Akira Sugano – June – 2008 – 1 volume
this is a novel
I’m one of the biggest fans of these June BL novels. I like them most of the time, though to be fair, they definitely don’t reach out past their core audience. And even then, some of them can fall… a little short. But even the crappy ones can be enjoyed on some level. This has probably been my least favorite so far, and even this had its good points.
Taiga Obinata is an editor for a science fiction magazine. His most popular author is his childhood friend Shuu, a laid-back guy who constantly has to be browbeaten to meet his deadlines. One day, Shuu shows up at Taiga’s house and announces that he’s married the eldest daughter of the Obinata family and will now be living with the Obinata siblings. In addition to Taiga, the oldest brother, there is college student Akinobu, professional boxer Jou, and high school student Mayumi. All four live in constant fear of their older sister, Shima, who Shuu has married. Shima rules the family with an iron fist, and is a fickle woman, to boot. Case in point, she doesn’t announce her marriage to her siblings, and is nowhere to be found when Shuu and his younger brother Yuuta moves in.
This would have been a lot better if it didn’t read like an episode of Full House. Every dozen or so pages, it felt like it was teaching me a Very Special Lesson about what family means and why you should always listen to your brothers and sisters. The Obinata siblings find much out about each other once Shuu moves in, and all of the age 20+ brothers (Mayumi and Yuuta are younger, but everyone else is well out of their teens) seem to have no trouble dissolving into mushy scenes where they learn just how much they miss Shima, why it’s hard to watch Jou fight, why Akinobu is so quiet, Mayumi’s childhood trauma involving Taiga dressing as Totoro, et cetera.
To make matters worse, all of them have sob story backgrounds. The Obinata parents died when Taiga was just starting high school, and Shima had to quit school and prostitute herself to put Taiga through school. Shima, Taiga, and Jou are delinquents. All of the Obinata siblings love to brawl. Shuu and Yuuta have similarly sad backgrounds.
I did love the variety of characters, and it was interesting to see a huge family of men like this and watch them function in every day life. And there were lots of nice touches of humor. For instance, older sister Shima was such a bully, and such a Hanshin Tigers fan, that all of her younger siblings have Tigers-related names, as does the family dog. That’s why this book was so unique. But on the other hand, I got fed up with the Special Lessons. Really.
It’s also more of a family drama than it is a romance, and romance is what I want when I read these. Because this is a June novel, it’s not really a spoiler if I tell you that the childhood friends are the couple in this novel. But their relationship almost doesn’t happen. There’s one or two scenes that stir things up between them towards the end of the book, and a rather haphazard resolution in the final pages, but the romantic elements were not satisfying at all.
The way that Taiga came out to his family here… hm. I know that these scenes are never, ever realistic in these BL stories, but the fact that a house full of men simply accepted this without comment and bluntly cheered for him in the same breath was too much. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief for that.
It’s not a good book. It’s probably at the bottom of my list of June novels. Still, though, it’s a quick read, and there were things to like about it. I don’t know why I like these so much, but I just have a hard time hating them. Maybe it’s because it only takes me as long to read one of these as two volumes of manga. I don’t know. Read this one if you’ve read all the others, but try something like I Want to Bite or Lonely Egoist before you pick this up.