August 13, 2012
Masara Minase – DMP / June – 2012 – 1 volume
After reading Lies & Kisses, I waited years – years – to read another Masara Minase manga. It was the first BL manga I read that made me really like the genre, and I wanted more. DramaQueen had published another one-shot by her (Empty Heart), but it was one of the first volumes they released and was never reprinted, so it is ridiculously pricey secondhand. Earlier this year, I found a copy of Empty Heart on the cheap, and this came out as well. I… was a little disappointed, honestly.
Ambiguous Relationship is an anthology of stories mostly focused on older-younger relationships, which is something I am usually averse to. I liked Lies and Kisses because it was good enough that I forgave it that, but none of the short stories in this collection really have time to develop the relationship to a point past what I would consider creepy. Sweet Restraint in particular has a large age gap, where a young man who stands to inherit a company falls in love with an older mentor, and the fact that the mentor is the dominant one, combined with the fact they’ve known each other since the younger one was a boy, makes the mentor seem almost predatory.
The first two stories are related, about a businessman that picks up a wayward student one night and the pair wind up in a relationship. This was one of the better couples in the volume, but their stories are fairly straightforward. The businessman doesn’t realize he’s falling in love, but goes through the motions. In the second, the younger one begins to suspect the businessman of cheating. There’s not much to sink your teeth into. A later story is about a teacher-student relationship with the school doctor, and was just bad. A later story Miracles Don’t Happen, had the couple with the closest age gap, but it was still a story about a semi-forbidden relationship that has to stop, then starts again because neither can really help themselves. It was better than the others.
Unfortunately, two of the stories (about 50 pages) suffered a printing error, where the second half of the second story got printed twice, which wiped out most of the first story and the beginning of the second. I kind of had to judge without reading those two. Maybe they’re great!
I hate to get so down on this volume, because it’s not really that bad. It’s just that I really hate older-younger relationships, and this does nothing to win me over. I’ve said before that BL doesn’t really work outside your own personal tastes most of the time, and this is one of those instances. I was disappointed, since I had been waiting so long to read Minase. Also a shame, because her art is quite good, I love her character designs. Perhaps you’ll have better luck if the subject matter is more your taste. Watch out for the printing error, though. I doubt it affects that many copies.