Mania Grade: B
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- Art Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translatin Rating: A
- Age Rating: 18 & Up
- Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
- MSRP: 12.95
- Pages: 200
- ISBN: 978-1-56970-746-3
- Size: A5
- Orientation: Right to Left
Color of Love, The Vol. #01
Color of Love, The Vol. #01 Manga Review
By Briana Lawrence
September 08, 2010
Release Date: March 25, 2008
Color of Love
© Digital Manga Publishing
Can you paint with all the colors of... love?
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
What They Say
Nao is a high school student with a secret he carefully hides from everybody: he's fallen in love with his close friend, Hira. One day, Hira tells Nao that he looks different lately. Now Nao is terrified that Hira might have noticed his feelings! Or could it be that he's just over-reacting and his friend hasn't noticed anything at all?
Love has a color, apparently. It’s red, obviously. Or maybe its purple. Pink? No blue, definitely... yellow? No, the color of love is two boys discovering their feelings for one another. Ta da!
Nao and Taira
The story starts with... masturbation. Excellent! Nao is in bed, touching himself and thinking about his best friend, Taira. This, of course, leads to feelings of great shame which, of course, leads to the inevitable avoidance of said best friend. But in his attempt to avoid Taira, Nao accidentally gets himself a girlfriend. Yeah, that sort of thing happens all the time? Nao stumbles in on the most popular girl in school being kissed by their math teacher, but she angrily pushes the man away, upset because he was fooling around with another girl. She tells Nao to pretend to be her boyfriend to get back at the teacher, and Nao uses the opportunity to hide his feelings for Taira. But Nao is surprised at Taira’s attitude towards him having a girlfriend, especially when he starts avoiding him right back.
Eventually, Nao’s “girlfriend” gets back together with the teacher, but they continue to charade to hide the student/teacher relationship. But as Taira continues to ignore him, Nao becomes more upset, which leads to the inevitable confrontation between the two boys. Taira knows that Nao has been pretending to have a girlfriend, and soon the confessions of love begin to pour out from the both of them. There is a bonus story where the two boys take a trip together before college starts, finally going “all the way.”
Maki and Sasaki
As Maki returns home from a wedding reception, he’s surprised to see a young man sitting at his door carrying a comically huge bag. The young man -- Sasaki -- begins to explain a series of events that has led him to become homeless with nowhere to go, so he begs Maki to stay with him. At first, Maki throws him right back out on the street, but after more begging he decides to let Sasaki stay with him. As they spend the night drinking and talking, we find out that Maki left the wedding reception of a co-worker he had a crush on, and the heartbreak sends him into the waiting arms of Sasaki. Apparently, the two do this quite often -- Sasaki ends up at his place during great moments of weakness, and Maki ends up in bed with him. They met years ago, Maki roughed up in a bathroom and Sasaki saving him. For Sasaki, it was love at first sight, but Maki told him that he wasn’t his type and tried to end things there. Eventually, Maki got a boyfriend and completely ignored Sasaki, but when they broke up Maki threw himself into Sasaki’s arms. It’s been like that ever since -- Maki heartbroken, Sasaki comforting him with sex, and Maki calling himself an idiot the next morning.
Maki and Sasaki end up living together for much longer then Maki intended, but he becomes accustomed to his easy going life. The house is always clean, the meals are always good, and the sex is an added bonus. But he still doesn’t have the same feelings that Sasaki has for him, and things would be much better if he did. One day, Maki ends up running into the ex who broke his heart in college, and the two decide to meet up later. I personally like the style of this part of the story because we never see the ex-boyfriend’s face. We see that he’s talking to Maki, or we see his hand grabbing onto him, but we never get to see him because in the end its Sasaki that Maki needs -- Maki just needs to realize that, which he eventually does.
Kouta and Kazuyuki
Another best friends love story, only the love confession has been made smack in the beginning of the story. But this one has a slight twist. Years ago, Kouta was confessing his love to Kazuyuki, who said that he didn’t see him that way. The two were able to remain friends, but now Kazuyuki is making a love confession to Kouta. After a string of girlfriends, and after seeing Kouta in failed relationships, Kazuyuki decides that he wants to be with Kouta. The line I like the best is, “Even the excuse that we were both guys became harder to hold on to.” The two admit that they’re scared, but they decide to try going out with one another. Sadly, their story ends here. I would’ve liked to see the results of their relationship -- especially since there was quite a bit of focus on their fears on being friends turned lovers -- but instead we’re told that there are problems, but they still have fun. It’s almost a cop out.
Yousuke and Sako
This story starts with probably one of the best lines in a boy’s love manga, “There are two types of men. Gay... and not gay.” Already, I’m liking this main character. Yousuke works as a bellboy at a hotel and had come out to his coworkers, who seem to be o.k. with it. He is often asked if he’s hooked up with anyone since he’s “our only queer,” ah... to be the only gay Eskimo in the tribe. Sako is one of the higher ups at the hotel and is known for hating gay people, and that seems to be confirmed whenever Yousuke is around him. Before he came out, however, the two of them use to have a pretty friendly relationship, so its sad to see Sako’s cold attitude towards Yousuke.
After a work party, Yousuke ends up taking an extremely drunk Sako home. Since this is the wonderful world of boy’s love, you can guess where this leads. But the next morning, Sako has a pretty negative reaction and quickly leaves. Oddly, his reaction pleases me in a way. Instead of having him magically fall in love with Yousuke, he stays in character and the shock sends him running. Yousuke confronts Sako and apologizes for his actions and promises to stay away from him, he even puts in a request to be reassigned, and... a month passes and neither say a word to each other. Wow. Again, I’m quite pleased with the realistic reactions between the two characters. I’m surprised that there hasn’t been some sappy love confession from Sako where he cries and says that he can’t stop thinking about Yousuke and actually wanted him that night -- oh wait, there it is. Sigh.
