Manga-ka: Hiro Madarame
Publisher: BLU Manga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: August 2010
Synopsis: “College student Akio is dating Ryo who appears to have childlike innocence with gorgeous features but is actually a helpless, philandering boy unable to withstand the slightest loneliness. Every time a girl approaches Ryo, he’s unable to decline! What’s Akio to do with his philandering boyfriend?”
Scarlet is a little confusing when read through for the first time, but after a second read-through it’s easy to piece it together. While the characters are very much the cliché yaoi characters – Akio being small and cute and Ryo being handsome, tall and manly – it’s the story that really makes it stand out.
We are first introduced to Ryo, the transfer student. With blonde hair and blue eyes, Akio is instantly attracted to him. We are then introduced to Akio himself, who is also the narrator. The two start their relationship when Akio offers Ryo a spoon when it is apparent he can’t use chopsticks. Being European he had never really used them before. From that point onward, Ryo follows Akio everywhere and Akio becomes Ryo’s only friend in the entire manga.
This is the first yaoi manga I have seen where one of the main two boys also falls for women. Although it does portray bisexuality in a poor light, it really expands on Ryo’s character. Ryo is very interesting in the sense that he doesn’t seem to have the capabilities that will allow him to say no, to anyone. This makes me wonder why Akio never questioned Ryo’s love for him. While Ryo’s infatuation is apparent, if he strays so easily what makes Akio think he will ever stop. Ryo is also entirely co-dependent, whether it’s with girls or Akio, he cannot survive on his own. He is also a very drastic person and will resort to violence without really thinking it over.
Akio, for the most part is a pushover. When one of Ryo’s “girlfriends” told him to leave him alone, he complied entirely. He even took Ryo back after all the cheating and the violence. I found his character to be a little bland, but it also complimented Ryo’s overly dramatic personality very well.
I found the art style in Scarlet to be much better than that of any other yaoi I’ve read. There weren’t even any yaoi hands (just kidding, there was a bit). Everything was a lot more detailed than most other yaoi manga as well. Although, I was not a fan of the way the chibis were drawn, they looked really lazily done. All in all the art style was really good.
I know that yaoi is not generally read for the plot – and in many cases plot is entirely disregarded – but in the case of Scarlet, even if you aren’t a fan of yaoi, I believe the plot will be enough for most anyone to enjoy it.