This One Is Plenty
Since its inception in 2011, GEN Manga has concentrated on licensing & translating a purposefully diverse array of manga genres and styles from amateur, grassroots Japanese artists. GEN Manga volumes 11 through 15, published from April through August 2012 included the first five chapters of the original shounen ai manga story “One Is Enough” by artist “LOVE.” The brand new August 2014 One Is Enough graphic novel contains an archival reprinting of the first five chapters plus the concluding, never before published final 25 pages of the honest & affecting love story.
One Is Enough revolves around 16-year-old high school boy Yuu Matsumoto who suddenly becomes conscious of his sexuality and moreover discovers that he’s gay. At first sight, Yuu falls in love with his coy and enigmatic upperclassman Shizuku Mizushima. But whether Shizuku will accept Yuu’s affection, and whether Shizuku’s reciprocation of Yuu’s desperate advances is motivated by love, by guilt, or by a cruel intention to toy with Yuu’s fragile heart is a dense mystery that Yuu will have to explore along with his own turbulent emotions and anxieties. Making the relationship even more complicated are Shizuku’s girlfriend and his intimidating classmate who knows more about Shizuku than young Yuu does, and Yuu’s own best friend, who struggles with his own relationship to Yuu now that Yuu has suddenly emotionally changed.
Many manga readers may be repelled from reading a homosexual-themed romantic manga because of the unconventional subject matter. But One Is Enough provides greater accessiblity than many yaoi manga because it proceeds into the core of its romance gradually and depicts a seduction of a heterosexual young man who’s won over by the heartfelt and tender affections of a sweethearted, innocent lover. Unlike many conventional yaoi manga to leap from introduction to sex almost immediately, the first sex scene in One Is Enough doesn’t occur until half-way through the book, allowing plenty of time for readers to meet and get to know the characters and gradually accept the growing intensity of the relationships between them. One Is Enough is also commendable for spending a great deal of time and emphasis on psychology and character anxiety. Yuu struggles with his newly recognized sexuality, wondering if he’s “normal,” how his classmates will respond to his homosexuality, and even whether he can accept himself. The story’s willingness to address anxiety and potential alienation make this story feel more serious and accessible as a dramatic relationship manga accessible to mainstream readers than a typical streamlined yaoi manga targeted at established boy-love fanatics.
As this is a homosexual romance story, it does include a few sex scenes, but the graphic art is always tasteful and discrete, including no gratuitous graphic nudity. One Is Enough is far more a story about relationships and young men working through their psychological troubles than a story about gay sex. The language is occasionally risqué and contains a small amount of swearing. The translation flows naturally and uses American colloquailisms effectively to establish distinct character personalities. The only noticable flaw in the dialogue translation is the minor error of “Why” replacing “What” in the question, “Why are you suddenly acting like a crazy person for?!”
The graphic art has been cleaned up for the collected edition. Particularly in the print edition, details look crisper and sharper, and screentones appear less hazy or blurry than in the original GEN Manga serialization. English text that was hastily pasted on top of the original Japanese text in GEN Manga issue 15 is presented in the collected edition in a proper clean typeset. The inclusion of the story’s final, previously unpublished 25 pages is also a very welcome addition to the collected edition, bringing the story to a proper, complete and satisfying conclusion, unlike the original GEN Manga serialization’s abrupt windup.
LOVE’s visual art takes distinct cues from romantic shoujo manga, occasionally utilizing amusing deformed designs for emphasis. Background art is minimal and is frequently just substituted with screentone, as is frequently the case with doujin manga. But the art design is sufficient to distinguish characters and avoid being distracting awkward or ugly. Panel layout is clear enough to ease readers through the story without being confusing. The core feature of One Is Enough is its raw and tearful emotional intensity. The story makes an excellent introduction point for readers curious about the boy-love manga genre and a satisfying read for readers that appreciate a thoughtful, substantial independent manga story. One Is Enough may not have the slick, polished perfection of boy-love manga by celebrity artists like Shungiku Nakamura, but it’s exactly its raw, heartfelt intensity that gives One Is Enough its memorable charm.