MY TOP BL MANGA OF 2021
MANGA: Tonari Ni
Tonari Ni – Basso
The first time he saw him, Tohru was on his way home from his hobby of taking photos. He’s queued for the Shinkansen’s unreserved seating, just right next to him…
Seven years after her previous work, “Naka-san no Nagare,” the latest BL from basso is finally here!
I am of the opinion that when it comes to slice-of-life, nothing beats Japanese authors at the game.
Next To You is a perfect example of this. It is a story of a young man crushing hard on a much older man he saw at the train station. Tohru is a photography hobbyist who loves taking pictures of race horses. He chanced upon Makoto at the train station who made an strong impression on him. He couldn’t get the older man out of his mind. He saw him several times until one day, Makoto struck up a conversation. He turned out to be a nice, amiable fellow.
Many of the scenes here were pretty mundane, just standing around waiting for the train, sitting inside the train, sharing a couple of beers, brushing teeth and so on. But somehow, it encapsulated a whole gamut of emotions simmering beneath such trivial ongoings.
The mangaka was able to perfectly capture that exhilarating thrill of seeing your crush once again when you least expected it, the fervent longings of a young man who realized he was in love, the heartbreaking helplessness of seeing the one you love getting hurt and not being able to do something to help him. All of which was done without breaking the soft, subtle atmosphere that was reflected in the gentle idiosyncratic art.
There’s something really pure about this manga. Truly beautiful!