Dousei Ai 2

September 24, 2012

Setona Mizushiro – JManga – 2012 – 11 volumes
this edition is based on an 8-volume re-release

Again, Setona Mizushiro in English is an event worth shedding tears over. I’d read anything by her, really, and Dousei Ai is not disappointing at this stage. JManga seems to be keeping up with the releases, too, as volume 3 is out already and volume 4 (halfway point!) is scheduled for release next week. About the only other thing I could want is a print release, but I’ll take what I can get. Any release at all will work just fine for me.

What I like best is that it’s not really a romance story. I thought for sure that the two protagonist that split the last volume, Tsubaki and Koutaro, would meet and eventually fall in love. Instead, volume two is about both of them finding themselves. They do meet, but it is not really a romantic rondevous. Well, it is, but they both take away something else from it that is not a relationship. Better yet, the scope of the story seems to be opening up, and includes characters that Tsubaki and Koutaro encounter as they struggle to come to terms with their identity, sexual or otherwise.

Both had a sad start last volume, when Tsubaki was spurned by a classmate that he looked up to and Koutaro lives with the guilt of not knowing whether or not the young nephew his brother and sister-in-law dote on is actually his son (which is a surprisingly heavy burden for a manga to address). Koutaro flies off the handle and becomes a sexual deviant, sleeping with whoever wants to, man or woman. Tsubaki picks himself up from his rejection by falling into the arms of a gay science teacher. When he tries to pull away, the science teacher gets ugly and his parents throw him out when they find out he’s gay and what he’s done. Both Tsubaki and Koutaro flee to Tokyo.

Much of the volume is dedicated to Tsubaki, who falls into old habits in Tokyo when he begins to live as something of a kept man with Mahori, a man who hooked up with Koutaro earlier on. Tsubaki and Mahori seem to dote on each other, and Mahori thinks all is going well, but Tsubaki believes he is merely being kept like a puppy, and eventually leaves Mahori with a simple note, something that absolutely breaks Mahori’s heart.

At this point, Tsubaki and Koutaro meet and have a conversation and romantic encounter. From there, the story begins following Koutaro again, as he opens himself up to a possible relationship, rather than a series of perpetual one-night stands that only make him feel bad about himself.

Again, I like that it’s not simply a BL story. I especially like that, as I mentioned, it’s not even really a romance, though the romantic relationships and the analysis thereof do play a heavy part. It’s simply about the characters, and I’m afraid I’m not going to adequately be able to explain this. I think that it might not appeal to some, as it is an awful lot of, for instance, Tsubaki sitting around and wondering what’s wrong with his relationship to Mahori. But I personally liked it as an alternative to the quick one-shot BL story that’s all about hooking up. The characters are young, and they’ve had bad experiences in their past. They’re studying what that means to them, how they can move past it, and what makes them happy. It’s a wonderful thing, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Unexpectedly, I also enjoy the fact that the narrative is split between two characters. Normally, I hate when attention is divided like that, but I enjoyed following both, and I like that their stories look to overlap in interesting ways. Hopefully this will be the case in future volumes as well.

It’s good, and one of the best multi-volume BL series I’ve read in a long time. And again, I’m happy that JManga is releasing it on a schedule. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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