Object of Desire

January 28, 2009

For whatever reason, it took me forever to read this book, which is a shame.  It seems like every LuvLuv book I read gets better and better, and this was the best one yet.  It had the same types of stories as anthologies like Sweat and Honey, Galaxy Girl Panda Boy, and IC in a Sunflower.  This is a very good thing.

Now, here’s the thing about Object of Desire.  I realized at the very end the reason I may have liked it so much was that the males were all kind of jerks.  The author points this out in the end (and mentions that the best one wasn’t someone she would want hanging out with her daughters, either, since he asks for too much oral sex), and then I realized that was probably what I liked best about it.  They aren’t real evil guys, the types that go behind the girls backs and cheat or whatever.  Well, one of them is.  Actually, a lot of the boys cheat good-naturedly.  But they have flaws, and normally the stories are about the girls getting around those flaws, or getting over those flaws.  And some of the girls had flaws, too.  Its biggest strength lied in its realistic characters, I think.  The stories weren’t so much about two people being deeply in love, they was more about love in society.  I really liked that.

There were only two related stories, and it took me a minute to realize the link since all the other stories were about different couples (plus, I had stopped reading after one and didn’t immediately recognize the characters when I picked up the volume later).  Those stories feature a tomboyish girl who is bad at showing her emotions, so things go poorly between her and the boy she likes.  The first one is about the boy not understanding that the girl likes him in her own way, and the second story is about the girl being insecure about the boy sticking around and liking her since she’s not very lovey-dovey.  As common as those plot summaries sound, the stories are actually quite good since the characters are portrayed really well.  I got a kick out of both of them, the goofy boy who didn’t understand what the girl was trying to tell him, and the girl who didn’t make any attempt at all to express her feelings for the boy through anything but silent and random sexual sessions.

I also really liked the title story, Object of Desire.  There, a girl gives up on dating since she feels like all the dinners and movies are just investments to get in her pants.  So when a boy asks her straight out of she’d have sex with him, she says yes, then falls in love with the boy as they proceed to grow close in kind of a friendly way.  Complications arise, but everything works out in the end.

The only boy I really out-and-out hated was in the last story.  He actually was a real jerk, but that last story was more about fleeting love anyway, and it left off in an okay place.  I guess.   The story itself was fine, since that boy came through and did non-sleazy things every so often.  The only story I actually hated was about a girl who works in a maid cafe worried about embarassing her boyfriend in front of his coworkers.  She kind of does anyway, and the coworkers think she’s not good enough for the guy, but the one person who counts thinks she’s a sweet girl, and her boyfriend never doubts her.  It’s sweet in its way, but the characters aren’t nearly as good in this story, so it falls a little flat.

What an excellent anthology.  While good, some of the other LuvLuv books are a bit of an acquired taste, but this one is actually quite good outside of being a josei manga.  I think there’s probably a pretty wide audience of mature manga readers who would really appreciate this book.