DO YOU WANT TO READ AMAZING, FLUFFY, FRICKIN’ REALISTIC BL (SHOUNEN AI) MANGA?? WELL, I HAVE TWO AMAZING WORKS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO RECOMMEND.
I feel bad for not supporting the authors by reading free English translations, so I’m trying to compensate with this small promotion ^ ^ ;
ALERT: These two works are BL but they are 0% NSFW and have (at least right now) absolutely no sex in them. This, personally, is my preference as 1) I am ace af and 2) really dislike how sexualized homosexual relationships are in literature. SO if you want yaoi, it ain’t going be in these two works, BUT if you want a genuinely good love story (where the main characters happen to be two guys?) then you’re in the right place!
1) KOIMONOGATARI by TAGURA TOHRU
PLOT: Hasegawa Yuiji accidentally finds out that his classmate Yoshinaga Yamato is gay. Yoshinaga is struggling with his sexuality and with the support and friendship from Hasegawa, Yoshinaga is starting to slowly overcome his insecurities.
GENERAL REVIEW: Koimonogatari is insanely realistic and the first volume doesn’t even touch on any romantic development. It’s all about the growing friendship between Hasegawa and Yoshinaga, and that platonic development is, personally, really touching. The setting is slice-of-life to the point of being incredibly refreshing. If I had to describe this work with one word, it would be “refreshing”. It’s such a breath of fresh air and so relatable (even to those not struggling with homosexuality).
CHARACTERS: I cannot tell you how much I love these characters. Yoshinaga Yamato is not that entirely creative of a character, but he’s very relatable. Also, it’s interesting to learn more of his flaws and layers as a character as you keep reading. Hasegawa Yuiji, on the other hand, I feel is a really unique character. On first glance, he’s actually not that interesting. He’s seemingly your typical dark-haired, apathetic, stoic character, but there’s so much more to him. He’s incredibly perceptive and has a really unique and interesting way of encouraging and comforting Yoshinaga.
ART: OKAY THE ART. THE ART IS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. I love how Tagura Tohru draws hands, hair, lays out screentones, and storyboards. Her people are REALLY well-proportioned and she draws emotions AMAZINGLY well. Some of the scenes wouldn’t work with sub-par art because the emotions are depicted with such delicateness. If anything else, read this manga for the art. Honestly, it’s that good. (And can I say that Hasegawa’s expressions are life.) One of my favorite pages:
STORY: The development is EXTREMELY slow and at this point (5 chapters), I can’t really say how well the story is written, but I’ve definitely enjoyed what I’ve read so far. (Also, Tagura Tohru does have some BL stories in her repertoire with sex, so Koimonogatari (as it only has a few chapters right now) might have sex later, but I really, really hope that it doesn’t. Not just for personal preference, I feel that it just wouldn’t fit with the story.)
2) HIDAMARI GA KIKOERU by FUMINO YUKI (EDIT: NOW COMPLETE)
(EDIT 2: NEVER MIND. 2ND SEQUEL IS COMING OUT. SO HYPED.)
PLOT: Constantly hungry and trying to find a job, college student Sagawa Taichi accidentally crash lands (long story) next to a fellow student Sugihara Kouhei. Taichi later learns that Kouhei is hearing impaired.
GENERAL REVIEW: Hidamari ga Kikoeru is also extremely, extremely realistic. One reason I love this manga so much is that even though it heavily focuses on Kouhei’s struggle with his hearing impairment, there is absolutely no romanticizing his disability. It really fleshes out his struggles with it. The story is really, really cute and touching.
CHARACTERS: Sagawa Taichi is a character we’ve all seen before - bottomless stomach, outgoing, reckless, and oblivious. However, the reason I think his “stereotypical”ness is fine in this story is because HIS CHARACTER TOTALLY WORKS. In the context of the story, his character’s presence makes a lot of sense and it’s exactly his kind of personality that Kouhei needs to overcome his insecurities. Taichi, in my opinion, wasn’t made from lazy characterization, but out of necessity for this story to work. On the other hand, Sugihara Kouhei is, I feel, a really unique character. He’s sort of your typical ikemen - multi-talented, popular, attractive - but his hearing impairment has influenced him really strongly. It’s tough and spoiler-y to explain, SO READ IF YOU WANT TO KNOW.
ART: Not exemplary, but it’s completely unproblematic. Everyone is well-proportioned, and even though there’s nothing that particularly stands out in the art, there’s nothing wrong with it either. And the art does get better as the story goes on, which is nice to see.
STORY: //cracks knuckles Let me tell you a thing about Hidamari ga Kikoeru. It means “I Hear the Sunspot”, or something like that, and the symbolism of light vs dark is carried throughout the story. The way the author depicts Kouhei initially in the dark and then finding his light through Taichi is, I feel, really well done. There are so many hints at this symbol that I missed out on my first read. The development for Hidamari is also REALLY slow, but I think it works with how cute the story is. It’s been a pretty fluffy story so far, but it has had little hints that it might turn really sad soon. (With how ridiculously fluffy it’s been so far, I’m about 99.99987% sure that Hidamari won’t have any sex. EDIT: It’s complete, and yup, no sex, and THE ENDING WAS BEAUTIFUL.)
IF YOU’VE GOTTEN THIS FAR: If you’ve read either of these, please message me. I’m desperate to talk about these characters with people.
The internet is overflowing with stories and discussions. From nasty ones to charming ones, true and false stories were all jumbled together. But the one thing I noticed is that, even those having a hard times seems happy just by having someone who understands.