Author/Artist: Toko Kawai
Rating: M – 18 and up
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance
*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org. Check it out! ***
Life is tough. If there is anyone out there that says any differently they are lying through their teeth. CUT by Toko Kawai shines a light on some serious but real problems that face not only teenagers but adults as well in today's world. I am going to inform you now that CUT deals with some very intense and heavy subject matter and it is a manga not for the faint hearted. Because of that if the synopsis seems a bit spoilery it's actually like that so you are aware of how deep this story really is.
Chiaki Sakaguchi is a popular guy at his high school. That's not really surprising he's good looking, has a great sense of humor and is an all around good guy. But underneath this exterior Chiaki is hiding a huge secret. Chiaki is being sexually abused by his stepfather. At a nearby park while being "attacked" by his father the whole scene was witnessed by innocent bystander Eiji Yukimura. It turns out that Eiji also attends Chiaki's high school. As soon as Chiaki discovers that, he wants to make sure that Eiji keeps his secret about his stepfather. Due to this confrontation Chiaki discovers that Eiji hides a very deep and long scar on his arm and he can be a bit violent. Because of the secrets these two hide they start an unlikely friendship.
We learn that not only does Chiaki have to deal with a sexually abusive stepfather but his father died in an auto accident when Chiaki was just a child. Chiaki blames himself (as well as his mother) so to try to escape from that emotional pain he cuts. Eiji on the other hand wants to grow up as fast as he possibly can so he'll no longer be a burden on his legal guardians. Eiji's mother was a young teenager when she conceived Eiji and because she wasn't ready to be an adult yet she took it out on him. The scar on his arm is a gift from his mother. Even though these two have found each other and find it easier to deal with their misery together things aren't going to progress as easily as one would wish.
CUT is a heart wrenching manga. It'll take hold of your of your emotions, rub them raw, and return them to you in a big jumbled mess. I'm not saying this is a bad thing because CUT really causes you to think. I must say that it isn't for the faint hearted but worth the time. It deals with some very difficult subject matter like sexual abuse, cutting, teen pregnancy, and abuse in general. If you suffer from any type of mental illness be sure to take you medicine before you read this. If you are lucky and are on an even emotional keel you'll want to make sure to be prepared for this heartbreaking tale.
In Ginger Mayerson's previous review she focuses on the fact that these two are royally screwed up thanks to their parents but I saw things differently. Yes, the parents passed on their traits to their children and screwed them up, but Chiaki and Eiji were willing to rely on each other and deal with their pasts together. The things they need they find within each other. Chiaki has a mothering type personality and Eiji is gentle and caring. CUT is character driven and emotionally charged.
Toko Kawai-sensei's art is beautiful as always. The only issue I have with it is that she only has a few body types, faces, and hairstyles that she uses so all of her characters regardless of the story they all look alike. But she is a pretty good storyteller and CUT is by far her best work. Ginger brings up the fact that it was a huge undertaking for Juné to be able to bring CUT home for English readers and I must give them my thanks for going through all that work. CUT truly is an amazing piece.
I highly recommend CUT but be aware that it deals with very heavy themes and it earns its mature rating. Yes they have lots of sex to warrant the M rating but it also deserves it for those intense and heavy plot points. Once you pick up CUT you won't be able to put it down and you definitely won't forget what you've just read. It will definitely make you think.
***Review Copy provided by Juné***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***