Spotlight: Sunae Hata
Don’t even say you totally didn’t see this coming. You should have been able to see this coming from miles and miles away. I’m sure everyone knew this would happen when I only saw one chapter of her manga and just had to write about it, so now that I have her entire book as well as a chapter of new manga from her I feel at least vaguely confidently enough to do this.
I personally first discovered Sunae Hata during the time Canna was still some huge mystery among online BL fandom. Three colored cards were released along with the six promotional papers—one by Ootsuki Miu, one by Okadaya Tetsuzou and then one by Sunae Hata. So I found her adorable doughnut illustration (seen as the first image in the header on Canna’s site) while I was searching for Ootsuki Miu goods on Yahoo! Japan Auctions. Of course I found her art to be super cute and needed to see something for her right away, so I Google’d her name, found she would have a new chapter of manga in the then-upcoming LYNX volume 30, and promptly purchased the magazine to see what Sunae Hata was all about. And then I fell in love.
Since Sunae Hata is just so new, she very likely hasn’t been picked up by any scanlation groups. When I Google her romanized name all that comes up is my own blog and the Baka-Updates page for Kotetsu no Baby Leaf. Before the release announcement for Kotetsu, actually, even her Japanese name didn’t bring up many hits—only about three pages worth. As far as I know, she doesn’t even have an official site. Though after a small Y!JPA search I did find that she’s a doujinka and she has released at least two doujinshi.
Art-wise, Sunae Hata’s style is very cute. Big, bubbly eyes, pouty faces and super huge moe tears seem to be her forte. Her character designs are very boyish and sweet. She makes good use of even the most flowery, sparkly screen-tones and isn’t afraid to give her BL manga a bit of a shoujo appeal if necessary. That’s not to say she can’t write somewhat angsty stories, of course, because she definite can as seen in the oneshot that was included in the Kotetsu tankoubon. However, it’s her cute, fluffy characters and art style that really stuck out to me.
Story-wise, as well, the best word I can use is ‘cute’. In the three stories I’ve seen from her so far, the endings are sparkly and ‘happily ever after’. But just because they’re fluffy doesn’t mean they’re lacking emotion and substance. There are very many painful points in Kotetsu that really grip at your heart—honestly, I even got teary-eyed a couple times. Just because she hasn’t done ‘Bad End’ yet doesn’t mean there won’t be heart-wrenching parts in her stories.
Her characters are pretty much absolutely adoooooorable. So cute, ugh. She seems to quite like the tsundere!uke but in her latest Canna story she branched out and did a sweet, happy-go-lucky hetare uke and he’s definitely just as lovable as Kotetsu‘s Yousuke. Her semes definitely do not follow the hardened, cruel ‘man of perfection’ BL archetype and I really love them that way. They’re very gentle and sweet. I especially adore Aoyagi-senpai who not only was friendly and dorky and incredibly entertaining, but he was also not one-dimensional—he had his moments of angst and insecurity just as much as Yousuke did. I think Sunae-sensei does a good job of not making her characters into random stereotypes.
As for the sex scenes! /o/ I was really surprised! Sunae Hata caught me completely off-guard by writing semi-explicit H scenes! It’s not like you can see everything and there’s a ton of dirty talk and the scenes are a million pages long, but she doesn’t do the painfully vague “yeah they’re having sex but I’ll only draw it in positions where you can’t see the genitals” thing. No, it’s all there for you in plain view. I wouldn’t really call it hot—reading these scenes, honestly, didn’t do much for me. But for some reason it always makes me happy when BL mangaka aren’t afraid to get down and dirty. Especially BL manga whom most people would write off as ‘pure fluff’.
All in all, I am absolutely 100% head-over-heels in love with her. Her art is gloriously adorable, her stories are sweet and always leave me feeling fluffy and fulfilled, her characters are interesting, and she knows how to bring the smut when it comes down to it. I definitely see her having a pretty awesome career if she keeps this up! I am excited for anything else she happens to release, and am pretty much at the edge of my seat waiting for the fifth volume of Canna so I can see her (most definitely amazingly cute) cover image.