I Shall Never Return 5

February 19, 2009

I’ve got a bit of a flu this week, so I apologize if my posts have been less frequent.  I’ve been sleeping instead of reading, which is a true tragedy.

I did get to read this, which is the conclusion to a rather nice BL series.  On one hand, I felt it drug things out a little long, but that may be because it waited so long to address what appeared to be a car crash at the end of last volume.  It makes up for this by filling in a story about Ritsuro getting drawn into Ken and Kazuyoshi’s old lifestyle.  Some thugs that were after Kazuyoshi actually pick up Ritsuro to get to him, and when they find out Ritsuro is the one who Ken straightened up for, they basically rape him.  In the aftermath, Ritsuro’s parents find out about his and Ken’s relationship, and his father doesn’t take it well.

Meanwhile, Ken and his stepdad have a minor crisis on thier hands in India, which only gets worse when Ken’s dad loses one of the things most important to him.  Ritsuro gets a call from Ken’s mom about Ken and his dad being lost somewhere, and she goes to India to track them down.

Of course the two meet up once again before the end of the story.  It felt pretty great, but it drove me crazy that they were both willing to be apart and were rather amiable about it.  Not so much because of Ken’s whole family situation, which is understandable, but because of his career.  It ends on a slightly better note, though.

There’s a short story at the end about Kazuyoshi and Ken meeting and how Ken first got into selling himself.  It’s interesting, and it was interesting to see that side of Ken again after watching all the effort it took him to straighten his life out and find what it was he wanted to do.

It was an easy series to read and like since I liked all the characters.  The relationships are sincere and the drama intense, which is about all you can ask in a series like this.  It was written quite a bit better than most romance stories, but I wouldn’t call it among the best.  It is a good read, though, and someone looking for a great BL story wouldn’t do badly reading this one.

I Shall Never Return 4

January 22, 2009

I only bought the first 3 volumes of this in an uncharacteristic fit of restraint, and for once I actually wound up wishing for the other two volumes.  Luckily I found volume 4 at Borders the other day, but it looks like I may have to wait a bit longer to lay my hands on the last volume.

I was a little disappointed that things just seemed to go around in a circle here.  I shouldn’t be, because it’s a drama-tastic circle, and really, a lot happens.  Things get pretty hot and heavy between Ritsuro and Kazuyoshi, and Ken seems rather… detached from it all.  The undertones between him and his step-dad have been toned way down, so it’s easier for me to take his leaving Ritsuro for India as a quest to better himself.

It’s kind of weird, because I thought Ken was leaving right away, but apparently he sticks around for awhile, then suddenly bails on Ritsuro when he finds out that he and Kazuyoshi have hooked up.  There’s a big dramatic scene between the three boys at the airport, and Ritsuro has to decide who he loves best and how much it means for said person to be with him.  Et cetera.  I’m downplaying it a bit, and it has been done better elsewhere… but man, that’s some good melodrama if that’s your thing.

The last third or so of the volume is Moeko trying to make Ritsuro feel better, and Ritsuro trying to make other people feel better and failing horribly.  That part kind of made me laugh.

There’s a bit of a cliffhanger at the end, I… think it’s a car-crash-are-the-characters-dead situation, but it could just be that the characters have stopped to investigate a car crash.  I’m not sure.  I’m looking forward to the ending anyway.

I Shall Never Return 3

January 21, 2009

Things got weird here.  The main couple is still really into each other, but there were plot complications that I would not have ever imagined in my wildest dreams.  I’m not sure if I like them because they’re good or I like them because they’re so far outside the realm of possibility that I’m entertained by it.  Either way, it’s quite compelling.

Ken goes with his mother to Singapore, and there’s a brief and intense fight when his mother realizes that Ken and Ritsuro are romantically involved.  Ken wrecks a car in anger, and is saved by his new stepfather.  The stepfather is quite a bit younger than his mother.  The stepfather is also quite gay, apparently, so I’m not sure what he’s doing with Ken’s mother.  I’m not sure the two are even shown affectionately addressing each other.

Ken starts to hero-worship his stepfather, who is a rather glamorous photographer who hops from country to country.  Ken decides that this is exactly the direction he needs in his life, and makes a decision to learn the trade from his stepfather.  Now, Ken doesn’t seem to have any romance in mind when it comes to the very young stepfather, but the stepfather is kind of forward with Ken.  Forward enough that Ritsuro notices and is jealous.  Very jealous.  And angry.

