May 9, 2012
Kaoru Iwamoto / Shinri Fuwa – SuBLime – 2012 – 5 volumes
I haven’t talked about a SuBLime release in awhile, and I’m a bit behind. There are many fine books over there right now, and I chose Yebisu Celebrities to read next. Basically, because I’d heard of it before, but also because a lot of the SuBLime titles are leaning towards younger couples at the moment, and I’m gravitating away from those for the time being. Yebisu Celebrities is all about professional graphic designers.
Poor, broke Fujinami is fresh out of school and needs a job bad. Luckily, he lands a position at the famous design firm Yebisu Graphics. They cater to only the top clients, and their staff is full of superstar designers, all good-looking young men. To have a position there is an absolute dream. The story is initially about him learning the ropes at the company and living up to their elite reputation, but of course, he also catches the eye of the head of the company, Daijou. And after that happens, the story switches gears to focus on another couple, this time with designer Akira and his boyfriend, struggling model Kei.
For various reasons, and because it popped into my mind and won’t go away, Yebisu Graphics will forever be Leo Burnett in my mind. Hilariously, if my meager job experience and college classes are any indication (I was in the design department at the Art Institute, which is a few blocks away from their headquarters, though my job experience is not there), Leo Burnett is probably the opposite of Yebisu Graphics, and is likely staffed almost entirely by women.
But this is BL, and Yebisu Graphics is full of male sexual tension. I wasn’t particularly fond of it, even going in with a background in graphic design. This is partially because a lot of time is spent on the story, and less on the characters and romance. Granted, the story is a bit more interesting than usual, and a lot of work goes into developing Fujinami’s job skills and portraying him slowly “getting it” at Yebisu. But the sexual tension between he and Daijou is simply there the entire time, and when they hook up at the end, it isn’t particularly satisfying. I just wasn’t feeling the relationship.
One thing that did bother me was the fact that it’s implied that Fujinami only got the job because the boss thought he was hot. I’m not sure why this struck me as offensive, because it is a legitimate plot device for a book that isn’t pretending to be anything but smut. I mean… really. Perhaps it bothered me since so much time was spent developing Fujinami into a good employee. This maybe would have proven the rumors wrong, except the boss clearly does think Fujinami is hot, and then they sleep together. But it’s not like it pretends otherwise! Why does it bother me so much?!
The short story about Akira and his boyfriend (and his breakup with Ryo, the art director at Yebisu) also didn’t really strike my fancy, though I liked it quite a bit better than the main story. It still feels a little predictable, and the relationship and characters not quite developed enough for my taste, but… you know. It scratches the itch.
Overall, I was a little disappointed by the first volume in what I had heard was a fairly classic series. I really wanted to like it, especially because of the graphic design theme, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. Maybe I read it in the wrong mood, or something. I’ll probably still give volume 2 a try. I’ve had mixed results on some of these longer series with multiple couples, so maybe I’ll like some of the other employees at Yebisu Graphics better.