I’ve been reading a lot of yaoi lately. I could pretend that the reason is in preparation for an up-coming Gaylaxicon panel, but, the truth is, I’ve just been in the mood for it.
Koi no Nare! is a one volume, six chapter, student/teacher romance. Normally, I’m a touch squicked by underage, but this one stays strictly romantic until the very last chapter when Komatsu is graduated and presumably ‘of age.’
I’ll be honest, I kind of found Shindo-sensei a little skeevy, anyway, but I’ll get to that.
Like a lot of otaku, I had previously felt like I had a basic grasp on how high school works in Japan. This is the first time I’d come across a high school like this one, however, where there’s a dormitory. (Maybe if I’d watched/read Prince of Tennis I’d know about this already–or at least so Honey’s Anime tells me.) But, apparently, in some private high schools, living arrangements are basically like American college life, including a sort of RA (resident assistant), who is a teacher, rather than an upperclassman.
Shindo-sensei is this live-in teacher. According to the Meikei High School page I linked to above, it’s typical for the live-in teacher to be very involved in his young charge’s lives. They describe the teacher’s job this way: “A teacher also lives with his family in the dorm masters’ quarters. He watches over the students’ daily affairs, from keeping track of their allowances to helping them relax on sleepless nights.“
You can see the yaoi just writing itself, can’t you?
Especially since Shindo-sensei isn’t some crusty older dude with a wife and kids. He’s a hip, handsome twenty-something, who is popular with everyone–boys and girls.
Komatsu hates him.
Komatsu finds this RA/live-in teacher frivolous, overly-flirtatous with the high school girls, and generally annoying. As he’s listing off these traits to his roommate, Nakajima, Shindo-sensei himself comes over and steals food from Komatsu’s plate in a very ‘ha-ha, loosen up, it’s all in good fun!’ kind of way.
Shindo-sensei is very much a ‘ha-ha, loosen up, it’s all in good fun!’ kind of guy. I’m with Komatsu on this one. Those kinds of guys are always frat boys, you know? The kind who pull a cruel prank on you and then later say, “What? It was just a joke! Can’t you take a joke?”
Those guys are trouble.
So, of course, Komatsu ends up falling for Shindo-sensei.
Their cute-meet is pretty cute, however. It all happens because Komatsu is gay and he’s surfing some Japanese version of Grindr, looking for… well, anything. He really wants a date, but he has no idea how to get one. Yet, the idea of a random hook-up scares him a little. When his roommate, Nakajima, accidentally catches him at it, Komatsu is convinced that this is going to be the end of a decent friendship and Nakajima is going to tell everyone that he’s a horrible homo, etc., etc. Nakajima is like, “Nah, man, it’s cool. I know other gays!” and, in fact, Nakajima is so down with Komatsu’s situation he really, really wants to root for his roommate’s love life and offers to set him up on a blind date. The guy he knows knows a guy, so…
Of course, when Komatsu goes to the arranged place to look for the signal, it turns out that the ‘date’ is Shindo-sensei. Komatsu tries to call it off, but Shindo-sensei insists that they should at least go somewhere and have some fun.
Shindo-sensei is a perfect gentleman, of course, and, in fact, treats Komatsu like a little kid. But, it’s too late, Komatsu is smitten.
What follows for the rest of the chapters are various ways in which the two of them are drawn apart and pulled back together, until they finally have a love confession and a promise to wait to get together until after graduation.
The story itself is very sweet.
The problem I had with it, was that I was never entirely convinced Shindo-sensei was a good match for our hero. I actually spent much of the volume hoping that Komatsu would give up on the teacher and go for his roommate, Nakajima–who was clearly showing signs of being willing to experiment with his sexuality.
The sex is very brief, but it’s also the first scene I’ve come across (so far) where condoms are actually used (a graduation gift from Nakajima! Way to go, sex positive Nakajima!) So I approve. There still seemed to be magical self-lubrication, but, well, at least we had consenting adults using condoms!