- Mangaka : Noda, Ayako
- Publisher : TokyoPop
- Genre : Drama, Psychological, Seinen
- Published : January 2022
Acting is not a topic that is usually covered by a printed storytelling medium like manga. That being said, we've seen a couple of good titles that talk about this topic in recent years, such as Oshi no Ko and Act-Age. Both offer an interesting look into the world of actors, but unfortunately the former has yet to receive love from any English publications while the latter was discontinued due to a very disturbing and depressing reason.
Thankfully, the winner of the excellence award of the 23rd Japan Media Arts happens to be another manga that talks deeply about actors and acting, and it is also available on this side of the pond. So on this occasion, let us dive into a manga called Double by Ayako Noda.
Takara Takarada and Yuujin Kamoshima are best friends and fellow actors who aspire to be the best actors in the world. But Yuujin knows from early on that that dream is better suited to his prodigious best friend Takara because, when it comes to acting, Takara can easily lose himself and construct a new persona based on what the scripts dictate.
Unfortunately, Takara is also a scatter-brained person who can't do anything right in his daily life. He can't even wake up on time for rehearsal. Letting such a bright star that is filled with boundless potential be buried in obscurity would be a disservice to the world. That's why Yuujin decides to do whatever he can to support Takara, the one who he believes can actually make their dream come true. This is the story of their perilous journey into stardom.
1. Character-Driven Story
Other than the aforementioned goal of becoming the best actor, the story of Double is driven solely through character development and interactions. The characters Takara and Yuujin stumble upon and the choices that they make decide the overall development of the story.
The most obvious example of this concept is when Takara is forced by Yuujin to accept the offer from the Flat Entertainment Agency, which leads to him starring in a small TV production where he meets the lead actor Tsukumo Todoroki, who ends up encouraging Takara to audition for a role in a movie by a famous director.
The characters may look like they simply go with the flow, but their decisions are actually what shape the entire progression of the story. That is what makes Double feel so organic and relatable at the same time.
2. Cinematic Composition
Manga tells its story through panels that go from right to left and top to bottom. It is up to each mangaka to create the layout that they think can best represent the story. For the most part, Noda-sensei creates her layout in a traditional grid of squares while she draws the characters mostly front-facing to the reader, just like any other manga.
But whenever Takara acts in front of the camera, such as during his work on TV series, the compositions of both the panels and the illustrations change drastically. The panels become almost exclusively landscape mode while the illustrations within them become much more dynamic.
In one scene, Noda-sensei draws Takara, who is sitting and talking at a table with Tsukumo, at a tilted angle. There's a sudden zoom in on his hand gestures, there's an emphasis on their expressions, and when the scene reaches its climax, the camera pulls back a little bit to reveal Takara's sudden movement. Noda-sensei purposely uses highly cinematic compositions during the actual acting parts so that it seems as if we’re seeing it through the lens of a camera.
1. Stylistic Artwork
Double is a seinen manga, which means the characters and the world are drawn in a realistic manner. That being said, Noda-sensei is known as a creator for josei manga and the distinctive art style from that genre bleeds a lot into this manga.
The people in this manga have slender bodies and limbs and are often drawn either in solitude or in a room packed with people. Not to mention that there are lots of close-up shots of their faces as well. To compare it with another recent manga, the art style is highly reminiscent of Hirako Waka's My Broken Mariko, one of the best josei manga ever created.
It won't be a problem for most people; as a matter of fact, we like the art style quite a bit. But some people have certain preferences when it comes to the art style of the manga that they're willing to pick up, and that is perfectly fine. Just remember to look at the Kindle preview pages first before buying to see if you like the style.
Double offers a lot of great things, both in terms of the art and the story. If you like a slice-of-life drama that is filled with hearts and emotions, then you'll have a wonderful experience reading Double in one sitting.
There are things that are worth looking into before you pick it up, such as the aforementioned art style. But that is more of an individual preference rather than a negative point. This manga has a lot of potential and we are truly looking forward to reading the subsequent volumes.
With that being said, will you read this manga? Or maybe you have read Double and have a different opinion about it? Let us know in the comment section below.