About Love (Manga)

Written and Illustrated by Narise Konohara
Publisher: June
Rating: YA 16+

Aw, someone's sad because they're shopping for wedding dresses.
I know that feel, bro.
Aswaka is a wedding planner and Sasagawa and his wife were his first clients. Aswaka was unsure of his profession, but this couple inspired a passion in him and he continued his career to become a highly sought after wedding planner. In his mind Sasagawa and his wife became the archetypal couple...the perfect wife, the perfect husband, the perfect couple. But when he runs into Sasagawa alone a handful of times, and the two of them strike up a friendship, Asaka discovers that not everything is as it seems. 

Sasagawa had a crush on his wife in high school, but he was far below her interest, it was years later when they ran into each other during a homecoming that they reconnected...but their marriage is a front. She had a female lover and needed to get married to claim an inheritance, and poor Sasagawa, still head over heels for this woman, agreed to the charade. In his heart he believed that if he were the perfect husband, that eventually she'd see his love and devotion and return it. 

No, there isn't, Asaka.
I worry about 30 year old men all the time.
Asaka is floored when he learns of their marriage and pities Sasagawa's situation. Like he says, "being in a fake marriage with someone you really love--it's so unfortunate, its laughable." Asaka is the accidental witness to Sasagawa's breakdowns, and their friendship deepens as they support each other emotionally over the years. Then, because this is yaoi, well, they become romantically entangled.

Here's the thing, I like Asaka, but Sasagawa is a sad sack.  Normally I love a damaged character, and the damage here seems real, but Sasagawa is weak and needy, and too ready to take a backseat to everyone around him. I suppose there's an innocence there that's a little endearing, but he's so much like a kicked puppy that it unnerves me. 
Oh, my god, nut up!!!!
This man needs a wah-mbulance!

One of the most interesting aspects of this manga is the sort of unaware love that grows between the two characters in moments when they shore each other up.  Unlike those annoying yaoi, "Oh, suddenly and without any hesitation I'm gay" moments (because that's so realistic--sarcasm), the development of love between the characters is slow paced and feels genuine.  They just enjoy one another's company; they take comfort in one another; their love grows slowly and very, very cautiously--after all Sasagawa is a wounded man.  Both of them then run from the idea that their friendship is anything more...but to no avail.

More than anything this is a story about loneliness, and the hard truths about love--that it doesn't always work out, that it takes work and patience--the gender of the characters doesn't matter to those truths. It is the timidity (and to some degree the embarrassment) of this unlikely couple, that ultimately saves this slow-paced manga. Don't go looking for sexytimes here, or adventurous/aggressive'll be disappointed. But, if you're looking for something a little more realistic, and if you don't mind a bit of drunken man-sobbing, then this might be worth a read. 


William Shakespeare said...

Dr. M, this sounds really good. I've been laying off a lot of the yaoi out there lately because it is too pervy for me. Ha ha, yes, the big moralist. I can't wait to read this one.

Dr. M said...

It's sweet, but I just can't get behind the sort of sad-desperation of the one character. I wish I could. In fact, I'm not sure what made him so unappealing to me.

Someone has to be moral and upstanding on this blog. (Also, I promise to post some non-pervy things soon.)

William Shakespeare said...

Ugg, yeah, I don't like when characters are too weak. "No Touching at All" was like that, too. Although, I think that the really needy characters get on our nerves because we are both tough as nails. I'm sure someone out there really loves them.