And so in this the second Year of Plague, we come again to our most high of all days, 801, a celebration of the truest and most pure love: hot guys getting busy. I had definitely hoped to be lustily perusing the BL shelves of all my favourite Tokyo bookstores to commemorate this year’s schmexy holiday, but alas! Japan is still determined to keep my fully-vaccinated self outside its borders. A true fujoshi, however, does not flinch in the face of such an obstacle to obtaining her one true love: manga of hot guys getting busy. And fortunately for me, I have a man on the inside popping boxes of smut in the post to me two kilos at a time. (EMS post may never again resume, but small packet air mail mysteriously continues.)
What arrived for me in one of those carefully packed boxes was Kakkou no Yume, a two-volume story from tamekou, who heals my translator soul with My Androgynous Boyfriend. I love their clean art and cute style, and my previous dip into their BL work made me love them in a new and different (schmexy) way, so I was eager to check out anything else they’d done. I’ve seen the covers of these two volumes any number of times, these two incredibly beautiful boys with their shining, parted lips staring back at me from BL displays, but I’ve always resisted picking them up. (Much like Young Bad Education, which I’m sure I will eventually cave to at some point.) For some reason, it felt like the book shelves, PR people, and BL gods were insisting I read this book, and I am nothing if not contrary. The more popular something is, the more I want to run in the opposite direction from it. (This is not a good or healthy trait, but it is there in me, a cursed stubbornness that I work to overcome.)
The cover design is so incredible and tells the whole story in a way. Two hot guys on each cover, with another hot guy on the back. Except this hot guy’s eyes are closed on volume one and open on volume two. Natsuka, the one opening his eyes to his truth in the second volume, went to high school with Hakushima, who just happened to be the most popular kid in their class and the object of everyone’s desire. They become best friends and this being BL, you’d think that friendship would suddenly turn into something…more, but nope. They graduate, go onto university, and stay best pals. Which is not to say that Natsuka doesn’t want something more. He’s gay and has had a crush on Hakushima since they met basically. But he’s afraid to say something, afraid of being rejected, afraid of losing Hakushima. So instead, he follows Hakushima to university in the big city and lets his gay self run wild in the scene, burning off the lust he feels for Hakushima.
He hooks up with tattooed and pierced Seno on the regular, but his heart always belongs to Hakushima. Until one fateful night when he goes running from a tryst with Seno to see Hakushima, but they have an argument and Hakushima heads home, only to be hit by Seno coming to see Natsuka on his motorcycle. Everyone is taken to hospital, but Hakushima is pretty seriously injured and falls into a coma. Seno, though, wakes up soon after they arrive and is stunned when Natsuka calls him “Seno”. He insists that he’s actually Hakushima and there has been some body-switching action.
I won’t spoil this for you (everything I’ve told you so far is from the first chapter), but there are twists and turns that I honestly did not see coming in this book. And they are all fun and believable and really speak to the character building that tamekou does. They take this story places that would seriously strain credulity were they not so talented, and they do it all while throwing in a healthy dose of phantom peen and powerful schmex. All with those pretty, pretty faces!
It’s also surprisingly deep in ways I didn’t see coming (probably because of the schmex and the pretty faces). The central question here is what we love when we love someone and who we are to the people who love us, ideas that I have spent a lot of time thinking about myself. Natsuka sees Hakushima as a kind of ideal and loves him for his seriousness, not daring to sully him with his base physical desires, but of course, Hakushima has his own shit to deal with and is not nearly the pure angel that Natsuka sees him as. And Seno has his own stuff going on, which Natsuka is completely ignorant of. So often we see what we want to see or what we think we’re going to see, and I love how tamekou rubs our noses in that here.
But today is no time for deep thoughts on how we can never truly understand any other human being. Today is a day of horniness, of smut, of love for comic men who love comic men. And tamekou delivers on all of the above. Plus it’s even been translated into English by the BL geniuses over at futekiya. So if you’re at a loss for how to celebrate this our most holy of days, maybe download this book in whatever language you read and enjoy the BL beauty.