Challengers 1

July 20, 2011

Hinako Takanaga – DramaQueen – 2006 – 4 volumes

I wanted to read this series before I tried any more of The Tyrant Falls in Love. Not that one has much to do with the other, I just heard that this one’s a little easier to get into, and also one of Takanaga’s better series. I really liked Little Butterfly, so I’m hoping for the same level of characters in this one.

The premise is okay, so far. Kurokawa runs into naive Tatsumi while out on the town one night. Tatsumi seems out of his element, wandering around the city looking for his hotel and campus, so Kurokawa offers to put him up at his place and help him with his college application process. Kurokawa quickly falls in love with Tatsumi, and tips his hand upon saying goodbye, giving Tatsumi a kiss with no explanation. Nothing else happens, and Kurokawa assumes he’ll never see Tatsumi again, but lo and behold, Tatsumi gets into college and asks Kurokawa to help him get settled. The kiss is explained away, and after Kurokawa confirms that Tatsumi doesn’t have enough money to stay on his own, he generously offers his spare bedroom to Tatsumi. And life goes on, with Kurokawa harboring a crush that Tatsumi is relatively oblivious to.

While this sounds like it goes obvious places, Kurokawa is stopped dead in his pursuit of Tatsumi by Tatsumi’s terrifying older brother, Souichi. Souichi pops in pretty regularly to assault Kurokawa in the middle of potentially romantic moments and important conversations. Kurokawa also has a coworker that enthusiastically encourages him to just follow his feelings when it comes to Tatsumi. Meanwhile, Tatsumi is slowly getting himself used to college life and remaining blissfully ignorant of Kurokawa’s feelings.

Things change at the end of the volume, but so far, it’s been pretty status quo as far as romantic comedies go. The sense of humor is a little better than usual, but I feel like I need at least one more volume before I can decide if I really like all the characters. It’s been following the romcom script pretty closely, without a whole lot of surprises, which is why I’m reserving judgement. Perhaps it’ll get more exciting once we know more about the characters. So far, I do like it better than The Tyrant Falls in Love. Unexpectedly, Souichi is one of my favorites so far in this series, but he has yet to shine the same way in his main role in Tyrant (I’ve only read one volume, though). Tyrant also starts out with some non-con, which also keeps it from my good graces for the time being, but I know that Challengers is supposed to be the lighter and happier prequel, so I’m looking forward to the story from here.

If you’re thinking about buying this, please consider getting it directly from DramaQueen. They’re beginning to publish again after being silent for so long, and have books on their schedule for fall and winter. They only have vols 2-4 in stock, but any support helps, I think, and I do love their books and would love to see their future efforts. And by future efforts, I mean continuations of The Summit and DVD, but I’ll take anything, honestly. And have! I dislike sci-fi themed BL stories, but bought both of their recent releases, Missing Road and Junk, just to support them.

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