Volume 5

Author: Satomi Ikezawa
Artist: Satomi Ikezawa
RRP: £6.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 009 50672 0
Ages: 16+
Available 06 September 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...

As they say, in Babylon 5, "and so it begin", so ladies and gentleman I give you Volume Five of Othello (named after the game, not the play). Given that Satomi Ikezawa's manga of Othello had started so well, with such a strong premise of teenage identity, you have to wonder if she could keep interest up in the story of Yaya's double life without it dissolving into just another teen story.

So, by this portion of the story Nana has not only a love interest and protector in Moriyama but also a nemesis in Megumi Hano. And there in lies the main problem, Hano. In the previous book (Volume Four) she was exposed as a wealthy megalomaniac pimp who takes an immense dislike of Nana and vows to destroy her. With her inclusion Satomi has moved the story much more into the realms of fantasy, losing some of the bite of the earlier volumes. Having said that, I'm not sure that she had in mind middle aged men, with a background in psychiatry, when she was writing Othello, but rather a younger teenage female audience with a penchant for day dreaming.

Volume Five contains another four chapters, seventeen to twenty, as well as the usual extras such as the honorifics, translation notes and a preview of Volume Six.

Chapter seventeen, The Revenge, and Hano is out for blood. The penny is finally dropping with Yaya that she is also Nana, but is not quite ready to accept this. As part of her revenge Hano offers to let Yaya out of her contract if she meets her later that night, but when Yaya does, she discovers that the only way she can do this is to play tag whilst dropping from a helicopter.

Well, like I said, a teenager with a helicopter really does move the book into the realms of fantasy, still...

Chapter eighteen, Dogfight in Midair, and Hano's hope that the stress of a mid-air fight would bring forth Nana is fulfilled but when things go wrong Hano has to rely on Nana's help before she crashes to the earth. The whole of this chapter is one extended fall through the sky, whilst the girls fight over the contract, funny in places but the length of the chapter does make you think that they would have hit the ground before they could get all the action done.

Chapter nineteen, Nana vs. the Enemy of all Women, and Yaya, rather graphically, gets her bottom felt up on a train and suspicion falls on two men. The first is Yoshio Yamada, a middle age, slightly dumpy unemployed man, who the police immediately suspect. The other is Senji Kasuda, the young and good looking son of the Cabinet Minister for Disaster Prevention. Satomi uses the chapter to not only highlight that a molester does not have to conform to a stereotype - the young guy did it - but also to show that such values are often passed on from father to son. Nana finally confronts the father of Senji, only to discover that not only does he condone his sons behaviour, but is also willing to use his position to protect his son. Corruption breeds corruption.

Ok, last chapter, The Odd Relationship, and it must be time to get back to the love interest, Moriyama. At one of his gigs Yaya is accosted but a couple of men when a new girl comes to the rescue. Although Yaya gets to spend some quality time with Moriyama it ends with the new girl turning up and throwing her arms around him.

Well another cliff hanger to end on. In the end, the volume provides a nice mix between social comment, romance and fantasy.

Charles Packer

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