Manga-ka: Hyouta Fujiyama
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: September 2007
Synopsis: “Reni and Youichi were nothing more than drinking buddies. But when a night of imbibing goes a little too far, they find themselves drinking buddies with “benefits!” What begins as a drunken lark soon becomes a passionate affair. But Renji and Youichi aren’t really gay… or are they?”
Freefall Romance is a tale of two businessmen, Renji Tsutsumi and Youichi Nanase who meet each other through work. Teamed up on a joint project between their companies, the two take to spending their after work hours drinking together and soon become good friends. While Youichi is concerned with matters of his younger brother’s sexuality, Renji’s thoughts are on a more personal matter, realizing that he may have begun developing feelings for his friend that go far beyond business acquaintance.
While the summary DMP has written on the back of the book leads readers to believe the story will revolve heavily around Youichi’s young brother, this is not the case. In fact his younger brother acts as little more than a background plot device to bring up the idea of two guys becoming lovers. It acts as backdrop to Youichi’s open dislike towards the idea making it even more difficult for Renji to admit his feelings.
Through these difficulties and others, the story manages to keep a more grounded feeling compared to others like it. It focuses on hesitations, fears and the small steps taken through the evolving relationship. The exception to this would probably be Renji’s strong conviction but it’s a necessary element to keep the plot moving forward. The entire book is the journey from friend to lover so readers shouldn’t expect any sudden sex scenes or immediate returns of affection, which would be a deviation from the slightly more realistic air this book emits.
To those familiar with Hyouta Fujiyama’s work, they will be treated to one of her most solid releases art wise. Her style is still uniquely her own with masculine character designs and good use of backgrounds, but here is done with much cleaner lines and nice use of screen toning. The designs are simple, business suits and somber expressions litter the pages, fitting the characters, mood and story settings perfectly.
The English release is a generic DMP release; good translations and neat word replacements accompany the shiny cover slip and easy to turn pages.
In the end, Freefall Romance comes together as a well-written and nicely paced yaoi with fitting artwork, but one that seems to read ‘too’ smoothly, nothing in the book really popping out to grab the reader’s attention. From start to finish, though it’s a quality piece of work, it still manages to stay decidedly average in a sea of endless titles and similar works. However for readers looking for something a little more down to earth, this could be just what you’re looking for.