Man of Tango

November 27, 2015

Tetuzoh Okadaya – SuBLime – 2013 – 1 volume

I am so, so sorry it took me forever to read this.  For some reason, I thought this was a volume of short stories instead of a one-shot, and I usually have to be in the mood for those.  But the burly men on the cover have been begging me for a read, and I succumbed.  It’s definitely a one-shot.

Seriously, this is everything I love in BL manga.  The men are older (one is at least 40), and they are very manly-looking.  Their relationship isn’t forced, and I loved how Hiro fell for Angie.

Plus, tango.  Angie is a tango instructor that drifts from relationship to relationship without feeling anything.  While performing one night, he meets Hiro.  His dance partner Bene invites Hiro out for drinks, and after over-imbibing and pouring out the details of his sad relationship with his recently deceased grandfather, Hiro winds up spending the night with Angie.  Hiro is too drunk to remember much, but Angie, madly attracted to him, presses his advantage.  Hiro is confused at first, but goes back to Angie when he can’t stop thinking about him.  Angie convinces him that he can love for himself, and can do what feels good without worrying about what others think about it.  And Hiro falls hard.

Okadaya explains that this is part of a much longer work, and it feels that way.  We get snippets of info about the three main characters (Bene is Angie’s roommate as well as his dance partner), and they seem much more developed than what we’d normally see in a one-shot.  The magazine this ran in folded, and Okadaya drew an extra story for this English edition (which was also published in Japan) that let her show Hiro and Angie dancing, and what happened with their lives.

The dance scenes are beautiful.  Okadaya also gives a lot of background about how much she enjoys Argentine Tango, and how the story first came to her when she went to a gay Argentine Tango lesson and saw how much the men (of all orientations) enjoyed dancing with one another.  Dance is a huge part of the volume, too, and Okadaya does a great job communicating with it.

Seriously, everything I love is in here.

Okadaya has a lengthy essay about the work.  I think my favorite detail is that she didn’t really draw BL until asked by an editor, and had to have it explained to her.  When she learned, she thought BL might be what Gengoroh Tegame draws.  He does not, he draws big buff men having sex for the enjoyment of gay men, not like the female-centric BL stories she was asked to draw.  Apparently she was a little off-message at first.  But I love that her confusion led to the excellent character designs here.

My only regret is that I only got a peek into what Angie and Hiro are like.  There was obviously so much more to them, and I felt like I didn’t get to know them quite enough (as opposed to other BL one-shots, which will usually have very shallow characters).  But that’s such a minor quibble.  I loved this volume dearly, and would read anything else by this artist.  Or anything else about men in grown-up relationships.  Or anything else about dance.