Manga-ka: Tomo Maeda
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: December 2005
Synopsis: “Mizuno and Mamoru never saw eye-to-eye in school. Nervous glances, crippling shyness… every day, a tangled web of feelings threatened to keep them apart forever. But when Mamoru dies and returns as a ghost, the boys unearth a truly special connection. Can this new love from the great-beyond bring Mizuno back to life, or will his shadowy past bury all hope?”
Beyond My Touch is a collection of Tomo Maeda boys’ love stories, three in total. The title story, and also the longest, stars Mizuno, a quiet student who keeps to himself until one day when the ghost of his classmate follows him home. Mamoru claims that Mizuno is his regret, keeping him here on Earth as a ghost. Despite how hard Mamoru tries to help, and openly shares his feelings, he seems to be nothing but an annoyance to Mizuno. What’s a little ghost to do?
Mizuno’s determination, dedication and optimism slowly chips away at the cool, emotional exo-skeleton of Mizuno, throughout the pages of this story. Though it’s clearly a boys’ love story, readers aren’t smacked in the face with baseless romance and are instead treated to charming interactions and heartfelt emotions, plus a few melancholy moments for good measure. The relationship stays more platonic than otherwise but layers on the fluff, topping it with the occasional hug and kiss, which should be more than enough to fully satisfy those looking for some G-rated boy loving.
Another thing about the story I liked was the short scenes relevant to Mizuno being a ghost. He accepts it with little pause but it was neat reading his theories on passing on and cute seeing him practice the ability to touch solid objects. Scenes were short, and far between, but were neat and acted as occasional reminders to readers that Mizuno isn’t just a boy camping out in Mamoru’s house.
Following the ghostly tale are two considerably shorter ones. The first, called ‘Cool Lips’ is about the budding friendship between two classmates that suddenly risks becoming much more after a sudden kiss. When the kissee discovers that the kisser is in the hospital with a severe illness, will he get the chance to straighten things out?! Contrasting personalities made this one an entertaining read and I really liked both the characters; their little story fit nicely at its short page count.
After that is a story called ‘Recipe’, a sweet story (in more ways than one) about a boy who bakes cakes and treats for his friend, determined to do so until his friend reacts to them. The ending was as, at the risk of overusing this word, as sweet as the yummy cakes that littered the pages. Both this and ‘Cool Lips’ are like ‘Beyond My Touch’, in that they don’t deal with necessarily romantic relationships, just cute ambiguousness.
Tomo Maeda’s art is in top shape here, admirable for some of her very first published works. For the past few years I’ve been collecting her other English released series, Black Sun Silver Moon (published by Go!Comi), but I find her style works much better here on pages littered with upbeat moments and quick-paced conversations. Some panels look a little oddly executed as you can tell Tomo Maeda does a little experimentation with her panelling throughout the book, but it works together really well, and thus, for better or worse, this will always be a style I’ll associate more with her boys’ love work.
It’s been years since I read this book and I had to pull it out from beneath a thin layer of dust on my stuffed shelves. However, I couldn’t be happier to have my review week of ghost themes to remind me of this adorable book. It’s a real treat to read and not just another fluff title in the boys’ love market. Tomo Maeda’s artwork is simple and charming, even if it is a little rough around the edges. Beyond My Touch is a feel good book and for those who like some fluff in their daily yaoi diet, then you should definitely pick this one up.
Written May 23, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo
Book purchased in-store from independant comic/gaming shop, Odyssey 2000
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