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Gravitation: Volume 1 by Maki Murakami

Title Gravitation: Volume 1
Author Maki Murakami
Publisher TokyoPop
Year 2003
ISBN-10 1591823331

Teaser/Reader Annotation Becoming a rock star is not easy: the teenaged Shuichi Shindou finds this out the hard way. Can his band overcome the obstacles and reach stardom?

Plot Summary The first volume in the twelve-part manga series Gravitation introduces readers to the character Shuichi Shindou and his band, Bad Luck. Shuichi is determined to become the next big Japanese star and fill the void left by the retirement of his favorite band, Nittle Grasper. Though the group were once legendary stars, they disbanded and the lead singer – Shuichi's idol - Ryuichi Sakuma left for a performance contract in America. As Shuichi is walking through the park one evening the lyric sheet to the song he was working on is blown out of his hands to land at the feet of a mysterious figure. The man, later revealed to be popular novelist Eiri Yuki, calls them garbage. While Shuichi is deeply hurt by this it serves to inspire him to work harder, as well as ignites a deep fascination for the sharp-tongued writer. Shuichi is now more determined than ever to reach stardom, but there are many trials and tribulations on the road to the top.

Critical Evaluation This is a quirky manga featuring over-the-top, often slap-stick, humor that quite obviously does not take itself seriously. The random appearance of the characters in cosplay costumes, explosive nosebleeds, and massive overreactions will have readers laughing out loud and questioning the mangaka's sanity. The manga also has a serious side to it, however, and a depth to the character relationships that is compelling and draws readers in past the often insane situations and dramatic plot developments. While this off-the-wall humor might not be for everyone, the biggest love-it-or-hate-it critique for this manga lays within the art itself. Many of the panels look hastily drawn, some appearing to be sketches thrown in without finalization. Though it could be said that it was purposefully drawn like this to add to the frenzied feel of the story, the manga could definitely have been improved with a cleaner look to the artwork. Gravitation is not deep or meaningful reading, but it is enjoyable for a quick, light read.

About the Author Maki Murakami was born March 24 in Hokkaido, Japan. There is very little known about her personal life as she prefers to remain more private than other Japanese mangaka. The twelve-volume series Gravitation is her most popular work and has a spin-off series called Gravitation EX that began publication in 2007. There is currently one volume of this continuation available in English and five available in Japanese.

Murakami has published other works outside of the Gravitation world, but none of them have been as successful. She is also a dojinshi artist who has released several self-published dojinshi by her circle Crocodile Avenue. One of the unique points about this is that she has released dojinshi based off her own works such as Gravitation Remix 1-12 and Kanpai! DJ: Unapai.

Primary Genre Manga

Secondary Genre Comedy/Romance

Curriculum Ties Music

Booktalking Ideas

1) What types of songs would you write if you were trying to break into the music business?

2) Yuki tries to project himself as cold and uncaring. What actions give away a deeper side to him? Would you be able to see these if you were directly in the situation? Discuss.

Reading Level/Interest Age Grade 9+

Challenge Issues Non-explicit Homosexuality

1) Become familiar with book and its content.
2) Refer to library's collection policies.
3) Refer to reviews from School Library Journal, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles.
4) Get reviews from teenagers who are familiar with the book.
5) Refer to the ALA Library Bill of Rights.

Why is it included? This is a very popular manga with young adults.