Aromatic Bitters

Erica Sakurazawa – Tokyopop – 2004 – 1 volume

I was not very much into josei when Tokyopop was releasing it, which is a real shame since they published some truly great stuff.  I would love to have seen where the Passion Fruit line would have gone, and it’s a shame that this Erica Sakurazawa line had to come to an end.  The Aromatic Bitters cuts off before it finishes, and there is no followup volume, but it also doesn’t really feel like there needs to be.  Of course, I just finished Ooku, where it’s more than okay to leave loose ends, so I may just be misjudging the story here.

I liked this quite a bit, and would compare it to some of my favorite devices in older-guy BL series.  The characters are in their thirties, and Sayumi, the main character for the first half of the book, begins a passionate relationship with a younger man, telling herself that her live-in boyfriend of five years is probably cheating on her, and there’s no passion in their relationship, anyway.  Other chapters switch perspective to tell the story from the point of view of Sayumi’s boyfriend, and then later, there’s a a semi-unrelated side story about Hide, Sayumi’s friend.

I loved the switch in point of view to Sayumi’s boyfriend.  So often in these type of stories, we only get the female’s point of view and the male is victimized.  Telling his side adds another layer, and we start to see that perhaps Sayumi should not be so swept up in passion… another unlikely moral in this type of story.

Hide’s story is more sympathetic and… well, just sad.  There’s not much to be done for Hide, but she has some consolation.  It’s probably not all that healthy to be doing what she’s doing, but all the same, the opportunity presents itself at an opportune time.

The book ends with a “to be continued,” but as I said, it doesn’t really feel like it needs to.  The conclusion to the story at the end of the book is positive, if not concrete, and the mess that Sayumi is left in feels appropriate, though there is a very neat way for her to get out of it.

I liked this better than most of the LuvLuv books, and I also like it quite a bit better than some of the more contemplative, love-crazy josei stories that are available.  Stripping the humor and making the story very simple helped it immensely, and I think I’m going to go ahead and pick up the rest of these Erica Sakurazawa volumes some time in the near future.


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