Okuyama Puku “Ichi Ni no San!”
I don’t know if I really feel like doing a full super!review right now but I do definitely want to talk about it before my feelings about the book wear off. (I’m still trying to get myself pumped back up after Shounen Note… sob) But one of my all-time favorite BL review blogs, Sweets OL BL Reviews, posted her feelings on the book so I finally feel inspired to write about it myself! tbh though I was really excited about Ichi Ni no San I was thinking I shouldn’t get myself too pumped because there was no way it would come close to how much I loved Caramel. Few things can come close to how much I loved Caramel, honestly, so I didn’t want to end up unfairly comparing it to something I really loved. But somehow even with the incredibly high standards, I ended up really really loving this book a lot!
The way I summed up the plot on my personal blog when I talked about it there was this:
stupid boys being stupid and adorable and in love along with their super lovely fluffy adorable female bff ahhhh CUTEST EVER.
And I still stand by that description; that is really the most apt way to sum up Ichi Ni no San. But if you’d prefer a longer description: since middle school Bun-chan has been hanging out with the male/female childhood friend duo that is Choco and Suzu. And he’s jealous of their closeness—partly because he wishes he could just generally be as close to them as they are to each other, but he has another reason: he’s in love with Choco, and it seems like just a matter of time before Choco and Suzu start dating. Choco constantly denies it, though–Suzu is like his adorable twin sister. Nonetheless, Bun has never bothered getting his hopes up. And even if Suzu’s adorableness wasn’t a part of the equation, it’s not like Bun could ever tell Choco that he accidentally happened to fall for him one day when the boob-loving Choco jokingly groped his chest and Bun got aroused by it. So Bun is mostly happy with just being friends—him, Choco and Suzu forever! Or at least, that’s what he’d intended…
But somehow Bun can’t help but notice Choco’s increasingly strange behavior. Choco is already an outgoing, ‘skinship’ kind of guy but getting upset to the point of crying when Bun won’t let him help out around the family business when Bun’s mother is hospitalized? And then when Suzu gets a boyfriend and Choco is forced to confront the idea that his friends might not actually be with him forever by default, he gets even more touchy-feely with Bun and even kisses him. But Bun isn’t ready to accept his own feelings, much less consider that they might actually be reciprocated, so he just keeps pushing Choco away. What’s a poor Choco-chan to do other than take matters into his own hands?
I really loved this book. I think a problem I have with Okuyama Puku’s stuff is that she tends to have really ‘full’ pages—lots of thick lines, lots of full panels, lots of screen tone, lots of backgrounds. So in my head I always worry that they’ll be difficult to read since it makes them seem so plot-y. But actually this books was super easy to read if only because I totally could not put it down. I picked it up the second it arrived and finished reading it within the hour. It was just so incredibly charming; I couldn’t get enough of silly, stupid Choco and shota-esque shy-but-prideful Bun and the adoooorable sweet little Suzu. All the characters in this book were just too cute, and props to Okuyama for writing in a female main character who didn’t play either of the usual female-in-BL tropes of ‘advice giver’ or ‘rival in love’. Yeah, Bun did pointlessly worry that Suzu and Bun may as well just get married but that was entirely based on his own assumptions caused by their closeness. Suzu mostly just did her own thing and let them do theirs, but was nonetheless very happy for them when they revealed their relationship.
idk slice-of-life BL stories like this are just so wonderful to me. While the main plot was of course the romance between Bun and Choco, the way the book was handled gave it a very day-in-the-life kind of atmosphere. The three of them were just going along with their daily routine, and whatever happened would happen. Nothing felt rushed or ridiculously, embarrassingly dramatic. Even when Bun was avoiding Choco after their kiss, there weren’t any cheesy scenes with Bun running away or obviously brushing Choco off—just a very quiet, uncomfortable distance between the two of them.
As for Choco and Bun’s relationship, I really loved it so much. Both of them were so cute and fluffy. In my opinion, this is a true ‘equal’ relationship—not reversible, probably, but two people who love each other equally and treat each other with respect. No one ever feels like they’re ‘above’ the other or holding all the cards in the relationship. These are my favorite kind of relationships in BL. Yeah, they have their specific little ‘uke’ and ‘seme’ roles in the bedroom but the second the step outside they are just partners and that’s that. Fluffy, loving, adorable, silly partners.
(not that there’s any sex in this entire book. The most you get is a little over-the-clothes chest-groping and some hugging. Really I don’t think there’s even a single make-out scene. But that’s okay because this book didn’t feel like the type of book that required some sexy fanservice—the reader should already feel ~doki doki~ enough just getting to see their relationship blossoming.)
ANYWAY pictures 4 u:
overall, highly recommended! If you are a fan of high school romance between ridiculously silly, adorable boys when this is definitely the book for you. Very light, very understated, and so wonderfully cute that even my perverted self didn’t mind the complete lack of sexual content. These two will probably go down as one of my favorite BL couples, no doubt about it.