Volume 2 of Maki Murakami’s soap opera/comedy Gravitation ended on an appropriately soap operatic note with the arrival of Eiri Yuki’s fiancee from an arranged marriage. How much of a rival will innocent country girl Ayaka be? How will she react to the knowledge that her long-lost Yuki has a male lover? These questions, and Yuki’s continued coldness, threaten to distract our hero from his rock ‘n roll career. Shuichi’s obsession with Yuki makes it hard for him to concentrate on his band, Bad Luck; nevertheless, opportunities are coming his way. Shuichi’s showmanship and best friend/lead guitarist Hiro’s brains turn their appearance on a second-rate game show into a smash; it doesn’t hurt that the CEO of N-G Productions, their record company, pulls a few strings for mysterious reasons of his own. Bad Luck also gets a lift from Shuichi’s idol Ryuichi Sakuma, the former lead singer of the bizarrely-named Nittle Grasper. Bad Luck’s sudden rise to fame earns Shuichi a dangerous enemy; the lead singer of his arch-rivals ASK may be on to his secret relationship with Yuki. Meanwhile, Shuichi’s dogged pursuit may be starting to crack Yuki’s shell. Yuki’s sister hints that traumatic events in his past have made him the way he is, but Shuichi resists the temptation to dig up his lover’s secrets. The lovers have their first real moment of emotional connection when Shuichi proves he’s willing to wait until Yuki’s ready to open up about his past.
Murakami’s skills as an artist and storyteller have clearly developed since the first two volumes of Gravitation; the art in Volume 3 is exuberant, exploding across the page with the manic energy of Shuichi himself. There’s non-stop action, although so many characters parade in and out of the story that it’s hard to follow or care about all their subplots. Gravitation‘s strengths are its zany humor and its pop sensibility; the game show sequence is particularly fun. While Volume 3 is free of the disturbing sexual dynamics of the previous volume, it does contain a fair amount of profanity. Gravitation‘s mature content is roughly on par with popular teen entertainments like Gossip Girl and The O.C.. The book also contains a short story about a hapless college student tutoring an 11-year-old Lolita who’d rather beat guys up than date them.