Embracing Love Omnibus 2

August 23, 2015

Youka Nitta – SuBLime – 2014 – 14 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols. 3-4

Hm.  I read the first half of this book, and it didn’t really click with me, so I waited a week or two to give the second half a try.  It still didn’t click.  I’m not sure why, I loved the first one to pieces.  I found it to be incredibly romantic.  But this one felt like straight-up drama.

In the first half, the main plot point is that Iwaki and Katou are moving, and then they visit Iwaki’s family, who are homophobic and had previously disowned him when he started his career as an adult actor.  The second half has more short stories, but hanging over the whole of it is a rather ugly plot point involving Iwaki’s new manager attempting to sabotage their relationship.

What did this volume lack that the first one had?  Well, I really liked watching the two of them fall in love, and struggle to become legitimate actors.  I thought that made for a great story.  But here?  They… aren’t really struggling for anything.  They’re both incredibly famous.  They are together.  Each chapter has some sort of petty fight where one earnestly yells at the other over something silly, like not spending enough time together, being worried about the other’s mood, or whether the manager is trying to get in between them.  But there’s no real drama, because there’s never any doubt that the two love each other.  The fights become annoying and repetitive, and just read like drama drama drama without much substance.  The content of volume three was a bit more interesting… it did feel like the two were coming up against something serious when Iwaki struggled with the relationships in his family.  And there were some cute stories when the two moved, like when Katou found the box of Iwaki’s old adult films.

Part of my reservation is that I still have the content of volume 4 lingering in my memory, which is mostly just short stories that feature conflict without a serious ground.  The final story was interesting, since it was about the author of Embracing Love from volume one, and about how he turned from being an in-the-closet police officer to the feminine writer he is today (I’m not sure if he’s supposed to be transgender, the story has implied both genders at different points).  But it was condensed in one chapter.  It would have been better if it had been longer so we could learn to like him more.  It would have also been better if I never found out his lover was his younger nephew.

The key to a drama-filled series like this is that the drama has to feel like it’s actually affecting the lives of the characters, not that one misunderstood how much the other loved him.  Something tells me if someone threatened their relationship, one or both of these men would lose their minds.  So that would be intriguing if it was a real threat.  There’s also the old stand-bys for a series like this – career ending drama, major physical accidents (if you’re Zetsuai, you alternate between those two), family drama (which Kizuna does correctly)… and you’ve basically passed all the “how does he feel, I don’t know” drama you’re going to get out of Embracing Love.

It’s not like I’m ever going to stop reading.  At one volume a year, this doesn’t come out often enough to grow tiresome.  And it’s still pretty high-quality drama, which I like in BL.  So, after all that, really, I can’t wait for the third omnibus.  If only because there’s a shriveled black part of my heart waiting for their lives to crash and burn somewhere over the next ten volumes.

edit:  I waited long enough to post this review!  Volume three came out a week or two ago.  I wrote this up in… May?

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