June 23, 2009
Wow. So I liked the first volume of this well enough, but this second volume was easily one of the best yaoi books I’ve read. Two of the things that always makes BL more enjoyable for me is a steady couple and stories about older men, and this book had both. In addition, it also consisted entirely of real-life, non-fantasy situations and two characters who were written really well, each with a distinct personality and different sets of problems.
Many of the problems between the two stem from the fact that Akira will always be aware that Kento’s dream was to have a wife and kids, something that he can’t give him. Kento says that it’s no longer important now that he has Akira, but it still comes up frequently anyway. One of the best scenes that dealt with this took place at a festival when Kento runs into an old friend with his family. He begins to blush and stammer when he starts to introduce Akira, but Akira cuts him off and introduces himself as a coworker and walks off. Akira later explains that Kento doesn’t have to go through the trouble of explaining their relationship to people, but then backpedals and says that no matter how much Kento reassures him, Kento will never know how to introduce him to other people, and Akira will always feel bad that Kento can’t have a family. There’s nothing much either one can say to argue with these facts, though the scene does have a happy ending.
The book is also full of not-so-dramatic moments and instances of happiness and intimacy between the two men. In one chapter, Akira takes great pleasure in Kento’s formal wear one day. Later, when Akira refuses to eat tangerines because he has to peel them, Kento gives him a piece, and the scene turns into a rather adorable and intimate sex scene, much different that the abrupt and meaningless ones that normally pop up in these books. The last third of the book deals with marriage (or not so much a marriage since same-sex marriage doesn’t exist in Japan, but a legal adoption) between Akira and Kento, something that Kento wants not so much out of formality but as a way of officially having Akira as his closest family member. They first have to get around Akira’s fears of long-term commitments that stem from his often-divorced mother, then they need to get around the fact that Kento’s grandparents still don’t really like Akira. The real-life processes, fears, and hurdles are once again an appreciated detail, and seeing Akira and Kento work their way through the problems is endearing and touching, romantic in a way that these books are often not.
The book then ends with a look at Akira and Kento together as old men. It’s a gag, but it’s still kind of a disturbing way to end the series. In the final author notes, Kunieda goes on to talk about how when she was growing up, they didn’t have BL manga, and she makes the point that the genre is in its adolescence and perhaps in time the couples will be older and older. Honestly, if she wants to draw a series about two “beautiful” old men, I’d read it and probably love every page. This is one of the few very sincere, funny, honest, and true-to-life romance manga I’ve read, and the fact that it accomplishes that in two volumes, combined with the fact that most of the BL I enjoy somehow involves life-destroying drama, is nothing short of incredible.
Congratulations, Future Lovers, you’ve made my short list and once again assured me that not all yaoi is cheap thrills.
January 11, 2009
“Red Blinds the Foolish” actually made me go back and look at the Deux catalog to see what I missed. I don’t often read Boy’s Love manga because I don’t like the plot devices as much as I do regular shoujo manga, but my problem may just be I’m reading the wrong Boy’s Love series. Deux has quite a number of titles featuring older couples, and so far I like them a lot more.
The change in perspective helped a lot. Ironically, my first efforts into getting bl books with older couples netted me a series where the couple are teachers at a high school. I was a little put off at first, because I really did want to get away from the school setting, but it’s almost a non-issue in the first story. The second story does take place mostly in the school, but the change in perspective really did help. It just doesn’t mean the same thing to these two characters as it would if they were students, even with some students being drawn into the main story.
I liked both stories for different reasons. In the first story, the main character winds up drunk after being dumped by his girlfriend and finds himself engaged in a night of wild sex with some guy he met at the bar. He doesn’t really think anything of it, since his dream is to have a wife, kids, and a loving family, but as he unsuccessfully tries to patch things up with his girlfriend, the random guy at the bar, now a coworker, just won’t leave his head. It’s all very sweet.
The second story is told from the other character’s perspective. I like him as a character a lot more than the main, and his story is pretty amusing, though I didn’t actually like the plot of it that much. He’s bored with the way things are, he doesn’t like to please people and deal with hiding his relationship at work, he tries to break up with his partner and turn him to a student that really likes him… blah blah blah. Everything he did just felt wrong. I did like the bizarre focus on wardrobe during the story, so it gets credit for that, too.
There’s a third unrelated story in the back of the volume, but it involved incest (the two boys weren’t related, but they were raised as brothers, which is the same thing in my mind), which is ranked high on my list of no-nos, along with non-consensual sex and high school boys dating older men.
It wasn’t the greatest series in the world, but it was pretty enjoyable, and I’ll be buying the second volume when it’s released. Again, I kind of like these slightly more mature stories, and I’m definitely going to see what else I might like, since it seems like Deux has quite a few they publish.