Sunday, October 5, 2008

Future Lovers vol. 1 by Saika Kunieda review

Future Lovers vol. 1

Author/Artist: Saika Kunieda

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance

Grade: A+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.com/buzz/. Check it out! ***

Kento Kumagaya has always wanted a caring wife and loving kids. You know, the ideal kind of life. Life, however, dealt him a different hand. After having his proposal rejected by his girlfriend, a handsome guy at the bar let him cry on his shoulder. The two of them had quite a bit to drink, and ended up having a hot, sweaty night of sex. Kento is a science teacher in a high school and his girlfriend is the school nurse. After his night of hot lovin’ he was in for a surprise at work. It turns out his one night stand is the new art teacher Akira Kazuki. That night Kazuki got a little drunk at his own welcoming party and Kento was given the pleasure to take him home. Once they got to Kazuki’s place another night of hot, passionate sex ensued. It turns out that Kento might not be as straight as he thought. Of course, Akira is a self-assured gay man.

Kento has fallen in love with Akira, but Akira seems to only want the sex (or so he says). After Kento gets into an auto accident Akira relents and the two start dating. In Future Lovers we follow Kento and Akira’s relationship ups and downs. Kento’s grandparents are not at all pleased that he’s dating another man, they have to keep their relationship a secret from both co-workers and students (Yukie, Kento’s ex-girlfriend does know of their relationship), and various other relationship hurdles.

There is a second story in this volume called Winter Rabbit. It’s the tale of Shu and Minoru. Minoru was abandoned as a child and Shu’s parents took him in. Shu adored his little brother Minoru, but those feelings seemed to run a little deeper and more disturbing. To deal with those emotions Shu moved to Tokyo to attend college. After he left Minoru seemed to change. Worried for the younger son, their mother called Shu to express her concern and also to convince him to come home for a visit.

Future Lovers vol. 1 is a very enjoyable manga. The premise of coworkers dating one another is not new in the world of yaoi, but Saika Kunieda-sensei’s is a refreshing read due to its humor. It really is quite funny. I found myself giggling through the whole manga. Kento is just a big, dumb ox. Yet he’s very sincere and tries to show Akira that he cares for him in his own way. Akira, on the other hand, is wily like a fox and enjoys teasing not only Kento, but Kento’s grandfather as well. They have a very wild relationship both in the sack as well as out on the streets of town. Akira is a fascinating character. He’s constantly wearing wild shirts and seems to have several different personalities. I guess that’s what you get when dealing with artistic types. I found this title to be a breath of fresh air that I really needed, with all the angst-ridden manga that I’ve been reading. With Winter Rabbit, it is a much more serious and angsty story. I’ve always struggled with brother falling for brother stories, yes, even when they aren’t blood related. However, the story is well told and because I loved the rest of the manga, I was able to get over my hesitation. Plus, at the very end Kunieda-sensei included a section called Assorted Ramblings which made me laugh so hard, I nearly wet myself.

The art is quite simple, but in this case it isn’t a hindrance to the story. Because it is a comedy the simple art works well. The style reminds me a little of Yugi Yamada-sensei’s work. The use of chibi figures is also really well done. Even though the art may be simple, the character faces are so expressive. With these two elements (chibi use and expressive faces), it helps deliver a great comedic punch.

This is another quality release by Deux Press. With their no-frills approach to manga publishing they let the manga do all the talking. Now when I say no-frills, I don’t mean shoddy publishing. They always print on a higher quality of paper, printing is always clean, and this time around I didn’t catch any missteps in clean up or editing. Good job Deux Press, keep up the great work!
This is one manga that you don’t want to miss. It is a very funny and clever manga. I guarantee that you will fall in love with these characters and will anxiously await the next volume (but I have no clue when that will be coming out). I know I’m impatiently waiting for the next volume (which I assume there will be one since it’s entitled Future Lovers vol. 1), but while I wait I can tell you that I’ll read this one many more times!

***Review Copy provided by Publisher***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

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