Adult Swim: As Sweet As It Gets

>> 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.
It's funny and sweet without feeling contrived. The characters grow without losing their initial charm or becoming people they aren't. I couldn't help but love them.

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.


  • Dr. Cheryl Carvajal

    I'm afraid I'm limited to English stuff...

    If it's only in Japanese, where did you get the translated pages? Or did you translate?

    I'm so glad to see you posting!

  • Stephanie Barr

    If you click the link on the title of the manga above, it will take you to the scanlation of the manga. That's how I find so many of these manga, many of which are not available published in English. Scanlations are scans and translations done by fans and made available to other fans.

    It's only eight chapters so far and nicely episodic so that we're not left hanging.

  • Stephanie Barr

    If you'll note, the sample pages are in English.

  • Anonymous

    Methinks you have been auto-spammed, Steph. 

    However, it was worth it just to read this one:

    "I loved as much as you'll receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase."

    I am guessing something got 'lost in translation' there; else I have failed to recognize the presence of true genius.

    Mike H.

  • Stephanie Barr

    Yikes. Blogger often catches those. I didn't realize they were getting published. Will take care of that forthwith.

    Though it's nice that you read this, too, Mike.

    I can't tell if I should be embarrassed or gratified.

    You know, I'm not ashamed at all. I must be gratified.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, btw, if you ever wish to add an extra space at the end of your sentences, just press Alt-255 followed by a space.  Most blog software condenses multiple spaces to one but since this is a different (but nonprinting) ASCII character, it often gets around that. 

    I personally prefer two spaces after each sentence so this trick minimizes my English OCD.  You can also use this to place things farther away, such as below:

    Cheers!       ♥


    Mike H.      8-)

  • Stephanie Barr

    You know, I was beginning to think I imagined that 2 space after the end of the sentence was standard. When I heard someone tell me that the industry standard is now one, I was flabbergasted, but two English PhDs and a professional editor confirmed it.

    I think someone should have consulted me first before making such a grammatical change. Since I now have to FORCE myself to use just one space, I no longer try to get multiple spaces (though I prefer it myself). Still have to do search and destroy on my completed manuscripts to get them all to the industry standard.


    Still, thanks for the symbol magic. Never know when it might be helpful.

  • Anonymous

    Yure velkum.  I refuse to use single spaces unless I'm just being lazy or rushed.  I'm old school (or as my teenagers called me, "gray on tray" when I tried snowboarding).

    FWIW, I've also seen people using HTML tags to create bold or italic words in comment sections (such as on CNN).  Not sure if any other tags work.  I don't bother but it could be useful as well sometime.

    Later, kiddo.

    Mike H.

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