I was really, really looking forward to this after I finished est em’s other volume, Seduce Me After the Show. I love her stories, and I was definitely not disappointed in this volume. It actually made me go back through and look at the rest of Deux’s catalog. They actually have a lot of BL titles involving men, which is the type of story I prefer, as opposed to the ones on high school boys. I’m thinking of picking up a few more Deux titles after this.
There were three stories that were about the same couple and took place at the same time, a fourth story that takes place before the two meet, and then a couple of unrelated one-shots. They were all wonderful.
The stories about the main couple were probably my favorite. I was a little thrown off at first when the two men got together almost immediately (they meet in a bar, and then the scene cuts to the two of them in bed), but after that the stories turn and focus more on the relationship between the two men, how it can’t even be broken by one calling the other in the middle of sex with someone else to say that he misses him, and a question of death. Rafita is a matador and Mauro works in the slaughterhouse that takes care of the bulls after he kills him. Mauro describes the process of slaughtering a bull during sex, Rafita points out that Mauro has a scar on his back right where you would stick a bull to kill him, and later, the story focuses on a recurring dream that Rafita has about killing Mauro that interferes with his bullfights.
The theme of bullfighting, or corrida de toros, is actually a really great one. Rafita is an excellent matador, and a lot of story time is spent on his skills as well as his relationship. These parts of the story were extremely fascinating. The corrida de toros is the only type of bullfight I know the mechanics of, but I was not aware of its social status until I read this manga. This was as interesting to me as the relationship between the two men.
The last story of the three is probably the best, where Mauro asks Rafita if he would kill him if he were the bull. I liked the confrontation as a solution to Rafita’s problem, and I liked Rafita’s answer, too.
The one-shots that make up the rest of the volume are also quite good. I was very fond of one where a gentlemen describes his coming-of-age as the day he no longer fit into his mother’s high heels. The man is not a cross-dresser or anything, that was just the moment he realized he was a grownup and started acting the part. I loved the simplicity of it.
There’s a really nice story that closes the volume that flew completely over my head. An old man narrates a story to a younger man who is taking care of him while he is ill. The story is told in first person, and is about a young dancer being trained by an older choreographer. The man was not a dancer himself, and the younger man isn’t a dancer either (his lover is). The old man’s story unfolds, and the end… well, I wasn’t sure how to interpret the name he gives the story. I liked the ending anyway, even though it felt like I was missing something.
The art is quite stylish, though I would be hard-pressed to call it great. I love the matador costumes, and the compositions are noticeably great, but the art itself is quite minimalist. I think it works well to tell the stories. The boys/men themselves are not necessarily pretty, and I like that about the art, too, because then it really is all about the story.
Well, really, it’s more about the characters. They’re all real people in a way that’s so hard to convey in one-shots and short stories like this. They simply do what they do, live their lives. There’s not necessarily a plot to all the stories either, though there is rising and falling action. All the stories read like a little snippet in the lives of the characters. Life will go on after the story, and life was going on before the story too, so all we’re seeing is a small part.
This was just a volume of really excellent short stories. The fact that they were about gay men is almost inconsequential (well, not quite, since relationships are still a focus of several of the stories). I loved it very much, and I really hope Deux picks up more est em titles in the future.