Newest Review: ... students and their friends and colleagues. The first half of the book is Tooru's story arc. Tooru Shinomiya is a young man drifting thro... more
Joy, Loss, Redemption
Lovers And Souls - Kano Miyamoto
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Lovers And Souls - Kano Miyamoto
Date: 21/03/10, updated on 22/03/10 (55 review reads)
Advantages: realistic portrayals that touch the heart, breathtaking art and prose
Disadvantages: none, unless mature subject matter puts you off
I don't just mean beautiful as in the scenery and people look nice either. I mean breathtaking and heart touching, for Miyamoto renders a world that shows the awkward as well as the sublime and manages to do so in a way that has you simply drinking in her unique style of drawing. This is to comic art what water is to a thirsty man in the desert. Married with dialogue that flows naturally and using plot devices and scenarios that shy away from the clichéd, this is a rare treat that leaves no doubt in a reader's mind as to quality. The expressiveness of her human faces is such that you almost expect the lips to move and the eyes to blink right upon the page.
So, what part of the Rules story does she have for us this time? Well, this time we get introduced to a few university students and their friends and colleagues. Actually, two students and their friends and colleagues. The first half of the book is Tooru's story arc. Tooru Shinomiya is a young man drifting through life. Used to people judging him literally at face value due to his good looks, he has learned to take advantage of this to get ahead. Majoring in art at university, he is fairly typical for a student: strapped for cash. He decides to take up the opportunity to become a nude model for a photography student named Matsuoka, who then offers him even more cash to sleep with him.
Lacking much of an inner moral compass, Tooru agrees, despite identifying himself as a straight male. Deciding it is easy money, he begins hanging out at a club that is a cover for male prostitution. Matsuoka is devastated by this turn of events, as his offer of money was meant more of a lure to begin a relationship than it was a means to an end. Sadly watching Tooru spiral further out of control, Matsuoka decides he must try to save Tooru from himself. To do so, he must open this wounded young man's heart. Sadly, tragedy strikes and it is left to a friend named Hikaru to try to help pick up the pieces. Will life ever be the same?
The second story arc belongs to Akihiko Nozaki and his friend Kai. Technically they are not university students yet, but are in the end part of their last year of high school and are preparing to actually begin university. Akihiko has been keeping a secret from his best friend Kai due to a fear of complete and utter rejection. He decides it is now or never, and that given the changes to their lives that is about to begin, he might as well share his secret with Kai. He is gay and has secretly been dating men that Kai does not know. Kai is shocked, and is unsure how to respond. Kai has never considered dating men before, but he feels a deep seated affection for Akihiko. He understands that not accepting and understanding his friend's feelings and lifestyle will likely mean the end to their valued friendship, for it is simply too painful for Akihiko to continue hiding his true self. And while Kai is thinking about this, he begins to feel a tickle of curiosity. This is Akihiko, someone he cares deeply about, so just how would it be to have sex with him? If he must have a boyfriend, why can't it be him? And just how does Akihiko feel about this unexpected sudden turn of events from his supposedly straight best friend?
As you can probably surmise, these two stories have one thing in common: two young men who previously self identified as straight discovering that they are, at the least, probably bi-sexual and coming to terms with it. It is not a rushed revelation for either of these characters. Tooru lives in a state of perpetual self denial not only about this, but his life in general. He is filled with self doubt and no small measure of self loathing that leads to his innate distrust of others as well as himself, sending him on a path of self discovery that he literally has to be pulled along by those willing to take him by the hand. Kai on the other hand is a fairly self confidant boy whose shock is not so at much his own sudden sexual curiosity and recognition of the true feelings he holds for his friend, but rather he is surprised at how little he actually knew about someone he thought he ha been extremely close to. Once he realises that the world is not as he saw it, he begins to question himself and the status quo, and refuses to leave the path now opened to him. He is determined he will see where that road ends, and unlike Tooru, he is the one pulling his friend along.
To be quite honest, I was quite glad that Tooru's story was first. Miyamoto is not afraid to follow the path of reality to the point where she will happily depict the ecstatically happy as she will pointless tragedy. Having really felt for this couple, I was left stunned by the turn of events, and to have it happen as it did in such a random yet true to life manner not only rendered me speechless, but actually tearful. Continuing on as the characters struggled to deal with the aftermath, I was relieved when that resolved and I came to the much more heart affirmingly happy story of Kai and Akihiko. True, their life was not smooth sailing either, but by contrast to the darkness cast in the previous arc, it was like a beacon shining. It lightened the mood enough that I was able to finally deal with what I had previously read, and wanted to find out what happened to these fellows later in the Rules Universe. Lucky for me, that too is licensed in English, and can be found in the next sequence in the series, which are aptly called Rules and spans three volumes.
Due to mature content, it is indeed rated 18+ , so be aware this is not one to put on a lower shelf where the unsuspecting may grab hold of it, nor is it one you will likely find if you wander into your local corner bookshop. Amazon, Forbidden Planet, and larger outlets of Borders will be your best bet. If you enjoy realistic yet emotionally driven stories that deal with self discovery, true love, and deep friendships, then this will likely appeal to you. The characters may be gay and bisexual, but theirs is a universal set of tales where this fact is but one aspect of the story and should not be allowed to put you off.
Summary: Miyamoto shares a tale that transcends the genre.
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