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Manga Review: Rin! vol. 1

September 19, 2009

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I love Yukine Honami’s artwork. The emotions of her characters are so evident, they don’t need a dialog assist, it’s all on the page. While I was able to able to put my qualms about Katsura (he’s 17 and looks 12) to rest due to the affecting manner in which the story is depicted, I admit to some initial reservations about the side story.
This short story is written and drawn by Honami exclusively, and shows Katsura and Sou hanging out together during the summer. Katsura is working on his summer homework when Sou embraces Katsura and begins to fondle him. Katsura is very embarrassed about the obvious outcome. None of this is presented in a vulgar fashion. There is little dialog and the action is depicted discretely.

Katsura is insecure. He is a junior, 17 years old(?!!), and a member of the archery team along with his brother Yamato, the team captain, and his brother’s friend, Sou, the assistant captain. Katsura has a problem. He is so anxious in competitive situations that the only way he can stop his heart from beating out of control is to get a big hug from his brother’s friend, Sou. This has been the situation for 12 years, since Katsura was 5 years old and Sou comforted Katsura when Katsura was despondent over placing his father in danger due to his own negligence.
After observing a girl confess to Sou, Katsura realizes that he needs to shed his dependence on Sou, whom Katsura feels is getting an unwanted reputation with regard to him. Friend and archery teammate, Kouichi, offers to be Katsura’s “support” and in an attempt to produce an anxious state in Katsura, kisses Katsura as Sou observes from a distance. Katsura is confused and assumes Kouichi is just joking around. Sou, who has always grudgingly complied with Katsura’s requests for hugs, now informs Katsura that he will no longer support him.

Without Sou, Katsura is unfocused and unsure of himself on the archery range. Brother Yamato is so concerned about Katsura and the increased irritability of Sou that he suggests a trip to the seacoast for all of them (and the self-invited Kouichi). At the beach, Yamato allows Sou and Katsura a private moment to confront each other. Sou makes a surprising confession to Katsura and tells Katsura that he has the ability within him to be confident and self-assured.

Katsura is increasingly miserable and confused about Sou. A brotherly talk with Yamato helps Katsura clarify his situation and Katsura renews his commitment to the archery team. And, in a final act of brotherly concern, Yamato arranges for Katsura to receive training that allows him to focus on his archery strengths and to make the breakthrough to come to terms with what Sou means to him.

There is a short side story about Sou and Katsura following the main story.

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