Volume 4

Author: Satomi Ikezawa
Artist: Satomi Ikezawa
RRP: £6.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 009 50669 0
Ages: 16+
Available 02 August 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...

Othello is a more mature work compared to Satomi Ikezawa's previous work Guru Guru Pon-Chan, though it does share similar themes of transformation and unrequited love. To be honest it is a much better work and Ikezawa seems to be maturing as a writer as Othello introduces many more complex themes, including an exploration of teenage identity and the pressures which this section of society finds itself under. Volume Four takes up the story with Yaya being manipulated by the new girl Hano, though because Yaya's personality is so submissive she is unable to resist. Moriyama, her friend and the only one who knows that Yaya turns into Nana, does what he can to protect her, but there are forces at work which even he cannot stop.

Chapter thirteen, Hidden Power, and Hano is determined to find out who Nana is, having lost her first run in with Nana, her narcissistic personality will not let her acknowledge defeat. She gets Yaya to break into the Principle's office to steal the roster of all the student, though this is to little avail as she is unaware that Nana is Yaya and is hidden in plain sight. Although she does not discover Yaya's secret the two eventually meet.

In chapter fourteen, The Unknown Relationship, the story starts to take on a much darker hue. Shohei warns Nana to stay away from Hano, though does not say why. With the search for Nana going nowhere, Hano persuades the girls to sign up for a talent school with the promise of meeting famous men, but the fictitious school is just a front for school girl prostitution. When Yaya is sent to meet a man Nana takes care of business.

Chapter fifteen, A Woman and Her Body. Although Yaya has made it out with her virtue intact, Hano blackmails her for the money that she supposedly owes. Unable to find a way out she transforms into Nana and gets a job with a construction crew. Unfortunately although she obtains the money she also unknowingly exposes her secret to Hano.

Chapter sixteen and the last in the book, The Confrontation, and Hano tries to force Yaya's hand by humiliating her.

This story just gets better and better, not because of any action sequences, but because the author obviously knows a thing or two about teenage angst. At the end of the day this is an interesting and evocative book that deserves a greater exposure than it has previously gained.

Charles Packer

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