September 28, 2008
So, as you may notice, I only read BL titles occasionally. For some reason, I can read high school shoujo romance until my eyes fall out of my sockets and generally forgive those genre conventions, but I can’t do the same for BL. I also don’t really like stories of a sexual nature that involve the underage, and a lot of BL stories are set in high school, so that cuts back on my intake too.
This, though. This is really great. I picked this up after reading some pretty positive reviews of it around, because I like finding really great BL stories, and on top of that all the characters are adults. I was really, really surprised by how much I liked it, and I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who likes romance comics or wants a good read. It is absolutely FANTASTIC.
I was pretty much won over from the first sequence. This is a volume of short stories, and the title story is the first one in the volume. It opens with a somewhat baffling, but extremely artistic solo dance sequence with commentary about a death superimposed over the performance. Later in the story, we find out what the significance of the death and the performance are, and I had to read it over again in order to get the full impact. It is both visually and emotionally powerful, and I’m not sure how to convey how impressed I was with just that opening sequence alone, and it was only around six pages long.
The first and last stories in the volume were probably my favorites. The first story featured a slowly developed romance that had a lot of verbal play and entendre (not necessarily of a sexual nature) between the two characters. It involved the public and private lives of the two, who were both famous performers very much in the public eye. The first story ends well, but these two characters carry over into the second story, which has a much more melancholy ending (I don’t have the volume with me here right now, but I’m pretty sure this was two stories. It may have been one long story). The emotions between the two are portrayed perfectly and indirectly, and it’s one of those rare times where what isn’t said is more powerful than what is. I go nuts whenever I find something like this.
The last story is good, too. It features an older man returning to his small hometown for the summer festival after being away for almost 40 years. He visits with all his old friends, but he finds a young man who tells him his best friend from childhood has passed away just a few months before. Of course the young man looks like his friend when he was young, and we find out that he is the friend’s grandson. The old man then starts a flashback to a former festival, just before he leaves for the city, and then the rest of the story is pretty much told that way. Again, not much is said, but you feel the tight relationship between the two and the reluctance of the parting very keenly, and it nearly made me cry by the time it was finished. I don’t think a short story like this has ever accomplished that, but there you go. For anyone keeping track, I’m not sure how old the two are supposed to be in the flashback (they’re likely young men, but they could possibly be high-school age), but it wasn’t set in a school, and more importantly, it made me forget to think about it, which is really all that matters.
Two of the other stories in the volume were about animals in a way, but one has a surprise ending so I won’t spoil it. It’s easily the most bizarre story in the volume, and I found myself focusing on exactly what on earth was going on instead of the relationship, but it’s a good story all the same.
I would buy any other volumes licensed by this artist in a second. I would also recommend this emphatically to anyone who was looking for something similar to Fumi Yoshinaga to read. This is very much in her style, though slightly less comedic and perhaps a little more passionate. Take that as you will.