Yugi Yamada – DMP/June – 2007 – 1 volume
As I do, I bought a whole bunch of Yugi Yamada books after loving Close the Last Door to pieces. For some reason, I started with this book. I’m not the biggest fan of super-short BL stories, not even from my favorite authors, but the plot summary on the back made it sound good, so… you know. That’s all the reason I need.
There were ten short stories in this book. Unusually, they covered a wide range of ages, from high school romances to salarymen. There were also many different types, from reluctant couples starting a new relationship together, established happy couples, and even one with an openly bisexual playboy that was trying to figure out why he couldn’t get it up anymore. Lots of actual gay men here, rather than “I only can because it’s you!”, which made me happy. These also range from comedic to dramatic, and are sometimes both. This is probably what I like best about Yugi Yamada, actually. Her comedy is actually funny, and she’s good at mixing the two, a skill that many people do not possess.
Most of the chapters are very short, and two stories had two parts each. One was about two salarymen with a history. This was an interesting pair of stories that used a two-man play as an allegory for their relationship, with a cute follow-up story to the very serious main event. The second pair was the namesake of the anthology. This pair was probably the best stories… but they were hard to read. A student is bullied for being gay, and when another student stands up for him, he gets the bullying just as badly. Except the second beats the bullies back to get them to stop, then attacks the gay student for making him a target. The gay student accuses him of being in the closet, and, worse still, getting turned on while beating him up. This goes… ugly places, but the second continues to be nice to the gay student, correcting his bullying whenever he can. There’s not a very good resolution to this story, and the follow-up is set at the 10th reunion of that graduating class. It’s a little more melancholy than you’d expect, but somehow happy at the same time. Bittersweet, if you will, which is something else not many people can get right.
It’s a good anthology, and again, I’m pretty picky about my BL short stories and tend to stay away from anthologies like this. Yugi Yamada knows how to write a charming story, and I liked most of these despite their short natures. I wished desperately that a few of them had been expanded into long books, and others were perfect as short stories. I have yet to read the Yugi Yamada book that I like better than Close the Last Door, but this was still a pretty great book.