S 1

August 20, 2011

Saki Aida – June – 2008 – 4 volumes
this is a novel

So, I think it’s a well-established fact that I love these June novels almost unconditionally. Occasionally they fall flat, and sometimes they’re not quite what I want, and sometimes they don’t take their plots far enough (for obvious reasons). But as disposable romance entertainment, there’s nothing like them. And they seem to cater to all tastes. This particular series is for people who like their BL with action mixed in. Fans of Kizuna and Yellow, for instance.

Shiiba is a detective working deep undercover in Kabuki-cho district of Shinjuku. In other words, a seedy section of town. His specialty is sniffing out intelligence on how firearms enter the country and are distributed. Helping him is a mostly-legitimate businessman with his finger in a lot of pies and some ties to one of the area yakuza families. Andou finds tips on the guns and feeds them to Shiiba, who investigates further and reports with enough evidence to the police so that the criminals can be busted. Much detail goes into describing what Shiiba’s undercover policework entails, and the elaborate social networks and protocols he has to observe as a detective working undercover are fascinating.

This being a BL novel, it becomes clear fairly early on that Andou has a crush on Shiiba, but Shiiba has no interest whatsoever, and in fact exploits this for information. I was confused, because the occasional illustration of Shiiba showed him as light-haired, but he was definitely the dominant one in the business relationship between himself and Andou. The submissive partner has light hair. This is one of the ironclad rules of BL comics, and one that is rarely broken. Sadly, I can’t think of a single book that bucks this trend, and I’ve been reading a lot of BL lately. Let Dai, maybe?

Anyway, what happens between Shiiba and Andou is an early twist I won’t spoil. The ironclad rule of BL was not broken, but other, equally obvious plot points did not. I was surprised, and these BL novels are not known for their shocking plot twists.

On that note, I can’t really talk about the rest of the novel. The work that the writer puts into describing Shiiba’s detective work is much appreciated though, and doesn’t get any less detailed as the romance develops. And the romance is a slow, gradual thing that doesn’t happen until almost the end of the book. And when it does, it’s clear that the relationship is a healthy one, which is good news since it has to carry through three more novels.

One downside, however, is that Aida gets a little too detailed about the gun laws. Gun laws in Japan, and how guns enter the country, are discussed ad nauseam, and in the second half of the book, we begin to get a taste of China, too. As an American, this was probably completely necessary since, sadly, it’s difficult for me to picture a world where you aren’t allowed to own whatever gun you want. I got more than a few surprises along those lines. And yes, I probably did need the near-constant reminder that having a gun in Japan is really, really not legal. But still. They talk about gun laws a lot. There’s more gun law porn in there than real porn.

But it scratched the necessary romance itch, that’s for sure. Shiiba is a fun character that holds out against the romance for a long time, and Aida does a good job of showing just what it takes to get him to change his mind about having sex with men. It doesn’t just happen, which is always a nice touch. If you like romance or BL novels, read the plot description, and think you may like it, chances are it’s probably going to be up your alley. Even I liked it, and these action-oriented BL series usually aren’t my flavor. I’m curious to see how the rest of the series goes now.

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