December 28, 2011
Sumako Kari – Digital Manga Guild – 2011 – 1 volume
This is another one of the Digital Manga Guild BL titles that has been published at eManga.com recently. I’m actually rather addicted to these, but I haven’t been talking about them here very much. I tend to read another one as a means of putting off writing the last one up here. eManga made it especially hard for me today, since it looks like there are several new DMG titles posted, but I need to clear these off my writing backlog.
Another thing about eManga.com is that they are currently offering the first five volumes of the Vampire Hunter D manga for free. I realize that the audience for Vampire Hunter D and A Truthful Picture don’t overlap much, but all the same, free is a great deal, and it’s worth checking out.
Anyway, A Truthful Picture is another nice, fluffy, hand-hold-y BL title. Actually, I haven’t written it up here yet, but it’s pretty close in tone to Rainy Day Love. A Truthful Picture consists of 12 mostly very short stories featuring different couples. There’s very little sex, and I think the only time the book really goes to the bedroom is with the first couple, who has three stories dedicated to them.
Short stories like this are harder for me to get into, since the appeal of BL, for me, is in the characters, and stories this short are more about situation. There’s plenty of cute moments to be had throughout, including musings over the fact that glasses are like a part of your partner, themes of missed opportunities and second chances, a story about one childhood friend who will never admit defeat to another, a story about an older couple who may have an opportunity to get together after one man finds himself impotent, and maybe a few other situations. The first three chapters feature the same couple in three different situations. The first chapter is about them getting together (one boy repeatedly takes cell phone photos of another, until he fears he’s been caught), the second is about whether or not it’s okay for the seme to tell his parents, and the third is about how the uke feels like his happiness is fickle and could collapse at any time. But even with three chapters to develop the characters, I still couldn’t really get into the couple.
My favorite was the pair of chapters called “After a Long Day,” which is about a man who keeps seeing a childhood friend everywhere. Later, we find out that the childhood friend confessed his love and the man rejected him rather cruelly, but the man just can’t seem to get the childhood friend out of his mind. The narrative is a little choppy, but I especially liked the end, when the childhood friend couldn’t believe that the man had a change of heart and began hiding from him again. This was the story with the most believable characters… but the narrative wasn’t very smooth, unfortunately.
Mostly, this is just a volume of short stories full of “aww” moments. It’s good for it, that’s for sure, if that’s what you’re looking for. But the author states periodically throughout that these were short stories drawn over the course of 7-8 years, and it’s clear she’s… maybe not a full-time mangaka? Or these were filler for something else? In addition to a handful that jump around story-wise and the stories that lack character development, the art is also really, really rough. These things don’t matter very much, since the focus on the stories is, again, the idea being conveyed rather than the plot or characters, but keep that in mind. It’s a good, quick read, and very sweet (I don’t regret spending the money on it, and I still hate that the digital copies are $7), but there’s definitely better one-shots and short stories out there. Try Rainy Day Love first.