Manga-ka: Fumi Yoshinaga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: July 2007
Synopsis: “The only thing keeping Tadashi, a struggling song lyricist, alive is food handouts from Kouhei, a successful doctor. In fact, Tadashi has been leeching off of Kouhei for practically their entire professional lives. But Kouhei’s parents want nothing more than to see their son settling down. As Kouhei is pushed ever more forcefully into an arranged marriage, will he finally admit that he sees Tadashi as something more than just a friend?”
Don’t Say Anymore, Darling is a compilation of short stories by the manga-ka, Fumi Yoshinaga, famous for her character driven works such as Antique Bakery and Flower of Life. This collection brings together five short stories ranging from the trials of a futuristic world to the failings of a present day piano prodigy. Each story stands on its own as a unique tale portraying the trials of love and loss in different ways.
The first story is about Kouhei, a successful doctor, who spends much of his time helping his friend, Tadashi, with offers of food and company. Tadashi lives in a small, messy apartment as he comes up with horrible lyrics for songs that Kouhei can never see becoming anything but gibberish. While helping his friend who seems doomed to failure, Kouhei struggles with the pressures of marriage, or in his case, the lack there of. A lot of things suddenly become apparent as events snowball to their passionate end. Their contrasting, and often conflicting, personalities make this a cute tale of a man finding what’s always been right before his eyes.
The second story takes a unique direction, beginning with a boy awakening in a mansion devoid of human life, inhabited with only a single advanced android nanny. The boy, Arthur, was born with a disease so deadly that he cannot survive any contact with germs or bacteria so he is forced to live out his days trapped in this home. Very quickly his nanny doesn’t prove to be company enough for the hormonal teen and he requests his older brother, an expert android-maker and the one who watches over Arthur, to create for him a male-sexaroid, an android with an obvious purpose. However the requests do not stop there and soon Arthur has a harem’s worth of men at his disposal. This story becomes one not only about lust but of needs and in some cases, the length to which people will go for them. It’s an entertaining story of erotic scenes and shocking surprises. It’s easily the most powerful tale in this book and uses the feeling readers will have after finishing it to lead them into the next chapter.
The third story shows us a world where seemingly everyone has simply vanished. Power continues to flow in machines and food never goes bad and yet nobody is around. This is when the readers are introduced to Ryohei Sawada, a man who believes himself the last. He meets a young, androgynous boy named Kaoru Origuchi who after spending years being bullied by his schoolmates seems almost happy that everyone in the world has vanished. This chapter makes for a twisted tale of punishment and loneliness that reminds us all to be careful what we wish for.
The fourth chapter is in fact not a tale of boys’ love at all, seemingly a bit out of place in this compilation published in the yaoi-inclusive line by DMP. It’s the story of a widowed old man, in mourning for his wife, who meets a much younger woman. He wastes little time in proposing to her and she accepts, having had little luck with relationships in her life. The whole story has a somber feel to it and is another example of a wonderfully character driven story. This one deals with the struggles of a relationship; the things people deal with for the sake of sustaining it, fear of abandonment and sometimes the things that just don’t work.
A down and out pianist takes center stage as the main character of the final story. After a successful, but unfortunately short, career as a performing pianist, Takayuki Date finds himself old, alone and without a career. Living day to day on royalties, he questions what’s become of himself and what the future could possibly hold. A young man greets him suddenly and the pianist believes that a nice, young man is finally attracted to him again! But he tries to be realistic and soon realizes there’s no hope… but then why does this young man seem so persistent? The story is fully told in Takayuki’s point of view, from his experiences and thoughts. It’s both a fun and sad ride through this troubled time in the pianist’s life as readers cannot help but feel for him, even if they may have a wry grin at his expense in the end.
The art is everything we come to expect from Fumi Yoshinaga, from the clean and simple layouts to the wonderfully expressive faces that often take it upon themselves to tell the story. The line art is solid and brought out by good use of screen toning. Particular note can be made to the third story, which seems very heavy on the use of solid black. Even the borders around the panels are considerably thicker than any others in the book. It makes each character strongly stand out and suits the sense of aloneness. During the stories sometimes the panels may seem a bit text heavy but nothing that ever seems too crammed. It’s all is necessary to fit the plot in such short stories and it’s done well.
DMP treats this release well with consistent use of font and well-written translations. The cover slip is simple but eye-catching with a stylized, manga page look. It uses the same glossy finish as most of DMP’s releases. It also includes two colored mini comics on the inner flaps of both the front and back of the book and, like the cover, stars the characters from the first story.
Overall, Don’t Say Anymore, Darling comes together as a surprisingly provocative collection that leaves readers with a variety of feelings as they go from one story to the next. It’s strongly recommended to fans of Fumi Yoshinaga as it maintains her strong sense of character but deviates a bit in tone and setting from her usual works. While most of the stories have darker feels to them, it still manages to leave you feeling a bit lighthearted by the end and with much to dwell on if you take the time to give these stories the thought they were obviously intended to provoke.