Manga-ka: Yaya Sakuragi
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: May 2008
Synopsis: “Clumsy Madoka Takumaru can’t seem to go a minute without breaking something. To teach him a little self-control, Takumaru’s sis forces him to help out the Tea Ceremony Club despite the hesitations of the club president, the graceful Kazuma Hasune. Compoased and cool, he is the exact opposite of the brash Takumaru. Will the two be able to bridge their differences, or will a potentially hot romance cool like iced tea?”
Tea For Two is the story of Madoka Takumaru, a clumsy teenage jock who has a problem with breaking things. Fed up with his lack of grace, his younger sister puts him under the tutelage of their school’s Tea Ceremony club president, Kazuma Hasune. Now it’s a matter of whether or not some tea and kimonos will be enough to calm Madoka’s bad habits or if something aside from good manners will form through their lessons.
I enjoyed reading through this first volume and getting to know the characters. Madoka is really entertaining, lively and bluntly honest about everything, but without being too overbearing or forced. Kazuma made for a good contrast, more calm, cool and collected, but with his own occasional quirk to avoid him being a complete boys’ love cookie-cutter character. My favourite part of the story was the process of their budding relationship, which took about half the volume to pick up speed and then took off for the second part. Madoka gave the progression a refreshing feel with his honesty and I found a lot of the leads’ interactions amusing.
On top of the man on man aspects that obviously play the central role of the story, there’s also Madoka and Kazuma’s young sisters, Nagomi and Kotoko. Though appearing briefly in the lead story, at the end they get a short story to show their first meeting. Not only does the manga-ka draw them both really well (something often not seen in boys’ love stories for obvious reasons) but there seems to be a little girls’ love hinting as well. Wishful thinking for me? The yuri fangirl in me looks forward to it, as I think the two girls would make for a really entertaining story, though probably even a tad more than the relationship of Madoka and Kazuma. Only four pages and I’m genre-cheating on Tea for Two already.
Yaya Sakuragi has a nice art style and a pretty solid grasp on it throughout the book. The men are drawn with strong features, attractive but masculine. It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve read a boys’ love story that’s fallen completely into the realm of visual stereotype, aka boys who look like girls. No complaints though, I like ‘em pretty but easy gender-distinction is always good. There’s some great expression work here, especially on Madoka, which suits his varying moods and reactions. He’s one of those people who wears his emotions on his face, clear as day, and the art definitely reflects it.
Overall, Tea for Two volume one makes for a pretty strong start to this boys’ love series. Madoka and Kazuma have amusing personality contrasts and the secondary characters fit nicely amidst the lead couple’s story. It’s not an amazing piece of work, or feel like it breaks new boys’ love ground (if there’s any left to break), but it sure is a fun read thus far and I look forward to seeing how things progress in volume two.