Keiko Kinoshita – DMP / Digital Manga Guild – 2012 – 1 volume
This book is about Matsuda, a very poor college student, and his next-door neighbor Yaotome. The two meet when Matsuda introduces himself. Yaotome is a scruffy, unkempt man who doesn’t seem to mind bullying Matsuda. He gets on Matsuda’s nerves at first, in the handful of times they meet outside their apartments, but there’s something about Yaotome he just can’t leave alone. Most mysterious is the fact that Yaotome is taking care of a little girl that calls him “Yo-chan” instead of daddy. Slowly, Matsuda gets closer to Hana and Yaotome. Yaotome constantly tries to keep him at arm’s length, but Matsuda is persistent and very poor, so a lot of interaction has to do with a hungry Matsuda sharing dinner with Yaotome and Hana.
I liked this book a lot. Kinoshita takes a lot of time to develop her characters before starting in on the romantic parts. The first half of the book is simply about Matsuda learning more about Yaotome and working up to the friendship level. Yaotome and Hana’s relationship is also one of the major plot points in the first half. A romantic relationship doesn’t show any signs of forming until the second half of the book, when Yaotome begins teasing Matsuda more and more. Even this part goes slowly, and Matsuda isn’t entirely sure of what he wants, and Yaotome isn’t really pressing him too hard. The relationship development happens slowly, and it isn’t until Matsuda realizes how upset he is that Yaotome plays around with others that he realizes his own feelings. And even then, it still takes some time for him to accept them. I also liked that Yaotome is actually gay, something that you don’t always see in this type of book.
It’s a slow read, and there’s not a whole lot of romantic payoff (emotional or otherwise), until the very end of the book. I can see how there might be an audience that wouldn’t appreciate this, but I adore slow character studies like this, and this is a very good one. It makes the romance even better when this much time is taken to develop the characters. While it isn’t an absolutely amazing title, it is very good. Probably among the better DMP titles I’ve tried out.