So 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.
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.
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.
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.