November 10, 2011
Kazuma Kodaka – June – 2011 – 11 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 7-8
I disliked this volume quite a bit. So much so that I went back to the beginning of the series to try and remember what I liked about it. I re-read all the current volumes, and realized I like the series a lot more than I thought I did, but that doesn’t change the fact that this volume was still a dud. I just don’t like Masa and Kai. It’s Ranmaru and Kei that are the draw for me.
This volume starts off promising, with Kei’s dad showing up at the hospital and offering to pay for a Kyoto vacation for Kei and Ranmaru so that Kei can visit his mother’s grave. Kei’s brother Kai blows up at his dad, who threw Kai out temporarily when he found out he was gay, for treating Kei and Ranmaru so well. One of my favorite scenes in this book is when Kai tries to convince his dad Ranmaru is gay. Since Kei and Ranmaru have recently exchanged personal vows, they decide to treat the vacation as a honeymoon.
Anyway, Kai winds up coming on the trip too, of course, and he drags Masa along in order to settle the awkward situation between them once and for all. Instead of being a honeymoon for Kei and Ranmaru, sex scenes are frequently and comically interrupted by staff members at the hotel and Kai, who frequently rushes in when his talks with Masa go badly. There are a couple sex scenes between Kei and Ranmaru, but I hated that they had been relegated to comic relief in their own series while Kai and Masa are working things out.
Masa is called away on business, and just when it looks like things will get romantic between Kei and Ranmaru, Ranmaru abruptly decides to take up kendo again, and he wants to start ASAP. The whole gang leaves Kyoto, and the last third of the volume is mostly about Ranmaru getting back into kendo (he used to be a national champion before he was hit by a car) and training for a match with Kai.
So most of the BL focus is on Masa and Kai. I hate couples that have a huge age gap. This isn’t an insurmountable hate, and it’s easy to forget when both characters are adults. Masa and Kai are both adults, and Kai is at least twenty (Masa’s… probably at least twice that). The problem is that Kai is drawn to look younger, and acts like a little bratty kid as well, so watching him flirt with and insist on the manly, beefy yakuza affections of Masa is… hard. Add to this the fact that many chapters feature flashbacks to an adult Masa taking care of a very, very young Kai (Kai is flirty even as a youngster), and you’ve got a combination that makes my flesh crawl. Plus, Kai’s got a rape trauma, so even when they are doing the deed, Kai flies to pieces, and watching what appears to be a young boy sob while having sex with the huge Masa makes me wanna hurl the book across the room.
But what makes the flashbacks even worse between Kai and Masa is that they work really well for Kei and Ranmaru. Since the story starts with them as an adult couple, I thought the story of how they first met (which was either in elementary school or the first year of junior high, 6th grade), was extremely cute. It wasn’t outright romantic, and was mostly Kei teasing pouty Ranmaru, but their first kiss, which Kodaka portrayed as an innocent experiment between two boys, wasn’t creepy at all despite their age.
And re-reading the earlier volumes make me wish for things that have been phased out. I love Kei. He adores the ground Ranmaru walks on, and being a flirty host suits him well. He’s extremely charming too, and seems to win over everyone he talks to, though the dark, earlier plots don’t really take advantage of this. He’s a good compliment to the pouty, reserved Ranmaru, who teases Kei mercilessly. I don’t know what else you can say about them, since they were more-or-less an established couple at the beginning of the series, they’ve both survived trauma, they’ve been married, on a honeymoon, moved in together, been through the whole “what happens if you want a woman” thing… maybe there’s just not a whole lot more story for them. But having to read Kizuna with them in the background, and a couple that I don’t like as the main story focus, is not what I want.
There’s one more omnibus coming, hopefully… though with so much more ground to cover between Kai and Masa, I suspect we won’t see a whole lot of Kei and Ranmaru in that one, either. There’s a volume 11, and maybe the series will end with one last story for them. I secretly hope that volume 11 will be in an omnibus with Sessa Takuma, a spin-off volume about Ranmaru’s sister Yuki that features Ranmaru, Kei, and other Kizuna characters. Weirdly, it ran in Shounen Champion (?!), but the plot sounds like a shoujo romance for Yuki and the guy she marries. Even stranger, Biblios, a BL publisher, published the graphic novel. So… I don’t know what’s up with that.