>> Wednesday, December 5, 2012
If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you've probably noticed a trend (that goes beyond manga, I might add, with my library of regular fiction comprising hundreds of books, but dozens of writers) of reading everything by an author/mangaka I like exhaustively. I might only mention the ones I like, but you can bet I read them all if they make the list of worth writing about it.
Many of the mangakas I favor like Naono Bohra and Kano Shiuku (who I haven't written about yet) are very prolific and have oodles and scoodles of titles. Actually, all those of that ilk I can think of are of the particularly raunchy variety - I wonder if there's a connection? Well, I'll worry about that on a different post because this time I want to talk about a mangaka, Nagato Saichi, who has, to the best of my knowledge, just one on-going manga. But it's utterly charming.
Now for those of you who think yaoi=pornography (and, yes, it frequently is), that might sound contradictory, but I could list (and intend to eventually) dozens of sweet stories that happen to include same sex couples who may or may not have overt sex on the page. Kou'un no Rihatsushi by Nagato Saichi is one of them.
The story starts with an overgrown teenager (Tsukasa) known as the "moody pillar" who gets a haircut as a result of rejection from unrequited love. Fortunately, he gets this haircut from a talented and gay barber (Nachi) who also gives him some overdue confidence and support. The haircut and advice transform Tsukasa into a hottie on the outside (mostly by revealing his face), so much so that he ends up a model/actor/all around idol. But this big beautiful guy (drawn marvelously) doesn't change one iota from the sweet shy self-conscious guy he was in the beginning, who manages to overcome his previous crush and tumble selflessly into love with Nachi right off the bat.
This all basically happens in the first five pages. After that, throughout the original one-shot (now first chapter), Tsukasa comes over whenever his schedule permits to "help out" Nachi, bringing snacks, fetching coffee, helping to clean up. And he does this for YEARS as his fame increases: no confessions, no demands, just happy to be around Nachi, who happens to be a huge fan and a genuinely kind (and shy) person himself. So, no, no shotacon. In fact,Tsukasa (younger) is a big burly man, my favorite when we pair different ages.Though they aren't that far apart in age.
Things might never have progressed (given the shy sweetness of our two characters) if one of Nachi's ex-lovers hadn't tried coaxing, then coercing the barber to work for him. Facing losing his crush and then faced with his crush being assaulted, Tsukasa is forced to act and our characters get the happy discovery that they actually have been in love with each other from the very beginning, but too shy/self-effacing to think the other could care about them. And it is adult.
It's a combination that could readily get sickly-sweet but doesn't somehow. Tsukasa and Nachi both come across as completely genuine, at least to me. Their future trials, in the subsequent chapters, are the product of misunderstandings, the demands of a showbiz career (without the associated ego), and other challenges associated with people who are not accustomed to making demands but need to.
And, if you're okay with a modicum of grown up action in the midst of a sweet love story, you might like it, too. It isn't, to the best of my knowledge, published in English. But, if it ever is, I'll be buying.