Manga-ka: Hinako Takanaga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: November 2008
Synopsis: “Shingo has always liked guys who are exceptional. His best friend, Koji, is the smartest, fastest and hottest gy in the school. But what Shingo doesn’t know is that Koji has worked hard to be so exceptional – and he’s it to impress Shingo! Why? He’s in love with Shingo of course! But all is about to be revealed, because when Shingo’s just-as-impressive cousin comes into town, Koji realizes he’ll have to confess everything or risk losing his one true love forever…”
A Capable Man is a collection of short stories by Hinako Takanaga, each with its own set of characters and their own little worries, issues and fetishes. Ranging from bad hair days to masochists, there’s plenty to surprise and entertain readers in this assortment of boys’ love.
Undoubtably my initial impression when I first read these stories was one of amused confusion. Reading short stories about a masochist with a voice fetish, kleptomaniac, perfectionist-worshipper and one with bad-hair-day trauma, certainly classified as interesting in my opinion.
The title story begins with a non-consensual scene which will obviously not appeal to some readers. The after effects of it are a little different than I’d have expected, with the ‘victim’ accepting it with a smile and laugh in light of the topper’s guilt and apparent cuteness in the face of his regret. Past the somewhat-rape factor, the receiver Shingo is a funny character with his completely nonchalant attitude about many things and his energetic personality is kind of cute, albeit a little odd all things considering.
Each review I do for Hinako Takanaga’s work will read in a very similar fashion when in regards to her artwork because she’s one of my favourite manga-ka, hands down, no competition. Her combination of adorable character designs that mesh pretty-boy and cute in a way that still maintain masculine features, lose line quality and wonderfully expressive panels make it a treat every time I pick up a new title. Her work here in A Capable Man has all those attributes, though is admittedly a little less polished than her work published after it (only natural right?).
Overall, fans of Hinako Takanaga, such as myself, should definitely pick this one up to enjoy much of the same art, fluff and humour that grace her other series. It’s definitely a little different than many other boys’ love in its interesting choice of subject matter, and while some may not withstand the scrupulous morals of some, there’s still enough stories here to tickle the funny bone or warrant an amusingly acceptive ‘what the heck?’. Not an epic collection of short stories but certainly an entertaining one.