[REVIEW] Black Diamond by Fuwa Shinri

Black Diamond by Fuwa Shinri (不破慎理)

Japanese publisher: Libre Shuppan, 2011

Licensed in English? No

Volumes: 1 (complete)

Warnings: violence, child abuse (not sexual), non-major character death/suicide

N.B. This review is based on the complex Chinese translation of the manga 《黑色鑽石》 published by 尚禾文化事業有限公司 in 2012. Please also note that I don’t have furigana available for the characters’ names, so the romanization may be incorrect.

Premise

Yuu is a young and handsome executive, a ruthless businessman and a charming party guest ― but at home he’s just a wilful brat. Suffering under the pall of an abusive childhood and a dark family secret, Yuu’s only friend and confidant is his loyal secretary, Asa. Asa is hopelessly smitten with his boss, but no matter the intensity of his devotion, he suppresses it out of obedience. But when Asa’s manipulative university senpai suddenly emerges in the business world, both men must to face up to their pasts and the truth of their relationship.

Commentary

Initially I was annoyed at the amount of telling, as opposed to showing, that went on in the manga’s first chapter: rather than letting the reader decide for themselves exactly how coldly competent and desirable Yuu is, we’re treated to the soliloquies of receptionists and the vapid oohing and ahing of socialites in order to define his character. Another annoyance for me was that the plot’s major conflict could have been defused almost immediately if Yuu and Asa had simply communicated with each other. I hate it when that happens! That being said, I enjoyed the subtlety of Asa’s expressions as he tried to remain professional and impassive while clearly smouldering beneath the weight of self-imposed silence.

Actually, Black Diamond’s plot rather reminded me of a Korean or Taiwanese soap opera, but with fewer subplots. We have the clichéd childhood promise of our lovers to stay by each other’s sides forever, corporate blackmail, unnecessary misunderstandings to draw out the plot, and one hell of a painful family backstory. I actually thought the family drama was done quite well ― I shed a tear for Yuu at a few points ― but the resolution of his trauma was a little too smooth. In reality, there wouldn’t have been complete resolution at all. Moreover, the villainous senpai never lived up to his full potential in my mind, especially considering how he was introduced to the reader.

Nevertheless, I appreciate a good dose of hurt/comfort, and Fuwa-sensei did a fair job. I also like the fact that the sex was completely secondary to the plot. The sex scenes in Black Diamond are non-explicit and brief, and yet I didn’t feel cheated. It’s refreshing to read a manga where the story, no matter how unoriginal, takes precedence over the characters jumping each other for no other reason than to titillate or fill a quota.

The tankoubon’s extra was silly and fluffy, but it was also only 4 pages long, so whatever.

Recommended?

If you enjoy reading about relationships between secretaries and their CEOs, characters overcoming painful childhoods, and a dedicated character-based drama, you’ll probably enjoy this manga ―  even if you don’t love it.

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