But the worst part is what happens after the love confession. Sako tells this story where he couldn’t get aroused by the women he dated, which isn’t the part that bugs me. The part that bugs me is when he says that he got raped by a man. This explains his hesitation around gay men, most definitely, but he so easily gives into Yousuke and... I just... that was a bit too much to add to the story in the last couple of pages. You can’t just throw in such a huge wrench and end things so neatly. “By the way, I was raped by a man, which probably explains why I don’t want to be around men who are attracted to other men and... ah screw it, I love you.”
Yoshino and Yamazaki
Yoshino’s glasses are his relationship Kryptonite -- sort of. For some strange reason, he’s only able to get physical with his boyfriend when he takes his glasses off. Before he became his boyfriend, Yamazaki was Yoshino’s best friend, but after college entrance exams Yamazaki confessed his love to his best friend. Yoshino wanted to remain friends, but Yamazaki gave him until graduation to make a final decision -- become lovers or no longer be friends. Yoshino decided to be his boyfriend, but Yamazaki was troubled by his quick decision. Is he doing it just to keep the friendship in tact? Or does he really love him? Nevertheless, the two boys moved in together, but when Yamazaki wanted to take their relationship to the next level Yoshino wasn’t prepared at all. He blamed his hesitation on his glasses getting in the way and when he took them off the image of Yamazaki was completely blurry. He decided to pretend that the blurry image wasn’t his best friend since he was still uncomfortable with the thought of taking their relationship that far. And this flashback explains why Yoshino needs his glasses off when him and Yamazaki are making love. What an interesting concept for a story!
The thing I like about these two boys is that they still act like best friends. They argue over petty things -- like what to watch on T.V. or Yoshino needing to eat his vegetables -- and as you’re reading you can feel this friendship, and as Yoshino worries over the future of that friendship you wonder if it really is a good idea for the two of them to go beyond it. For now, Yoshino has two versions of Yamazaki -- his best friend, and the blurry image of his lover. But as time passes the two get mixed together and its hard to differentiate between them. Finally, Yamazaki asks what Yoshino really thinks of him and makes him keep his glasses on and really look at him. The best friend and the lover come together, and the two share a passionate moment together. Their story ends with an ice-cream date at an amusement park, the friendly arguments still there and the loving feelings growing more and more.
Sugi and Nitta
This is a rather short story about two boys, a love letter, and... a pair of glasses? Despite being friends with Nitta, he’s the last person that Sugi wants to see right now. There’s a girl that Sugi has a crush on, but that girl has asked him to give Nitta a love letter since she wants to go out with him. Thinking that he’s a loser, Sugi foolishly throws his glasses away and isn’t able to see anything. Nitta tries to help him get home, but Sugi keeps pushing his friend away. Nitta is persistent and keeps talking with Sugi despite his depression, and during the conversation Nitta not only comes out to his friend, but confesses his love for him, telling him that there is someone who likes him after all.
These are some of the cutest boys I’ve seen in a boy’s love manga -- or maybe its just the large amount of glasses and the friendship theme. It’s not often that I like the best friends stories, mainly because we’re often told that the two lovers were best friends instead of actually seeing them as friends, but this manga shows exactly what I wanted -- friends turning into lovers and the difficulty with that transition.
Now I for one can -- and will -- tell you that there are a LOT of anthologies in the boy’s love genre, but the couples in this one are actually quite enjoyable. The details in some of the stories that seem so small end up being very important -- not showing Maki’s ex-boyfriend and only focusing on Maki’s pained expressions when he’s with him, Sako staying in character and being disgusted with himself for sleeping with a man, Yoshino’s glasses serving as a way to try and hide the fear of turning a friend into a lover -- it’s things like this that made me like the couples in this story. Not to mention that a lot of the boys are likable, even characters like Yamazaki -- who gives Yoshino a horrible ultimatum. But you can see that he really cares for his friend and loves him, and as he starts to question if Yoshino really loves him or was simply trying to save the friendship the pain in his eyes makes you feel bad for him.
Not all of the stories end in ways I liked -- sometimes its rushed, and other times there are plot points thrown in that just complicate things even more. Playing the “I was raped” card was completely unnecessary in Sako’s story because it was played too late. With only 2 pages left, mentioning something so traumatic -- and this is on top of Sako admitting that he can’t be aroused by women despite having dated them -- just makes you want more of the story. It opens a whole batch of concerns: so it’s not that he hates gay men, he’s scared because he was raped? But he did say that he cannot be aroused by women, but was that before or after the rape? But he also said that he couldn’t stop thinking of Yousuke after that night -- but did that bring up bad memories of the rape? Instead of answering these questions, the story ends in a neatly wrapped package. There’s also Kouta and Kazuyuki’s story, which I feel had an excellent set up, but we don’t get to see them develop as a couple after all of the build-up. Being told that everything worked out o.k. when there was so much build up towards them becoming a couple was such a waste, especially when we have the interesting plot point of Kouta wanting to be more than friends years ago and Kazuyuki saying no.
Despite the complaints, I do recommend this manga. The boys are cute, the stories are interesting, and its fun to see boy’s love boys being friends and doing simple things -- like fighting over the remote or having ice cream together on a date.