Manga-ka: Saika Kunieda
Publisher: Deux Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: September 2008
Synopsis: “Kento Kumagaya wishes for the simple things in life: to have a happy family with the ideal housewife, loving kids, and kind grandparents all living together, happily ever after. Fate, however, has other plans. Enter Akira Kazuki, a smart, beautiful and unrestrained gay man who shatter’s Kento’s dream with a single night of wild and passionate homosexual sex. This is a romantic, sweet and funny story between two different people (in more ways than one) who unexpectedly find the same future together.”
Let me start by saying I found the two leads of this story to be really likeable and they make for a cute couple. The story begins with Kento Kumagaya seeking solace in the bottom of a glass after some rough waters with his girlfriend. What ends up comforting him however is Akira Kazuki, who after a few drinks, gets them both to his apartment for a passionate one-nighter.
Kento was believably freaked, having suddenly slept with a stranger and a man no less. His sincerity and mixed feelings while dealing with the situation felt refreshing after the far too many boys’ love stories I’ve read recently where automatic acceptance is practically an expected side effect of orgasm. His responses were humourous and entertainingly exaggerated and he dealt with Akira in a way that, though obviously awkward, was still kind.
Akira was, for me, a pleasant surprise in the story. When we first see him, he’s a beautiful, gay man looking for a good time. His whimsical expression and slight build lead me to momentarily assume that he was going to be another doey-eyed uke with little to say but that’s not the case. While he wears somewhat a face when he’s out on the town, Akira is no sit back and take it kind of guy. He’s expressive, emotive and frank to an enjoyable fault (for Kento atleast). The varying nature of his personality makes him feel rounded as a character and much more fun to read about than the more stereotypical one-personality-trait cookie cutter model.
The art style of Future Lovers was also a lot of fun. The characters are drawn with designs unique to one another, from Kento’s more simple, rounded features to Akira’s more detailed eyes, hair and feminine face. My favourite part about it would be the physical comedy, which is achieved through some nicely paced out panels and very physically emotive characters. From facial freak-outs to mild arm-flailing moments of unsurity, the characters popped off the page in a way that was both funny and, in a way, felt more true to life.
The whole book has a certain feel to it that’s unique from many other mangas and the humour has much to do with it. The timing and focus of certain scenes feels like it worked itself in a way a little different from the usual Japanese humour, and though I can’t really put my finger on it exactly, I really liked it. I picked up on that different kind of feeling from the short preview offered at Deux’s website and it was that which made me want to read this title in the first place.
Overall, Future Lovers is a book I’d definitely recommend for boys’ love readers. It’s a quaint, entertaining story with likeable characters, a sweet budding romance and a really appealing style. I had a lot of fun reading it and think that others would enjoy it just the same for its unique charm. While I think the book could’ve easily stopped with this first volume, I’m looking forward to the second for some of the same charm that I enjoyed here in the first.