The story happens in a circus in Paris in the 1970's. (...) Much is made of the romance of the circus atmosphere, of flying through the air on a trapeze, etc etc. Think cirque here, not circus. We're doing Old World riffs on the romance and tawdriness of the ring. There are no elephants in tutus walking on their hind legs; it's slit-eyed jugglers and daring death-loving trapeze artists and sad Pierrot clowns, even if the Pierrot clown - our hero, Torinosu, 'Bird's Nest' - has a false red nose. The tawdriness comes from the circus master pimping out his performers to anyone willing to pay. (...) And there's tanbi decadence - ghosts who wander into the action looking like teenaged girls even if they're the hero's brother, and abandoned neurotic women with a thing for inflicting pain, and buracon and possible murder and unspoken pining and a hero who looks about to perish at any moment from terminal angst.
It's very difficult to describe Copernicus no Kokyuu, or Copernicus' Breath. In an attempt to fully understand the story, I had to go back and read it twice. I had to analyze instead of just perusing the translated text like I usually do. It wasn't that it was confusing, it was... I don't want to sound cliché, but it was deep.
The story was about as well developed as it could be. Bird's Nest, the main character, worked as a pierrot clown in a french circus. It joins him on a journey. In this journey he meets very different people, making friends and perhaps enemies,
all trying to find himself, to pick up the pieces. The way I'm describing Copernicus no Kokyuu gives it no justice. In order to fully understand, I suppose, you need to read it for yourself.
The art is in a style unto itself. The characters resemble those in mangas/animes such as xxxHolic, somewhat. The bodies are lengthy, with vast legs and slender fingers, but the way the eyes are drawn is, to put it simply, amazing. The expression, "the eyes are the windows to the soul," could never be more fitting. Screams reflect in them, the dead cry out. I occasionally caught myself just staring. This manga is sexually explicit as some scenes between men and men and men and women. There are fetishes, there is yaoi, incest, and even plain sexual torture. Just a simple warning for those who would prefer not to experience that, but I would advise pushing through. It's worth it.
Copernicus no Kokyuu is under the psychological category. There is no better way to describe it. It show's the painful, passionate, sinful life of a beautiful french circus clown in the 70s as he is seeing his dead brother, visions of his trapeze past haunting him. His brother's desires reach him. The author/artist has captured a mood you very rarely find. A mood so expressive and out there that you feel as though the very drawings scream to you. It is fantastic, yet disturbing. You want to turn about, but you cannot.
I enjoyed this almost more than I have ever enjoyed anything. The art combined with the story, characters, the attitude of it all. It made a wild, tempting, almost scary manga. This is something I feel everyone should read. It goes through the stages of grief, in a way. Shock, pain, guilt, anger, depression, loneliness, desperation, then there is the turning point. The point where everything the changes. The peak. The emotions were raw and developed before our very eyes. I have reread this at least several times now and I find myself enjoying it more and more each time. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I quickly added it to the list of my favorites.
In short, I loved it. The art is gorgeous, the story is intense, the characters are raw, and it all added up in the end. It came together in a beautiful tie, though I do wish it could continue as a longer series. I would suggest this to those who can handle a bit more hardcore sexual scenes, those who would be able to handle yaoi, and those who would want something very different: something new and unexplored, just as I did.
Copernicus' Breath is an interesting manga dealing in contrasts. Life and death, beauty and filth. It tells the tale of a young man playing the part of a clown in a struggling circus. However, the truth behind it all is sordid. Performers are forced by the ringmaster to prostitute themselves, and are constantly degraded by the perverse acts they're made to do. They have turned their bodies into works of art, only to see them be abused. As the story progresses, the protagonist manages to free himself from the circus, at the cost of the ownership of his own body. Even when not his own
master, he seeks happiness wherever he can find it.
I had some trouble getting used to the art, but once I did, I found it gorgeous. It's definitely not to everyone's taste, but it does have its appeal. The circus performers are slender and graceful (their anatomy, though is just off enough to match the grotesque tone of the story), the performances beautiful. Despite all that apparent beauty on display though, readers are forced to confront rape, death and psychological trauma. There's not an inherent problem with this: rape, death and psychological trauma can be interesting subjects, especially when treated with delicacy. Delicacy being the key term here, and what this manga really lacks.
Some moments are particularly painful to witness. In one scene, a woman is sold by the ringmaster and forced to eat a cake covered in her own vomit and piss. I won't lie, my stomach turned. I nearly quit reading. The art gives beauty to it, but this isn't a scene that needs beauty. Rape succeeds the piss and vomit. Death succeeds rape. As events unfold, joy is shown to be a fleeting, fragile thing. Every sweet moment barely lasts before being crushed by some new tragedy. Certainly, one can say the author isn't shy, but she also has the delicacy of a hammer. Or perhaps, she's simply too fascinated by the darkness she's trying to show to take a step back from it.
This isn't to say that the story doesn't have its merits. It attempts to explore the both the relationship between life and death, and psychological trauma in a realistic manner. Its ending imbues the whole story with meaning. It's beautiful and atmospheric throughout thanks to a mix of the poetically written dialogue and the art. It's rife for analysis and thought. Still, I can't help but question. Was it worth trudging through all the filth to get to the good parts? I think it was, but I regret seeing so much of it. Life has its bad, but no matter who or where you are, it also has its sweet moments. I wish I'd seen that more of that here.
In the end, this is well worth a read if you have a taste for the twisted and want to see more mature themes get explored, but be warned it is greatly flawed.
I've read this manga a number of times, "Copernicus no Kokyuu" is an incredible psychological drama yaoi. I really hate to refer to this as a yaoi because it hardly has any of the characteristics of your typical yaoi, the only large factor is the gay sex scenes.There are various rape scenes in this manga which I always like to mention in a review because for the readers that are looking for a typical BL, this is not for you.
This manga is incredibly sad revolving around a character who is torn, a trapeze artist turned clown due to a fatal accident of his partner.
Through various scenes we see him have flashbacks, tormented by the past and he seems to be a husk of the person he was. Nakamura-san once again brings us through a depressing yet beautiful story of a young man who is so stuck in the past that he is hardly aware of how terrible his present situation is. There are moments of happiness in his life surrounding a juggler in the circus but we are brought back into a dark world when the ringleader uses his body and sells him to a man for sex. The up's and downs are non-stop and as a reader your heart is heavy for this poor soul, there is never a moment of uncertainty in this manga, Nakamura-sensei knows what she trying to accomplish amongst her audience. Again another story that will consume you page after page, in a dark, twisted, beautiful world she has created.