I had pretty high hopes when ordering this first volume of Double. The story struck me as unusual. It’s this genre that is a little like Sports! in that the main focus is about practicing and perfecting a skill but there are no actual sports in it. The only other example that comes to mind is Blue Period.
Since I really liked Blue Period and Double has some elements that are even harder to find, I figure this would likely be my sort of manga. The cover art stood out as well!
Why I Picked up Double
I actually just spelled it out. Let me be a bit more precise though, I like the art style of the cover but what really drew me in is the colours. It looks a little like it’s an oil painting. That’s really not something I see a lot. And it’s a bit of a risk since it’s a very different look from a lot of other manga that come in. It gave me the idea that maybe Double was not necessarily aimed at a wide manga audience.
Oh. I also did a thing I should do more often. I quickly looked it up on AniList. It’s got an 84% rating. That’s pretty high. I was excited!
Scatterbrained Takara Takarada is an undiscovered genius actor who fully embodies every character he’s cast as, delivering unforgettable performance after performance onstage. But this genius can only be brought forth by his best friend and fellow actor, Yuuji Kamojima, who cares for Takara even as he envies him for his innate talent.
When it takes the two of them together to bring a character to life, what will happen when Takara is scouted away from their small-time theater troupe and thrust into the new world of television instead? Can Takara survive without Yuuji’s guidance… and how does Yuuji respond to being left behind?
My First Impression
Oh wow, I don’t think I’ve seen quite as much banter in manga form before.
What I liked
I did like the banter. The dialogue is written in such a natural way that it totally sounds like you’re eavesdropping on real people. They talk over each other occasionally or the conversation wanders off in some odd direction. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such realistic feeling dialogue in writing.
And actually, I liked a lot about it. I keep using the word realistic, let’s crack open the old thesaurus. Double follows two small-time actors who are trying to break into the business. And you know, for a lot of actors, including Takara and Yuujin, that doesn’t necessarily mean having your name on billboards. It means being able to quit all your part-time jobs and still have a modest standard of living. So we get to see the world of show business but from the bottom.
But these two aren’t the traditional ingenues we see in these types of stories. They are both men in their thirties. They do mention in the book that Takara is good looking but it’s not like people swoon over him. These are just very regular guys working in a field with a very high barrier of entry. And even in just one volume, I had the feeling that I got a very good look at what being a professional actor in Japan must be like for the great majority of them.
In this volume, we follow Takara who has just gotten a one-episode guest spot on an evening drama. It’s his first time doing anything for television so he struggles a bit. But the story also strongly centers on Takara and Yuujin’s friendship. It’s an odd sort of relationship. Takara is an airhead and is quick to rely on others so throughout the seven years they have known each other, he’s become almost completely reliant on Yuujin. And Yuujin doesn’t mind. He believes Takara to be a genius and is happy to play what part he can to help him become “the best actor in the world”.
The thing is, Yuujin is an actor too. One that also wants to be the best actor in the world. He feels the draw of the stage and the allure of the audience just as much as the next guy. Possible more than Takara in fact. But he has put his own career on the backburner to help his friend. There’s bound to be some bitterness there… maybe.
In the first volume, I couldn’t find much to complain about. There were some things that could be trouble in the future though.
However, let me say this right off the bat, Double is a very good manga so far but it is most definitely not for everyone. This down-to-earth aspect that I like so much is a double-edged sword. Because it’s so natural, it’s neither a drama nor really a comedy as real-life tends towards a sort of neutral middle ground between the two. When they are not acting, Takara is a nice guy but a bit spacey and Yuujin is a slightly sarcastic straight man. They aren’t bigger than life figures or exceptional in any way. You probably know guys like this.
And it’s the same for the plot. At least so far. It’s not special. I personally love a well-written tale of the mundane. It’s one of the things I love the most in fiction. But that’s definitely not the case for the average manga audience. Or at least I assume so judging by the popularity of fantasy fiction. Even slice-of-life manga tends to feature exaggerated characters that you would never meet in real life. And that’s not the case for Double at all.
The same can be said for the art style. I liked it, I thought it was striking and just good. And I can easily see someone else think it’s kind of ugly. Or not manga-ey enough.
To my mind, although these were elements that made me enjoy the book more, I can see it doing the opposite for someone else. Especially if you’re not in the mood for this type of story.
Even the banter I praised, can come off as aimless or confusing. And that’s because it is a little aimless at times and when they start talking over each other or wandering off-topic, it can be confusing to know what the heck they are on about. If this is likely to annoy you, then you won’t have a good time with Double.
This happens to me a lot while I’m reading manga. I get the feeling that I would like it more as an anime. But it was particularly strong when I was reading Double. I really enjoyed it, I want to read more but I really want to watch it. That dialogue would shine on-screen…almost like it was written to be acted out!
I found out that a live-action series based on Double is scheduled. I understand why they went that way, like I said an unreasonable amount of times in this review, it’s a very realistic story. There is no barrier to adapting it to live-action and I’m sure it would work well. If anything I thought the actors chosen as the leads might be a bit too pretty. Not a common gripe I have for manga live-action adaptations.
But I like anime so I still really want them to do an anime version as well. Pretty please?