Scarlet

Hiro Madarame – Blu – 2010 – 1 volume

I’ll admit I picked this up after I heard several people talk about how horrible it was. I wanted to know. Also, Hiro Madarame’s art is very pretty, regardless of the quality of the storytelling.

Having said that, pick up Cute Devil or something. Cause really, this is creepy. Not even worth picking up out of morbid curiousity.

As others have, I took issue with the first story, which looks at a couple named Akio and Ryo. Both of these individuals are fairly… uh, unbelievable. Ryo is a good-looking transfer student at college that Akio helps out one day. Before too long, Ryo is following Akio around like a lost puppy, and one day confesses his feelings. Akio goes along with it, and the two of them become a couple. The messed-up part is that Ryo, who is portrayed as helpless, cheats continuously on Akio with whoever approaches him, Ryo’s tearful excuse being that “he can’t help it.” Akio accepts that as good enough. Later, Ryo gets a possessive girlfriend who pushes Ryo into breaking up with and forgetting Akio until, driven to the edge, Ryo attempts to kill Akio in order to forget about him. Later, the two make up, and Akio accepts that Ryo can’t live without him. The end. In a second installment, Ryo moves in with Akio and acts horribly pathetic.

These two sad sacks are so messed up and uninteresting that not even the pretty art can save this story in any way, shape, or form. The fact that attempted murder is cool, as is cheating, and that both just accept it without any drama as a fact of life… ugh. It’s hard to get through. I was angry at both of them through the entire story, and it takes up half the volume.

The second half of the book takes a look at Harumi and Toki. Harumi is in the closet, and has completely separate lives for work and socializing that have nothing to do with one another. But he finds himself attracted to handsome co-worker Harumi, and when he spots Harumi at a bar one night, he asks him for a one-night stand, confident that Harumi won’t recognize him at work. But the one-night stand turns out to be amazing, and Harumi knows who Toki is. There are a few different parts to this story as it runs through all the angst and questioning of getting Harumi and Toki together, and it was a little too tear-stained and dramatic for my taste, but I liked it an awful lot better than the first half of the book. The art helps it out a lot, and there are also lengthy sex scenes that, at the very least, steal some of the pages away from the drama. But the relationship is a whole lot more believable here, as are the characters, and it’s not a bad little story if drama and angst are your favorites.

Honestly, I think I would’ve liked the second half a whole lot more if I had read it first and not already passed judgment on the whole book after the first story. I’d read another book by Madarame if I heard a lot of good things about it, and her art is pretty exceptional… but I think Akio and Ryo have kind of scared me off of Madarame for the time being.


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