As I mentioned on the Yuricon Mailing List, I’d been meaning to mention Steady Beat for a while, but just kept forgetting. In fact, I’d stare at my “to review” list and say, “Gee, wasn’t there something I wanted to add to this?” But thanks to Erin, and her review on her LJ, I am not only motivated, but have remembered long enough to mention it, at last. Thank you, Erin!
First off, this is the first “American manga” I’ve purchased (if you don’t count publishing Yuri Monogatari that is.) I bought my copy at Onna!, and didn’t get to read it for several months afterwards. The art is, IMHO, typical of American-style manga art, with more rounded everything, less clean lines, and an uneven grasp of panel structure. But it’s not unpleasant to look at.
The plot, such as it is, involves Leah, a slightly underachieving (compared with her perfect older sister, anyway) high school student finding a love letter addressed to her sister Sarai. The letter is signed “Love, Jessica” and it’s not a confession letter so much as a “let’s meet again in the usual place” letter. The first volume is built around Leah attempting to figure out what the deal with her sister is, while not getting in trouble with her over-protective and over-critical mother. Somewhere in the middle of this Leah ends up meeting a guy, which is assumably our eventual love interest. The volume ends with a dramatic confession by Sarai to us, out of Leah’s hearing that the answer to Leah’s question is “yes.” Said darkly and with great big sad eyes.
The book is not bad, really. It’s supposed to be a bit “wacky hijinks” and goofy, and there were definite funny moments. The complication of the perfect sister with the unforgivable flaw is a bit melodramatic, and I think it might be worth emailing the author Rivkah and asking her to make sure the girl gets the girl, as a preventative measure. :-) It’s hard to say whether plot and characters are developed – or even developable – as the first volume is short and no new volumes have been released as yet.
All that having been said, it’s a nice story, and I’m all for manga fans expanding their horizons and supporting non-Japanese artists…especially as this sort of thing is clearly the wave of the next decade.
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 6
Yuri – 6
Service – 2
Overall – 6
If you’re looking for manga in English with Yuri themes, you could definitely do worse than this. ^_^