Japanese publisher: Outou Shobou, 1999
Licensed in English? No
Volumes: 2 (complete)
Warnings: not really, just a teensy bit of violence. Oh, and the manga-ka likes Brad Pitt. That deserves a warning, right?
When college student Yayoi’s parents uncharitably die in a plane crash, they leave him with a hundred million yen debt and a bunch of homicidal loan sharks on his tail.
Salvation comes in the form of Kazuto, an oddball yet intense CEO who falls in love with Yayoi on sight. Unfortunately for Kazu, Yayoi isn’t gay, but he’s willing to let the businessman try his hardest to win him over — for the sake of reducing his own debt, of course.
Usually I don’t like manga where one of the protagonists is initially straight and either winds up in a “gay for you” scenario, or is kind of forced into the relationship against their will (Arashi no Ato, I’m looking at you). But Jinsei wa Barairo da somehow pulls it off, probably because by the end of the volume Yayoi is as bratty and unwilling to give Kazu a break as he was in the beginning — there’s an aborted sex scene, but otherwise the action between Yayoi and Kazu is limited to a whole lot of (largely unromantic) french kissing. But what the manga lacks in the traditional BL romance/sex department, it makes up for in the comedic antics of its characters. Yayoi and Kazu’s relationship develops more in the second volume, though I have to say I enjoyed the first volume more if only because the second contains a side story about Kazu’s secretary that involves a disturbing portrayal of abuse that’s never quite condemned.
Hashida Yukari’s art looks rather dated these days, and some of the poses are a bit stiff and flat. Nevertheless, the characters are wonderful and the plots of each chapter, which include Yayoi taking jobs ranging from a gay escort to an experimental drug guinea pig, are always unpredictable and hilarious. For all the lack of romance in this manga, you can’t help but hold out hope for Yayoi and Kazu’s relationship and future. (Which is doubtless why it went to a second volume).
Definitely for anyone looking for a genuinely funny and unconventional BL manga that has stood the test of time.