Spotlight: Morozumi Sumitomo
I’m so sorry! How long has it been since I last did a spotlight post? Two months? I’d been meaning to write this Morozumi Sumitomo post for just about forever but didn’t want to finish it until I’d sampled all her work.
Part of me thinks the first time I ever read something by Morozumi Sumitomo was in Cab volume one, but another part of me wonders if the first time was actually part of her book Akarui Kazoku Keikaku. I’m really not sure. But the thing is, with Akarui Kazoku Keikaku I really loved her art. When I first read her story in Cab, not so much—to the point where I even continually skipped her story. Her art has transitioned from weird and cute and sketchy to strong and masculine. But along the way she has never lost that charm in her stories, so she always wins me back over again.
Morozumi Sumitomo has been published in various random anthologies (such as this) but for the most part she seems to be a Golden Child of Tokyo Mangasha. The stories for all three of her current tankoubon were published in Tokyo Mangasha anthologies. When she moved on to Citron, just like with Aniya Yuiji’s Danshi Meiro Morozumi Sumitomo also published her third and latest tankoubon under them. The only anthology I know she’s currently running in is Citron which, at three volumes (going on four in the next week or so), has published three new chapters of her current story. She has also published doujinshi under her circle ‘Hokuto’ (which is the title of her website, which actually only links to her twitter lol), and on her pixiv she posts gorgeous artwork for various fandoms. In the Japanese fandom she seems to have a good reputation for her very lovely stories, but while she is licensed I very rarely hear her mentioned in English fandom. It’s quite sad, actually.
Plot-wise, Morozumi tends to pack a punch with longer stories that are fluffy but nonetheless quite dramatic. She seems to like stories that deal with inner human turmoil, such as guilt or fear or insecurity. Her stories can be simple because she focuses on the characters and their relationships and interaction. She knows how to keep a reader at the edge of their seat with even the most cliché of BL plots. But she doesn’t only do drama—she also has her share of cute, smutty short stories. She has a good sense of humor all-around, often knowing just the right parts to break in with a joke or an awkward scene. As for her characters themselves, they’re an interesting mix of masculine and feminine—often quiet and subdued, but strong and aloof when necessary. Of course, those are not all of her characters; she can really write almost any character type and make them seem three-dimensional and interesting. They are, after all, what carry her stories. And their relationships are very often reversible and always very equal and loving.
Her art is a mix of soft, sketchy angles and hard, thin lines. Her bodies and faces almost clash at times—the torso and hairy (yes, hairy) limbs seem so very strong and manly with all their muscle, yet she sometimes draws the faces looking quite feminine with long hairstyles, long eyelashes, gentle expressions and large eyes. It gives the characters a very interesting appearance that makes them seem somewhere between the genders. Her art is not so much like this anymore, however, as it has changed to become more all-around masculine to the point of being like gachi muchi at times. Her chapter intro pages are always gorgeous and eye-catching, often very emotional and detailed. Her general panel backgrounds can go from very detailed to completely barren depending on what she seems to think is necessary for the storytelling, and her judgment is (without a doubt) very good. As for screentone, it seems to mostly be used only for accents and to show mid-tone colors—she does not use it for shading but instead uses sketchy, uneven sets of lines that go perfectly with her art style.
And now for the sex scene talk. Morozumi Sumitomo does not go soft when she draws scenes that are meant to titillate the audience. There are no thighs covering the crotch and vague scenes with the uke writhing in ecstasy under the man penetrating him. Morozumi goes for the full-on foreplay whether it’s a handjob or fingering or a young man kissing down his boyfriend’s abs all the way down to his pubes just before giving him oral. She doesn’t try to make her men look clean and hairless and beautiful, giving her sex scenes a realistically dirty feel that just makes them more sexual. And this is coming from me: someone who actually prefers things hairless and clean. But there’s really something about Morozumi’s sex scenes that are breathtaking. The expressions, the emotions, the little bit of conversation, the posing, the touching, the bodies—everything just fits so well together.
Anyway, if you cannot tell from my ~glowing~ review I really admire and adore Morozumi Sumitomo’s works. They have just the right amount of cliché handled so perfectly and wrapped in this unusual, original package that’s hard to look away from even if it’s something I usually wouldn’t be interested in. Usually I’m not one to enjoy big, beefy men in my BL manga but Morozumi Sumitomo’s men are something I crave to see—I love her old art style, but she made me adore her new, evolving art style just as much with her wonderful stories and cute, interesting characters. Coaxing people into loving something they were previously not interested in truly takes a fantastic storyteller and artist.
So I really hope she catches on more, both in Japanese fandom and in English fandom. I’d love to see her in more magazines, releasing more books—as many as she feels comfortable creating. I truly think she’s a gem in a fandom that I already love to bits, and if that’s doesn’t get you to at least give her a try then I don’t know what will.
(As pointed out in the Akarui Kazoku Keikaku review, you can purchase the book to read online at NetComics’ site! It’s very cheap! Please do not steal it and download it when it’s only $1.50 to read legally! Because if you purchase it off NetComics’ site, it will show that people do want to read more Morozumi Sumitomo and perhaps they will consider licensing her other works as well! /FINGERS CROSSED!!)