Laugh Under the Sun

Yugi Yamada – DMP/June – 2007 – 1 volume

I know I said I liked Keiko Kinoshita a lot, and I do. But my love for Kinoshita is nothing like my reverence for Yugi Yamada, which burns with the brightness of a thousand suns. She writes characters with a lot of personality, good banter, usually there’s friends involved (so rare in BL!), and her stories are always so funny. She’s one of my absolute favorites, and it’s making me sad that I’m running out of books by her to write about. Someone get on that!

Laugh Under the Sun is about boxing. From the cover, one might expect a story about boxers falling in love. But Yamada’s better than that. This is actually about a guy named Sohei who wants to be a boxer ever since reading Ashita no Joe when he was 15. But he injured someone during a fight at the age of 17, and he gave up the sport in favor of becoming a playboy that drifts from woman to woman. His two friends, Chika and Naoki, live successful lives as a columnist and a graphic designer, respectively, and Sohei feels out of place hanging out with them. Chika bullies Sohei into boxing again, for lack of anything else to do, and the story goes through the ups and downs of a 25-year-old boxer training to get his professional license while sorting through his two friend’s private lives.

Naoki, a somewhat flamboyant gay man, is the constant shoulder to cry on, whereas Chika never offers anything but sarcasm and unkindness. With Naoki and Chika as the two professionals who share an office, it’s hard to tell at first where the romance is going. But it eventually becomes clear that Chika’s bullying is a disguise to help Sohei, and he’s actually liked Sohei since they were in high school. Things go well from there.

I also tend to like Yamada’s books because they build everything up to a rather romantic climax. There’s nothing too explicit here, but the heavy romance scenes at the end of her books always feel great. Especially if the characters crack jokes at each other’s expense the whole time.

This isn’t my favorite by Yamada, but it’s up there, and it’s a whole lot of fun. Plus, it’s got the older character factor working for it in my personal taste range. If you run across it, it’s definitely worth a read.



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