GRAPHIC NOVEL
Othello
Volume 2

Author: Satomi Ikezawa
Artist: Satomi Ikezawa
Tanoshimi
RRP: 5.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 009 50656 0
Ages: 16+
Available 07 June 2007


Yaya is a shy, introverted sixteen year
old girl, who, having lost her mother at a young age, lives with her over protective and emotionally invalidating father. School isn't much better as Yaya is the butt of her so-called friend's jokes. Although very aware of this Yaya is too timid to fight back. Only on the weekend, when she dresses in emulation of her favourite band Juliet and hangs around with similar people, does she get respite from the horror that is her week. All this is about to change when Nana hits town, self assured and unafraid she watches Yaya's back and rights the wrongs done to her. They should be the best of friend, if only they could meet. The problem with that is that via a child's magic compact it is Yaya who, unbeknownst to her, transforms into Nana...

So finally we have Volume Two of Othello by Satomi Ikezawa, a tale of teenage angst and body swapping. This goes someway to explaining the title of the book, which is named after the board game and not the Shakespeare play. Volume Two contains four more chapters as well as translation notes.

Volume Two opens with a new school year, which for Yaya means that both good and bad things are about to happen. On the good side Yaya discovers that she is in the same class as the boy who she secretly fancies. But, this being Othello, there is always a balance, so poor old Yaya is still in the same class as her nemeses, the bitchy Moe and Seri.

The book opens quite darkly with A Void of Time. Finally the effect of changing into Nana is having an effect on Yaya. There are events that she cannot remember and, like any changeling, keeps coming too with no idea how she got there. The cumulative effect of this is that Yaya is starting to question her sanity. Not even the revenge that Nana reaps upon Yaya's enemies brings any solace, as she has no memory of feeling so empowered.

Unable to cope by Yaya's True Self, Yaya is avoiding going to school all together, though she changes into her alter ego, Mimi, to meet her Juliet friends on the weekend - who are also aware of her doing extraordinary things, for which she has no memory. Strangely enough it is Moe who comes to bring her to school and admits for the first time that she likes Yaya. But that will not stop the humiliation that awaits her at school, luckily for her Moriyama comes to her rescue.

Happening Rain and things at school have settled a bit which allows Yaya and Moriyama to get a little closer when he asks her to help out with his band's next concert. When Moriyama looses his voice Nana steps in to rescue the concert.

The last story, Who is this Person, and having passed out at the concert in front of Moriyama, even he is beginning to suspect there is something happening with Yaya.

The art continues to be pin sharp clean. To be honest, given that the book is aimed at a sixteen plus female's audience I was surprised how much I liked the manga. This is because it plays out recognisable experiences of fear and alienation that are universal to many people's memories of those awful teenage years.

Ultimately the book comes over as a well drawn and intelligent work.

Charles Packer

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