Manga-ka: Riyu Yamakami
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: October 2008
Synopsis: “Clumsy Akira is head-over-heels for his best friend, the confident and handsome Takuya. Too bad Tatsuya has a gorgeous girlfriend… and no idea that Akira watches his every move! When the strange and sarcastic Tanabe steps in to distract (and tease) his lovesick pal, Akira’s sure he’s just looking for a little excitement to pass the time. However, it becomes impossible to ignore how well Tanade seems to know his thoughts, wishes and deepest secrets…”
Sighing Kiss was a book that fell victim to first impressions with me. The fluffy though rather dull looking cover had me slipping this book to the lower section of my to-read pile, and even after unwrapping, the interior art left me just as underwhelmed. But always one to enjoy being proven wrong, Sighing Kiss ended up being much more than my initial thoughts gave it credit for and I’m all the happier for it.
Akira is a shy highschool student, one long since in knowledge and acceptance of his sexuality. The object of his affection now is his best friend, the kind, though straight, Takuya. After blurting out a hasty confession of his feelings, Akira is stricken with grief that Takuya would hate for it as his first love in junior high had. Present to take his mind off the matters, one way or another, is Tanabe, a fellow student in the school who always seems to be around to see Akira at his weakest, and make fun of him for it on top of that. But underneath his insults are some honest attentions to Akira’s suffering. But are they needed when Akira’s love Takuya suddenly does some serious thinking of his own?
Near the book’s middle, there’s a little author note: “I tried to make it so that you couldn’t tell if it would be Tatsuya or Tanabe up until the very end. How did I do?”. Well I say she did very well. There were some moments that had me feeling confident I knew the ending, be it by classic formula and a seemingly obvious direction, but the end result was as fluctuating as the character’s emotion. People were hurt, emotions were explored and some upsetting past events were laid out bare against the love triangle that forms between the three.
I really liked Tanabe, who played his role as the deviant very well, not what you’d immediately expect would become a possible match for the sensitive Akira. The insight he offers to Akira is an important part of the story and it was well delivered. Tanabe fills the shoes of his role nicely as well and even Akira, weepy and prone to classic ukey outbursts, was an endearing character.
Unlike some boys’ love stories that tend to focus solely on one character, Sighing Kiss allows readers a look at the trials of all three, what led them to where they end up, some tough decisions, some regretted actions and overall, feelings that just needed time to flourish. It really gave the story a balanced angle, even if Akira did own most of the page time. Sure it all had an expected level of fluff on top but underneath it there were some well-explored emotions and it was impossible not to get attached to each character one way or another.
This sincere love story of heartbreak and discovery was all helped along by a really great sense of pacing on the manga-ka’s part that made for a smooth reading experience, start to finish. I recommend this quaint one-shot to boys’ love readers whole-heartedly for a brief, but ultimately charming tale of teenage loss, lust and love.