November 17, 2011
Mario Yamada – DMG – 2011 – 1 volume
I’ve refrained from the recent Digital Manga Guild releases, because I think $7 for a digital comic is way too much. But I do like the experimental nature of putting everything except licensing and distro in the hands of fans, and I think the BL genre is imminently suited to the experiment because of the one-shot nature of most of the titles. But boredom drove me to spend $20 on credits at emanga a couple nights ago, so I’ll be reading a few of these titles over the next few days.
There were six or seven BL DMG titles on emanga when I picked this one up over the weekend, and they’ve since released two or three more titles, so I really like the frequency of releases. This title appears to be the most popular on emanga at the moment, and the title that most suited my taste. It sounded like a darker romance title, where Tomoya has to avoid a shady character from his past, but can’t because they’re in love and it’s a BL comic. You know how these things go.
One of the things I hate about the BL titles I wind up liking is that they all seem to start with terrible rape scenes. I probably should have seen it coming here, since the plot summary euphemistically describes Tomo’s past experiences as “a nightmare” and “traumatic.” I hate it every single time it happens, and I hate myself more when I wind up enjoying a book after something like that. I wish that we could just skip that part sometimes.
Anyway, at the beginning of the book, Tomo runs into Murase at a host club. Tomo is honestly frightened to see him, and we find out through two quick flashbacks that Murase was one of his father’s friends, but randomly and suddenly assaulted Tomo twice, both times in public places. This time, Tomo rejects Murase flat-out, and Murase leaves. Later, a man shows up at Tomo’s apartment and asks Tomo to call Murase, his lover, over. Tomo then finds out that Murase is a yakuza member, and the assaults happened the two times in the past he was just about to be sent to prison. Murase randomly shows up while Tomo is being threatened by the knife-wielding enemy, and of course Murase is stabbed, Tomo gets upset, and the two reconcile in the hospital.
Then a strange, intermittent relationship starts between them. Apparently they occasionally have sex, but go months and months without seeing one another, and both claim to be not gay. A longer plot, involving Murase’s past and another Yakuza he grew up with, eventually brings the necessary drama and romantic closure situation to the story.
I really liked the nuts and bolts of the story (I’m a little ashamed to admit that I like books like this where one or both partners refuses to acknowledge romantic attachment on the grounds of being straight). Murase’s forcefulness (not the rape part, but he has a forceful personality in general) and Tomo’s slightly comedic brattiness made for a good dynamic, and I liked the Yakuza storyline, though the fact it dethroned the romance as the main theme was disappointing, because it wasn’t that good of a story. I also liked that Tomo made for a fairly strong uke character, but would occasionally break down crying and go into the “you don’t love me” tirades. Bah.
I would fix a few things, but I really liked it overall. Actually, I liked it so much I read it twice. If you’re going to spend $7 on a book you don’t really own, and you happen to be a melodramatic BL fan, make it this one.