Aiseyo Bakemono – Tsukizuki Yoshi
Reiji Kuze is the son of doctors and the new transfer student in his last year of high school. As someone whose socioeconomic background and academic grades are in the top 98th percentile, Reiji immediately stands out like a sore thumb in his new school. And in high school, standing out means you will be targeted. Presumed to be a delicate prince swimming in cash, Reiji gets picked on by the third strongest person in the school… and beats him and his entire gang to a pulp without breaking a sweat. As if Reiji didn’t stand out enough already, he seems to have caught the interest of the king of the hill, Akira Ohara, the cat-like lone-wolf that nobody can seem to tame…
Just Love. The Monster is what the uber-violent, homoerotic movie Crows, would be if it had gone full-on gay. At least the first parts of this high school, friends to lovers story.
Reiji is an elite, straight A student from an education-obsessed family. The last person you’d expect to be quite strong in a fight, as the notorious delinquent and strongest fighter, Akira, was delighted to discover. He challenged Reiji to a fight and was quickly enamored with the other boy’s fighting skills and good looks.
Akira has no qualms admitting he likes hot guys, and he’d likely fight a guy and fuck them too. Reiji initially didn’t feel anything but friendship towards the intriguing Akira. Later, he thought they had something special going on, but Akira suddenly ghosted.
Going in, I thought this was going to be fluffy and cute, so I was surprised the second half was very emotional. The story focus on the very different lives of the two boys and how it drove a wedge between them. A wedge created by internal angsting over how different their paths are, particularly by the doofus Akira, even though Reiji was doubling efforts to get close to him again.
I have mixed feelings about this manga. There are a lot of background speech balloons in lighter ink. I liked that they give the scenes a dynamic atmosphere, almost as if you can hear the susurration of the crowd. This had the makings of a top manga but suffered from awkward storytelling. I’m not sure if it’s the translation, but I was a bit confused with the plot.
Many goings-on are known through dialogues that are sometimes unclear, so the flow is not that smooth. I felt the mangaka only skimmed the surface because there were also backstories that needed to be explored further. I’m not one for long manga, but I think this one needed at least one more volume.
Biggest complaint is the part where Akira was almost beaten to death. Reiji took him to a motel where the horny Akira and his med student boyfriend had sex instead of taking care of injuries. The boys certainly had their priorities straight. Magic dick for the win because right after that, our boy was good as new. Meh!
Until I Meet My Husband – Nanasake Ryousuke & Tsukizuki Yoshi
Based on a famous essay by a Japanese gay activist, this manga tells the story of his life leading from his childhood up to his marriage to his husband.
Until I Meet My Husband is not your usual BL manga. It is an autobiographical story of a Japanese gay activist, Nanasake Ryousuke, based on his book of the same name. It chronicles his daily struggles, first, as a closeted child, later, as an openly gay man in a conservative society that views LGBT people negatively.
This is quite an angsty manga with lots of internal conflict brought about by the way people tend to be cruel to someone who does not conform to typical gender roles. Right from the start Nanasake knew he was different. He was called names because as child, he already exhibited feminine behavior.
There are a lot of painful memories, a lot of unrequited love for oblivious childhood friends and a lot of self-loathing. The pain jumped off the panels. The scene where he came out to his female friends for the first time had such a huge impact. You can really feel this big whoosh of cathartic feelings sweeping through. His friends were awesome in their empathy and support.
The story somehow felt lighter after that coming out, although still not without his fair share of dating woes and bad boyfriends. Nanasake looked back at all of these with a positive mindset and even thanked them for the love and happy memories.
He finally met his husband in one of his usual online hookups. It was probably fate because his name is also Ryousuke but spelled in different kanji characters. You can tell this guy was different because he was serious about pursuing a relationship with marriage in mind. He proposed during the Pride Parade. It took a lot of tries before they got the approval of the government but Nanasake and Ryousuke became the first gay couple to marry in Japan.
The manga has a more mature vibe than the typical BL. It tackled heavy topics but it does gloss over some details that were in the book. Most BL manga are heavily romanticized and unrealistic. So I recommend this to everyone who’s interested in a true to life story of a gay man in Japan.
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