Hello friends! It’s me, your local fujoshi, once again here to recommend to you a BL she’s finished reading. I ran a poll between Twilight Out of Focus and Paint Love and the Colors Will Bloom two days ago. You could say this wasn’t a fair game considering Jyanome is very well-known, pointing out how anticipated their translated works were among the English-reading community and you’d be right. I want to add Paint Love put up a great fight, and I eventually review titles that I loved anyway so can we even say there’s a real winner here? I thought so. Before I start making things about me, let’s swiftly move onto the review.
Title: Twilight Out of Focus
Author & Artist: Jyanome
Status: Complete with 1 volume, however has a sequel doujin and a spin-off.
Where to read: You can find platform options on Kodansha’s website.
Three promises to ensure a comfortable co-habitation in the dorm room Mao and Hisashi share: Mao will not disclose Hisashi is gay and has a boyfriend, Hisashi will never see Mao as a love interest, and they’ll give each other some privacy when the other wants to masturbate and come up with a signal. Seal the deal by declaring in front of a recording camera, and that’s it. Why camera, you ask? Mao can’t lie in front of a camera, ever. His interest extends to being active in the film club, and they are currently filming a 30-minute-long BL story between a delinquent and the committee president.
Ichikawa, the student who wrote the screenplay has his eyes on one student to act as the delinquent, and one student only: Hisashi. Since Mao is rooming with Hisashi, the members leave the talking to him. While he’s hesitant to ask Hisashi in fear of him wrongfully assuming that Mao outed him in the club and eventually decides against casting him, he comes to find Hisashi in the club room with the script in his hands.
Twilight Out of Focus is Jyanome sensei’s English market debut. In Japan, though, it’s his 9th published work. I was definitely not surprised considering how refined and polished the series was, especially visually. There are elements that I was insanely fond of and some others I wasn’t that fond of and I’ll try my best to paint a fair picture. Let’s go!
One important component of the story that contributed greatly to my engagement was the film club members themselves. They are a very colorful, lively bunch. They don’t blend into the background, are memorable, and become an indispensable part of the narrative. Ichikawa, the scriptwriter/director even has his own sequel Zanzou Slow Motion. I’m ecstatic hearing this because he was my favorite among the whole cast. Of course, the focus on romance is great, that’s the main reason why we’re reading BL anyway. However, when the main characters have a charming circle of friends and chemistry in between, as we see in Sasaki and Miyano in this season for example, that web of relationships delivers a depth other romantic tropes alone can’t provide.
Then, there’s the narration. The writing in this series, and judging from how smoothly it flows the translation as well, is beautiful. It’s not there solely for us to catch a glimpse of what the characters are thinking, but also written in a way that highlights the emotional turbulence they are going through. And that enables the reader to be able to intimately connect with the story.
I wanted to save the visuals for last because that was the most stunning part about this manga and where the masterful touch of the artist shows itself. From the paneling to interesting angles we see the characters from, to transitions to backgrounds, I often found myself stopping to fully take in the carefully planned and beautifully executed pages, immersing myself in the atmosphere. Most of my reading experience with this series was very much like watching a movie.
Every detail on those pages has their own place and purpose, from characters to everyday objects. One glance at Mao and Hisashi sitting in front of the camera on the third page, and you can figure out their characteristics at the snap of a finger. The way they wear their uniforms, the way they sit, the difference in the way they hold the plushies on their lap, their socks; these details instantly build up the characters. Even when there is an ensemble of characters or a swarm of equipment they use for filming, never once the panels look cluttered and the reader’s gaze easily follows the flow. As you might guess from the layout of my blog, I personally prefer designs that aren’t crowded and are easy to take in with a single glance. In that sense, this manga was a great pleasure to read.
“But!!” you might say, “You mentioned you had some things you weren’t that happy about and all you did was talk about the good stuff,”. Looking back at my notes, the questions that I find myself asking a lot nowadays are less about this manga specifically, and more about the genre. Hence, it didn’t feel quite fitting to dump all that here under the review. I’ll write another post that’ll be up tomorrow, but before I can say I wholeheartedly recommend Twilight Out of Focus, I have to mention that it briefly depicts a relationship between a minor and an adult.
The questions that I grapple with aside, I highly enjoyed this volume. When I sit down to read manga, I tend to finish a volume at the least unless there’s something I have to attend to. However, that doesn’t mean I read everything with the same level of attention. Twilight Out of Focus managed to charm an attention-deficit person like me and the next thing I knew I was turning the pages with enthusiasm and expectation even though I could guess how the plot was going to unfold. If you think the points I made would work for you as well and you’re interested in reading a candid, beautifully-depicted high school romance with a delightful cast, then you should definitely give Jyanome’s work a chance. The first chapter is free to read on Kodansha’s website!
As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts whether you’ve already read it or you might be willing to pick it up. Let me know either in the comments or over at my Twitter and have a nice weekend!
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4 Replies to “TWILIGHT OUT OF FOCUS REVIEW”
Wow, I loved the highly detailed review! The manga sounds really interesting, and quite complex. I can see how the situation would make Hisashi and Mao’s relationship really complicated.
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Thank you for reading! The story really is presented beautifully and i enjoyed it quite a bit ^^
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