I figured it was finally time to get around to one of my favorite new discoveries of 2011: Kumonosuke. I’ve been meaning to do this forever but I kept putting it off even though Kumonosuke truly deserves her day in the spotlight. I pretty much fell in love with Kumonosuke’s art when the cover for her debut book was revealed. But it wasn’t until almost a year later that I was able to realize it’s not just her art that makes her stand above the crowd: it’s also her characters and stories in general.
For the most part Kumonosuke appeared on the BL publishing scene a little over a year ago with her debut comic, Lovely Talk, being catapulted onto the scene as part of Gateau Comics’ arrival. Though she may have been popular before her debut, considering that her fanart for certain series seems fairly well-liked. Unfortunately since she’s so new she’s a pretty unheard-of name in English fandom, but while she’s not insanely popular in Japanese fandom she has at least built a reputation for herself as a very worthwhile comic artist to watch out for. All three of her books have been released through the same line, Gateau, and they’ve all had quite good reception considering she’s so new to the official publishing scene. She’s also currently running a new story in Gateau’s self-titled anthology and she just recently started appearing in Daria as well.
I think what really sets Kumonosuke apart is the way she handles her characters. While I acknowledge they might not be that amazing to everyone who reads them, she creates very three-dimensional, relateable characters who have very understandable issues and baggage and longings. Her settings, for the more part, revolve around interpersonal relationships—meetings and partings, the idea of falling in love and letting someone see all the sides of you that you’d even rather not show the world, overcoming the memories of the people from your past. While they may, on the surface, seem like very simple plots there’s a certain atmosphere she injects into her stories that make them easier to be touched by.
Another really likable thing I see in her character is that they have a very ‘equal’ feel to their relationships. She is actually the main reason I get so frustrated when people say the only way to break down the stereotypical uke/seme dynamic is by making both men super manly and also reversible. While her characters are very set in their BL roles, it’s a very ‘in the bedroom only’ kind of feel. Both characters, whether uke or seme, worry about their relationship and become unsure and angry and frustrated and loving. It’s not all on just one character to be dominant and the other to be submissive.
Also can I just say her sex scenes are amazing? Because they are. I love artists who have cute, fluffy art styles but can still pull of some amazingly hardcore fanservice.
All this is, of course, done with absolutely adorable artwork. She has the kind of art style I absolutely love, with characters who are (though lean and long) soft and rounded. The expressions she draws are absolutely beautiful—like with Junko and Aniya Yuiji, Kumonosuke relies heavily on the expressions of her character’s faces to drive the feelings in any certain scene. Her artwork has a very ‘shoujo’ edge at times, with plenty of screentone and vague panels to set the mood. While recently she seems to be trying to make her characters seem less feminine (much to my dismay haha) she has a very good range of different character designs and styles.
Her art has become slightly less ‘cutesy’ but nonetheless remains fairly constant. Like I already stated, her uke characters used to be the fairly standard ‘small and pretty’ types but in her past few works she seems to be trying to make the seme and uke characters a more similar stature. (Though I can only speak of her Gateau releases, since I have unfortunately not bought Daria since she started appearing in it.) Though I miss her cute, pretty characters I still look forward to what she has to offer in the future.
Anyway, I keep hoping her works will get licensed or scanlated so I don’t always feel like I’m just talking to myself whenever I want to gush about how much I love her work. I wish everyone could see what Kumonosuke has to offer and understand just how gorgeous her characters are in personality and in appearance.