Thursday, March 10, 2005

Doubt! Volume 1
Kaneyoshi Izumi
VIZ LLC, 192 Pages, $9.95

Doubt! follows a young girl named Ai Maekawa, who starts off as a rather dull, average looking girl who gets caught wearing panties with a cartoon character on them by popular but snobby junior high school girl.

The girl uses this info to make Ai's life hell in junior high. Yet as she moves to a new high school where no one knows her. Ai sets out to reinvent herself as a hot, popular girl that everyone will love.

This seems to work to great effect, until the snobby girl that knows her secret transfers to the new school. Yet that's when the story really begins to go places.

There are more manga series about teens in high school then can ever be read by one person. So in order to stand out there has to be something unique or special about a series, or else it is likely to get lost in the shuffle very easily.

Doubt! makes that cut for me, because it capture the absurdity and at times superficial nature of teenage life so well. It is a time when looks and popularity are the most important things to a person, and when one embarrassing moment can seem like an end of the world moment that will ruin the kid's life forever.

The look into what makes someone popular, even snotty at times, and why people would want to be like that is interesting. Especially in its ability to turn characters that would typically be "the bad guys" in most stories and make them the heroes instead.

The art is very clean and emotive, with facial expressions perfectly captured so that wordless pages still show emotion perfectly to the reader.

While the book take a very light approach, there are serious subjects broached underneath. Ai's friend Mina knows only one way to show affection for a boy she likes, which is to offer him sexual favors. She seems unable to grasp why he turns her down, as she doesn't have the knowledge of how to interact with him in any other way.

While played mainly for comedy here, as the boy continuously fights her advances off, it is something I have seen in real life. With both men and women or boys and girls seeing love or affection only in terms of sex.

I'm really looking forward to volume 2 to see where it goes next, as unlike other series, it doesn't have any set path for it to take next yet. Which means anything is possible.

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