Pentabu / Rize Shinba – Yen Press – 2011 – 5 volumes
I’ll be honest, I tend to write off manga adaptations of novels. They’re rarely good, but there are exceptions (Toradora and Saiunkoku being my favorite recent discoveries). I approached this volume with a lot of skepticism, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it in the end.
Part of that, I think, was Rize Shinba, the person who is doing the manga adaptation. Her style matches the story perfectly, and I knew I had seen her work and enjoyed it before. I looked it up just before writing this review, and was completely shocked to find that she was a BL artist. One that I really liked (she wrote Mister Mistress). I wept bitter fujoshi-in-denial tears at that.
I was also surprised to see that the characters in the story were a little older than I was expecting. They look young, but the boyfriend (who is the main character, at least in this volume) is at least a couple years into a college degree, and the girlfriend is an office lady. That doesn’t have much of an impact on the story, since most of what’s going on, except for the relationships, still seems fairly… teenager-y. But it’s a nice touch, all the same.
The meat of the story in this volume is about Yuiko, the girlfriend, coming down with a cold after a convention in the first half, then some suspicions about cheating in the second half. The cold story was fairly simple stuff, mostly just a chapter with Yuiko begging Taiga for doujinshi from her convention that were shipped to his house. Her persistence was amusing, but most of the jokes fell flat for me.
The cheating story that came next felt more in the spirit of the thing, to me. The first part was about Taiga hiding his current job from Yuiko and avoiding her, and the second was about Yuiko confronting him with her suspicions about cheating. I was not sure what Taiga’s current job was, nor why he would hide it from Yuiko, but there was a lot of fun to be had during their simultaneous blow-ups at each other. Yuiko makes no secrets of her interest in BL to Taiga, and her attempts to connect with him by sharing her interests backfire after he blows up at her for interrupting his exam studies. Then she blows up at him for hiding something and cheating on her.
His secret? He is tutoring a high school boy. One that he describes, in one word, as an “uke.”
Yuiko still thinks he’s making it up, and even goes there (the reason Taiga was hiding the job from her), but he goes to great lengths to win her over. Yuiko’s friend, a BL author, doesn’t have good luck. Her classy businessman boyfriend finds a super-raunchy BL book under her couch and blows up at her for reading gay smut. She seems surprisingly… low-key about the incident, but a text message on the last page of the volume indicates that the incident is not over.
I did like this series. I was a little afraid that it would be full of otaku in-jokes, which I hate. It is, but much of the humor really is more about Yuiko being an overbearing fan-girlfriend, and not about how funny xxx BL joke is. I like it a lot for that, and it probably has a lot to do with the original source material. It’s probably a difficult read for anyone who isn’t at least a little into BL, but it still stands well on the shoujo side of the equation. I do wonder what the rest of the series is like.
It also hits uncomfortably close to home, in some sense. I wouldn’t consider myself a fujoshi, or even an otaku, really. But I do geek out to my roommate about comics on a fairly regular basis (not necessarily about BL, but if I’m really enjoying, say, Let Dai or The Tyrant Falls in Love…), and… yes, sometimes I’m sure I can talk his ear off. Some topics, like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, are forbidden. I tend to get worked up about getting called out over my interests in person, so stuff like this is terribly embarrassing. But I still enjoy it.
I liked this volume a whole lot more than I thought I would. I’ve got a lot on my to-read plate right now, but I’m definitely interested in picking up more of this in the future. Seems like a decent shoujo read.
This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.