Manga-ka: Shinri Fuwa
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: December 2008
Synopsis: “When Kyoya, a former employee at Homura Yasobe’s host club, stumbles upon his boss’ clandestine affair with Touji Karasuma, the leader of a rival Yakuza faction-Kyoya seizes upon the opportunity to blackmail Homura into going out with him. But will the cold and calculating Touji accept defeat and let his beloved Homura go?”
After a former employee of Homura’s host club learns about his boss’s four year affair with rival Yakuza member, Touji Karasuma, he seizes the opportunity to blackmail Homura into a date. What begins as a protection of the men’s status turns into an emotional leaning post for Homura whose thoughts just can’t be pried from Touji despite their growing absence from eachother’s lives.
Homura made for an interesting lead character, especially one in a Yazuka yaoi story. Much like I found the whole cast, he balanced a fine line between semi-plausible Yakza guy and wilty yaoi guy. His numerous bouts of pouty face over thoughts of Touji did get a little tiresome on occassion but I admittedly found his emotional longing for Touji to feel much less contrived than it could’ve been. I’m also a sucker for someone who actually uses his brain for a moment, be it when he swiftly admits to himself that he’s begun using his momentary-blackmailer Kyoya as a distraction (both for attention and sex) and when he realizes some of the mushier reasoning behind Touji’s swift ascent to Yakuza powerhouse.
On the note of blackmailing, this is probably the most unblackmailing-type blackmailing I’ve ever read. If I hadn’t learned that via the book’s synopsis, I would never have known. Shows how much you care, Homura! Blackmailed into a date… yeah, right. You just like the attention, you lonely little Yakuza! But that’s okay, I think I kind of liked him for it.
The book itself balanced itself in much the same way I felt about Homura. One moment things are all serious ‘we’re Yakuza and…’ and the next you’ve got amusingly deformed faces beneath smiles and blush, and longing eyes staring into nothingness for another scheduled bout of pining. This balance worked for the story though, stopping it from being too bogged down in the who, what, where and whys of the Yakuza world but also halting just short of collapsing into a pile of stereotyptical yaoi mush. Well… it collapses slowly anyway. Atleast the pacing’s good throughout.
Shinri Fuwa’s art is pretty nice, a classic salaryman yaoi art style with the angular features and sharp suits. It’s a very clean and solid style, and the manga-ka did a good job keeping everything tidy and easy to follow. The random super-deformed facial features were cute additions that I appreciated as tools of veerying the story away from too much angsty inner monologing.
Overall, A Gentlemen’s Kiss wasn’t an epic read, nor anything new or exciting, but I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it as a little yaoi-diversion in my day. Homura somehow made a pretty interesting lead character, and watching his inevitable reconnecting with Touji (seriously, it’s not much of a spoiler) was much less painful than I’d have given it credit for at first. Also, having not read the first, I can say that you wouldn’t miss a lot by happening to pick this second, and final, volume up before the first, so it’d make for a decent impulse buy. Mushy emotions covered in shapely ironed suits, glasses and sideburns make me give this book a half-hearted, but honest, thumbs up. Sometimes a yaoi is just a yaoi and does a decent job at it.