Welcome to BRB, everyone. Happy New Year! I’ve got the next twelve months planned out…well, I shouldn’t really say planned. I’ve just set a few goals, and I'm already working hard to reach them. I hope 2017 will prove to be prosperous for us all.
I can’t say I come across a “nice” yaoi too frequently. More often than not the stories lean towards the tragic, are filled with angst, too much drama or they are over-the-top perverse. I hate to say this but too much of that kind of crap isn’t necessary, and it can actually hinder a good story. Of course, secrets or a past traumatic event can help with character development thus creating depth, which adds to the illusion of realism. And I do understand that some yaoi, yuri and bara et cetera is labelled as smut, and fair enough, that’s what a lot of it simply is. But every once in a while, like a bolt out of the blue, I come across a mangaka artist that doesn’t rely on the sex but straightforward and engaging moments to pen a truly “nice” story. One such artist is Ori Mita. She’s written only three mangas that I’m aware of: Yamada to Shounen, Shiro no Koro and Hoppe ni Himawari.
In Yamada to Shounen, Yamada a twenty-six-year-old labourer, on his way back from work Christmas night, discovers a drunk and crying high school student, Chihiro, lying on the ground. In the spur of the moment, he takes Chihiro home. Chihiro’s upset because he’s in love with someone of the same-sex. What makes this slow burn romance, so “nice” is the lack of rape, forced feelings and the usual bullshit found in many yaoi. Yamada is straight, and he’s the most endearing out of the pair as he gradually falls in love with Chihiro. And he isn’t the usual seme; Yamada is a very patient and sweet man.
Shiro no Koro is a short story about middle school student Taiichi, who befriends the new transfer student from the city, Fujimoto. Eventually, Fuji falls for Taiichi. But because the pair spends so much time together, Taiichi is teased by the other students for being gay. He is uncertain how he feels about Fuji, but he knows it’s more than just friendship. Then Fuji tells him he's moving back to the city after graduation. They’re separated then meet by accident years later in college, only to spark up a real relationship. Both characters are great; a breath of fresh air. And it’s Taiichi that takes a leapt of faith when he tells Fuji, he was his first love.
I love each story, but my favourite is Hoppe ni Himawari. Physical unattractiveness in any form isn’t generally portrayed in manga, and I suspect it’s because the publishers believe it won't appeal to the readers. But every once in a while a gem will appear. In Hoppe ni Himawari, overweight and cheerful Yone, tirelessly tends the plants in the school garden club. He doesn’t have much self-confidence, but he’s honest and kind to everyone no matter how they treat him. And there is one classmate he admires. Arai, the captain of the baseball team, always comes to his defense whenever the teasing gets out of hand. As they get to know one another, Arai uses a pitiful excuse to confess.
All I can say about this yaoi is it’s awesome. Looks don’t matter it’s what’s inside that counts. At first, I wasn’t certain if Arai was just playing on Yone’s emotions, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the case. And the ending is great. You see the pair as adults in a committed relationship.
Honestly, I think if Ms. Mita keeps writing these “nice” stories, I’m positive we’ll see much more of her work in the future. Five gold stars!
Happy Yaoi Hunting!