Manga-ka: Hyouta Fujiyama
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: September 2009
Synopsis: “After a night of serious boozing, a jilted young man named Ryuka speaks his wish for true love atop a starlit hill. His words reach the ears of Ixto, the spirit of the last quarter moon, who decides to grant Ryuka’s wish. Unfortunately for Ryuka, Ixto’s handpicked selections to be the young man’s lover are all men themselves! Critically-acclaimed boys’ love mangaka Hyouta Fujiyama lends her copious talents to this wacky, role-playing fantasy-romance that will tickle your funny bone and tug at your heart!”
Heartbroken and rejected, Ryuka spends a lonely evening drowning in alcohol to leave his pain behind him. Walking atop the ‘Wishing Hill’ to sober up, he instead finds his deepest wish heard by an on-duty spirit, Ixto. Ixto comes down to Earth and offers to Ryuka a selection of hand-chosen young men to soothe his aching heart, but Ryuka’s not gay! Or at least not yet, as Ixto takes it upon himself to console the man, even if he doesn’t want it, and puts in a place a powerful magical spell that sets Ryuka on a road of choose-your-own-adventure antics of bandits, cat boys and lusty-maybe-lovers.
The spell that Ixto places on Ryuka becomes a very quick metaphor for the ailment that strikes most boys’ love stories: the inexplicable sudden love that one man will feel for another, even if first impressions were entirely negative. Ryuka is rightfully off put by his meeting with Ixto, and then spends the majority of the story trying to resist the spell put upon him, a spell that drives him to seek out Ixto against saner logic. It’s my one real quip with the story itself, but at the same time I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t pretty easy to suspend belief and follow along against our own logical thought.
On Ryuka’s quest to… somewhere, to see Ixto, he slowly becomes surrounded by travellers to make up a quaint sized little group who continue to make their way along the journey for their own true-love purposes. One of these travellers is Coon, a small adorable cat boy offered to Ryuka by Ixto as a guide, should Ryuka’s ‘feelings’ (aka Ixto’s spell) begin to waver. He’s pretty cute, despite his stereotypical intentioned presence including saying ‘Nyan’ at the end of all his sentences. Another quest-goer is one of the potential true loves Ryuka was originally offered but it’s a relationship that never takes off since the attractively dark-skinned Aldin isn’t looking to top anyone. Quite the contrary in fact and his true love may be closer than anyone initially realizes.
The book as a whole is a tad cluttered, and thought it rarely proves difficult to follow what’s going on scene to scene, the plot itself sometimes gets a little buried under the ‘here and now’. Some pages read a little stiff but the humour is the book’s greatest strength, allowing each point in the story to carry onto the next with enough entertainment to keep readers reading. Still, the point of the plot itself seems a little lacking and falls down to seeing how long Ryuka will take before he cracks and lets Ixto do what he wishes. For that reason, as amusing as Ryuka is, end results are more anticipated for the secondary characters than him.
While a fan of Hyouta Fujiyama’s artwork, I can’t deny the great fault of the style is the similarity of the characters’ faces. While different character designs make it easy to tell the individual characters apart, anything involving a close-up suddenly becomes a momentary guessing game. Still, it is neat seeing the artist’s subtly expressive faces and masculine featured man playing out the random events of this story after reading so many schoolboy and salary men tales by the artist based much firmer in reality.
Though not without its faults, this first volume of Tale of the Waning Moon is still an amusingly comedic story of boys’ love that mixes in RPG elements and an assortment of pretty-man characters all eager to step into their respective yaoi roles. It’s not as polished as Hyouta Fujiyama’s other works but fans of her series’ will have fun checking out this silly fantasy romp just to see her tackle something different.