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vol. 1: June Pride / vol. 2: Barefoot Waltz / vol. 3: Tales Out of Season

Takumi Hayama (the book uses the Western name order) is in his second year as a middle-class student at a prestigious, isolated European-style boys' boarding school, formerly attended mainly by boys from elite upper-class families. He's a troubled soul who, in addition to his other difficulties, has a crush on popular, charismatic Giichi Saki, whom everyone calls "Gui." He's lucky in a couple of respects, however: a good number of the boys at the school are in relationships with each other, so no one thinks he's weird, and in addition, Gui returns his affections. The series thus far is a sweet, gently sensual soap opera. In the first volume, the boys begin their romance, and Gui gets to the bottom of Takumi's traumatic past (which is genuinely traumatic, actually). In the second, a musician who is visiting the school turns out to share his past with both Gui and Takumi, and then events at the school festival teach Takumi a few things about relationships. In the third, the boys get to the bottom of a mysterious death that has haunted the school for several years.

It's made clear that Takumi and Gui's relationship is physical as well as romantic, and there's plenty of kissing, clothes coming undone, bare chests, and cuddling under the blankets in bed, but nothing is shown explicitly: the equivalent with a straight couple would be a very soft R rating. There are some faint elements of dubious consent at a couple of points, and Takumi's secret is definitely an issue worthy of the parental advisory on the cover.

With the exception of the emotional resolution of Takumi's problems, it's all been pretty fluffy. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, if pretty boys kissing is your type of thing. But this isn't the sort of story that inspires deep thought, and it doesn't linger in my mind very long. Takumi is drawn with enormous shoujo-girl eyes, as are any other boys who are (I presume) meant to be in the uke role in a relationship (the boy who's stuck playing the princess in the play in vol. 2, for example, but also the visiting violinist). And you could substitute straight teenaged couples for the boys in just about any of these relationships without changing any element of the plot except the formal dormitory sleeping arrangements.

 

Takumi-Kun, vols. 1-3 (review)

I'm not thrilled that Gui takes advantage of the fact that Takumi is sick and feverish to press his suit near the end of vol. 1, but I have a feeling that this is a staple of the genre: the more passive partner needs something to lower his (or her) resistance so that he or she doesn't have to feel guilty about going all the way. (If not sickness, then trauma or alcohol or whatever.)

There's not much else to say about these - they're comfort reading. The story might get a little deeper with revelations about Gui's relationship with his family: he doesn't like to talk about it.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
rachelmanija
May. 26th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC)
I did the English adaptation for these. They're sweet.
chomiji
May. 27th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)

I thought I remembered your saying that! But then I couldn't find you on the credits ... that wasn't very nice of them.

Yes, they are sweet, but at volume three, except for the mysteries about Gui and his family, there isn't much tension of any sort left. So I don't find myself being drawn back into them very often. (I re-read other manga and books quite often.)

rachelmanija
May. 27th, 2008 04:31 am (UTC)
I thought the third book was dull, to be honest. I haven't read the fourth yet.

None of the Blu line have adaptation credits, which is weird but at least nothing personal.
chomiji
May. 27th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)

It was a little dull, which was rather a disappointment. I'd expected at least something along the lines of the second book.

Yes - I've become accustomed to the longish team lineups that most manga have, with translators, adapters, series editors, etc.

smillaraaq
May. 27th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Heh, dull or no, I may beg you for a flip-through or loaner of these at some point; they sound very much like a return to classic 70's shonen-ai style, and in the absence of legit translations of the early genre trendsetters like Moto Hagio, I'd be curious to see that style of storytelling done with more modern art...

I have a feeling that this is a staple of the genre: the more passive partner needs something to lower his (or her) resistance so that he or she doesn't have to feel guilty about going all the way. (If not sickness, then trauma or alcohol or whatever.)

It does seem to be a fairly common trope, mixing a dash of hurt/comfort jollies with the abdication-of-blame of the classic het genre-romance "swept away" rape fantasy stuff. I've just been rereading Fake, and Matoh has a ton of scenes like that where the boys get increasingly closer in the wake of everything from minor illnesses to severe injuries or emotional traumas...
chomiji
May. 29th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)

Any time ... they're not all that recent, though (although certainly not as old as the 1970s). (I'll have to figure out what Care did with vol. 3, though. She spotted it when I was reviewing them and ran off with it.) Also, you can have a look at this gallery for some nice large-sized artwork. The guy with the longish hair (almost to the shoulders) is the violinist from vol. 2, and just about all the blond-brunet pairs are Gui and Takumi.

Well ... there's also the "now that I've almost lost him/her, I have to face my feelings," which I think is in operation in FAKE more than the "swept away" thing. (And which should, by all rights, bring out some of Sanzo's deeper feelings about Goku - if they exist - in the current Saiyuki arc.)

smillaraaq
May. 29th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
Mmmm, can't seem to find an original publication date for the series on a cursory search, but that art looks 90s-is to me? Quite a change from this sort of thing that started the genre...

And yes, FAKE definitely has a lot of the "eeek, my not-quite-admitted-to-be-loved-one could have DIED here!" in the h/c, but there's also a bit of the defenses-down, swept-away stuff too in the quieter scenes -- like the bit where Dee comes back to Ryo's apartment to nurse him through a nasty cold, and tries to steal a kiss from his sleeping partner after cleaning the kitchen. Ryo wakes up and chides him for taking advantage of a sick man, but other than that little token resistance goes along with it all fairly happily.
smillaraaq
May. 30th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC)
Hee, and did you know this was adapted into a live-action drama about fifteen years ago? (It must have been fairly popular, as there's even an anniversary-edition "making of" DVD to go with the movie...)
chomiji
Jun. 3rd, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)

Yeah, U.S. publishers seem to be gradually picking up various manga they think will sell, often going into the back catalogs of the Japanese publishers, back several years. I'm not surprised this one is on the list - it has that dreamily nonspecific but sensual feel that younger teens would find just right. I wonder if the movie had the same atmosphere.

smillaraaq
Jun. 4th, 2008 10:52 pm (UTC)
Digging a little further, it looks like this originally started as a light-novel series; I'm not sure yet if the drama adaptation came before the manga, or vice-versa. That many different versions of the same story does really seem to indicate it's a very popular franchise, though! The manga supposedly begins in media res for the novels' storyline -- apparently they skipped three books or so to get right to the BL bits -- which may not be helping the depth of plot or characterization any...
chomiji
Jun. 7th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)

Yes, I can see that! Presumably there was a lot more about Takumi feeling left out and having flashbacks - that would fit.

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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