Manga-ka: Makoto Tateno
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: July 2008
Synopsis: “After resorting to out-and-out blackmail to satisfy his desire, Minami realizes his failure to live up to the hero he portrays on television – but the damage may already be done. In real life, he and his co-star Sawada now resemble the arch-enemies they play on “Trans-Dimensional Warriors Airguard.” Despite the show’s success, the icy air between Sawada and Minami is starting to become noticeable. Enter Takagi, an ex-boyfriend and former co-star of Sawada’s, who joins the cast to play a special guest role. Will Sawada and Takagi’s complicated history create even more tension on the set?”
The trials of volume one have left Minami torn, struggling to move on from his desires for co-star, Sawada. After a one-night stand, Sawada tells Minami that he has no interest in him and only slept with the co-star because it’s sex and Minami had been so persistent (resorting to blackmail). In attempts to distract himself, Minami becomes involved with another actor on the television production. Cue the arrival of Takagi, a kind and talented actor who was also Sawada’s previous co-star and lover.
There’s a lot of great drama in this thick second volume. Minami fights his lingering feelings for Sawada while struggling with his new relationship, one that threatens to sour after some dangerously passionate confrontations. The new character Takagi brings a fresh element of intrigue to the story, and unlike many ‘old-boyfriends returning to the scene’, he didn’t annoy me, and I felt was a welcome addition to this web of boys’ love. There are a lot of great exchanges between the characters and some even managed to surprise me a bit.
As a fan of Japanese drama and action television shows, I also wish I could watch the show they’re making in this yaoi! It looks amusing, action-packed and enjoyably cheesy. It makes it so reading Hero Heel reminds me a lot of reading Shout Out Loud!, which had a similar backdrop of character-driven boys’ love overtop production of an action-adventure series (though Shout Out Loud was voiceovers instead of live-action).
Makoto Tateno’s artwork continues to work well with her story, combining attractive men (who are pretty but still look like men) with pleasantly detailed images and suitable character designs. The panel choices and pacing were well done here, especially with so many pages and dialogue between the cast.
All-in-all, I enjoyed this second volume of Hero Heel even more than I did the first. The characters feel pretty believable as they struggle with their feelings and the love-square that’s formed through all the strife and heartache made it an interesting volume. I look forward to seeing where things go with volume three.