Manga-ka: Fumi Yoshinaga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: July 2007
Synopsis: “An (apparently) frivolous Tohdou and an (overly) serious Tamiya. They continue to collide and have finally become lovers around graduation. This is their life afterwards. The long awaited second volume is here with never before release material. And Tohdou’s younger brother (seme) makes a guest appearance.”
Taking place seven years after the end of the first book, volume two continues to follow the ever-evolving relationship of Tohdou and Tamiya. Both continue their work diligently which often means they don’t get to see eachother as much as they’d like… or as much as Tohdou would like anyway. Tamiya continues to act a bit cold and reserved. Combined with his growing independence through things such as cooking and cleaning, and apparent little interest in sex, Tohdou begins to fear that he’ll have nothing left to offer his lover.
Though together for so many years, Tohdou and Tamiya still struggle with some of the same problems they had before. Tamiya is unwilling to indulge Tohdou and go ‘all-the-way’ while some miscommunication leads to misunderstandings, for better or worse. Their interactions remain charming and heartfelt and give the book a real light-hearted tone. As much as readers will feel for the character’s plight, it’s hard to feel down about it when Tohdou whines to his colleagues, tears streaming.
Another character who takes centre stage is Tohdou’s younger brother, Hiroaki. He’s a brilliant law student with a thing for older men. He offers to stay in a teacher’s course in exchange for sex and possesses a confidence that’s both sensual and amusing. This is especially true in contrast to his lover, a teacher whose naïve enthusiasm is refreshing and cute. Taking a more sombre tone, the final chapter in the book follows Hiroaki’s youth, from his first love, to his brother’s coming out to getting where he is today. It’s incredible having a character so fleshed out in only one volume.
Fumi Yoshinaga’s skills don’t end at human interaction and she’s renowned for how much emphasis and emotion she can pack into her artwork, while still maintaining clean and uncluttered images. Panels that have no text will often be the most memorable, especially the occasional string of panels that follow the change in someone’s expression and mood. From Tohdou’s downright smarmy expression upon discovering Tamiya’s actions when left alone, to Tamiya’s passion to peeved facial shift after a night of sex, moments like these will leave readers giggling. The characters themselves are drawn lean but with masculine forms. Attributes such as a Tohdou’s unruly curls really go far to add a sense of realism and detail.
Volume two of Ichigenme is considerably more sexually graphic than the first. The sex scenes, like the interactions before and after it, feel so real that it puts so many other depictions to shame. From the often awkward posing to a strong sense of weight and tension, Fumi Yoshinaga will not disappoint her readers. A combination of these visual attributes along with the passionate cries and honest intimacy makes Ichigenme volume two a steamy finale to this short series. Most impressively of all, however, is how often the sex scenes occur and yet how seamlessly they flow with the story, rarely ever feeling like mere gratuitous fan-service.
All together, Ichigenme is an excellent combination of drama, passion and humour that makes it a treat to read. It’s a highly recommended series for fans of Fumi Yoshinaga’s other boys’ love work and for those who’ve yet to witness their charm in action.