Manga-ka: Mio Tennohji
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: October 2008
Synopsis: “Handsome Himeshiro will go out with anyone who asks, male or female. But when shy and timid Touru Onozuka makes his confession, Himeshiro decides to see just how far Touru is willing to go to win his love. He sets up various tasks and trials that Touru must complete to prove himself. Will Touru get fed up with all the weird conditions and humiliating acts, or will Himeshiro finally get serious? Mio Tennohji takes you on a journey of unrequited love, misunderstandings, and happy endings in this collection of heart-warming stories.”
If you’ve read one Mio Tennohji book, you’ve read them all. In recent months this has become a fact that I’ve all too clearly come to realize as 801Media continues to put out various titles by the boys’ love manga-ka. The various stories in this book aren’t anymore memorable than her others and they all stick to the considerably small range of plotlines that the artist seems comfortable with.
The title story takes place in your classic all-boys’ school setting, following the expectant pathway of many stories before it with the cool and collected school favourite hears yet another confession of love. Himeshiro is well accustomed to these confessions and is known as having never turned a person down, even if they rarely last long. Along with Himeshiro, the opening page of the story introduces us to Touru, the nervous underclassman who’s taken his turn as confessor to Himeshiro. What follows this sudden revelation of supposed-love turns into a short-lived story of abuse as Himeshiro proceeds to, in his words, ‘test’ Touru’s feelings by asking him to do things that make him uncomfortable and seeing how he’ll react.
Far from charming, the teasing and prodding that Himeshiro pushes on Touru certainly didn’t strike me as very sweet. Himeshiro’s self-explained woes of distrust for others also served as little justification. Naturally, however, Touru’s adorable blushing face and take-it-like-a-rug attitude warms the heart of Himeshiro and the two enter what closely resembles by yaoi-standards, a loving relationship. Far from warming my heart though, even the cute earnestly of Touru proved to be little saving grace for an otherwise bland story. Admittedly a follow-up short at the book’s end did at least provide a few amusing moments.
Following the title story are two quick and unconnected stories. ‘How to Find a Gentle Kiss’ is the story of reconnection between two high school friends after an awkward almost-happened encounter left the two unsure of the others’ feelings as they were separated for three years. ‘Mornings at the Bus Stop’, the next short, I enjoyed considerably more thanks to some character dynamics that didn’t fall as easily into their stereotypical molds. It follows a young man who finds himself strongly attracted to a fellow bus-rider he sees at the stop every morning.
Sadly for the book’s defense Mio Tennohji’s art style has never been one that’s really clicked for me. While I do like her use of dark screen tones and solid inking, the stretched out proportions of the characters and the far-too-similar designs spanning across her books make each one as unremarkable as the last. Yaoi fans who read 801Media’s books looking for that extra smut to bolster the 18+ rating may be disappointed that this book only has a few sex scenes but will likely be appeased by the uncensored, fully-drawn nature of each.
801Media’s job on this work is still pretty up-to-par with what I’ve come to expect from them. Its also one of the last releases to come with the cover slip, something that I’ve long since decided offers more cons than pros to the packaging. The print quality on both the glossy cover slip and black and white interior is sharp and vibrant, including a full-colour insert image on page one. There were a few moments that I questioned the choices of the text however, from a needless insertion of ‘looks down’ as a sound effect, to some missing punctuation and a few off-center inclusions. While I haven’t seen the original, there did seem to be an uneven handling of sound effects in the book, with some original symbols left intact and other times removed all together. Overall though, 801Media did a good job with the English release work and it shouldn’t prove a deterrent to those looking to pick this title up.
Ultimately of course, good packaging and a few small scenes of entertainment are far from merits worth singing praises for in a book that as a whole managed to be lack-luster. In fact, like most of her works, I found my mind a complete blank the moment I’d finished it thanks to no real memorable moments and flat characters that leave much to be forgotten and little to recall. While Mio Tennohji fans may enjoy this one-shot for offering more of the same, Meeting You fails at being anything other than a conglomerate of boys’ love stereotypes and predictable relations.