Future Lovers 2
June 23, 2009
Wow. So I liked the first volume of this well enough, but this second volume was easily one of the best yaoi books I’ve read. Two of the things that always makes BL more enjoyable for me is a steady couple and stories about older men, and this book had both. In addition, it also consisted entirely of real-life, non-fantasy situations and two characters who were written really well, each with a distinct personality and different sets of problems.
Many of the problems between the two stem from the fact that Akira will always be aware that Kento’s dream was to have a wife and kids, something that he can’t give him. Kento says that it’s no longer important now that he has Akira, but it still comes up frequently anyway. One of the best scenes that dealt with this took place at a festival when Kento runs into an old friend with his family. He begins to blush and stammer when he starts to introduce Akira, but Akira cuts him off and introduces himself as a coworker and walks off. Akira later explains that Kento doesn’t have to go through the trouble of explaining their relationship to people, but then backpedals and says that no matter how much Kento reassures him, Kento will never know how to introduce him to other people, and Akira will always feel bad that Kento can’t have a family. There’s nothing much either one can say to argue with these facts, though the scene does have a happy ending.
The book is also full of not-so-dramatic moments and instances of happiness and intimacy between the two men. In one chapter, Akira takes great pleasure in Kento’s formal wear one day. Later, when Akira refuses to eat tangerines because he has to peel them, Kento gives him a piece, and the scene turns into a rather adorable and intimate sex scene, much different that the abrupt and meaningless ones that normally pop up in these books. The last third of the book deals with marriage (or not so much a marriage since same-sex marriage doesn’t exist in Japan, but a legal adoption) between Akira and Kento, something that Kento wants not so much out of formality but as a way of officially having Akira as his closest family member. They first have to get around Akira’s fears of long-term commitments that stem from his often-divorced mother, then they need to get around the fact that Kento’s grandparents still don’t really like Akira. The real-life processes, fears, and hurdles are once again an appreciated detail, and seeing Akira and Kento work their way through the problems is endearing and touching, romantic in a way that these books are often not.
The book then ends with a look at Akira and Kento together as old men. It’s a gag, but it’s still kind of a disturbing way to end the series. In the final author notes, Kunieda goes on to talk about how when she was growing up, they didn’t have BL manga, and she makes the point that the genre is in its adolescence and perhaps in time the couples will be older and older. Honestly, if she wants to draw a series about two “beautiful” old men, I’d read it and probably love every page. This is one of the few very sincere, funny, honest, and true-to-life romance manga I’ve read, and the fact that it accomplishes that in two volumes, combined with the fact that most of the BL I enjoy somehow involves life-destroying drama, is nothing short of incredible.
Congratulations, Future Lovers, you’ve made my short list and once again assured me that not all yaoi is cheap thrills.