Satoru Ishihara – June – 2005 – 1 volume
My BL rule holds true once again, where if I find that I like a book, odds are the author has at least a couple more available in English. I read The Boys With Tomorrow to Conquer on eManga and really liked it, and found that June had published two other books by the same author. This came out a long, loooong time ago. I think it may predate the June imprint, because there seems to be an edition floating around with a purple DMP logo instead of the pink June band. That’s how you know your BL is old. And that you are, too, for remembering the changeover.
Anyway. This is more of exactly the same thing I loved about The Boys With Tomorrow to Conquer. There’s even a similar obscure sport theme, where one of the boys was an archery prodigy in The Boys With Tomorrow to Conquer (although that wasn’t really a theme), and in this one, both of the boys are into kendo. This is just as much a coming-of-age story as The Boys With Tomorrow to Conquer, where Tsurugi and Katsuomi are dealing with their younger brothers, the pressures of their respective dojos, and questions about what to do with the rest of their lives. Dost thou Know is also more of a romance, though, since it’s also about the two of them being mutually attracted and unsure about what to do with their feelings, as kendo rivals. The story is told mostly from Katsuomi’s point of view, and while the attraction is fairly obvious (at least from a reader’s standpoint) early on in the book, at about the halfway point, Katsuomi has to start proving himself in order to catch the eye of Tsurugi.
I like the characters that Satoru Ishihara seems to write, too. They’re a little rough around the edges, and much more manly than what you’d normally find in a BL book. Katsuomi and Tsurugi don’t spend a lot of time angsting about their feelings, and deal with confusion by training in kendo rather than crying or talking it out with someone. This feels much more natural, somehow (though I have to admit to being a fan of melodrama in other books), and the relationship develops much more smoothly and deeply because of it. There’s no physical relationship, and not even any hand-holding or kissing, really. But Ishihara doesn’t really need it to get her point across here.
I’m not sure which I like better, Dost thou Know or The Boys With Tomorrow to Conquer. Both are good, and for the same reasons. I may like the couple in this book a bit better, since this is a romance and the relationship is resolved in one volume. But I like the “they’re together, so this is about their lives” strategy of The Boys With Tomorrow to Conquer, too. And the second volume of Boys has an absolutely beautiful short story in the back, so there’s that, too. I think you may just have to read them both, if your tastes are anything like mine.