Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is the story of a chance meeting on a train. It’s ridiculous. It’s adorable. I’m so irritated that there are only eight chapters so far. I can’t wait to read more! (Baka-Updates Manga tells me that there are 46 chapters on-going in its country of origin. NARGH, I WANT THEM ALL RIGHT NOW!!)
Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is so good! It’s everything I have ever wanted in slice-of-life!
It’s also the first manhua I’ve ever read. Wikipedia tells me that manhua is a word used to describe Chinese comics produced in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. I don’t know how typical the style is, but Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? has these wonderful super-long panels:
This style worked really well on my iPad.
I also really love the sketchy, yet clean lines of this manhua. It has a web-comic feel that I found added to my general enjoyment of this story.
But I think my favorite thing about Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is how sexually ambiguous the two main characters are.
We hear in the first chapter that Tingyu had a girlfriend. In the list of of his woes, he mentions their break-up. Yet, of the two guys, Tingyu is the most metrosexual. He’s the suit wearing salaryman with the glasses. His body type is slim and small, and modestly handsome
Chen Yuchen is the more rugged, student-looking one who wears trainers/sneakers to work because he’s a computer tech guy. Yet, it’s Chen Yuchen’s office mates notice he seems happy that first day after the two men meet on the train. It’s a noticeable moment, that comment about his happiness, because the reader really doesn’t know Chen Yuchen yet. All we see is him thinking about hurrying back to the station to meet up with Tingyu. So the change is intentionally set up as something that maybe even Chen Yuchen isn’t entirely aware of.
While waiting for Chen Yuchen, Tengyu runs into his assistant manager. Noticing that Tengyu is anxiously checking the clock, the assistant manager assumes that Tengyu must be waiting on a date and gives him a broad wink and wishes him good luck. Of course, two seconds later, Chen Yuchen comes rushing to the scene yelling apologies for being late. The manager is well ahead, but Tengyu is clearly worried that their meet-up is going to be mistaken as a hook-up and over reacts–probably drawing more attention to himself than if he’d just been cool about it. We never know if the manager noticed, but later the manger does seem to be coming on Tengyu….
It’s likely that some of the gay stuff is being played for laughs. Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is listed as being in the humor genre, but, so far, the possibly of a romance between the two men isn’t being treated unkindly.
There’s one chapter in which a high school girl develops a short-lived crush on Tengu. She’s smitten after he helps her report a grab and run. Her attempt at a love confession, however, is foiled mostly by her own shyness, but also by the fact that when Chen Yuchen and Tengyu are together, their attention is on each other and not much else.
I don’t exactly ship them per se, but I’m deeply rooting for their friendship. Honestly, I would LOVE it if the story became a romance between the men, but I would legit be okay if they just stayed precious friends. All I ask is that the characters manage to make it to the end without some forced ‘no homo’ moment.
I’m getting really sick of those.
I don’t really understand what compels a mangaka to do that. In Shingeki no Kyojin, Berholdt’s retrofitted crush on Annie that Isayama-sensei grafted on to him three chapters before his meaningless death was unnecessary at best and a deliberate poke in the eye to queer shippers at worst. There was really no reason to take time out of a manga about the horrors of war to have two guys that Isayama-sensei must know people shipped together have a long extended conversation of them both basically shouting ‘BRO I WOULD DIE FOR YOU, BUT NO HOMO!’
And, of course, I still have only white hot hatred for the married with kids ending of Bleach. I’ve had to leave Tumblr for a while because seeing all the fan art of Renji and Rukia with baby makes me actually begin to actively dislike straight people.
The insane thing about that one in particular is that if you had asked me a month before Bleach ended how I felt about RenRuki, I would have said, “Yeah, it’s canon that Renji loves Rukia. I have no problem with that.” You could even look back at my posting history in Tumblr and you’d see a fair amount of re-blogging of cute RenRuki fan art. I would have told you that my head canon is that Renji is bisexual and he absolutely can love Rukia as well as Byakuya (or Kira or Hisagi or Ichigo or whoever else I was pairing him with at the time.)
Now it’s so much harder to be cavalier about that stuff because there’s this backlash I’m seeing from fans who feel like if you show the canon couples with other people now, somehow you’re dissing their canon relationship. There was one angry fan who posted this: “Stop making fanfics/fanarts with Ichigo cheating on Orihime with Rukia. I’m an Ichiruki shipper and it f*cking disgusts me. Renji and Orihime don’t deserve it.” Like somehow our fantasies and our previous ships or our work-arounds are suddenly on par with actual adultery.
And that, right there, is what’s wrong with straightening canon.
So, here’s fingers crossed that this cute, adorable manhua doesn’t suddenly get pressured to MAKE IT CLEAR EVERYONE HERE IS SUPER STRAIGHT AND ALL THE GAY STUFF WAS JUST FOR LAUGHS.
In all seriousness, I’m more than okay if these hints of romance are actually red herrings so long as, in the end, there’s still room for these friends just carry on being friends and we don’t HAVE to see them stand up at each other’s weddings–unless that’s treated as part of the story in a way that maintains their deep and meaningful friendship, you know? Because I could see this manhua ending that way, because part of this is about how maybe that person whose toe you accidentally stepped on is actually someone cool that you might like to know.
Just treat us queer fans with some respect, yo.