Sakamoto Mano “Gin no Kajitsu”
This is actually the first book I’ve read by Sakamoto Mano. Before this I had only read her oneshot from the first volume of Edith and had seen her tankoubon covers and gasped at her interesting art but that was about it. It wasn’t until I read the preview for this book, Gin no Kajitsu, on HertZ’s series listing page (it’s currently the last book on page two if you’re interested) that I really took a vested interest in owning her book and reading it—the preview really just looked too delicious to pass up. I mean, young men in school uniforms and weird sexual-tension harassment? How could I pass that up.
But I was honestly expecting it to sit in my wishlist forever. I have a pretty ridiculous wishlist (really, I add about two things to it daily—it’s pretty bad) and I only have so much money and a million great books are released each month. But then my sister kindly bought me a HUGE batch of BL manga for my birthday (huge as in, like, 17 titles) and this one was included and I just finally got around to reading it over the past two days. And I must say, I absolutely fell in love.
The general premise is that Kaede, a very pretty young man, transfers schools in search of his older brother Tsubaki (who he has never met, iirc—they have only exchanged letters) on his bedridden father’s request. He has no idea what his brother looks like nor what class he’s in nor if he’ll even be able to find him, but Kaede is dead-set on his mission and wants to find Tsubaki at all costs. However, he hits a few snags in his search: the outgoing and bubbly Jun, the super-tsundere Jinsei, and the seeming King of the school Senoo Subaru. On Kaede’s first day in class Senoo takes an interest in him, and Kaede instantly finds himself entangled in a friendship of sorts with the three. But the more Subaru takes notice of Kaede, the more he can’t help but become aware of Senoo. Is their relationship friendship, respect, or could it possibly turn into love? And that aside, why is Tsubaki’s name not in the school files? Why does Senoo keeping telling Kaede to stop searching for his brother?
Throughout the story we see Kaede slowly become enamored by Senoo, who seems equally as attracted to Kaede. Senoo first comes off as arrogant and cruel, but it doesn’t take long for Kaede to see his cute side as well. However, as Kaede falls more and more in love with Senoo, he can’t ignore the clues—what if Senoo is actually Tsubaki? What if it turns out his long-lost brother is actually the boy he has already fallen head-over-heels for? Then on the side we also have the much smaller and more bittersweet relationship between Jinsei and Jun, a couple that truly loves each other but always gives off all the wrong signals—Jun is friendly to everyone which causes Jinsei to worry that Jun doesn’t actually care about him and thus push Jun away, which in turn causes Jun to feel that Jinsei doesn’t actually care about him.
I reaaaaaally love this book. I really can’t say that enough. (What was I expecting; it is published under HertZ, after all, which is a publication I already have a huge boner for in the first place.) The characters are actually quite deep and interesting. Senoo comes off as harsh and cocky but he actually is a kind, gentle person—especially toward Kaede, who he has had special feelings for before Kaede had even showed up at his school. He hates his father and lords over the school but in reality he has a weight on his shoulders that he has spoken of to no one before. Then there is cute, unsuspecting Kaede who isn’t sure if he really wants to find his brother or if he just wants to please his father. Senoo and his group worry him at first, but he finds it easy enough to blend with them—even with Jinsei’s jealous attitude and Senoo’s fascination-fueled sexual harassment. Jinsei and Jun are somewhat more one-dimensional but nonetheless very interesting and add to the plot nicely.
The relationship between Senoo and Kaede pretty much hit all of my moe points as well. Kaede seems to find his strength and confidence in Senoo, and Kaede allows Senoo to open up and show the warmer parts of himself. They match each other pretty much perfectly. And it helps, of course, that their character designs are gorgeous. I don’t know what it is about Sakamoto Mano’s art, but it is somehow dreamy and erotic at the same time. Her bodies are a mix of squiggly lines and hard angles and her characters just look so soft on the eyes. So sketchy and not the most detailed art I’ve ever seen, but so very expressive and unique. I’ve really fallen hardcore for it.
The story-telling is also absolutely fantastic, I loved the tension-filled emotional climb of Kaede’s attraction to Senoo, and I loved how it all came crashing down when he realized Senoo might actually be his brother—then the inner battle of his emotions between Senoo as his long-lost brother and Senoo as the boy he fell in love with. The emotions always feel very subdued and mix will with the scenery and character facial expressions. Sakamoto expertly moves the story along in a way that keeps you interested all the way until the last page.
Highly recommended. Obviously, I wouldn’t bother writing a review on it if I didn’t absolutely love it so you should already know how passionate I am just by seeing me waste 1000 words talking about it. The sexual tension and taboo chance that Senoo and Kaede’s relationship could possibly be more than platonic or romantic mixed with the well-written character personalities and soft, relatively undramatic plot is a perfect mix for my favorite type of story, and Sakamoto Mano’s storytelling and art are both something worth hyping up.