Japanese publisher: Taiyou Tosho, 2011
Licensed in English? Yes, by Digital Manga Publishing (DMP).
Volumes: 1 (complete)
Warnings: Emotional abuse and a really, really unlikeable protagonist (these things are related).
N.B. This review is based on the complex Chinese translation of the manga, 醉後愛上你, published by 尚禾文化事業有限公司 in 2011.
Hayashi is a salaryman popular with the ladies, which makes waking up in bed next to one of his company’s male clients after a night of drunken revelry more than a little shocking. It soon turns out that he didn’t actually do it with this client, Shinohara, but it also turns out that Shinohara wishes they had. Shinohara has been hopelessly in love with Hayashi for a long time, but how can Hayashi return his feelings when, a) he’s straight; and b) there are rumours at work that Shinohara’s a man-eater. The latter two chapters of the manga concern another salarymen couple who bond over melon bread. (I kid you not).
The first thing you need to know before reading this tankoubon is that Hayashi is an unadulterated arsehole. An early warning you have of this is his constant repetition of “I’m not gay”, sometimes three times a page. I understand that this is the manga-ka’s invitation for us to think that Hayashi is overcompensating because of growing doubts over his own sexuality, but instead he comes off as a homophobic bastard ― in fact, the way things are worded throughout the manga left me wondering if the manga-ka, despite writing BL, really does think being gay is some kind infectious disease everyone should make a big fuss about.
But what I really wanted to vilify Hayashi over was his horrible treatment of our other protagonist, Shinohara. Shinohara is a wimp and a crybaby, but really, his only crime was to fall head over heels for a jerkwad who doesn’t return his feelings. Hayashi is perfectly aware that Shinohara holds a torch for him, and is initially flattered at the attention: at one egomaniacal juncture he asks Shinohara to list all the qualities that make him supposedly desirable. Hayashi also leads Shinohara on mercilessly, encouraging him to strip or suck him off to ‘test’ whether he could ‘do it’ with another man. Desperation and low self esteem make Shinohara want to comply, but after our Hayashi’s inevitable rejection, Shinohara turns on the waterworks and Hayashi only belatedly realises he was being an arsehole. Rinse and repeat for all three chapters.
I couldn’t enjoy reading a manga where I hated the protagonist this much (and not even in a fun love-to-hate way). And despite feeling sympathy towards Shinohara’s situation, his lack of backbone ultimately made him similarly unlikeable. Then Natsumizu sensei seeks to resolves the conflict by turning Hayashi into a possessive and dominant beast at the merest hint of Shinohara being interested in someone else. I found the spectacularly unspectacular and dubiously consensual bout of sex that ended their story arc not only unbelievable, but also damn unsexy. Basically by the end I hoped Hayashi would fall off his balcony and die and that Shinohara would come to his senses and go out with someone in possession of half a scruple.Thankfully the next two chapters, concerning two salarymen whose relationship is precipitated over an argument about melon bread (メロンパン) at their workplace cafeteria, redeem the volume somewhat. This time the seme is presented as a bit of a jerk, but not egregiously so, and the uke also had guts ― I particularly liked the scene where he challenges the seme’s assumption that he’ll be the one to top by exclaiming, “We’re both men, right? Why can’t I be the one who enters you?” (or words to that effect). I find that this situation is rather unusual in BL manga: the reader and the characters themselves generally just assume that the shorter, “girlier” one is the bottom. And in the end, that’s how this manga still pans out.
Natsumizu sensei’s art is competent but not outstanding or memorable, and unfortunately, the small extra at the end of the tankoubon did nothing to reassure me that the main couple’s relationship had improved ― it seems theirs is a love doomed to arseholery.
The melon bread salarymen are cute enough but not worth the price of admission when the first 3 chapters are so abysmal.