Shuichi Shindou is determined to take his band Bad Luck to the top of the Japanese pop charts. With his drive, talent, and satiny singing voice, he just might stand a chance. But Fate throws a wrench into his well-oiled machine in the form of a handsome stranger named Yuki, a romance writer with an attitude. Yuki is Shuichi's biggest critic, but as the two young artists gravitate towards each other, friendship, and perhaps something more, is sure to blossom.
I strongly recommend watching the series before reading the manga for the following reason:
The story. Due to Murukami Maki’s rather undeveloped art at the beginning of the series it had also hindered the flow of the story telling; so it is rather difficult to understand or get into the story. From own experience, I had tried to read it first but the art had threw me off completely and I dropped it after the 2nd chapter.
Now, onto the review...
Gravitation is often called the gateway to the shounen-ai genre because of its appeal. What separates this from every other of its genre is
its diversity. For once it does not focus solely on the character’s (in this case Eiri’s and Shuichi’s) relationship but on everything going on around them – the side characters, the music, their careers, them as an individual and most of all – the gags.
Comedy is the widest appeal this manga has, and it does a good job giving laughs to the reader. Most of the comedy relies on over-the-top shenanigans, references to the music industry (such as N-Sync) or sexual innuendo. Another thing that it makes it so approachable is the lack of typical lovey-dovey or corny scenes. If there are any present, it is usually used as a gag itself as Murakami mocks this for the reader’s enjoyment.
The first few volumes’ art is - to put it bluntly - quite horrendous. As previously stated, it’s enough to repel readers, and the story-telling is sloppy. However, readers see a drastic change in art during the latter of series and it first becomes noticeable around volume 6. Murakami also introduces a neat way of using panels to better the flow of the story telling. Although ultimately her art has changed for the better I wasn’t too keen on the new character design for Shuichi. One of the good points of Gravitation at the beginning was Shuichi’s more masculine physique, but as the story progresses Shuichi becomes shorter and eventually has a physique that downplays readers imaginations (for either better or worse, up to the reader really) so in the end, he would fit the stereotypical uke.
The cast of Gravitation all play significant roles in the story – whether it is to meddle, to be the shoulder to cry on or part of the past, they all have more or less something to give, again giving this the sort of edge that other shounen-ai’s don’t have.
I find it unrealistic how every accepts Shuichi’s and Eiri’s relationship; but then again a manager who uses a gun for persuasion and a giant robot panda chasing Shuichi through New York isn’t exactly realistic either.
All of Gravitation has been licensed under Tokyopop, who has done a spectacular job at translating. However the first couple of translated volumes may cause some to cringe with their attempt of using ‘hip’ phrases; often backfiring by employing tacky lines such as “take a chill pill”. Fortunately it gets better along the way, and I appreciate how they make it appeal to Western audiences by using our entertainment industry like MTV (“Oh, I get it I’m on Punk’d. Where’s Ashton?”)
Both versions of Gravitation are light-hearted, filled with humour and entertaining. The manga does make you appreciate how well the producers of the anime adapted it - it’s one of the best adaptations of a manga I’ve seen in fact. And the manga has got to have the silliest content I have ever read - but it’s the stupid shenanigans that make me laugh so much.
Gravitation to me feels to be a bit of a hit or miss. Some anime and manga fans love it, and some of them do not appreciate it. For me I was a bit skeptical upon purchasing it. Although I wanted to broaden my horizons in the realm of shounen-ai I couldn't help but wonder if it was worth it. As the story started out I found myself curious as to how a music based manga would end. So I bought the first two volumes and had a go at it. I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with Murakami-san's ability to create an
engaging story. My skepticism started first with the quality of the art. It wasn't all I was hoping for but, as the volumes go on the art gets better.
Another aspect that had me hooked were the characters. Each person is distinct in his or her own way. Their personalities are so vastly different, and yet when they interact it gives us a treat. Shuichi's over the top personality, Yuki's sober one, Tatsuha's obessive streak, Tohma's darker side, Sakano's spazz attacks. All of it was so intriguing, and I was surprised how they all meshed with one another. If I had to recommend a series to dip your feet in the water for the newbie shounen-ai fans, this would be it right here.
Prepare for a long review, and my very first review! I've read the entire Gravitation series three times and so I find it only more than perfect to review this!
Now, let's get started...
Gravitation is a story about a young man by the name of, Shindou Shuichi. Shuichi is overly passionate music fanatic who dreams of becoming as great as his beloved idol, Ryuichi Sakuma. By starting a band with his best friend, Hiro Nakano (guitarist), Shuichi is now ready and determined as ever to become a rock star and show the world his music, voice, and lyrics. But, by fate he meets a man
by the name of Eiri Yuki who harshly criticizes his lyrics and puts the young musician in his place. Shuichi, unable to get the mysterious man and his harsh words out of his mind, throws himself into Yuki's life. The force that brings them together is like gravity and they can't do a thing to stop it...
I found the story from the beginning to be very engaging, interesting, and thrown in with some great laugh out loud humor from Shuichi and his antics. I found the romance to be not too over the top and left you begging you for more. Though, as the series progressed the comedy began to go from funny to just down right crazy and over the top as 'mecha panda's, crazy Americans with guns, and Shuichi being a big cry baby and ruining any romantic moment to be a big killer for me. Though, both the journey and struggles of Shuichi with his music career were very realistic and well thought out.
Overall, I enjoyed it, I truly did. I was pleased from Volume 1 to 12, some more than others...but still. The story of Shuichi's music journey with the industry was done very well and as was the romance. The only negatives being the occasionally over-the-top craziness and Shuichi's mood killers. This is a negative because he wasn't THAT dramatic in the beginning.
If you were to open Vol. 1 of Gravitation and lay it open besides an open page of Vol. 12 of Gravitation with no knowledge of the series...you would think they are two completely different series'. It's just that drastic. By Vol. 6 you should see the change. Also, I found Maki Murakami's art to be a bit sloppy at times. Another problem I had is that you may find yourself seeing that other characters look A LOT like other characters. It's hard to tell sometimes but that problem decreases as you become more familiar with the characters. Other than that, I found Maki Murakami's art style very appealing to the eyes and the dramatic facial expressions classic. On a side note, I personally enjoyed the older art style in the eariler volumes compared to the newer style.
I find the characters to be the main reason that makes Gravitation unforgetable, as the characters themselves are addicting. With a hyper, happy-go-lucky ball of energy like Shuichi, a stoic Yuki, a personality disorder lyrical genius Ryuchi, and many more that make Gravitation...Gravitation. The characters are what had me fall in love with the series. They are all so very likable and you are bound to find parts of yourself in one of them.
I was hooked from Vol. 1 to Vol. 12. I couldnt put it down. The humor was great and the interactions between characters was excellent. Never once did I think of dropping this manga. The story, characters, art...everything draws you in and has you hooked.
With a very good story and art, along with outstanding character and enjoyment, this manga is a must read.
This is a manga that is a shounen-ai classic and for any shounen-ai fan, a manga that all should read. So to those that are curious about this manga, please do take a chance to read this manga. The manga that will always have a special place in my heart.