Manga-ka: Momoko Tenzen
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: April 2009
Synopsis: “Megumu Okazaki is a well-liked college grad student, still reeling over a recent break-up. When younger classmate, Hisashi Kina, catches Megumu on the rebound, one thing leads to another – and to bed. Now, the two of them are involved in a relationship together that’s a little less-than-defined. Megumu has no interest in continuing to sleep with someone he doesn’t love, but for Hisashi, real feelings are definitely involved. To complicate the situation, Megumu’s not sure he’s truly put his past love behind him. How can Megumu understand his own feelings for Hisashi, or even be fair to him, when his heart is being pulled in so many different directions?”
This manga takes very little time to set things up. Within a few pages you’re right in the middle of Megumu and Hisashi’s problematic (but not dysfunctional) relationship. Eventually the manga does flashback to show how these two got together, but I liked how it started with them as an established couple.
For a yaoi manga, the leads’ relationship actually feels realistic. For one thing, theirs isn’t a fairy tale true love. There’s a smidgen of guilt involved because both sides think that they’re taking advantage of the other person (Hisashi thinks this because Megumu is still not over his ex, while Megumu feels guilty because he knows that Hisashi really loves him). Eventually they manage to put this guilt aside, but that doesn’t mean it’s happily ever after as they have other problems to deal with.
While their relationship may be flawed, it’s still realistic in that it doesn’t reach the angsty heights some yaoi manga achieve. It’s interesting that there are no villains in this book, no outside force trying to tear the two leads apart. Instead the issues they have to deal with are the same things that pretty much every couple faces when trying to stay together: basic jealousy, insecurity and a lack of communication.
There’s a secondary couple in this book as well, two teachers at Megumu and Hisashi’s school who are involved with each other. Their story isn’t as memorable as the main couple’s, but it’s still cute (especially since it gives the manga-ka a chance to draw a lot of baby animals). I love the character design for Shibata, the uke in the teacher pairing. He has a vitality that the other characters lack and his design makes me want to see more curly-haired characters in anime and manga. In the author’s notes at the end she mentions that she’s more used to drawing characters like Shibata and Kikugawa than Megumu and Hisashi, which might explain why the main couple look kind of drab in comparison to their teachers, which isn’t a slam on Tenzen’s art overall.
Suggestive Eyes is pretty to look at and detailed when it has to be. One thing I really liked, that worked due to both Tenzen’s art and writing, was the setting. It actually felt like it took place at a university. That might sound obvious, but it’s so easy for manga set in universities or colleges to forget about the setting altogether. Tenzen not only draws classrooms well but also includes a minor but consistent cast of Hisashi’s classmates (both male and female). The manga-ka shows them not only actually studying but also partying and drinking. It’s nice to see a yaoi manga actually include some aspects of university life in its plot, rather than just using the setting as a place for gay boys to hook-up.
Suggestive Eyes manages to be down to earth without being boring. If you are looking for a sweet (and maybe relatable) yaoi, than this is worth checking out.