We begin this manga with a student who has a bit of a crush on his tutor. Sometimes the translation of sensei can be used for both teacher and tutor and the translation I’m reading has him listed as tutor, though I have seen it switch to teacher a couple times. Yay power dynamics. Sumizume-san (LI) is a tutor and a college student, while Rintarou-san (MC) is a high school student studying for entrance exams.
FYI, Japan has a few age laws for consent, so this entire interaction in the books actually meets legal age limits for there, even if it seems pretty dodgy by Western standards, so there’s your heads up if you are suspicious of this set up. Thankfully both the MC and LI look like their age appropriate for said interactions, unlike some manga I’ve seen where “oh, they’re 104, so it’s okay” when they don’t look or act 104 but more like they’re 8. Allow me to facepalm and wish the publishing industry some discretion in what they allow to be printable material.
The first chapter takes it to the next level rather quickly and bluntly, which isn’t quite what the MC is after. There’s a difference between developed feelings and release. Sadly, the love interest doesn’t quite catch the hint at the beginning. It’s just a quick tease with no…no…nothing though, OMG that’s freaking frustrating…both for the MC and the reader. Thanks author. Thanks a lot. Dang it. Now, do I read the story line or just flip through the book ’til I find the good stuff?
(P.S., this is a story where the storyline can be tossed and you can just catch the couple pages of good stuff without missing a single thing. So. Either the story is irrelevant, or the trysts are irrelevant. We’re going with the story is irrelevant.)
Deep breath. Let it out.
Okay, back to the story line. *Quietly shakes fist at the sky and calls out the author for being a cruel tease*.
Oh. Well. Thank you dear author for fixing that frustration in the second chapter, even if it did start out cringy. I despise jealous characters that get all grabby over what the Love Interest has. One of those “are people really that freaking shallow?” And then I have to remind myself there are those kinds of people out there.
This is not a slow burn romance. It gets to the point at least on one spectrum of romance. The story line does develop the characters through a lot of heavy handed tropes outside of gratuitous trysts. I’m sort of here for the trysts and most people reading this are too, so *shrug*.
This is where a difference in cultural norms pops up though as the chapters progress. More and more America and Europe are turning towards actually listening to the expression “No means No.” It’s still not quite there in Japan as of 2021.
There are subtleties and nuances that can wear on a Western reader who has internalized the #metoo movement and they can find the actions of the characters rather off putting. I’m not excusing the actions in the comic, but I’ve found in…well, honestly quite a lot of BL, GL, and het-rom that the main character will go for “wait, stop, no” and the love interest will continue on as they please and the MC falls more in love with them for it. So, if you aren’t aware of the socio-cultural dialogues of acceptable tact and speech patterns for manga, these types of stories may be quite triggering for you.
Context people. Context helps.
To say it: I’d like for these types of manga to move into the #metoo era where when one character says no, wait, stop, etc. that the other character actually listens and stops. That would be a nice change of pace. One where they don’t turn all mopey-manipulative or cold-shoulder manipulative. Where there’s actual communication between the participants. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
When I’m writing my books, I do try my best to give the reader a bit of that heat of a surprise kiss or things of that nature, but I also build in the concept of if a character says any of the stop words or is giving physical feedback that they aren’t comfortable with a situation, that the instigating character actually listens.
Back on task with this review.
Didn’t get very far. I skidded to another hault in the “things one should not do to a partner”. The LI erasing contacts out of the MC’s phone and “won’t allow this.” Jealous, possessive, mopey, manipulative. All red flags for a relationship.
Again. Are we here for the relationship advice or for the bits between the sheets. Sigh. This one, it can scratch some itches, but once it leaves those little two page spreads, the rest of the romance set up is all kinds of power dynamic problematic.
Is it worth reading?
Eh? Maybe? If you’re specifically in it for the content and not the context, sure, if you catch my drift. If you’re looking for something soft with sage advice like, Say I Love You, you’re gonna miss the bullseye every time with this one. It provides the gratuity. It’s not that it’s dark, it just hasn’t aged well with the currently evolving standards in healthy relationships.
The depth for the rest of the character development is trope railroaded. The standard checkboxes apply situation you can get from any BL manga. The MC tends to be the “sub” – which, it’s like, not every relationship has a “who’s top, who’s bottom” when it comes to m/m, f/f, m/f, or non-binary/xyz relationships. The fact that characters pretty much never switch and the MC tends to be the submissive one where interactions happen to them…could we have a script flip, please?
Well, this whole review has been a complete tangent on relationship structures. I’m looking forward to finding romance stories that really break the mold. This doesn’t do it. It’s a bit of gratuity that solves a minor itch, otherwise, it isn’t profound.
Suggest it? Meh. That’s up to you and what you’re needing in the moment. I think I’d skip reading it a second time.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.