November 17, 2011
Youka Nitta – 801 Media – 2008 – 1+ volume
I will be forever crushed that we won’t get to see Embracing Love in English. But I am thankful that the Japanese publishers still allow us some Youka Nitta. I liked what I read of her series Otodama, and I picked this up solely because it was on sale and I wanted to read something else by her.
But I forgot a good 801 Media rule of thumb: If it’s over a year old and still available everywhere, it’s probably not a great book. This came out in 2008 and has had more than enough time to sell out, yet still it hangs out in large quantities.
The Prime Minister’s Secret Diplomacy isn’t a bad book. The book itself has a great presentations, with illustrations printed on the inside covers that carry over onto the jacket, something I haven’t seen before. It’s also obviously a well-researched piece, and Nitta puts a lot of work into developing the diplomatic setting for the couple.
But that’s the problem. There’s a little too much detail for my taste, and I literally fell asleep about twenty pages in, while the characters were still debating points of diplomatic protocol and the seme (unusually, this book had a very dominant uke) was still elaborating on the finer points of his future partner’s diplomatic prowess. Worse still, I think these are Japanese diplomats in Thailand, who deal with lots of influence from the Chinese. I am so far removed from that situation I couldn’t even begin to enter the dense conversations they were having about the politics involved.
And that’s sort of a problem. Nobody that wants to read a comic about Japanese diplomacy is going to pick up one where, pardon me, the diplomats fuck each other. On the flip side, the audience that picks this up as a quick erotica read don’t want to sit and puzzle through the dense diplomatic negotiations. They want to get to the part where the diplomats fuck each other.
Nitta mentions in the end notes that she put a lot of work into setting the diplomatic tone, and how that was the most important thing for her in this series, and that it works better for the uke here than the seme. She’s right, and as I said, she does a good job including all those details. Her art is also very good, and I enjoyed her very masculine character designs for this series.
But it’s not until the end of the book that the romance becomes the center of the story, and by the time things get really good, the book ends. I know there’s a second volume (it doesn’t bode well that 801 hasn’t released it), but I don’t know if it continues on from there. The romantic plot is mostly tied up in the fact that the uke is engaged to the seme’s sister, and the uke tries to push the seme into splitting up his sister and lover.
The romance is fairly good by the end, but the characters are almost completely inaccessible before that, so it’s a little bit of a chore until the very end. There are other Youka Nitta books out there, even in English, and I would probably give those a try instead if you were planning on dipping your toes in the water. This isn’t a bad book, but it’s probably not what you’re looking for, either.