By Leroy Douresseaux
Dec 16, 2008 - 12:42
|The cover art featured in the above image of the Japanese edition is also on June Manga's edition, but with English cover copy.|
Rated “M” for “Mature Audiences 18+”
In The Color of Love, a yaoi manga by Kiyo Ueda, love does indeed come in a number of shades. Reluctant friends, high school pals, confused ex-lovers, smitten coworkers, etc.: they’re as likely to become a partner for life as anyone.
The opening tale, which is also the title story, presents Nao Yoshizawa, a young man with a dilemma. He’s madly in love with his pal, Taira, but hasn’t told him. Now, Nao is deathly afraid that his blushing face will reveal to Taira his feelings, so he avoids him. However, Taira notices the change in his friend, forcing Nao to confront his feelings. So will Nao blush and reveal the color of love?
The Color of Love is one of the most romantic yaoi manga titles I’ve ever read, and for yaoi, its sex scenes are rather discreet – emphasizing new love over sudden lust. There are seven stories, chronicling six couples. [The opening tale, “The Color of Love” and the closing “Graduation Trip” – both about Nao and Taira – act as a framing sequence.] All the couples’ romances are, for the most part, entertaining and engaging. There’s a sentimentality here that makes these romances seem like the kind of old-fashioned love stories Hollywood has been producing for decades. One can almost see Ryan Gosling & Zac Efron playing any one of these couples in a Nicholas Sparks book-to-film movie.
In one story (“The Ideal Love”), a young man, Kaede Makino, is having an affair with a coworker who suddenly marries a young woman. By chance, Kaede meets a former acquaintance, Toshio Sasaki, with whom he had a one-night stand. Toshio, who is now homeless, moves in with Kaede, and this new arrangement forces Kaede to examine why his love life has been hampered by his quest for a love that is somehow pure, a relationship that is perfect from beginning to consummation.
These stories are drawn in Kiyo Ueda’s pretty style, which features winsome, soft-faced boys. The expressive faces on these characters sell stories like “Direction of a Smile,” a great story about a hotel bellhop and the object of his affections, which develops slowly and thoughtfully. It’s this kind of contemplative storytelling, which follows the pratfalls and clumsiness of burgeoning love, that make The Color of Love so special.