written by Yamaaki Doton
As children, both Sei and Oishi fell in love with Yuko. When they lost Yuko to a wasting disease, both were devastated, and both ended up going into medical careers. They both want to help people and are haunted by the loss of Yuko, but their opinions on how to help are different.
They’re on two different sides of the stem-cell research debate, which is interestingly done, because they both believe so strongly that they’re doing the right thing. Sei is opposed to stem-cell research and Oishi sees all kinds of possibilities with it. The two are rivals, not only in their medical research and ethical beliefs, but also with their memories of Yuko and who got her love.
The manga is heavy-handed and always serious. At a little under 500 pages, it creates its own vacuum of a world. The melancholic and intense mood stays throughout the story as a series of flashbacks show us what happened to the three main characters, leading them to where they are today.
The art is very good. It’s detailed, beautiful, and mood-setting. Some panels almost feel as if they could leap off the page. Breathe Deeply definitely gets strong props for its art. “Yamaaki Doton” is a pseudonym for a mangaka husband and wife team, so I don’t know if one or both worked on the drawings, but whoever did it was quite talented.
The manga is billed as “controversial,” though for the most part it gives different sides on the various issues. Sometimes, though, it did feel as if it were leaning one way or another and I think it would have been better not doing that. At times I felt it was leaning one way only to go the other, so I did wonder if I were imagining things about the opinions of the mangaka. A number of characters are rather unpleasant, which caused me to question if the mangaka were condemning the ideas of these characters by disparaging their personalities.
There were times I felt fairly certain they were pushing an idea. For instance, it kept feeling as if it were anti-organ transplants, which I didn’t understand until I did some research and learned that many people in Japan are leery of organ transplants. Therefore, this is an interesting look into Japanese culture. It also is good as a peek into a different kind of manga, because it is dissimilar from a lot of the stuff we see licensed in America.