The Cost of Overwhelming Your Audience
Lately, I’ve read a number of stories that have taken “climax” to a whole new level. What I mean is: how much turmoil can the main characters put each other through before the plot loses focus and the resolution is hindered? As with any romance, I love a good climax, that point of no return, where the final decision can make or break the lead couple's relationship. But when the first climax is overridden by yet another more intense climax and, even another, in somewhat quick succession, I find my emotions can’t handle it, and I begin to shut down. I hate to say it, but once that happens the initial impact of that first climax rapidly fades, and I lose interest in the characters and the reason they’re together. I no longer care.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-crafted story, one with a perfectly placed climax, and if it’s a series of books about the main couple's ongoing life together, I understand and appreciate the natural highs and lows they undergo. But to butcher a more-or-less stand-alone story that starts off okay with more tension than necessary, it becomes an unpleasant read.
One such book is Jazz by author Maeda Sakae and artist Takamure Tamotsu, released in 2000. I know some people will disagree. They will claim this is the one of the best yaoi manga they’ve read. And I say, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. However, I’m of the view that the author gave the characters too many painful dilemmas to overcome, and the whole thing seemed rushed to me. And even at the end, I didn’t feel any real gratification. Perhaps part of the problem was a lack of significant character development. Usually, in romance novels, we expect the central characters to grow, to show more emotion either verbally or through his or her actions without altering their core personality. In the case of Jazz neither man seemed to grow, the older Doctor Narusawa continuously lived in the past and had no balls, and the younger of the pair, his patient Naoki, after no emotional response actually digressed. Plus, the way their relationship began wasn’t pleasant either. “I raped you, so now you’re going to automatically love me.” Which is one yaoi theme I hate for the simple fact it’s unrealistic.
Narusawa and Naoki overstep the bounds of their doctor-patient relationship. Instantly attracted to Narusawa, Naoki will stop at nothing to be with him, even if it means forcing the man to love him. Narusawa can’t own up to his own feelings and constantly caves to Naoki's advances. Which, of course, creates a highly volatile and turbulent relationship.
The doctor-patient theme is fine, but how it was executed leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps if the author Maeda Sakae had placed more of a gap between each climactic event, it wouldn’t have felt like an avalanche had hit me. A tumultuous relationship can make for an excellent read, but it’s all in the timing of the scenes. I don’t hate Jazz, but I can’t say I’m thrilled with it either. 2 Stars.
Happy Yaoi Hunting!