Jaryuu Dokuro “Ai ga Love Shite You nano sa”
Like with the Hino Garasu tankoubon, I was waiting for the release of this book with about as much intensity as a drug addict waiting for their next fix. Jaryuu Dokuro’s latest tankoubon release before this was Endless World, which was released almost exactly two years prior. Jaryuu Dokuro is not necessarily the queen of zipping out chapter after chapter and tankoubon after tankoubon (no, that’s probably Ootsuki Miu) but that doesn’t matter because the quality of her art and stories shouldn’t drop just because she has to rush and feel overwhelmed. As long as she’s trying her best, you won’t see me complaining.
I was actually getting frustrated with amazon over this book. It was in the ‘shipping soon’ section in my account info for about four days until it actually did ship, and by that time it felt like every Japanese fan I know of had already gotten and reviewed their copy. Cue me being jealous and whiny. But then early yesterday morning my copy finally arrived and I pretty much just hugged it to my chest possessively and sat around for much of the morning. And then watched Jaryuu Dokuro spam twitter with various amazing things. (Which I’ll maybe leave for another post.) Then after I napped I finally got to reading the entire book and I’ve gotta say, man.
Jaryuu Dokuro, you truly have a very special place in my rotten fangirl heart.
The first four chapter are the title story, Ai ga Love Shite You nano sa. The first main character is a yankee boy named Takeuchi. Even though his school has a strict uniform policy, he and his friends stick close to yankee fashions—colorful and interesting hairstyles, sloppy clothing and even gakuran while their school uniform is supposed to be a western-style blazer. To Takeuchi, a real man must wear a gakuran. It’s just a fact, bro. Every morning his friends count on him to distract the two honor students who do uniform checks, because for some reason Takeuchi has an amazing power of Oono. Oono, the second main character and a strict yet shy megane type, finds Takeuchi absolutely adorable and can’t take his eyes off him in the morning—to the point that all the other yankee students easily get past the uniform check. What is Oono’s poor assistant and childhood friend Tsubaki to do aside from the obvious choice of setting the shy Oono and oblivious Takeuchi up?
The next three chapters are about the development in their relationship, from holding hands to kissing to making out and then all the way to sex. (Though I will point out now: this manga is soft BL; there are no sex scenes.) Oono’s shyness gets in the way even more than Takeuchi’s daft attitude, and their relationship is usually pulled along by Takeuchi taking the initiative all the way until the end where Oono is the one to initiate sex. In the end, the two are happy to be with each other and all of their friends have united as well.
The oneshot (and extra) at the end isn’t nearly so clear-cut, however. Arata is a boy who loves to sleep, and is leader of the ‘hetare’ (no good, loser, etc.) club at their school. After filling out a form during club and all he puts are different types of sleep under ‘things I love’, he laments on how he doesn’t understand the excitements and attachments of other people. Arata has a very close friend, also a member of the club, named Shige. He’s very close to Shige—Shige, though often sighing at Arata’s behavior, seems to understand him better than almost anyone. Then along comes Shingo, another member of the club who Arata isn’t nearly so close to. After hearing the girls in the club talking about how much Shige seems to love Arata, Shingo comes to a decision and later that night confesses his love to Arata. This shocks Arata, as it forces him to come face-to-face with the feelings of another person. Later that night Shige calls Arata and Arata has trouble telling Shige about what happened, but Shige is able to calm him down to the point where he can sleep again just by talking about mundane things. In the extra chapter, it shows the meeting of Arata and Shige and hints that Shige perhaps also has feelings for Arata that are deeper than friendship.
The first story I want to talk about is the last oneshot, because that one left me ridiculously confused. Even after the second (and a half) read-through where I actually used the dictionary for help (which I usually don’t, so that tells you how confused that story left me) I’m still not altogether sure I really grasped what Jaryuu was getting at with this story. Arata wasn’t really a character that wore his heart on his sleeve—well, more like he didn’t really have that much heart to wear openly. He was apathetic toward most things. Though he liked the people in the club, he wasn’t the type to talk about love and feelings and how powerful and amazing they are. He was just kind of… blah. So even though his thoughts were openly displayed on the page, they weren’t clear-cut at all. I couldn’t tell if he was considering reciprocating Shingo’s feelings, or if maybe he realized he maybe had feelings for Shige. (Since near the end, it seemed like Shingo’s confession prompted him to only wonder who Shige had feelings for.) I really have no idea. I’ll definitely have to come back to this one once my Japanese is better—and even then, I’m not so sure it would all suddenly fall into place. Such is a story by Jaryuu Dokuro. It doesn’t seem like it was written to make a romantic scene so much as to show the story and attitude of Arata with some vague BL hints.
However, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum is the super sweet and fluffy title story! This one isn’t confusing or subtle at all—the characters are straightforward, as is the general story and all the ideas outlined throughout the chapters. Oono is unable to properly do his uniform check job because his adoration of Takeuchi distracts him, and Takeuchi mistakes this for Oono hating him and is sad at the idea of being disliked by the model student. Thus, Takeuchi is relieved and willing to reciprocate when he finds out that it isn’t hate but instead love that makes Oono so very awkward around Takeuchi. From there starts the silly and sweet journey of an awkward adolescent first love with two people who like each other and want to take it to the next level but are lacking confidence in themselves and their actions. Then you throw in a cute and interesting cast of extra characters who also have their fair share of development and VOILA!, you’ve got an adorable and fun manga.
Plus, I have to mention that I really love how Jaryuu Dokuro handled the female characters in the first story. Each boy had a female childhood friend (Oono knew the quiet and scheming Tsubaki and Takeuchi knew the quirky yet somewhat daft gyaru Yoshiko) and not only were they likable but they were also interesting characters on their own. I even found myself considering that a GL manga between the two would be ace. Interesting females are (perhaps understandably?) rare in BL manga since it’s usually handled as a world where women aren’t really necessary unless it’s to throw a wrench in a relationship or mix things up, so it’s nice to find mangaka who try their best to include females without demonizing them or keeping them just as someone who causes relationship drama.
Overall, I really liked this book. It’s absolutely nothing like Endless World, but is more toward the Sugar Milk side of Jaryuu Dokuro’s writing spectrum. It isn’t super deep, but it has its moments (in the last story in particular) and it’s a fun, cute read. I was not disappointed by this tankoubon in any way, even after getting hyped up for its release—and that’s saying something, because usually when I get obnoxiously excited I just end up let down in the end. To be honest, I think there will be some people out there who’d love to whine about this one as the first story is quite simple and a story type that isn’t unusual or insanely original in BL fandom. But I personally loved it. The first story is cutesy and simple (which is not a bad thing at all in my opinion) but it balances out nicely with the final chapter which is a much less blunt and a bit more thoughtful. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves Jaryuu Dokuro—her art, her stories, her sense of humor—and for anyone who wants a cute read that ends on an interesting, if not somewhat thought-provoking, note.