Man of the Moment


Sean William Scott


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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Yaoi Thursday 

Only the Ring Finger Knows by Satoru Kannagi and Hotaru Odagiri. If there was ever a shojo comics stereotype that is deserved, and actually does sort of distract me, it's the flowers that occasionally pop up out of nowhere to frame the characters. And it's a shame that it does distract me, because otherwise I found the art in this book to be very strong and evocative. There's a weediness to the adolescent figures that's both suggestive of the fact that they're still growing and symbolic of their emotional fragility.

Emotional fragility is at the core of this book. Wataru Fuji is vaguely annoyed to discover that the popular and handsome senior Yuichi Kazuki wears a ring identical to his. At their school the trend for people to identify their dating status depends on where they place their rings, and once word gets out that Wataru and Yuichi have matching rings, rumors start to swirl about their relationship. Wataru is especially upset because Yuichi, who has a reputation as being a kind and compassionate person to all, is always cruel and indifferent to him. Despite all this, Wataru finds himself increasingly attracted to Yuichi.

Wataru's progress in his feelings for Yuichi struck me as being a very realistic portrayal of the uncertainty of adolescent love. As a gay man, I thought the romance was perhaps slightly unrealistic, especially in the casual way that everyone's relatives just take the prospect of two teenage boys falling in love, but at heart most romances are fantasy, and the target audience for a book like this isn't gay men after all. My only real complaint is that at the end, after everyone has their happy ending, Yuichi still comes off not as a confused adolescent in love, but as a manipulative jerk. Wataru can do better, frankly.


Passion Vol. 1 by Shinobu Gotoh and Shoko Takaku also makes the theme of the confusion and fragility of adolescent love central to its story. Hikaru is in love with Mr. Shima, a teacher at his school. Mr. Amamiya and Mr. Shima used to be an item and Amamiya is trying to rekindle their relationship.

Of the two books, the relationships and characters in this book were the most recognizably "gay." That is, the characters read more like gay men to me, and not so much as idealized romantic fantasy figures for girls. Which isn't to say that there aren't a few problematic aspects to the relationships in this book. As other commentators have pointed out, there is a degree of sexual violence, and fairly stereotypical sex roles, in this title and a lot of the more sexually themed and/or explicit yaoi titles. But I've been on the receiving end of more "enthusiastic advances" in inappropriate places than I care to remember, so I identify with the notion that some gay men are tactless on sexual matters. The implication that Hikaru raped Mr. Shima (I read the situation as being slightly more complicated than a straight-forward sexual assault), especially when it's what opens the story, is a little off-putting. As is the fact that Shima essentially "punishes" Hikaru by beginning a clandestine sexual relationship with him, as well as being a manipulative jerk.

So, I'm sort of conflicted about this book. On the one hand, I actually find the story pretty compelling, but the art a little weak (I can barely tell the difference between Amamiya and Hikaru, and I can't tell if it's a deliberate art choice or just the artist having a limited style for drawing faces and figures). And even though this is the yaoi title that seems the most "gay" to me, there are aspects of the story, particularly involving sex roles, that just feel a little off.

(Now, waits patiently for some brave publisher to translate the works of Gengorah Tagame, Go Fujimoto, Iwao Iwata or Echigoya Shinnosuke--or, you know, any of the gay artists in Japan doing gay comics for gay men.)




Bonus features! Mostly as an excuse to link-blog some stuff that isn't wispy adolescent boys.

Chris Evans Daily--Pictures of that good-lookin' guy who plays Johnny Storm in the upcoming FF movie (see, it's sort of comics related).


Which Gay Porn Star Are You?--Not Work Safe Images!

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© 2007 Dorian Wright. Some images are © their respective copyright holders. They appear here for the purposes of review or satire only.