Hey everyone, did you miss me? I can hear your enthusiastic cheers all the way across! And I missed you too. This week was fun in the blogosphere; for the first time, I had a guest, Moya, on my blog. Also, Scott’s Yes, No, or Maybe review reminded me I should rewatch the movie sometime. People in my small circle are either seasoned BL fans, or they don’t engage with the genre at all. And it was fun to read a take from someone who’s getting into it.
This week I’ll be talking about an artist who doesn’t solely work on BL, similar to Kumota Haruko or Ono Natsume. It’s been a while since Give Me a Nickname was licensed and it suddenly popped into my head when I was thinking of what to write on. Hopefully, it’ll be of interest to some of you.
Title: Give Me a Nickname
Author & Artist: Niboshiko Arai (Ayako Noda)
Status: Completed, 1 volume.
Where to read: On Futekiya!
Amou and José are different. Technically, everyone is different, but these two are, in a sense, inverted versions of one another. Amou is a manga artist who’s just a name to the public to the point that people speculate he’s a woman, contrary to the model José whose face is plastered all over the magazines and billboards. They are both famous. However, while Amou’s inner world finds shape in his works and can be read by everyone, José’s past and character are shrouded by mystery. And what’s more, they are roommates.
Amou spends most of his days holed up in his room working. José is more of a free spirit and goes in and out of the house whenever he wants, with whoever he wants. With one exception: he isn’t allowed to enter Amou’s room, ever. Shortly after a colleague of José, Tsurugi, starts living with them temporarily. At first, through Tsurugi, then through their revealed pasts, we finally get to know the nature of Amou and José’s relationship. Are they just roommates? What about the rumors of José dating a man? What’s Amou hiding in his workroom that José isn’t allowed to see?
After last week’s pick, I’m continuing with another artist I’m keeping my eyes on. They publish their BL series under the pen name Niboshiko Arai and the seinen series under Ayako Noda, Double being licensed by TokyoPop. I’ve read all three of the BL works released under Futekiya, and all of them are pretty unique, not to mention captivating. I’ll also read Double sometime soon.
I find myself talking about tension in manga a lot nowadays, and Niboshiko Arai’s works are fine examples of carrying the interpersonal tension throughout the volume. What’s better is that the suspense not only is carried with words but also through panel layouts, close-up expressions, and silences. There are times where you flip at least 3-4 pages with only onomatopoeia or the only focus is their intense gazes, sensual touches, or caresses. There’s certainly a cinematic side to Give Me a Nickname; I can easily picture myself coming across an indie movie at a festival with the same topic and a similar execution in visual narrative.
The topic at hand, when you boil it down, isn’t revolutionary or unique. It’s about keeping up appearances, how one is perceived by the other vs. how one sees themselves, the frustration that accompanies the dissonance in between, and the effects it has on your relationship with the other. However, Niboshiko crafts a beautiful story out of the topic at hand, I also think the marvelous art style plays an important role in its uniqueness. I tried my hardest not to spoil anything and do the series justice, but eventually, I think Give Me a Nickname is a manga that should be experienced personally, given the premise is interesting enough.
To sum the post up, I wholeheartedly recommend Give Me a Nickname both for its art style and the execution of a topic that otherwise could be considered generic. It has good pacing and characterization. If you’re looking for a single-volume, completed series and the points I highlighted above work for you, you should just go for it. This is all I have planned to say and tomorrow I’ll be back with my second watchalog for Argento Soma. Until then, be kind to yourself!
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