Narise Konohara – June – 2007 – 2 volumes
this is a novel

As I said in the volume 1 review, one of the things I like about Konohara’s writing is that she doesn’t use non-con as a means of getting a difficult, stuck-up partner together with someone who has a crush on them. After the end of volume one, Kaitani is completely obsessed with Fujiwara, but there’s nothing to be done about it. Fujiwara is straight, and they have a poor working relationship. Kaitani does what he can, and he begins to form a friendship with Fujiwara, but he breaks down one night and admits his feelings, begging Fujiwara for a night together to prove he can be the best lover he’s ever had. There might be blackmail involved (I honestly can’t remember), but not even Fujiwara seems that threatened by the photos Kaitani has anymore, and even those methods are infinitely better than serial rape at getting what you want.

On the down side, both this and Don’t Worry Mama share a common problem of the seme losing all personality once the couple gets together. After The Man Who Doesn’t Take Off His Clothes spends so much time establishing Kaitani and Fujiwara as characters, and carries a fairly decent story for a volume and a half, once the pair is together, it seems like the only thing they’re interested in is sex. In particular, that’s all that Kaitani wants, and he stops being considerate or appreciative. He’s still a lot sweeter than the seme in Don’t Worry Mama (who’s also a character in this story, incidentally), but it’s a shame he seems to stop trying after he lands Fujiwara.

The requisite conflict that ends the 2-volume series comes when Kaitani and Fujiwara have a fight about whether Kaitani sees Fujiwara as a replacement for a woman. Both their private and working relationships deteriorate during this conflict, and it’s a little sad that it’s not something that the two seem capable of resolving. Additionally, Kaitani pushes Fujiwara hard for a work-related issue, and this puts additional strain on their relationship. But don’t worry, they get back together when the fact that Fujiwara had half his scrotum eaten by a dog becomes public knowledge. The end.

I really liked these two novels. Like I said, the lack of non-con goes a long way with me, especially in this type of couple, where one is reluctant. Plus, I liked that it was two volumes, and that a lot of work was put into Fujiwara and Kaitani’s work relationship as well as their private life. And, as always, the romantic plot elements are just as good as any of what I’ve read from the June novels.

These two are particularly good, and I’d probably rank them among the best of what I’ve read in these BL novels. But keep in mind that I’m extremely easy to please.

Narise Konohara – June – 2006 – 2 volumes
this is a novel

I always thought this was a silly name for a BL novel, because of course he takes off his clothes, and I was willing to bet it happened relatively quickly. Fujiwara lasts all the way until the end of the book, though.

Actually, a better name for this would be “Deformed Genitalia, part 2.” June calls it part two of the “Don’t Worry Mama” series, though it has very little in common with the first book aside from occasional appearances by the seme as a side character (he’s friends with the seme in this book). The other thing they have in common is that both the ukes seem to have abnormal genitalia, for some reason, and both times it’s blown off as a minor plot point. I have no idea why it’s part of the story in either case. In Don’t Worry Mama, it was an uncircumcised phimotic micropenis, which is a difficult thing to get around in sex scenes, especially when it’s very often described in great detail. In The Man Who Doesn’t Take Off His Clothes, turns out Fujiwara doesn’t take off his clothes during sex because he doesn’t want anyone to know a dog bit off half of his scrotum when he was younger. This is less of a problem in the context of a BL novel, and kind of hilarious since it leads to lots of dirty talk about Fujiwara’s singular scrotum.

Writing books with that plot device in common almost makes me want to meet Konohara, because she is clearly taking pleasure in writing BL novels around that theme, and it makes me laugh. But the other thing I like about her writing is that she appears to avoid non-con (in all three of the novels I read here as well as in About Love), something I very truly appreciate in the work of a BL writer. In the novels I read, there are definitely some situations that come close to crossing the line, but in every instance the uke is undoubtedly consenting. Here, Fujiwara only agrees to sex because he’s drugged by a third party, but he is consenting when he begs a reluctant Kaitani to help him get off to avoid the pain.

I was actually a little baffled by this book, because the plot goes to great lengths to set up situations where Kaitani and Fujiwara despise one another all the way up through the end. Fujiwara is Kaitani’s high and mighty boss, and the two simply do not see eye to eye. Kaitani has a very casual attitude towards work and dress, and Fujiwara can’t help but take him to task severely for what he perceives as a bad attitude and slovenly manner of dress. Kaitani is generally shamed in front of an audience, and when Fujiwara takes him to task in the restroom one day for washing his hands improperly, Kaitani decides to put a plan into action to get blackmail material from Fujiwara.

The blackmail is ugly, but I did like the fact that what would have turned into a rape scene in any other BL novel merely stayed as an ugly chapter of character development for Kaitani. I know that’s sort of faint praise, but seriously. I hate that plot device, and I appreciate seeing it avoided.

The blackmail turns all sorts of wrong when Fujiwara starts fighting back and one of Kaitani’s coworker friends witnesses what he assumes is bondage play between Kaitani and Fujiwara. From that point on, Kaitani has to blackmail Fujiwara into faking his way through several awkward social situations in order to cover his bad behavior, one of which ends poorly when a third party “helps” Kaitani by drugging Fujiwara in order to get him to finally agree to sex.

Actually, yes, lots of ugly and terrible things happen to Fujiwara here. But Fujiwara is definitely not portrayed as sympathetic, or even very accessible, until towards the end of the book. Strangely, Kaitani is written as sympathetic, but it’s difficult to really feel bad for him when he goes to such criminal lengths to get his revenge. Still, the writing keeps Kaitani fairly sympathetic, and Fujiwara inexplicably complicit with his blackmailing, so it stays readable all the way through, and I wound up really enjoying it. It sidesteps yet another BL plot device at the very end, too, and an unfulfilled love story carries over into the second volume. It’s sort of an unusual book in its approach, and it has all the things you would expect in these novels, so it’s worth reading for anyone who enjoys these as much as I do.