Volume 7

Author: Satomi Ikezawa
Artist: Satomi Ikezawa
RRP: £6.99, US $10.95
ISBN: 978 0 009 51035 2
Ages: 16+
Available 01 November 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 friends 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 at last we come to the last book of Othello, Volume 7, by Satomi Ikezawa and the final wrapping up of the stories threads. The story picks up from where Volume 6 left off. Both Yaya and Nana (though they are the same person) get the opportunity to sing in a rock festival; however it soon becomes obvious that each girl on her own is not enough. Nana rocks hard yet does not have the sweet naivety which Yaya can bring to songs. It would seem that only if the two halves of Yaya's personality unite will the performance be a success.

The idea of ying and yang, and the duality of personality, is a theme which is returned to time and time again in Othello; the basic premise that no matter what we would wish, we cannot live at the two extreme poles of forceful aggression - though this would have its temptations in allowing us to get what we want - or saccharine sweet sentimentality. The question then is, do Nana and Yaya find a way to coexist? I'm pretty sure you can guess the answer, but I'll not spoil the bittersweet ending for you, except to say that the final resolution is well executed.

Overall, I have been very impressed with this series. Okay, so not all of the events added to the greater whole, and some of the stuff in the middle books seems, in retrospect, a little more like padding. However, the themes and subjects were a brave choice for a mainstream manga - definitely a step up from Ikezawa's previous work and she almost completely pulls it off. I suspect that the story is mostly aimed at young girls and this is a shame as its story of teenage alienation would be just as relevant to boys.

Overall the quality of the artwork was maintained throughout the seven book run, Ikezawa has a clean style which is able to portray both the quite intimate moments as well as the dynamism of a rock concert. I look forward to reading her next manga.

Charles Packer

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