Graineliers, Vol. 1

By Rihito Takarai. Released in Japan as “Grainerie” by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine GFantasy. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.

There are some series with a complex plot and deep, developing characterization, and then there are those series that want to get along just by style or mood. Graineliers definitely feels like one of the latter, and fortunately it’s very good at portraying the style and mood to keep a reader turning the pages. The author has mostly done BL series before, and in fact is well known here for the series Ten Count and Only the Flower Knows, but this is not a romance work. Instead it’s (I know, try to contain your surprise) something of a supernatural thriller (GASP!)set in a world where plant seeds can given superpowers of a sort… well, honestly, it seems more like a curse than anything else. In this world we have our handsome and tortured hero, who is seen on the cover baring his chest to show off that instead of manly, virile chest hair he has manly, virile plant roots growing there.

The cast is pretty likable. Luca is our cover boy, who actually becomes a cover man after escaping from the coma being exposed to a seed puts him in. He’s curious but sensible, and it’s actually his father’s experiments that lead to the plot going forward. His friend Abel (the traditional handsome blond to be the best friend of the hero brunet, though there’s no shoujo heroine here, and in fact GFantasy straddles the line between the two genres) rescues and hides him, and finds after he awakens that he now has some characteristics of plant life, including apparently just needing water. Unfortunately, the vaguely evil government is not likely to look kindly on this, so Luca has to hide his features. He’s also not alone, as a cute young girl trying to help her beloved grandfather turns out to share a similar fate, in what’s probably the big “startle” panel of the volume.

It’s always hard for me to review books like these, where nothing really wowed me but there are no crippling flaws either. It’s a solid, readable manga that knows what its fans want to read and gives it to them. Luca and Abel are close and slashable, but can also be read as regular old best friends. For the most part the book is fairly serious, though there was an amusing joke at the end that surprised me, mostly as I wasn’t expecting anything of the sort. There’s also a fair bit on the seeds that this world contains, and why the government might be trying to suppress knowledge of them. Basically, it’s the first fifty pages of a mystery, setting things up but hard to read on its own.

But the setup is good, and leaves you wanting to see what happens next. That said, we’re almost caught up with Japan already, and after Vol. 2 drops early next year there may be a bit of a wait. Definitely a series to grab if you like mystery with a dash of fantasy and a heaping teaspoon of pretty boys.

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