Yebisu Celebrities 1

May 9, 2012

Kaoru Iwamoto / Shinri Fuwa – SuBLime – 2012 – 5 volumes

I haven’t talked about a SuBLime release in awhile, and I’m a bit behind. There are many fine books over there right now, and I chose Yebisu Celebrities to read next. Basically, because I’d heard of it before, but also because a lot of the SuBLime titles are leaning towards younger couples at the moment, and I’m gravitating away from those for the time being. Yebisu Celebrities is all about professional graphic designers.

Poor, broke Fujinami is fresh out of school and needs a job bad. Luckily, he lands a position at the famous design firm Yebisu Graphics. They cater to only the top clients, and their staff is full of superstar designers, all good-looking young men. To have a position there is an absolute dream. The story is initially about him learning the ropes at the company and living up to their elite reputation, but of course, he also catches the eye of the head of the company, Daijou. And after that happens, the story switches gears to focus on another couple, this time with designer Akira and his boyfriend, struggling model Kei.

For various reasons, and because it popped into my mind and won’t go away, Yebisu Graphics will forever be Leo Burnett in my mind. Hilariously, if my meager job experience and college classes are any indication (I was in the design department at the Art Institute, which is a few blocks away from their headquarters, though my job experience is not there), Leo Burnett is probably the opposite of Yebisu Graphics, and is likely staffed almost entirely by women.

But this is BL, and Yebisu Graphics is full of male sexual tension. I wasn’t particularly fond of it, even going in with a background in graphic design. This is partially because a lot of time is spent on the story, and less on the characters and romance. Granted, the story is a bit more interesting than usual, and a lot of work goes into developing Fujinami’s job skills and portraying him slowly “getting it” at Yebisu. But the sexual tension between he and Daijou is simply there the entire time, and when they hook up at the end, it isn’t particularly satisfying. I just wasn’t feeling the relationship.

One thing that did bother me was the fact that it’s implied that Fujinami only got the job because the boss thought he was hot. I’m not sure why this struck me as offensive, because it is a legitimate plot device for a book that isn’t pretending to be anything but smut. I mean… really. Perhaps it bothered me since so much time was spent developing Fujinami into a good employee. This maybe would have proven the rumors wrong, except the boss clearly does think Fujinami is hot, and then they sleep together. But it’s not like it pretends otherwise! Why does it bother me so much?!

The short story about Akira and his boyfriend (and his breakup with Ryo, the art director at Yebisu) also didn’t really strike my fancy, though I liked it quite a bit better than the main story. It still feels a little predictable, and the relationship and characters not quite developed enough for my taste, but… you know. It scratches the itch.

Overall, I was a little disappointed by the first volume in what I had heard was a fairly classic series. I really wanted to like it, especially because of the graphic design theme, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. Maybe I read it in the wrong mood, or something. I’ll probably still give volume 2 a try. I’ve had mixed results on some of these longer series with multiple couples, so maybe I’ll like some of the other employees at Yebisu Graphics better.

One Response to “Yebisu Celebrities 1”

  1. Marfisa Says:

    Maybe this was some sort of translation problem, but in the previous Be Beautiful edition of “Yebisu Celebrities,” it seemed as if other characters went out of their way to point out that Fujinami was actually the least qualified job applicant. The implication in that version seemed to be that, when not recruiting established design-industry stars, the boss liked to hire still-wet-behind-the-ears cute young things and mold them into the kind of assistants/employees he wanted (with the option of teaching them how to be his preferred type of uke as well). Since this seemed to involve picking somebody who was much more meek and biddable than 99% of the other people at the office (who admittedly tended to be more brash and arrogant than the average Japanese salaryman), it seemed as if, as far as the boss was concerned, low self-esteem and a tendency to be easily intimidated (which was a perfectly reasonable reaction to the atmosphere in that particular office) were actually more desirable characteristics for the job–and the position of boss’ boyfriend–than the more usual type of professional qualifications. Unfortunately, since it was such a high-powered firm, if Fujinami had continued floundering indefinitely, as his lack of outstanding talent or experience seemed to lead some of his co-workers to expect, he could well have found himself simultaneously dumped and fired by the rather ruthless, impatient boss. This is not exactly calculated to give readers hoping for at least a modest amount of romance warm fuzzy feelings.

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