Scent of Apple Blossoms 2

August 1, 2012

Toko Kawai – SuBLime – 2012 – 3+ volumes

Another one of my favorites, Toko Kawai, just had a recent release over at SuBLime. The Scent of Apple Blossoms is a wonderful slice-of-life, low-drama kind of story, and I was pleased that volume 2 seemed to maintain the mood of the first.

There are several short stories in this volume. In one, Haruna’s ex-boyfriend Jesse comes to Japan to scatter his Japanese grandfather’s ashes, and enlists Haruna’s help. Wary of Nakagawa’s warning that he was a jealous lover, Haruna steps quietly around Jesse, even when circumstances force Jesse to stay at Haruna’s place. More circumstances force Jesse and Nakagawa together, and the relationship between Haruna and Nakagawa is tested when Haruna tries to lie and doesn’t read between the lines when Nakagawa gives his blessing to the visit.

In another story, Haruna realizes he doesn’t know much about the stoic, keeps-to-himself Nakagawa. He’s got a gig where he has to wear a suit, and seems to rent an apartment by himself. When he starts to see and hear women around him, Haruna begins to suspect that Nakagawa may have some sort of secret life. He doesn’t, of course, but it’s really cute to watch Haruna struggle over broaching the subject to Nakagawa. Nakagawa really isn’t that talkative, so Haruna finds it difficult to bring such things up.

Again, while the hooks for the stories do promise drama, The Scent of Apple Blossoms is a fairly light read, and the relationship between Nakagawa and Haruna is solid, and even a little funny. I never got tired of watching the cranky Nakagawa glower at the bouncy, oblivious Haruna. While such contrasts aren’t uncommon in BL, usually they’re taken to a comedic extreme, but Kawai reins it in here, and it feels fairly realistic.

There are also little details that make this feel slice-of-life-y scattered throughout. Haruna begins building a surprisingly solid friendship with Nakagawa’s grandfather, the owner of the sake brewery, when he volunteers to be a shogi partner. Haruna is an awesome shogi player, and nobody in the house can beat him, thus the grandfather insists on trying again and again. There are also some more details about the brewery scattered throughout, including some info about freshly-brewed sake, little scenes where Haruna tries to sell customers on the sake at his friend’s bar, et cetera. It’s the touches of the everyday like that that make this a fun story to read.

There’s not really a dominant flavor to this story, and it’s quite good, so I feel like it would probably appeal to a pretty wide range of BL fans. About the only thing it doesn’t offer is the dark drama, and… uh, I guess a classroom setting, but it’s a good read if you’re looking for one, as are all of Toko Kawai’s stories. The third volume comes out at the end of the month. Can’t wait!

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