>> Wednesday, February 1, 2012
So, if I want to write about adult manga, particularly yaoi, the stuff that got to me, as it were, I can't, off-hand, think of a better place to start than with ISHIHARA Satoru's Afuresou na Pool which is saying something. Like, unfortunately, the bulk of the yaoi I've enjoyed, I can't find it licensed in English, but there are several manga scanlation sites that have the whole six volume series. Well worth the time, in my opinion.
Now, before you leap off to check it out, thinking you'll be inundated with short satisfying stories filled to the brim with graphic sex, let me tell you, that's not what you'll find. Not to say that's not what a significant proportion, if not most, yaoi is, I found this an atypical yaoi. So, if you read this and loved this, that doesn't mean the rest of yaoi will be your cup of tea. Nor does it mean that if you read this and wondered where all the naked sweaty guys were from chapter to chapter, that you won't like yaoi, even if this isn't your cup of tea.
It's a long story, very much a character study involving several young men, two sets of friends, and one set of lovers. I like starting with this for the uninitiated because this story has in spades what I look for (often in much smaller doses) in yaoi - people that care about each other. It also is a masterful example, in my opinion, about what makes a homosexual romantic relationship different from a heterosexual romantic relationship, those things that make it much harder and not just the lack of understanding from the outside world.
And, despite the relative dearth of graphic sexual scenes (I think there might be a couple of shots, but not the unending screw-fest many yaoi are), it is loaded to bear with sensual scenes, sexy scenes, scenes that get the blood flowing nicely, thank you very much. Attraction, friendship, love and lust are all portrayed very effectively, very movingly here and the artwork, particularly with faces and eyes, is quite compelling. It has a modicum of humor without being a comedy. It has a serving of dark without being maudlin or tragic. A dose of drama of becoming unbearably sappy or, if you'll excuse the expression, stupidly dramatic.Note that it does start with some pretty forceful moves by Kizu that would seem to brush against my severe anti-rape bias. When I read further, and noted Iriya's own efforts, pursuits, drives, I realized there was another way to look at it. Particularly given how well Iriya can defend himself. But you can decide for yourself.
And favorite character? Yeah, it's Iriya Tetsuo. Not just because he's a hottie, though that doesn't hurt, but because it's easiest for me to identify with his struggles. While everyone's trying to find their place, he does the best, I think, at keeping his feet on the ground despite the fact his role is the hardest. And he never turns his back on the people he cares about.
There are a couple of side stories and, to warn you, rape is not precluded, sex is more graphic and violence is front and center far more than in the rest of the story. Just a heads up. I still read them and find them good, but they're a darker set so be forewarned. None of the stuff in adult swim is really suitable for children.
Update: I also really liked this mangaka's Shounen wa Asu wo Korosu and Yarouze!, neither of which get really naughty. They were interesting, had their own appeal and some lovely drawing, but neither made quite the impression on me of the first. Kimi Shiruya is also good and clean and has the advantage of being available in book form in English (and, yes, I own it). I really like this mangaka.