Don’t worry though, because Ritsuro is now totally obsessed with Ken’s friend, to the point that he’s all he can think about, even in the middle of sex with Ken.  I’m worried about where this will go, because I actually like Ritsuro and Ken as a couple a lot, and it would break my heart to see them split, especially since the guy in question is kind of a jerk.

So yeah, I really, really like it, even if all the volumes so far have pulled off some really out-of-place weirdness.  I’m hooked.  It’s so rare for a BL series to be a long story like this, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how this drama is resolved in two volumes.

I Shall Never Return 2

January 18, 2009

This ventures into more uncomfortable territory.  Gang rape territory.  Worst of all, it seems like the event is basically brushed off right after it happens, though the men who commit the crime do wind up in jail.  Actually, it serves as a warning to Ken that, try as he might to get away from his old life and live well, the ghosts of it will haunt him for a long time afterwards.  It’s yet another parallel to Let Dai, actually, though once again, Let Dai handles it a little better.

Most of the volume focuses on Ritsuro and his school trip to Osaka.  Of course much effort is made to have the two boys agonize about being apart, but the real purpose of the trip seemed to be to bring Ritsuro and the guy who was in love with Ken closer together.  That guy lays some of his ghosts to rest while on the trip, and seems more willing to deal with Ritsuro as a person.  Nothing happens between the two, but Ken is going away to Singapore, so there’s always next time.

Ken’s trip to Singapore is to visit his mother, but he figures he might like to try a new place where nobody knows about him from his past.  He can’t leave Ritsuro for too long, of course, so this is just a trial period.  But two weeks is a lot longer than the four days that Ritsuro was gone.  Methinks bad things will happen to both of them during the time.

Despite the fact that the series ventured into dark territory, I like the relationship between the two main characters enough  that I’ll probably keep reading.  But if things get much worse than what happened in this volume, I may have to quit.

I Shall Never Return 1

January 17, 2009

This is another Deux series I thought I’d try.  This one won me over by being advertised as “classic” and also because it seemed like it had an overly-angsty story.  The two boys are in high school (or at least one is, he’s a senior, the other one has dropped out), but I was kind of hoping for Let Dai levels of DRAMA, so I thought I’d try it.

The beginning is a bit… messy.  The story’s sense of time and place is so far very bad.  The story opens on a scene between the main couple while they were still in junior high.  This cuts inexplicably to when the boys are older, and there is apparently something unfriendly between them.  Ritsuro goes back home, and then to school.  Somewhere in the middle of this scene, the helpful text “four years later” appears.  I thought we were getting another jump forward in time, which wasn’t the case.  It took me a good chunk of reading before I got the timeframe straight in my head.

It also took me a long time to get events straight: Ritsuro presently hates Ken because Ken seems to sleep with all his girlfriends.  The two have been friends for a long time, and apparently slept together unexpectedly when they were 13 and Ken’s parents got a divorce.  Even though Ritsuro says he hates Ken, he seems to hang out with him a lot, and eventually the two hook up.  Everything from there is straightforward, but their relationship doesn’t seem like it will be full of smooth sailing.

It is drama-tastic, though.  Ritsuro has Ken, and he also has a girlfriend that seems to love him despite the fact she hopped into bed with Ken so easily.  It takes a little bit of time for Ritsuro and Ken to hook up, but it is of course VERY PASSIONATE when they do, and all that.  Then they fight and break up and get back together a lot, and it’s only the first volume!  Ken is jealous of Ritsuro’s girlfriend, and Ritsuro is jealous of a guy who implies heavily that he and Ken were an item in the past.

Ken prostitutes himself, but gives this up when he starts dating Ritsuro for real.  This will probably come back to haunt him later, though, and already has.  Ritsuro, knowing this about him, seems to act surprised whenever he considers the possibility of other people having sex with Ken.

While the story is technically about high school students, and is mildly disturbing as a result given the prostitution angle and the fact sometimes Ken winds up bound and gagged, school doesn’t seem that important.  It only comes up a few times towards the end of the volume, and a lot of time is spent with the characters at their jobs and stuff.

There are some rough patches, but the relationship between Ken and Ritsuro may very well be the most drama-tastic I’ve ever seen.  It’s not nearly as good as Let Dai, but it has more drama if only because the two are constantly on the verge of breaking up and making up.  It also touches on some relationship issues I haven’t run across in other BL titles, such as whether or not the boys love each other or simply lust after each other.  The drama and angst go a long way in making me want to read more, but it does have its disturbing moments, and the storytelling could use a bit of fine tuning.

It is quite wonderful, though, as far as disturbing BL goes.  I can see how it would be considered a classic.