Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet Regard by Juji Fusa review

Sweet Regard

Author/Artist: Juji Fusa

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: C+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

The story of Sweet Regard is a tale where two brothers-in-law become lovers-in-law (yep, I’m proud of that one). Let me give you a brief synopsis on the plot. Kohei Sasahara has had kind of a hard life. When he was younger his parents died leaving Kohei alone with his younger sister. His sister was his entire world. When she decided that she was going to get married, he had a fit and wouldn’t accept it. Of course she and Shingo got married anyway. To try and smooth things over Shingo took on the Sasahara name. Because his sister no longer needed him (or so he thought), Kohei started to distance himself. One day he was summoned to the hospital only to find out his sister had been killed in a traffic accident. There was only one other who shared his grief, Shingo.

Fast forward to present day. Kohei still isn’t fond of Shingo but tolerates him. Shingo is a happy go lucky guy who enjoys spending time with Kohei. After an evening of downing alcohol Kohei thinks that someone has broken into his home and is raping him. He turns on the light to find out that it is none other than Shingo. Shingo spills his guts, confessing that even though he loved his sister very much, he loved Kohei as well. Will Kohei be able to set his pride aside and allow himself to love Shingo?

This volume has its good points as well as some weak points. The story is somewhat unique, or at least to me. I’ve read stories about brothers sleeping with one another, cousins sleeping with each other, and even a son raping his father (I can tolerate a lot, but I draw the line there). But a brothers-in-law story is a first for me. The story does move along quite quickly, but it seems to be a bit redundant after a while. I noticed several times where I wanted to leap into the story and smack Kohei and tell him how lucky he is to have someone like Shingo. But you can also feel for Kohei and the extreme amount of guilt he carries with him thinking that he’s betraying his sister. I also wanted smack Shingo and tell him to quit being such a doormat. It is a moving story. The art takes a little getting used to. I don’t know if it’s me but the pages seem to be heavily dark and heavily toned. The darkness of the ink might be a printing issue, I’m not sure. But there is a heavy reliance on tones and it detracts from what the art could be. Juji Fusa-sensei mentions in her Afterword that this is her first work of original content. For a first time around it’s pretty good and I have high hopes for Fusa-sensei.

Juné, as always, has published a beautiful product. I love the larger trim size. It makes for more enjoyable reading. You don’t have to squint to read the text balloons. The dust jacket always makes for a beautiful presentation while sitting on a bookshelf. I’m running out of bookshelf space so my manga is quickly filling up an under-the-bed bin, but even there it’s beautiful!
Sweet Regard is a quick read. Do I recommend it? If you can get past the feeling of wanting to smack the characters, it is worthy of your time.

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

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