February 5, 2012
Syuko Nishimura – Digital Manga Guild – 2012 – 1 volume
Another day, another DMG release I picked up on eManga.com. I like salaryman BL stories, which is the completely shallow reason I picked this up.
At Ozaki and Shinoda’s company, there’s an elite force of salaryman that have “career gate” passes. It’s every employee’s dream to be allowed to wear one of these cards, which gives one access to the upper floors of the company. Ozaki works hard, hoping that his next evaluation will grant him the coveted “red card,” or first level access to the career gate. His partner, Shinoda, seems less interested in advancement, though his skills far surpass Ozaki’s own. Ozaki also has to work to conceal an attraction towards Shinoda. When Ozaki’s boss puts him in a position to be a boy toy for a higher-up in the company in order to let Shinoda save face, Ozaki grudgingly agrees. Shinoda, who finds out later, goes crazy and reveals that, not only is he the holder of a platinum career card (marking him as one of the most elite employees in the company), he is also crazy in love with Ozaki, and has been concealing his status so that he can continue to be partnered up with him.
And… that’s Career Gate. The romance is resolved fairly early on, and from there, the premise tends to be about some corporate backstabbing and nay-saying, trying to remove Shinoda from his position as an elite or unmasking his public persona as Ozaki’s partner. There are also several people that try to kidnap Ozaki and use him as corporate leverage against Shinoda, and Ozaki even offers himself up at one point in order to make a deal go in Shinoda’s favor.
There were… a few things wrong with this book for me. Often, when a BL book like this tries to cover subject matter that is not romantic in nature, it tends to fail at it, unless it’s a remarkable book. Career Gate is not one of those exceptions. The workplace subplots are completely ridiculous, and unfortunately fail at bringing Ozaki and Shinoda closer together since they serve little purpose aside from having Ozaki constantly kidnapped and Shinoda rescuing him. It doesn’t deepen their relationship, and they don’t really learn anything about themselves, or any sort of lesson about what not to do in those situations.
There’s also lots of non-con. There’s non-con in many BL books, and I hate it every time, but it was creepier than usual in this one since it was strangers forcing it, and not the romantic interest. Ozaki gets kidnapped and put in unpleasant situations more often than he should as an office worker. Once the situation is completely non-con, but the other two times it’s a rather pathetic display of emotional blackmail, “for the better of Shinoda.”
And the final nail in the coffin was that neither Shinoda nor Ozaki was really developed enough for me to get a feel for them. I neither liked nor disliked them, but as a result, the romance elements didn’t work for me. And when that happens, the BL book has failed me. I’m sorry, BL book.
It’s not a terrible work, and I think being a salaryman plot redeemed it a bit for me (a complete bias on my part… if this had taken place in a school, I would have hated it). It was a BL one-shot, and served its purpose as an entertaining read. But there are definitely better salaryman stories out there, and better one-shots on eManga. Even knowing what I know about it now, I probably would have still read it since I like the workplace stuff, but if your tastes lie elsewhere, you might not want to give it a try.