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Gilbert and Gubar's The Madwoman in the Attic after Thirty Years
Annette R. Federico, Sandra M. Gilbert
Annette LaPointe
Star - Keiko Konno Easy-going salaryman Hirakawa discovers that his tempermental co-worker Sudou busks with friends as a street musician after work, and they strike up a friendship that becomes an affair. The first chapter's from Hirakawa's POV, but Sudou becomes the real star of the show: he turns out to be, more than anything, just immature and sheltered by the prettiness of his looks, so oblivious to the social undercurrents of the workplace that he's not even baffled by them. Hirakawa's unconscious influence as a mentor explained a lot to me about Japanese workplace dynamics that I don't think the mangaka suspected would need explaining to her audience.

I was initially a bit put off by the treatment of women--a mean boss badmouths Sudou because he's a lousy lay, and Sudou brushes off a woman who might be pregnant after an affair--but it's made up for by Hirakawa's friendly relationship with another female coworker: they've been fuck buddies, he breaks it off after sleeping with Sudou, they remain friends and she remains part of the storyline. And she's clearly brisk, confident, good at her work but not defined by it. It's a minor thing, but in the frequently all-male world of yaoi manga, it's a minor thing that made me very happy.

The characterization isn't as good as it is [author:Keiko Konno]'s [book:Words of Devotion], but it's deeper than the yaoi/romance standard. Not up to [author:Ichiko Ima] or the best of [author:Fumi Yoshinaga], but at least as good as the best of [author:Hyouta Fujiyama] and way better than Yoshinaga's worst.

The b&w art is much better than the color covers would suggest, although sometimes Hirakawa's neck looks impossibly thick.