No match for the original graphic novel, but readers familiar with it will not be disappointed. New readers will find a complete story experience.
Writer/Artist: Maki Kazumi and Yukine Honami
Translation: Christina Chesterfield
Adaptation: Christina Chesterfield
What They Say
Toru is a shy and quiet student who has developed a special crush on his close friend Ryoji, the most popular member of the high school swim team. In front of Ryoji, Toru hides his feelings and acts as if he is just one of Ryoji's good friends, but in an out-of-the-blue moment, his world will be turned upside down as Ryoji confesses a secret desire for Toru!
This is standard paperback size and DMP has provided a page of color illustrations of Toru, Ryoji and Kashiwazaki. There is an author afterword, some biographical data and DMP advertisements.
Yukine Honami, the mangaka responsible for the affecting artwork of the graphic novel, provides illustrations for this novel version. Unlike the graphic novel version in which the artwork was so essential to the emotional tone and power of the story, Yukine's few drawings in the novel function only as illustration and have little effect on the narrative. It is attractive and competent, but lacks the emotional element of her sequential work.
Very readable with only one typographical error to mar the experience. Sexual depiction is straightforward with just a few tired and hackneyed descriptions.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Toru and Ryoji have been friends since the beginning of high school. They would hang out together, eat lunch together, walk home together from school. Nothing unusual for high school friends. So it comes as surprise and shock to Toru when Ryoji does a lunchtime confession to him - "I wonder why, when I look at you, I get turned on". Toru is deeply rattled by this confession. For as much as he has admitted his own attraction to Ryoji to himself, he doesn't want to be hurt by Ryoji and his indifference to the non-physical aspects of a relationship. It's all about lust for Ryoji.
Ryoji is very persistent and Toru gets tricked into submitting to Ryoji. But for a much as he finally admits that he enjoys this kind of closeness with Ryoji, Toru realizes that he needs to get out of the relationship to avoid the hurt. Ryoji is still very much a player with the opposite sex, and while Ryoji doesn't mean to hurt Toru with obvious sexual relationships with female classmates, Toru can't but help feeling as if he's in a "friends with benefits" situation from which he needs to escape.
Desire: Dangerous Feelings is about Ryoji's growing recognition of how he really feels for Toru and then about his ability to get Toru to believe in his sincerity once he does know what his feelings are. Maki Kazumi helps this along by providing some competition for Toru's affection in the form of Vice President of the Art Club, Keigo Kashiwazaki, who makes it clear to Ryoji exactly what his plans are. There's also the stalwart friend, Yamauchi, who seems to know all and recognize all, and who provides advice and guidance at just the right moments.
The novel covers the story depicted in the graphic novel and adds two additional stories not covered there. There's more romantic intrigue with Kashiwazaki in one, and a lighthearted and fluffy story about a birthday present for Toru in the other.
I usually don't see the point of novelizations produced after the publication of a graphic novel. So often the novels are either pointless retelling in poor prose form or a different perspective that omits portions of the story rendering it comprehensible only to those already familiar with it. Desire: Dangerous Feelings doesn't fall into either of those categories.
I admit that I prefer the graphic novel(Desire) that Kazumi and Honami produced. In the graphic novel, the artwork reflected the emotional turmoil of Toru so beautifully and successfully that it really sold this very conventional story. However, the novelization does deliver in giving the reader more about Ryoji - his thoughts, motives. The Ryoji of the graphic novel was more distant and less-defined. This was perfectly appropriate for a story that focused on Toru's emotional torment.
In the afterword, Kazumi states that the novelization tells the story from Ryoji's point of view. I don't think it does. Toru is still the central character here, but it's really Ryoji's story of recognition and acknowledgement, something missing from the original.
If you enjoyed Desire, the graphic novel, you'll find this a good companion to it. If you're new to the novel, this is a satisfying read with a moderate level of graphic sexuality. But I would strongly encourage you to read the graphic novel for an entirely different experience.