I forgot that if it’s got a purple banner across the bottom, it’s not BL. Surprisingly, there is not the barest hint of a gay couple in this volume, unless you want to read some things in yourself. The only other Yoshinaga manga to accomplish this feat was Flower of Life, and I thought that teacher was a man for the entire first volume, so Garden Dreams may have the advantage.
It’s another vaguely period manga, though the setting and time are left ambiguous. There are four stories, most involve a baron and a young musician. The young musician shows up with his older partner at the baron’s castle and the two are drafted as court musicians. We find out the older partner found the younger boy in the desert as a child and raised him in place of his abandoned daughter. The older man gets a generous backstory, then exits.
Later, we learn of the baron, who has had a tragic love life with two sisters. His story is quite beautiful.
The third story is about the close relationship between the baron and the musician. Here is where the BL could be read in, and it does leave itself wide open, but nothing is ever shown, and it’s mostly implied that the two simply support each other and care very much for one another, but aren’t necessarily in love, per se.
The last story is about how the baron wants to commit suicide with the young musician. This would have been an excellent story had it left off a few pages earlier than it did. The way it was resolved was still quite good though.
I really, really enjoyed this volume… it was probably one of my favorites from Yoshinaga, and I enjoyed it quite a bit more than any of her other one or two volume series, be they short story or continuous. I really wish more of her stuff was coming out in the near future, and it’s hard for me to believe that after all this time, nothing new has yet been licensed. I’d love to read Ooku.