January 31, 2012
Kaim Tachibana – DokiDoki – 2009 – 1 volume
It does what it says on the box! So straightforward. Another one for the BL Title Hall of Fame.
I ought to read more by Kaim Tachibana, who I talked about recently when I wrote up Shinesman. Really, I think the only other series available in English is Pieces of a Spiral, but it sounds like vaguely slashy shoujo fantasy, and I’m all about that. I’ve had bad luck with early 90s shoujo fantasy, but I’m always willing to try more.
This came highly recommended, and while I have to admit it is very good, it’s not so much my flavor, unfortunately. It features a character who is a “teenage slut,” a young guy who sleeps around with a different old man every night, and this is a dramatic bit of plot. Usually, when this comes up (really, for any age character), it’s not very believable, and this story is no exception. So much of the plot hinges on Mamiya straightening out Noeru that the story failed a bit for me because of this.
Mamiya is a rookie reporter who has landed his first big story, interviewing celebrity model Noeru. Noeru is a cold fish, very promiscuous, and tries to brush off Mamiya as hard as he can, but Mamiya sticks with it, hoping to get praise from his boss. But while in Noeru’s house, Mamiya studies Noeru’s paintings and finds that he is quite fond of a particular beach scene. Turns out that the beach scene contains a deceased older brother-type figure for Noeru, and it was his death that made Noeru give up on life. Wanting to pick on Mamiya more, Noeru complains to Mamiya’s publisher and wrangles a personal apology out of Mamiya, and one more face-to-face meeting. From there, the two become close as Mamiya finds that he just can’t leave Noeru alone. Noeru starts going to school, stops sleeping around, and really starts to enjoy his time with Mamiya. But one of Noeru’s childhood friends becomes jealous, and tries as hard as he can to interfere with the relationship…
It’s a shame that Noeru sleeping around was such a huge part of the plot, because otherwise there was a lot in here that I really enjoyed. I liked that Noeru and Mamiya shared a very non-romantic relationship for most of the book, and even by the end, it’s more of a bond than it is a romance. Normally older-younger relationships bother me, but Noeru and Mamiya were relating to each other as equals, so it wasn’t really an issue. I also loved the ending dearly. While romances usually need happy endings to feel complete, this one was absolutely beautiful just the way it was. And it was open-ended, too. That last page is haunting.
About the only other problem I had with it other than the whole “slut” thing was that Noeru and Mamiya felt like they needed just a touch more personality. The drama was overriding any strong character traits, and I have to really like the characters in order to be drawn into a relationship. Noeru and Mamiya were just a touch too generic for this to be truly touching. But this may just be me, because I’ve heard plenty of people talk about how much they felt this one.
It’s an excellent read, and even with the quibbles I had with it, I was quite pleased with the book as a whole. This is actually the last book Kaim Tachibana worked on, and it’s a shame she hasn’t done more since. This is really wonderful stuff.