The years keep rolling by, and yet my love of men enjoying the pleasures of other men never fades. Here we are at another 801, this gloriously smutty day when we all reaffirm our love of hot guys smooching, and I am still reading, writing about, and translating their books. So welcome to all of my fellow fujoshi, young and old, who also enjoy a little phantom peen in their lives! Celebrate this world we live in with something pornographic! Or deliciously sweet! There are no rules in this world of man-loving, save for the defining rule that men must love men in some fashion.
How are you celebrating this year? There’s so much to be thankful for! SuBLime continues to bless us with new licenses and licence rescues in English, and the BL industry has maybe never looked better in Japan. BL corners in even the smallest bookstores, and even BL sommeliers to help us find the perfect smut for our own personal fujo requirements! And the scope of what’s possible with BL only seems to get bigger. Like a story about a high-school cross-dresser hooking up with a man with depression twice his age! Sounds like it could only end well, doesn’t it? (Spoiler alert: This is BL. It does.)
Hayasaka is the class prince according to class nobody Tanabe. Smart, outgoing, athletic, there’s basically nothing this kid can’t do. But of course, this is a book by Fumi so we know he must have a terrible secret or sexual fetish he can never confess to anyone—except the class nobody since no one will take her seriously even if she does try to blab. So she’s the only one who knows about the Twitter account where he posts pictures of himself in joso, where he meets his adoring fans, first online and then occasionally in the real for some fooling around. Nothing serious, just a couple hours in a love hotel. But when he meets the titular ojisan, he gets more involved than he usually does, perhaps because of the older man’s obvious inexperience or maybe because the man brings out his own sadistic streak. Either way, Hayasaka’s soon crushing the older man’s balls under his feet on a regular basis.
But he resists the idea of falling in love with Ojisan—he’s a guy, after all. He might enjoy the sex part, but he is clearly going to fall in love with a woman. The affair continues, though, and we get to see more of Ojisan’s life, how he’s scorned at work, how he can’t seem to do anything right—the opposite of Prince Hayasaka. He’s basically at the point where death seems like the better option. (So if near-suicide presses a dangerous button for you, you’re better off staying away from this one.) Hayasaka decides he can’t trust the old man to not off himself left to his own devices, and so he moves in with him. Because he’s fallen for him, even if he can’t admit that to himself.
As always, I will keep the spoilers to myself, but I love the way this book ends with people coming to actually accept who they are and what they want. And basically deal with their shit. The sex scenes are sexy enough, but not in the realm of “holy shit, I shouldn’t be reading this on the train”. Fumi’s more interested in the cross-dressing and the ways we will and will not let ourselves be, the way we define failure and acceptance for ourselves and others. Definitely an interesting read, especially in light of the discussion she had with Hideyoshico in the Otoko no Ko issue of Yuriika, where they dissect their love of joso in fascinating detail.
All that said, this is a bit of a hmm one for me from Fumi. Although I generally like her work—and I like this book as well—the way this story is framed, especially in the beginning, through Tanabe’s eyes is jarring and off-kilter. While Hayasaka and everyone else are drawn in the slender, fluid style of Bokura no Hentai, Tanabe alone is drawn as a kind of chibi character throughout the volume. Maybe Fumi meant this as a device to set Tanabe outside the actual story, a kind of Greek chorus marker. But unlike a Greek chorus, Tanabe is part of the story, interacting with the other non-chibi characters, so the whole effect is awkward and off-putting. Every time Tanabe appeared on the page, I was yanked out of the story. She’s like a third of the size of Hayasaka! When they’re together in a scene, as they often are, the effect is bizarre, like a poorly thought-out mash-up of two totally different comics. And then Tanabe almost entirely disappears from the story, making me wonder if Fumi was intending to take the whole thing in a different direction than she eventually did.
Either way, it’s a fun book and a good read to celebrate the day of our love of men loving. It’s sexy, it’s sadistic, and it’s surprisingly compassionate in its take on mental illness. I can’t think of another BL that takes someone with a mental illness as one of its protagonists, so for that alone, this book deserves your support. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of yaoi hole to go around too.