August 1, 2015
Kou Yoneda – DMP/June – 2010 – 1 volume
I can’t remember when I first read this, but it made a huge impression on me. I wanted to read it again before I reviewed it, so it languished in my to-review pile for at least a couple years. But I regret it terribly, because Kou Yoneda is, as of this year, probably among my top 3 BL writers. She’s amazing. Twittering Birds Never Fly is exceptional, but this one is good, in its own quiet way.
Quiet, standoffish Shima gets a new job, but his first impression of his new boss, Togawa, is terrible. Togawa is a sloppy, ill-kempt drunk. But he is personable, and tries his hardest to get Shima to fit in. Shima can’t keep his eyes off him, though he flatly refuses all of Togawa’s attempts at friendliness. Finally, Togawa gets tired of asking and forces Shima out to a business lunch. As the two are parting, they wind up kissing, then having sex.
It’s hard to determine how the relationship goes in this series. Neither man offers much commentary. Togawa seems more genuinely fond of Shima than the other way around, though early on, the two men establish that Shima is gay and Togawa is not. Still, Togawa can’t stop pursuing Shima, and Shima never turns him down for a dinner/sex date. Shima also doesn’t really say anything affectionate or encouraging to Togawa. So do they love each other? The book is a little awkward and painful in this regard. The conflict at the end is that Shima just can’t bring himself to get close and admit he likes Togawa, or engage in a more formal relationship.
There’s also a little drama, as there always is in BL books that I like. Togawa has a sad childhood, and Shima left his old job after dating a coworker who began spreading nasty rumors about Shima in an attempt to deflect talk about their relationship away from himself. Shima may have his own sad childhood, but this is only mentioned as a fleeting thought on one page, and the work thing weighs heavier. I can’t believe he dated a coworker again, either. One of the main reasons Shima can’t bring himself to “really date” Togawa is that Togawa really likes kids, and expressed interest in starting his own family right after they started working together, before they dated. Shima can’t let this go, can’t stop suspecting he could be dumped at any time.
It’s just… great. Subtle, quiet, and sad, it hits all the right buttons for me. If you wanted to try Yoneda, but Twittering Birds Never Fly sounds too intense, give this one a go. This one isn’t as sexual, but has a lot of what makes Twittering Birds so good. Twittering Birds has more of all the good stuff, though, so I would encourage you to pick that up first.