Manga Review: Wild Rock

"I prayed that my children would never have to wash away their lies in torrents of their tears.  And I prayed... that every one of them would feel joy when the sun rises." - Yuni

"Wild Rock" is a one volume manga set in prehistoric times that centers on two connected couples.  The first part of the book focuses on the love story between Emba and Yuuen, two young men from enemy clans.  Yuuen was a small and physically weak young man who, by his own admission, was of no use to the hunting party.  Emba, on the other hand, was a very strong and competent hunter who was able to provide very well for his clan.  If the East Forest Clan had any hope of gaining hunting territory over the Lakeside Clan, something was going to need to be done.  Yuni, Yuuen's father and the leader of the East Forest Clan, gave his son a job that "only Yuuen can handle", which was to dress up like a girl and seduce Emba.  Yuuen was mortified, but as he got to know Emba better, he began to fall for him, and worse, he learned that Emba was also falling for him.  Normally that wouldn't be a problem, but Yuuen felt horrible at deceiving such a kindhearted man, and he was heartbroken that Emba did not know the real him.  And that's the beginning of Wild Rock.  The second part of the manga shows what happened many years earlier when Yuuen's father, Yuni, and Emba's father, Selem, met.  There were also two short extras included at the end of the book focusing once again on Emba and Yuuen.  And really, has there ever been a more perfect ending to a manga than the last extra in this book?  I don't think that there has been!

I normally don't enjoy one-shots as much as the longer series because everything always seems so rushed and the character development usually suffers.  This book felt like it was so much longer than it really was, because not only was the story solid, but I really felt like I got to know the characters.  The first story was lovely and sweet, the second was heartfelt and sad, and the extras really rounded out the book as a whole.  The first extra, which showed Yuuen and Emba at least a year or so after the first story, is my favorite part of the whole book.  And I know I already mentioned it, but the ending of this book was so great.  It's good to see that the author has a sense of humor and can poke fun at her own characters.  The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous and the characters were all extremely likeable.  And I always appreciate it when the characters take their time before jumping into bed together, which I felt this book did well despite the fact that it is a single volume and there were two separate stories to cover.

Usually when I get to the end of a one-shot, I'm either disappointed that there isn't more or I really don't care that it's over because I didn't feel the story or the characters.  Interestingly enough, neither was the case with "Wild Rock".  When I finished the book I was thoroughly satisfied and didn't really see where there was room for a sequel.  The story had been told and had been told well.  This manga is among my favorites and I always enjoy it when I re-read it.

- Liz