You Higashino – 801 Media – 2011 – 1 volume
I was fond of both Sense and Sexuality and Deeply Loving a Maniac by You Higashino, so that was enough for me to decide I’d read anything by her that came out in English. I knew this one sounded like it pushed the boundaries of what I’d like. A title like “A Fallen Saint’s Kiss” is never a good sign for me, nor was the fact it took place in a school. But… I thought I’d try it anyway.
Guys. I didn’t know the guy on the cover had a vibrator strapped to his leg. I didn’t know what that was, I swear. I ordered it online, and I just couldn’t tell from the picture. But that’s another vibrant red flag. There are things in this book that I will never unsee.
It’s porn, and I’m not that into porn, believe it or not. It’s also kind of a disturbing book. It’s about S&M relationships. The book covers three couples, presumably at the same school. There’s some voyeurism that links the stories, and some of the characters know each other. That there’s one school where S&M sex games go on behind closed doors so frequently is a little amusing to me. Also amusing was the fact that, in one of the stories, there was a mosaic over the foreskin of the penis, but the rest of it was visible. This manga exists in a world where showing the foreskin crosses some sort of line that anal beads don’t.
With the first couple in the first story, it appears the story is simply a humiliating rape fantasy, and I had to stop reading it after a few pages. I loathe wasting money though, and I thought it might be an anthology with a few different types of stories in it, so I gave it another try. Turns out… in this book, the sadists can spot masochists a mile away, and it looks like a humiliating rape because that’s what both of them get off on. Higashino does a disturbingly good job of making it very obvious, in every case, that the masochist is 100% willing. That is, it becomes obvious by the end of the story. Before that, there’s a lot of S&M sex with toys and berating and whatnot, and you’re not sure. Only the third story is uncomfortably grey, and even in that story, the unsure masochist shows up promptly for his humiliation every day without knowing why. The couples are strangely balanced, though. The first story has two men that know exactly what’s going on. The second features a sadist that doesn’t understand why he’s getting off on his willing masochist, until the very end (that’s the only one that overtly shows the characters in love, too). The third story has the unsure sadist. But again, though he starts off as homophobic, he shows up to be tied up every day.
And there is sex. Lots of sex. There’s lots of bondage and toys involved, along with some voyeurism, and humiliation, of course. Often, the masochist would be tied up in a room while some normal activities were going on in the hallway, so there was a danger of discovery angle as well. That’s actually most of what’s going on. Pages and pages of S&M sex. What the participants think is secondary, I’m just focusing on it because I was dwelling on it the whole time. I was uncomfortable with the whole thing, but again, Higashino does a pretty good job of making all the relationships meaningful for both partners. Plus, it’s S&M porn. Blurring that line is part of that game, and it’s hard to criticize it for that.
What makes it even worse for me is that I hate stories that take place in school, and you have to be someone special to sell me on a teacher/student relationship. But this was the least of my worries as I was reading this book.
It’s not for me. Really, really not for me. The first volume of Finder was more than I could ever want of this sort of thing but I’m thinking of reading the rest. But it’s You Higashino, and I do appreciate that she tried to make it slightly romantic. It will make me hesitate when picking up her other books… and quite frankly, I’m a little scared of her next book in English, Yokubou no Shizuku, from Viz’s new BL imprint. But I’ll probably read it anyway.