Tsumasaki ni Kiss Volumes 1-2 (爪先にキス) by Fuwa Shinri (不破慎理)
Publisher/Year: Tokuma Shoten, 2005 (Licensed in English by DMP’s June imprint)
Warnings: violence, bullying, infidelity and sex after multliple gunshot wounds.
Homura and Touji are both night club owners involved in a 4-year secret relationship. Touji, though, is growing tired of sneaking around and wants to make it public. But Homura refuses, knowing this would bring disaster. Why? Because Touji is the successor to the Karasuma yakuza group — the rivals of Homura’s own organisation. How long can their romance survive under the pressure of silence and family rivalry, especially when one of Homura’s employees begins stalking him?
For most of the two volumes comprising Tsumasaki ni Kiss, it’s a ‘bloodless’ yakuza story centred more around Homura and Touji’s business interests and romance, rather than the criminal activities of their rival groups. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the yakuza element was just a label, because it might as well be a normal corporate BL story. And for all that the premise seems rather Romeo & Juliet-ish, even the manga’s political/business intrigue is quickly subsumed by an angsty (and extremely annoying) love triangle.
Homura, despite his usual cold composure, has a mean strike a mile wide. This comes back to bite him in the proverbial when one of the hosts at his club, Kyouya, demands he fulfil his promise of a date for reaching the club’s #1 spot. Kyouya’s sheer perseverance and puppy dog eyes, even in the face of Homura’s constant and cruel rejection, fails to be endearing. So I was less than pleased when most of the page count of the second volume was wasted on Kyouya throwing himself at Homura, while Homura and Touji cold-shoulder and manipulate each other from afar.
This story is really only enough to fill one volume convincingly, but instead it’s needlessly and frustratingly dragged out into a fest of miscommunication that finally, finally ends with a bout of badly-forshadowed violence that reminds the reader that, hey, this actually is a yakuza manga. But only when it suits the manga-ka.
I did, however, appreciate Fuwa Shinri’s emphasis on the manga’s plot (such as it turned out to be) over gratuitous sex scenes, and I enjoyed the established-relationship-banter of Touji and Homura (and Homura’s chibi fangs, I’ll be honest). Occasionally the severe contrasts of light and dark in this style of art really worked, but at other times the backgrounds and tones seemed too spare. The characters’ anatomy was sometimes too flat-looking as well, and dear god, that panel with Touji resting his legs on his desk must have a prized place in dimensional infamy.
The story’s resolution (both romantic and political) was a bit rushed, though I was glad to finally see Homura shed his earlier passivity and do what needed to be done. Nonetheless, the last scene — such a businesslike ending! Or maybe that’s just the romantic in me not fully comprehending the corporate sanctity of a handshake.
I think readers sick of an overabundance of sex and gore in this genre of BL would enjoy Tsumasaki ni Kiss’ emphasis on relationships, especially if they don’t have a visceral distaste for reading about love triangles in all their pointy boringness.