Authour: Shinobu Gotoh
Manga-ka: Kazumi Ohya
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: September 2007
Synopsis: “Takumi, a boy from humble origins, prepares to begin his second year at the school. Held back by psychological issues, Takumi’s indifferent attitude has garnered him no friends and the reputation as a cold fish. Then along comes Gui, a wealthy and charismatic student born in America. Gui is the only person who doesn’t see Takumi as odd, and the two become friends. But how will the two cope when Gui confesses his love to Takumi?”
The Takumi-kun series was originally a series of boys’ love novels by Shinobu Gotoh, adapted years later into a six-part manga series by Kazumi Ohya. With each manga volume of this series individually titled, June Pride, is the given title of volume one and here readers are first introduced to Takumi Hayama, the focus of the story. Taking place in an all boys’ school, readers follow Takumi and his peers through their years at the secluded and prestigious Shidou Academy.
The premise for this first book is letting the readers get to know Takumi, a soft spoken and introverted individual who is labeled an outcast in light of his emotional problems. Only one student has never treated him like that and thus readers are introduced to Gui, the popular and confident roommate.
What gives this book a refreshing feeling is how it begins. Readers are not left to trudge through the often long-winded scenes of inner-dialogue and mishaps that lead two boys in said private school to notice each other. Instead readers are given a fast-forward to Takumi’s second year of school including short bios on the supporting cast to bring everyone up to speed. Gui has confessed his love for Takumi, the two become involved and thus the story begins in a well outlined, previously evolved to, position in the story.
The story continues through Takumi’s trials, from him trying to accept Gui’s constant reminders of his affection, to his own dark past. Though well written in terms of dialogue and pacing, the characters suffer from rather unbelievable personalities, leaving them feeling flat, and thus making it hard for readers to become interested in them on any emotional level. Despite this the story still manages to keep fans of the genre hooked with various antics, events and the dangling mystery behind Takumi’s emotional distress that isn’t fully revealed until the final chapter.
Kazumi Ohya’s art style works well with this story. Characters are expressed nicely through their designs and expressions, reflecting their individual personalities. While Takumi and Gui are easily distinguished from one another, some may make an error once or twice of confusing characters for each other if they don’t pay attention. Screen tones are used frequently but not enough to overdo it, leaving the pages with a light, simpler feeling that is suitable for the thin line art. The cover is an attractive colored image with a flower border that gives proper homage to the romantic drama genre of yaoi readers will find inside.
The writing in the book is well done and easy to follow, subtle changes in the feeling of the dialogue suiting its corresponding character. The book has a lot of sub-text that covers artwork and Blu has done a nice job of replacing them with English translations. The cover title and credits are well laid out across the image, drawing the readers’ focus towards Takumi and Gui, suiting the framed appearance already established by the flowers.
In the end, June Pride, is a light, rather shallow, read that will probably only appeal to fans of the fluffier side of boys’ love. While it has a mature rating, the sex scene wasn’t very graphic nor highly focused on, and, though at times the story picks up a bit when revealing suspenseful answers, everything else remains anti-climatic and rather dull. However, these observations are also a matter of taste and, when it comes down to the book as a whole, it isn’t badly done, it’s just not for everybody. If looking for some romantic boys’ love, or a lot of introverted dialogue, June Pride may be just what you’re looking for.