Moratte Kudasai: Niboshiko Arai

Moratte_AraiSo often these days, the world seems like a blazing dumpster fire in the middle of a heatwave in summer. The stench! The nightmarish heat! The constant and baffling dehumanization of other human beings for no apparent reason at all! And sure, we all want to (and should) work to make things better for ourselves and our fellow members of a society that is crumbling into the dark void of a bottomless ocean. But all the gloom and doom that greets us every time we open Twitter can really eat away at the soul and make us contemplate never interacting with the world again.

So a holiday like 801 is especially critical in these trying times, a reminder that there is still something pure and good in this world. And that is hot guys making out with other hot guys for our voyeuristic pleasure. Thus I invite you, my fellow fujoshi, to step away from the Nazis on Twitter and the mansplainer who is a Facebook friend of your mom’s friend’s friend who inexplicably replies to your innocuous comment about the recent heatwave to tell you climate change is a liberal conspiracy, and walk into the warm and welcoming world of hot man sex. Let these horny dudes wrap you up in a gentle and possibly sticky hug.

And what better horny dudes to be embraced by than the wildly enthusiastic and generous lovers of Niboshiko Arai? It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of both her BL and non-BL (under the name Ayako Noda) work, but Moratte Kudasai is especially dear to me. It’s just so joyful. Kisuke starts his second year of university determined to get a girlfriend and lose his virginity. But he is unsurprisingly not great at talking to girls, and the path to non-virginhood continues to elude him. Enter the extremely tall and handsome Naka. It turns out they are both in the same film appreciation club, but where Kisuke is awkward and nervous around girls, Naka speaks to them with easy charm, making him a lady magnet. Noticing the cluster of women constantly surrounding Naka, Kisuke realizes his best chance at losing his virginity is to get Naka to teach him how to be as smooth as he is with the ladies.Kiss_Arai

Naka is more than happy to spend time with Kisuke, and the two men get pretty close. Like kissing close. And this is when Naka comes out to Kisuke and confesses his love. Kisuke takes about half a second to process this and then throws his pants off, telling Naka to take his virginity. But then he sees Naka’s incredible abs, and he realizes he just can’t. He and Naka keep hanging out, keep getting more and more sexually entangled, and Kisuke keeps wondering what he really wants, what his sexuality really is, and maybe Naka is actually the guy for him, after all.

It’s all incredibly judgement- and pressure-free. Naka’s not shy in his pursuit; he clearly wants to be with Kisuke, but he also wants his enthusiastic consent and pulls back when Kisuke wavers. Meanwhile, Kisuke never goes through the tiresome “But we’re both guys” back and forth. Most of his hesitation comes from his long-held fixation on losing his virginity to a woman and his questioning what exactly it would mean to lose it to a man. In one adorable scene, after buying the same shoes as Naka, he imagines the two of them pair-dressing as the perfect couple. The whole thing reads like he’s never really taken the opportunity to think about what he wants in a romantic partner, rather than another gay-for-you situation.Reaction_Arai

This is Arai, of course, so the sexy parts are sexy as hell. And scattered liberally throughout the book. There’s also no shortage of sweetly blushy noses and adorable longing gazes. Kisuke is also the master of the over-the-top reaction, which seriously cracked me up. It’s clear Arai is having a good time with this book, playing with these two sweet characters in a way that is delightful and looking for nothing but their happy ending. The frontispiece for each chapter is a riff on a different movie poster; the Die Hard parody with Naka playing the part of the spine-breaking woman is particularly hilarious. Even as Arai takes us through some emotional times, she never lets that sense of playful joy fade out of the pages.Die_Arai

I’m obviously not an unbiased source, but if you’re looking for a sweetly romantic, yet schmexy escape from the world, you could do a lot worse than Moratte Kudasai. So take this special day on which we rejoice in all things man love to delve deep into a work of pure joy and find a new couple to daydream about. Love their newfound love. Your life will be the better for it.Smooch_Arai

2 thoughts on “Moratte Kudasai: Niboshiko Arai

  1. Okay. My current job (which I hope to lose soon if I have my way, I am working on finding a new one because I really value my sanity, wish me luck) leaves me with no time to enjoy your blog, but it’s the holiday season so expect strings of nonsense comments in various posts.

    This manga seems to be right up my alley, will check it out. I like the art too, seems promising.

    I had a conversation with a gay friend the other day. He knows I read BL sometimes and he commented that some of his friends said that the BL genre makes them uncomfortable. They feel objectified, basically. I mean, I cannot speak for all fujoshis, but personally I read BL in between reading literature books, it’s just a way of relaxing my brain before I tackle the next book. I also consider relationship in BL manga a kind of fantasy. I enjoy the art but most of the stories are very basic. Our community is not without problems. Some fujoshis really do fetishize gay men. I am not sure where I am going with this, I just feel that it’s important to be able to differentiate real life from fantasy. BL is escapism to me, but my gay friends are real people.

    1. Welcome back! I was just thinking I hadn’t heard from you in a while. Feel free to randomly comment on whatever strikes your fancy on this blog. And I really hope you find a new job soon! You need your sanity, and time to nerd out over manga and books!

      Do check this one out! Arai/Noda is honestly one of my favourite artists working these days. I actually got to go to a talk of hers a couple weeks ago, and she was great.

      The BL/gay divide’s been around a long time, and it’s probably never going away. BL’s definitely come a long way in terms of representation, but it still is a genre that does appear to fetishize gay men. I don’t think that’s the case, personally; I think the fantasy BL offers is about the removal from the usual heteronormative power structures from romance, like manga scholar Yukari Fujimoto noted way back in the day. So in one pairing, A can be the prince and B the princess, but then B can meet C and become the prince to C’s princess. It’s more about the relationships between the two people than any existing romantic patterns. In theory, at least. In practice, some BL and some fujoshi do fetishize gay men, which is not so great and is always going to make some gay men feel isolated from and objectified by the BL community. That said, I know more than a few gay men who got into BL because it was a place where they could see a variety of romantic and sexual relationships between two men. It’s a complicated issue, like you noted.

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