Manga-ka: Momoko Tenzen
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: September 2009
Synopsis: “Even though Mashita and Matsushima have known each other for years, they’re having trouble admitting their true feelings. If the two are in love, then what’s holding them back? Mashita likes to play games with Matsushima’s head and heart, forcing Matsushima to try and figure out what he can do to make Mashita happy. But when the real fooling around starts, will they allow their relationship to take off, or will there be hell to pay? The heat goes up as Mashita and Matsushima come to realize that love isn’t just about fun and games. Momoko Tenzen (Seven, Unsophisticated and Rude) shows how twisted romance can be, and how devilish love always is, in this full-length, high school romance!”
Oh my goodness, childhood friends who want to be something more? Why that’s…just like a dozen other yaoi manga out there. Well, sometimes amazing art can lift up a bland story. That’s not the case here: the art is cute, but hardly mind-blowing. And yet despite having a fairly standard story and serviceable art, La Satanica still manages to be entertaining, ending up as something greater than the sum of its parts.
The manga starts out innocently enough. Matsushima is tall, blond, good looking and the object of affection for many girls at his high school. Mashita on the other hand has dark hair and glasses, and usually only talks to girls when they ask him to pass on a love note to Matsushima. Despite being opposite personalities, the two are best friends.
Things have been a little weird lately between the two however, ever since Matsushima confessed his love to Mashita. I like that the books starts out with Matsushima’s feelings already out in the open. Some books would spend a couple of chapters with Matsushima coming to grips with his feelings and finally working up the nerve to tell Mashita, and then do it all over again from Mashita’s point of view. Thankfully La Satanica cuts out that first part.
Mashita is more reserved with his feelings than Matsushima. Slowly he comes to realize that he feels the same way, but instead of stating it outright he toys with Matsushima, stringing him along and teasing him. This part was my favourite part of the book. It’s nice to see a uke who isn’t completely wide-eyed and innocent. At the same time, while he’s a tease,Mashita never seems overly-manipulative or conniving. Instead he just comes off as a young guy who doesn’t know how to deal with the new sensations he’s feeling, and toys with Matsushima because he doesn’t know how to react.
Eventually the wrinkles in their relationship smooth out, and the start dating and having a normal high school romance (well, normal for yaoi manga). They visits to each other’s homes, meet each other’s family, have sex. There’s nothing here that’s wildly different from other high school romances (yaoi, yuri or straight) but something about the execution just makes it all so cute and fun. The characters seem like actual teenagers. They’re almost as nervous about having sex as they are excited about it, and I like the fact that they actually talk about their fears and insecurities before doing it.
While I enjoyed La Satanica, I do think it the plot could have been a little less straight forward. For example, Mashita and Matsushima have two friends, Shinigawa and Natsuki. It’s implied that they’re a couple, but we never really see them outside of the main plot. They seem like fun, interesting characters, and having an actual secondary plotline dedicated to them might have made the book more interesting.
The art is cute but still closer to realistic than cartoony. The manga-ka occasionally employs some exaggerated body language to get a point across, but it always works in context. The whole manga is very light, not just in terms of plot but the art has just the right amount of sparkles and screen tone to make everything seem bright and cheerful without being obnoxious.
I’ve often given yaoi manga a hard time in the past for having unimaginative titles. It seems like all you have to do to title a yaoi manga is take a word from column A (Love, True, Butterfly, Heart) and a word from column B (Trap, Nest, Kiss, Promise) and ta-dah, you have a yaoi manga. La Satanica on the other hand is an awesome title, but it just doesn’t fit a sweet high school rom-com. When I hear La Satanica, I picture virgin sacrifices and chalices made out of human skulls. I don’t picture two pretty boys taking a dog for a walk. Mashita may be a bit of a tease during the middle of the book, but he’s hardly the devil.
I can’t exactly put my finger on way I enjoyed La Satanica, all I know is that I did. Some days all you want is a simple boy-meets-boy love story, and this fits the bill.