Why Johnny can't add.
Writer/Artist:Miyu Matsuda / Yukariko Jissohji
Translated by:Christina Chesterfield
What They Say
Beautiful. Cool. Shiina Jun has always been admired by the women around him. But he would give up their admiration for just one ounce of affection from his family, or a chance at true love from anyone who could save him from the dark loneliness he's lived for so long. His teacher, Sasagawa Tetsuya, wants to be his savior. But is Sasagawa offering a way out, or pushing Shiina deeper into darkness? Can Shiina trust his heart to a man who forces himself on him.
This cover, reminiscent of the lurid covers of 40's and 50's pulp novels, shows the right amount of menace for this story of teacher/student affairs. June has included a color plate of a tearful kiss between Shiina and Sasagawa.
As in all the June novels, illustrations are provided to accompany the events of the text. These can be quite graphic and readers will find such in this work. Yukariko Jissohji's character designs for Shiina and Sasagawa contribute to atmosphere. Jissohji's Sasagawa is especially well done. He's masculine and handsome with a touch of brutishness that reflects what Miyu Matsuda invests in this unusual seme.
This is very readable with no egregious grammar, spelling or other errors. Sex acts are described in a straightforward manner devoid of silly and frivolous language that detracts from the intent of the work. And seriousness is what is required here since some of sex is non-consensual.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Shiina is a good student and popular with other students, especially the girls in his high school classes. It would seem that this good-looking young man has everything, but this isn't the case. He is marked by a profound sense of alienation that he manages to hide, much as he hides behind a pair of glasses that he wears even though he doesn't need them. His home life isn't warm and welcoming. He is treated as if he were a boarder. And his response is to become even colder to his surroundings, to his family and to his classmates.
Shiina's sense of separateness extends to his insistence on supporting himself even while living in the family home. Once evening after finishing his part time job, which consists of having sex with older women for lots of pocket money, he is hit up for money by some punks near the bicycle racks at the train station. Although he is prepared to slug it out, he doubts that after the evening spent with his "girlfriend" that he has the stamina to last. But he is inadvertently saved by a tough and rough looking guy retrieving a bicycle for a very frightened high school girl. After dispatching the punks and the girl is on her way home, Shiina is confronted by his savior, who is none other than math teacher, Sasagawa Tetsuya. For his actions, Sasagawa takes a 100,000 yen "reward" from a very disobliging Shiina and forces Shiina to wait with him until the next train. This gives Sasagawa just the opportunity to rape Shiina in the men's toilet, all the while declaring not love, but understanding and support for Shiina in his loneliness.
For his part, Shiina is attracted and repelled by Sasegawa and does what he can do avoid him, and Sasegawa continues to pursue him with a certain amount of implied menace. Unexpected acts of kindness and some school enforced cohabitation (!) bring about a change in Shiina, enough to see what he really needs and wants out of a relationship. Shiina wants to give his heart, but can he do so without feeling hurt or betrayed by such a strong, overwhelming and somewhat creepy man as Sasagawa?
Of all the June novels to date, Immoral Darkness has been one I've been able to read and reread. Although some of the situations seem a bit fortuitous and convenient, they are only backdrops for some nicely realized characters. And it's the characters I come back for. The fastidious and self-protecting Shiina is no shy, demurring student. He knows the score sexually as does Sasagawa, who not only knows the score, but can probably add it and integrate it as well. In a crucial moment for Shiina, he meets a junior high school girl, whom he knows has some sort of relationship with Sasegawa, in a convenience store, where she asks him about condoms. She tells Shiina that if she buys the condoms, her boyfriend will use them. While Shiina's heart sinks at the thought of the unfaithfulness of the man he felt he could finally trust, mine went all smiley over such caddishness.
Immoral Darkness is not a breezy romance and readers preferring the light and sweet should give this a miss. For those who don't mind the challenge of non-con and some character-defining unsavoriness, the relationship of Shiina and Sasegawa makes for good reading. Immoral Darkness may be a guilty pleasure for me, but it's still a pleasure.