Kumonosuke “Shiawase ni Naru no sa!”
So I got my BL order for July yesterday. Initially my shopping cart was packed, but because amazon was just not restocking Minazuki Akira and Mochimeko’s books I had some space to buy something else. Previously someone had asked me about Kumonosuke’s Shiawase ni Naru no sa!, so I figured now was as good a time as any to slip it in my cart. If one of my blog’s readers recommended it while knowing my tastes, then there was no way I could go wrong, right? Right. This is Kumonosuke’s second book through Gateau and was released to a mix of different reviews—but they’re mostly positive. While the book didn’t get a flood of attention, it seems the handful of people who read it have truly enjoyed it.
This is another one of those books where the upfront plot seems fairly simple and dull. Komatsu and Ayumu meet on the rebound, both drunk off their asses and heartbroken in a park in the middle of the night. Ayumu, who’s gay, was dumped by his boyfriend after being told he’s ‘uncute’ and ‘exhausting to be around’. Komatsu was originally straight, but there’s just something quite charming and fun about being with Ayumu. Trashed and giggling and falling all over each other they both head to Ayumu’s place, where Ayumu passes out cold and cries in his sleep. That’s when Komatsu makes up his mind—he wants to date Ayumu and heal his wounds and he wants them to fall in love with each other. Ayumu, however, isn’t quite as sure about this development.
Their story moves on from there, documenting their slow fall from an unsure and awkward relationship into full-blown and affectionate love. In all, there are six chapters of Ayumu and Komatsu’s relationship—through the good and through the bad. The good includes their opening up to each other, their first time having sex, their innocent and loving attempts to make happy memories with each other. The bad includes the complex Ayumu is given by his previous boyfriend’s harsh words, the times they can’t be together due to work complications, and synching their lifestyles to each other. The regular high points and pitfalls of a relationship, but there’s something about how Kumonosuke moves her story along and weaves her character interactions that really sets this manga apart from many others.
For one, this manga doesn’t overdo the drama. There are no points where one man runs away from the other in tears, sure that their relationship is on the brink of destruction. The problems they have with their relationship are very ‘average adult’, for lack of a better term—at one point Ayumu is crying to his friend because he has to go two weeks without seeing Komatsu due to work complications, which causes him to be unsure about their relationship. Ayumu also deals (with Komatsu’s help) with his own personal insecurities and lack of confidence caused by his ex, constantly unsure about why Komatsu is so kind and loving toward him when he’s supposedly such an unlovable person. Luckily, Komatsu is there to reassure him that he is lovable—Komatsu wouldn’t have fallen in love with him otherwise.
I think that’s a big part of why I really, really, really loved this manga. Past pain wasn’t healed easily by a few sweet murmurs, and their relationship troubles are worked through as a team. Even when Ayumu tells Komatsu he wants to be left alone for a few weeks to work things out, he’s quickly reprimanded by his friend who says “these aren’t things you should just sit and think about on your own; relationship troubles should be talked through by both the people in the relationship.” That’s one of my biggest pet peeves in BL and most other romance manga: the lack of communication. I can’t stand when drama blows up around tiny things that could have been easily avoided or fixed if only the couple had talked to one another. And that’s what this manga has—discussions and two men who speak and listen instead of constantly running away form their troubles. There is drama, don’t get me wrong. But the drama isn’t overdone and is handled in a very mature and realistic way. Instead of hoping to tug at people’s heartstrings with a whole bunch of heavy, painful, dramatic fights Kumonosuke lets the scenarios her characters are caught in do their own talking.
Another great part of this manga is just how equal Ayumu and Komatsu are in their relationship. They’re both fairly regular guys with their own lives. They both have jobs they’re passionate about. They both have their own set of friends. Neither of them is stereotypically manly or controlling or possessive. Komatsu, the techincal ‘seme’ character, cries fairly often—at least as often as Ayumu does. Komatsu is equally as touched by Ayumu’s affection toward him as Ayumu is toward Komatsu’s own feelings. During one scene when Ayumu admits to worrying constantly over whether he’s good enough to be worthy of Komatsu kindness, Komatsu starts crying because it occurs to him just how much Ayumu cares about him.
Overall, their relationship is just brilliant—almost enough to make me cry. I loved their first time having sex, in particular. It came after they’d been apart for so long, and Komatsu was unsure but Ayumu took Komatsu hand and placed it on his chest and said “it’s okay to touch me.” I just thought that scene was so brilliantly beautiful—you don’t get that enough in BL manga. Such an open but shy and unsure form of consent. Their first time was rushed and somewhat awkward and the next morning Ayumu woke up feeling extremely embarrassed but also giddy and even more in love. I think that’s just… ahhh. I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s so beautiful.
And from then forward, their sexual affection for each other isn’t nearly so ‘hush hush’ like it often is in many other manga—they giggle together while doing embarrassing things while they make love, they talk each other through and ask if something feels good and where the other person wants to be touched. They smile at each other and make each other feel good. They have an equal share in how sex feels, and they both initiate it instead of one always waiting around for the other.
In particular, I really loved Ayumu. I did love Komatsu as well—when I consider what my ‘ideal man’ would be like he is definitely someone I would think of: kind and loving and generous. But there was just something about Ayumu. Perhaps it’s my bias toward ‘uke’ characters, but really I think it’s how relatable he was as a person. He just felt so real—small things like getting drunk because he’s feeling shy and self-conscious, being hurt and unsure after his initial break up, his giddy expression when he left the bedroom after their first night together. He was just such a lovely character. I found him very emotionally strong, and think he grew quite a lot throughout the six chapters we get to see of him—he went from being quick to cry and constantly questioning his worth as Komatsu’s lover to being someone who is openly silly and weird and selfish and loving in equal quantities.
Overall, I really can’t gush about this manga enough. I feel like I did after I read Me wo Tojite 3byou for the first time—except this is perhaps a little less dramatic and quite a bit more sexually graphic. It’s not a manga that’s explosive or adventurous, but if you like romance and like the slice-of-life genre then I really, really recommend this book. It’s so silly and sweet, and I found myself taking so long to read it because I was constantly just laughing and cooing over page after page. I always crave stories like this—ones that are about love that isn’t written in the stars but still makes your heart beat just because of how real the emotions feel as they flow off the page. The characters, including Komatsu and Ayumu’s friends, are just so lovely and likable and the scenarios aren’t so unrealistic and cheesy that they make you want to roll your eyes. It’s such a simple plot, but Kumonosuke really made it come to life. She’s definitely found a huge fan in me after this book—I can at least say that much.