April 3, 2012
Keiko Kinoshita – DMP / June – 2010 – 2 volumes
As I mentioned last time, I liked this series so much that I read both volumes consecutively, over at eManga.com. The volumes are fairly cheap over there (I seem to remember that they were 350 points, or $3.50 apiece, but it doesn’t show up once you’ve bought them), so if you like slow-paced BL stories that take a long time to explore the characters, you have no excuse not to check it out.
I do like slow and very character-driven BL like this. I’m a huge fan of super-romantic stories, and the more time a good author spends on the characters, the more I’m going to get drawn into the romantic elements of the story. Keiko Kinoshita basically nails it with Noda and Tomosaka here. I mentioned this last time, but one of the somewhat unusual things about this story is that the fact one best friend has a crush on the other comes up fairly early, and the reveal isn’t the end of the story. Rather, the two experiment, trying to see how romance works between them. It doesn’t, so a good chunk of this book is spent with the pair trying to get things back to how they were and failing. Their intimacy now lies between them. It wasn’t even a failed experiment, really, but that’s also one of the problems. And the failure isn’t in the usual sense of, “Well, I really liked it but said I hated it.” Noda doesn’t mind experimenting, but Tomosaka (the one with the crush) does mind if Noda doesn’t feel the same way.
It’s an interesting problem, and Kinoshita takes her time having the two boys work it out. The resolution in this volume is satisfying, and I couldn’t have been more happy with the story. Again, it’s not something I’d shout from the rooftops and declare that everyone needs to go out and read, but I loved this pair of volumes, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at.
It’s also made me into a definite Keiko Kinoshita fan. A conditional one, however, and I’m currently cherry-picking her titles available in English since I’ve been reading stories set in high schools less and less lately. She’s got a lot of those available.
Anyway, the Kiss Blue story ends, and there’s a short story about the gay manager at the cafe where Tomosaka works. It’s one of those stories without a resolution or happy end that you rarely see in BL books. I love stories like this, and it’s a shame that they don’t appear that often (I think the artists aren’t allowed to write them, actually). Even this story was great, and I hated the manager.
March 13, 2012
Keiko Kinoshita – DMP / June – 2008 – 2 volumes
I’ve been hearing a lot about Keiko Kinoshita lately. After having tried out Want to Depend on You, I dipped my toes again with the super-cheap digital editions of Kiss Blue. Why I did not read the copy of Honey-Colored Pancakes I have on my floor, I could not say. Also, I’ll volunteer the fact that memory is a strange thing. I could have sworn I disliked You and Harujion, by the same author, but apparently I reviewed it well. And to think I’ve been holding a grudge all these years!
Our featured couple this time around is Tomosaka and Noda. Another story that takes friendship in a different direction, I enjoyed this volume immensely for its slow pace and the way the characters seem to tiptoe around each other. There’s no long crush involved this time, and the beginning of the book is more about Tomosaka analyzing his and Noda’s relationships with women and trying to figure out why he’s never had a very deep one, or someone he loved. Tomosaka gets involved in a stalking situation with a coworker, and it’s not until after Noda takes a stabbing for him (of course, because this is BL) that Tomosaka realizes that Noda might be more than a friend to him.
I loved that the story was about their friendship just as much as it was about them falling in love. Maybe a little more so, actually. Tomosaka doesn’t tell Noda how he feels for quite some time, since he doesn’t want to spoil the friendship the two have. Noda does notice something’s wrong with Tomosaka, and he grows increasingly concerned as the series continues. The two also depend on each other for tough times. Like the stalking situation I mentioned earlier for Tomosaka, and Noda later confides a heartbreak he experienced in high school to Tomosaka. There’s small incidents involving sexual harassment at work, Tomosaka’s health, and a few other things. The story puts a lot of time into developing just how much the friendship means to them, so that the reader is aware of what’s at stake when things change.
By the end of the volume, things do change. It’s almost sad, how little it means to either character, and how both of them are able to blow it off towards the end of the book. This carries over into volume two, obviously, so there are other repercussions. But it was interesting to me that it went down the way it did in this book.
It’s simply a very slow and very sensitive story. It’s nothing remarkable in and of itself, but it is very well told, and I was caught up enough that I bought the second volume digitally as soon as I finished the first and read it right away. It’s a fine romance, and I got exactly what I wanted from it. Volume two was no different.