Manga-ka: Yukari Hashida
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: May 2008
Synopsis: “Diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, Joe figures that the last chance he has of ever making a name for himself is to kidnap a politician’s son, demand an insane amount for the ransom, escape to the South Sea Islands with the money and die partying with booze in one hand and a beautiful babe on the other. But can you say “Stockholm Syndrome?” Things don’t turn out as Joe planned when the kidnap victim, Yuushi, begins to develop feelings for him. Which one is the captor and which one is the captive?”
The synopsis had me hopeful that this would an interesting book so please take a moment to read it above. Got it? Alright. Now while this much of the plot is true, it’s all over by page fifty-six in this book, and if you’re thinking that it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of development time, you’re exactly right.
Instead of what I had hoped would be a story that delved into at least some sort of psyche, Waru was a disappointing story of a young pretty boy who has sex with his kidnapper after being alone in a bed with him for maybe five minutes. There’s little time given to developing them as real people, short of Joe telling us about his weird Dad and his diagnosis of approaching, and unavoidable, death, and even less time developing any connection between them aside from two bodies in the same place at the same time.
What follows that small introductory chunk of the story is Joe’s new job as Yuushi’s (the kidnappee), bodyguard. Yukari Hashida, this book’s manga-ka, conveniently avoids any further development of their relationship by immediately tossing readers a year in the future. Despite his new title as bodyguard, Joe ends up requiring more protection than his boss: first from Yuushi’s young and sexually prowling Mother, and then the return of Yuushi’s first boyfriend. Neither event proved terribly interesting and instead just seemed like something there to up the page count.
In the book’s defence, I did enjoy the occasional weird humour. Much of it came from Joe’s oddball Father but there was the random cross-chapter joke tossed in that elicited at least a chuckle.
Unfortunately I was equally unimpressed with the art here as well. The drawings were generally weak with lopsided faces, and sometimes I had trouble telling what was going on in motion panels. True that art is something that appeals to everyone differently, but for me Waru’s art would definitely not be a selling point.
Overall, Waru was a very boring read and I honestly had to drag myself through the second half. While the initial plot premise could’ve been interesting, it failed to achieve the possibilities, or even really try exploring them. Thus, I can’t recommend this boys’ love story to readers simply because unattractive artwork and a failure at plot makes it a book that really wasn’t worth the time it took to read it. Alas.