cleaner. The romantic scenes between Goh and Taki are also more explicit, but think that's because in this case, it's two men who love each other rather than the reluctance we had in the first volume of Blue Sheep. I liked the way Tatero set up the panel construction as well, especially using her backgrounds to set up the solution to the case.

Yellow 2 Episode one is a fun time for anyone who enjoys buddy movie or light-hearted comedic crime shows. There's a lot of bantering going around the plot, and it's the characters that drive the story rather than the caper itself. I liked this book a whole lot, and definitely want to read the original series, as well as more if Tatero opts to do another mini-manga like this. Don't be afraid if you're not familiar with Yellow--you definitely don't need to be. All you need is a good sense of fun, and you'll be fine. This was a great discovery, and I'm glad I was given this book to review.

[A complimentary electronic copy was given to me by eManga to review.]