Rec: Nice Guys Finish First
Hard! There is a reason I don't generally do rec-lists--because I suck at them. But I thought I'd give it a whack--and limit myself to one story per issue and without glomming on to my favorite authors TOO hard.
My theme of 'Nice Guys Finish First' centers on those stories that feature loveable average-joes in day-to-day-life sorts of stories. It also focuses on only the first five issues of Bang*Bang--because I am lazy and about to start re-watching Kamen Rider Kabuto. I think it best I not be distracted while explaining Tendou Souji to my kids. Anyway! All the nice guys are gay AND taken. Lolz, I tell you.
Sample: (In this case, it's also the opening because I just couldn't pick out a quote) Tommy regularly performs wearing shorter cut-off shorts than Masa thinks should be legal; Masa figures that the only purpose of such articles of clothing is to prove that Tommy may be small in stature (Tommy barely hits five feet), but most of that is leg. Masa gets lost following the line of Tommy's thighs from the top of his boots to the bottom of those ridiculously miniscule shorts.
A lovely story from that historic Volume 1, Issue 1. The main characters, Masa and Tommy, are guys in a band but it's not about the band--the story starts with Tommy, Masa, and Holden (their drummer) stumbling upstairs to Holden's tiny apartment after a show. Masa has a thing for Tommy's legs, his voice, and his perfect mouth (mmmleadsinger). This is such a lyrical and evocative story--the writing really has a middle-of-the-night feeling to it, slow and hot and tired. And for some reason the last two lines just kill me. ♥
Sample: I don't need much. Even a few hours would do... and it doesn't have to be very strong, either. I mean, I wouldn't want him to do anything that he would regret
And that line is why I love the main character, Fujimoto Nozomu. There were a lot of great stories in the second issue and I had a hard time choosing but this story features two regular schoolboys and a love spell. I'm weak versus schoolboys at the best of times and this--a;lkdjfs;ldj Nozomu is such a sweetie. Yamanashi Moe is one of my favorite Bang*Bang authors in part because she writes such realistic characters and with such sweet, subtle language. I love this story. LOVE it.
Sample: Through a familiar accident of last names, Michael had sat next to Jay in eleventh grade English. This was long after Jay'd given up poking him with a pencil to distract him - that was third grade. No, Jay's new form of distraction was more sophisticated: Jay made him curious.
Oh. Oh. Michael and Jay. I have loved this story from the first moment I read it because Michael and Jay are just...they are real. Real guys with real issues and each other. The writing is glorious--detailed and flowing without being flowery or meandering. There's humor in this story and bittersweetness and it's a story you have to read to understand when I say 'I don't know what to say' about it.
Sample: When you were that young you just didn't think about rejection or humiliation or any of the other crushing letdowns that could happen when you were a boy giving chocolates to another boy.
I have a certain weakness to childhood friends. I'm even weaker when it's a 'I love you, but you don't love me like that' sort of story. This is both and it does something wonderful--it doesn't drown in angst nor does it let Shin (our sweetheart) drown himself in angst. Instead, Shin goes along cherishing his friendship with Hayato, helping girls to give him their chocolates, and generally getting on with things while still having 'those sort' of feelings for his friend. And then HE gets offered some chocolate. I loved it. It might be a staple of yaoi manga scenes but it is just delightful.
Sample: Yeah, playing the tourist in his own fucking hometown. As if he didn't feel out of place as it is, in a country where he's told he should belong.
A story about going home again--and it's full of real emotion, gritty emotions, and none of it is easy. Shibata and Mizuno are regular guys and their story isn't a fairytale. It's not sweet and that's what I love about it. The writing is gorgeous--the weariness, the distance, the connection--really come across so that you can feel it. A sadder story than my other recs, but a lovely one.