“Himitsu, Hitohira” by Kawamura Ayano
I got back from Japan about a week ago and while I admittedly wasted most of my money and baggage space on free! doujinshi I did pick up quite a few bl titles and thus figured it wouldn’t kill me to post about them a bit here.
the first one I thought I’d talk about a bit is Himitsu, Hitohira by Kawamura Ayano.
Kawamura Ayano has released one other book, Hatsukoi Prism, also through Gateau comics late last year. (Unfortunately I haven’t had the pleasure of reading her debut work yet.) This book caught my eye very specifically because of the stunning cover art. I’ve always been a sucker for more ‘cute’ facial types, and you definitely can’t deny her coloring is absolutely beautiful. So I vowed I’d pick up the book sometime during my travels.
this book contains two somewhat related stories, as they are all centered around a group of five male friends. The book itself is actually titled after the second story, so neither of the stories really have a ‘main attraction’ feel to them, as they both are given about equal pages as well.
the first is about Hanada, a free-spirited boy who’s a bit too trusting and falls for people too easily. He’s screwed out of his assets by his (now-ex) girlfriend and begs his group of friends if he can stay with one of them until he gets his shit sorted out. In the end he winds up rooming with Haji, his most ‘tsun’ friend. From the surface they appear to not get along well, but Hanada has always had a soft spot for Haji so he’s okay with Haji’s bossiness surrounding chores and the like.
however as much as he can feel them getting closer, there still seem to be many things Haji is hiding from Hanada. So Hanada can’t help but be shocked when he comes home one day to find Haji kissing a boy that looks… kinda familiar…?? When he approaches his friends about it he’s even more horrified to find out all of them already know about Haji’s sexuality, and even more so when they point out that the reason the boy looks so familiar is because Haji has been in love with Hanada all this time, thus gravitating toward other men who look similar.
can their friendship withstand this new revelation? And even more than that, what happens when Haji brushes off Hanada’s questioning, and then suddenly Hanada’s ex-girlfriend reappears and wants to get back together.
the second story is a bit more dark and centered around Sumie and Rikka from their friends group. At this point Haji and Hanada are a loving couple, and Rikka can’t help but be jealous. As much as he adores his childhood friend Sumie, somehow while growing up their relationship warped into a sexual one. No real love. No real consent. Sumie is loving on the surface but violent and possessive in the bedroom, and Rikka is at a loss to bring their relationship back around to how it was.
it all comes to a head when Rikka breaks off their friendship entirely, refusing to lie and say he’s in love with Sumie and to allow himself to become Sumie’s entirely. But when Sumie’s father dies, as he’s part of a rich and well-known family he’s forced to start looking for marriage prospects. Rikka doesn’t want to be Sumie’s, but he also doesn’t want Sumie to belong to anyone else. He wants to be his own person, but he wants Sumie in his life. What is Rikka to do? Either way things can’t go on like this, and they allow themselves to be together one more night before going their separate ways.
yet there’s still this yearning in Rikka’s chest that he can’t escape from.
overall I quite enjoyed this story! I admittedly felt a little off about the second story, with Sumie’s controlling and violent nature in the bedroom, but I found it was handled in a way I could stomach. Nonetheless if you feel something like that could possibly trigger you or make you uncomfortable, please use caution when considering picking this book up!
the art was very lovely throughout–I really loved the way Kawamura proportioned the bodies. There’s something hard and angular about her work but it didn’t bother me at all. Her use of screentone was also very nice.
there really wasn’t much sex to speak of in the book. Only a page here or there, and mostly to move the plot in Rikka and Sumie’s story. That’s one things I’m a little sad about: that there were more sad intimate scenes than happy ones. But that’s okay, since their relationships were plenty enjoyable even outside the sexual content.
I feel somewhat unsure about recommending it since while I enjoyed it, the reviews its gotten so far are pretty lackluster. But if you’re in the mood to read a pretty sweet book with nice art and just a dash of darkness to it, then you might like this one! If you don’t mind renting digital books, too, both this and her debut work are available on Renta! Enjoy!