Manga-ka: Satomi Yamaguchi
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: September 2007
Synopsis: “During the summer of his second year in high school, Maki Sonoda found love for the first time in the arms of his cram school teacher, Haruji Shirai. Blinded by the illusions of his first love, Maki can think only of getting to know Haruji more. But, things become complicated when Maki realizes that Haruji is really in love with high school teacher Mr. Mizuguchi. Three men find themselves intertwined in this tantalizing love triangle full of emotion.”
Manic Love is a prequel, of sorts, to Satomi Yamagata’s Fake Fur (also released by DMP). The stories follow Maki, introduced to readers in Fake Fur as the young boy living in a stranger’s apartment. Here in Manic Love, we follow Maki into his blossoming world of sex and love as he deals with both for the first time.
Fake Fur, as a boys’ love manga, is one of my favourites released in English to date, so I was really looking forward to getting a hold of this prequel series. While my curiousity about Maki’s life after Fake Fur remains, this being a prequel over a sequel, I don’t mind that since the original story still ended really well, questions unanswered or not. But that aside, onto Manic Love itself: a book that can be enjoyed by those who’ve read Fake Fur and those who haven’t.
Maki is a uniquely charming young man with a lot of heart and I never knew exactly what he was thinking throughout the book. That was part of what made it so entertaining, because I was never quite sure if I should feel bad for him or just shake my head in mild disbelief (be it over his strength or his cheekiness). After having sex with a man for the first time, he finds himself hooked on both the pleasure and the connection. He ponders the differences of love, from physical to emotional, and shares his thoughts with those around him, from his tutor-turned-lover, to his tutor’s old lover, who also happens to be his teacher at school.
While Maki’s lover, Haruji, and Maki’s teacher, Mizuguchi, share a great deal of the page time, the story really belongs to Maki as a whole. Sex that first begins as a source of fun, turns more intimate for him, and while he seeks to learn more about the man he spends so much time with, ultimately he discovers some past affairs that have yet to find resolution. These past affairs prove more coincidence than the young cupid-of-sorts can ignore. Through his own passion, lust and innocent crushes, Maki’s calm yet underlying emotional struggles really called to me and made for a uniquely thoughtful story.
As its predecessor, Manic Love is a compelling read because it leaves you feeling like you’ve finished reading something that really meant something, if that makes sense. The emotions feel real and tug at heartstrings in a way that’s not only meant to be touching but thought provoking as well. It’s a character drama that blends in sex as a key-defining factor of these young men’s lives and does it in a way that feels real, though still enjoyably dramatized to a point. While I didn’t find it as memorable as Fake Fur, I would still highly recommend this book readers of boys’ love looking for something that makes for a light and airy, and satisfyingly substantial, reading experience.
Review written September 12, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at Fan Expo 2008