Very affecting story of unfulfilled desire made all the better by being angst-free.
Writer/Artist: Keiko Kinoshita
Translated by: Melanie Schoen
Adapted by: Melanie Schoen
What They Say
When Tomosaka realized he was in love with his best friend Noda, it seemed the most natural thing in the world. He couldn't even remember when he'd first started falling in love. He had his feelings, but he couldn't express them... because Noda was his best friend. A story about the delicate thread that separates friendship and love.
This is DMP's standard trim with the usual advertisements and author afterword. The paper supports a very good print quality, one that we have come to expect from DMP. The cover art work, which deftly shows the intimate yet not-so-intimate relationship, is one of Kinoshita better efforts. Her particular linear style sometimes doesn't translate well into other art media, but this watercolor highlights the subtle quality of her artwork. It's a shame that there are no color inserts in this volume.
Keiko Kinoshita's style is well-suited to the tender longing and the fragile hearts that comprise this story. Her style is distinguished by fine lines drawn and redrawn to build up features. This gives her work, especially in facial characteristics, an almost ephemeral quality, one that depicts fleeting, transitory emotion and moments in time. And this story is all about emotion, hidden emotion that only rarely breaks the surface.
The text reads well with only one area where the dialog sounded a bit stilted. Sfx are translated and placed unobtrusively near the original.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tomosaka has been Noda's friend since middle school and has been quite used to Noda's womanizing ways. However, recently he's been more critical of his friend's affairs. After Tomosaka, in an uncharacteristic expression of anger and rage, saves Noda from a stabbing that was the outcome of an act of kindness by Tomosaka that had gone wrong, Tomosaka has an erotic dream about Noda which he replays often. He is disturbed enough about this that he begins to avoid Noda, who seeks out Tomosaka at the restaurant where he works.
It's Tomosaka's manager at the restaurant, gay, playfully lecherous and no stranger to heartache, who tells Tomosaka what he can't recognize himself - that he's in love with Noda. Of course, Tomosaka denies this outwardly, but inside he decides to "push down" those feelings for Noda out of regard for their friendship. However, this has a price and Tomosaka's inward struggle translates to a haggard physical condition . Noda's concern for Tomosaka causes a confrontation where Tomosaka admits his love to a surprised Noda, and asks Noda to have sex with him (very deliberate wording) even though he tells himself he doesn't want to ask for sex out of friendship. Noda agrees, if only to help Tomosaka. The resulting sex is brief and unfulfilling.
Although Noda doesn't quite know what happened himself, he is surprised when he next sees Tomosaka. It was as if nothing had changed in their relationship and on reflection he begins to wonder if he doesn't feel something for Tomosaka after all.
More to come with volume 2.
Well, it wouldn't be the first time a backcover blurb misdirected readers.
Tomosaka has not been in love with Noda forever. Most of this first volume is the story of how Tomosaka identifies what he feels for Noda and the choices he makes to accommodate his feelings. Tomosaka is all about repressed desire and when he admits his feelings to Noda and gets what he thinks will take care of the toll his emotional state has taken, he is devastated. His decision to put friendship before love must have taken quite an effort. Kinoshita presents all of this pain and confusion of unfulfilled desire for both Tomosaka and Noda without angst or excessive emotionality. This is a powerful story in a very unassuming guise.
Those looking for hot steamy sex will not find it in this volume even though it has a mature rating. The sex is short, sad and briefly depicted as is fitting the situation. But sex is not the point here, it's the emotional lives of the characters that are the story. Recommended.