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Title:
 Gravitation - The Novel 

Distributor: Tokyopop

Author: Jun Lennon Artist: Maki Murakami

Suggested Retail Price (SRP): 4.99

Number of Pages: 214  

ISBN: 1598164449 

Reviewed: 25th November 2006

Reviewer: Tom (Webmaster)

 

Shuichi Shindo should be happy.  He is the lead singer of upcoming pop group Bad Luck with his best friend on the verge of success and is shacked up with his boyfriend, famous romance novelist Eiri Yuki.  Why would he be unhappy?  Well he just thinks he is unhappy.  This is a romance novel aimed at teens after all. 

The plot of this short novel focuses on the constant worrying by Shuichi that the cold workaholic Yuki will never say those three magic words 'I love you' and if the band can survive sabotage from rival band Ask, which involves posting secrets on the internet and idiotic pranks.  Add into the mix a range of colourful OTT characters who provide some comic relief and that is Gravitation in a nutshell - a very simplistic plot, no depth and little else. 

The number of negatives that can be contributed to this novel are numerous.  First and foremost is the complete lack of character exploration.  The reader only really gets a feel for Shuichi's character and not the far more interesting Yuki.  Shuichi constantly whines about the same matter over and over and that is Yuki's coldness and lack of communication which lasts the entire breath of the novel.  I found this particularly patronising as it quite clear within a few pages that Yuki loves Shuichi, but it is just not in his nature to state it as he is the typical typecast hunk which so often appears in romance novels.  Instead of focusing solely on Shuichi's grousing it would have been far more interesting to given some background story of just a hint of development for Yuki, rather then portraying as some kind of dark stranger.  He is not stranger - they are a couple!  Even the stupid Shuichi would not move in somebody he knows so little about. 

Other negatives that real effect the novel are the dialogue, OTT situations and the speed in which problems are solved.  The over-the-top situations are mainly caused by the character K - the gun-toting manager of the band.  When K first arrives it is by falling through the ceiling as he looking for spy equipment which could be used against the band.  In the manga or anime versions of Gravitation this would work fine as strong visual comedic element often do, but in the novel it just come across as unrealistic and stupid.  The gunplay of K later in novel as much the same effect, as well as the arrival of Shuichi to a music festival.  It was so stupid it was difficult to keep reading. 

The dialogue, even by romance standards, is cringe worthy.  I have always been quite partial to romantic stories but Gravitation nearly did make me throw up in several places.  I cannot bring myself to quote any, but suffice to say if you thought the dialogue in Titanic was cheesy then you will really really hate Gravitation.  Many of the 'he looked like an angel' lines are lazy writing at best and the character descriptions are just as bad.  The novel assumes that you would have either read the manga or seen the anime so either very briefly describes a character's appearance or not at all.  Granted, there is a character gallery but this is in black and white and does not give enough detail.  Only Shuichi and Yuki and adequately described in the novel itself where as the rest are skimmed over, but this is no bad thing as the other characters are incredibly uninteresting anyway.  There is Shuichi's best friend Hiroshi who has a mother which disapproves of his involvement in the band and err..well that's about it for his character.  There is Suguru, a genius keyboardist who has been brought into the band to give it a more professional outlook and well, that's it again for his character.  It is not worth even mentioning the rest as they are so one-dimensional and only in the novel for one purpose it is just painful. 

The shortness of this novel is criminal as well.  Why it was made so short I will never know as there is so much more that could be added to the characters, particularly Yuki.  The only clue to his life other then that with Shuichi is the appearance of his brother Tatsuha, but he just turns out to be obsessed with pop idol which Shuichi has sung with.  Tatsuha adds nothing to the story at all and gives no clues to Yuki's past.  An utter waste. 

It is difficult to draw any positives from Gravitation.  The comedy elements can be funny but they only made me feel that I would be better off reading the manga, as a visual interpretation of the OTT comedy would work much better then in text. 

I found Gravitation to be one of the most uninteresting and lacklustre novels I have ever read.  Granted I may not be the young teenage girl which this novel is aimed at, but then romance is a subject anyone can relate to no matter what their age or gender.  Gravitation is just far too simplistic in its tone, subject matter and dialogue to be anything other then patronizing.  The prologue did show some potential with the relationship between Shuichi and Yuki but it threw it away very quickly after about six pages.  The other 208 pages should be recycled as soon as possible and used for declarations of war, Danish cartoons or notes for the next Michael Bay film, anything but this. 

Extras:

A range of adverts for other teen manga and novels from Tokyopop and an advert for the American website, even though this is a UK release.  Other then that there is a gallery of the cast featuring their manga interpretations and a few illustrations throughout the novel. 

Ratings

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