June 16, 2015
Yun Kouga – Blu – 2005 – 4 volumes
I’ve always been partial to Yun Kouga. Reading this, I realize her work has a lot of the same weaknesses, which are especially glaring here since this is such an early work (from, I believe, 1988).
Her characters really, really look the same. Chihaya is dark-haired, and Kagetsuya is light-haired. Sometimes, Chihaya doesn’t have his hair shaded, and it’s not clear who is speaking (they technically have different hairstyles as well, but the wispy, indistinct art also sometimes blurs this line). In one chapter where the narrative shifts, it took me quite some time to realize the main character wasn’t Kagetsuya, just someone who looked and kind of acted like him.
The narrative also jumps around. A lot. At one point, we are told that Chihaya has shown his wings to two people, including someone named Toki. This actually made me flip back to the first chapter, since I didn’t remember him showing his wings to that character, nor did I think that person was named Toki. I was right, he’s describing something we haven’t seen. Then, the narrative jumps from the present to the past (in the middle of a rather dramatic decision), to tell the story of how he and Kagetsuya met. Then, the narrative shifts again, and we learn about a character named Toki meeting a little girl he names Chihaya (this was the one where it took me a long time to figure out Toki wasn’t Kagetsuya). Neither Kagetsuya nor Chihaya is in this chapter, and their relationship to Toki isn’t explained. After that, we get a story about how Toki and Chiyaha met. Then it goes back to the present for the last couple stories in the volume.
I’m willing to bet at least part of this was… maybe a doujinshi, but at best, serialized irregularly. This would have been around Kouga’s debut, so the scattered nature might be due to an irregular serialization. Still, it ain’t so great collected into a sequential volume like this. Having said that, I would have hated for this material to be left out… I just wish it was organized a little better. And, hopefully, it was serialized more regularly after this, and later volumes have a continuous narrative.
Anyway, angels are evaluating humans. Chihaya is the kind, overachieving angel who is grading humans based on good actions, Kagetsuya is the curmudgeonly angel who is tallying up the bad. Whichever side gets to 10,000 actions first wins (minuses means humanity is eradicated). Chihaya is also a rare “black mutation,” and all other angels are white. There is a relationship implied between Chihaya and Kagetsuya, though it’s not romantic as of yet. It is forbidden though (mysteriously, m/f relationships are not), and they would both be excommunicated and possibly killed if they fell in love with one another.
Confusingly, there are relationships heavily implied between a lot of the angels. Uriel makes no secret of having a huge crush on Chihaya later in the volume. A relationship is also heavily implied between Michael and Raphael. So… there’s that.
This was a tough volume to make my way through, and I usually do like Yun Kouga. It picked up some momentum after the narrative stabilized towards the end, and I’m curious to see how it continues into a second volume. I’m a little confused by the Blu imprint, since they usually published more explicit series… and Kouga is normally CLAMP-like in her implied-but-not-confirmed BL relationships. I’m trying to picture Kagetsuya and Chihaya having sex, and I cannot. If they do, it is wispy, indistinct sex, and again, when I think of Blu, I think of Gerard & Jacques, Love Pistols, and some dirty Hinako Takanaga stuff. But maybe I only remember dirty Blu series, and they published some less explicit stuff, too. It’s been many moons since Blu released a book.
Anyway, on with Earthian. These books are certainly the prettiest ones Blu released.