By Leroy Douresseaux
July 22, 2008 - 16:00
|The English edition keeps the cover art and replaces the Japanese copy with English text.|
Rated “M” for “Mature Audiences 18+”
Yaoi manga is a subset of boys’ love or “BL” manga, which portrays romantic relationships between (mostly) young males. Yaoi depicts explicit sexual acts between two men. Female readers are attracted to yaoi because the relationships it portrays between men often seem like the heterosexual relationships found in romance novels. One of the men takes on the characteristics and role of the male and the other the role of the female.
Some yaoi titles, however, are overtly about gay relationships, and Blue Sky by Yuko Kuwabara is one of those. Blue Sky opens at Seika Academy High School, a “little rich boy school” (as one character describes it). Perched high atop a lonely mountain, Seika is set apart from the rest of the world.
At Seiran Dormitory, there is a prophecy that the chief resident assistant always becomes romantically involved with his roommate during senior year. Chief Resident Assistant Ryoichiro Kihara has had his eye on the aloof Kyosuke Yoshimi, so Kihara sets up the scenario that makes Yoshimi his roommate. However, Yoshimi is as curt with Kihara as he is with all his other male suitors. Before long the two roommates are ex-roommates, and perhaps these two young men may want the same thing, while going about it in a manner that upsets the other. What to do?
Blue Sky is blessed with an attractive and charming star couple in Ryoichiro Kihara and Kyosuke Yoshimi. Their awkwardness around each other, Kihara’s aggression, and Yoshimi’s stubborn reserve add zesty conflict to this romantic drama. There are also several good supporting characters, and creator Yuko Kuwabara sets aside a few chapters to detail their romantic entanglements.
The treat here is that Kuwabara deftly presents the trials and tribulations of young men struggling with feelings of romance and passion – entertaining the idea of being in a relationship – while stumbling their way out the closet. Using his entire cast, Kuwabara surprisingly (and delightfully) depicts gay relationships as developing and evolving the way straight relationships do. In Blue Sky, we see young love in various stages – from just-starting-up to straight up boot-knockin’ sex. It’s a good thing and a good read.