The last of the yaoi volumes that I picked up at Barnes & Noble is this one: NightS by Kou Yoneda….
Despite its cover, this is actually a collection of shorts, the largest of which has nothing to do with these guys or anything resembling ‘street toughs.’ Ah well. More on that in a bit.
My plan for the physical volumes now that I’ve read them is to bring them along to Gaylaxicon this weekend and give them away at my yaoi/yuri panel. If anyone reading this is local to the Twin Cities area and wants to see me apparently hold forth on this subject all on my lonesome (and pick up a free yaoi volume!) it will be TONIGHT: Saturday, October 8th, at 10:30 pm, in the “Terrace” room at the DoubleTree Hotel Minneapolis-Park Place.
I’m really disappointed this volume was not about the guys on the cover. The first few pages were a color spread and just look at this guy:
This is ‘Masato Karashima’ a.k.a. ‘Mr. Transport’ who can get your illegals across any border, no problem, man.
His services are being procured by ‘Hozumi’ who is acting as an intermediate for the yakuza. Maybe. Or maybe… not. Because nobody is giving their real names and Mr. Transport is fairly certain Hozumi is way too good-looking to be a mafioso. In fact, he grabs Hozumi by the collar and they have this little flirtatious exchange in front of Tsuchiya, the hired tough.
Anyway, some drug moving-related plot happens, various contrivances get them to hang-out together and flirt more in their tough-guy way, which is surprisingly charming and full of chemistry, and then, finally, one night they go for it.
Mostly it’s Mr. Transport who pursues. He’s really hot to know what’s up with Hozumi, because he really does not trust this guy’s backstory.
Ironically, it’s Mr. Transport that ends up confessing his life story after sex. Turns out Mr. Transport’s real name is Tian Yi Lou and he’s only half-Japanese. His dad is the big boss of the Tian Lian group, one of the Chinese triad, but he’s on the outs because he’s not pure blood. Hozumi thinks it’s pretty impressive that Yi Lou’s been able to stand on his own, but betrays him anyway.
Yeah, turns out Hozumi is actually Ryo Masaki, a Narcotic’s officer, and he brings the bust down on Tian Yi Lou…. only, oops, he lets him slip away, last minute. So maybe that little fling meant a little something to him, after all, eh?
Did I mention? These two had a ton of chemistry. I really loved their interactions and put up with various plot mechanizations so I could get to the next part where they talked. Yeah, the sex was pretty good (first time I’ve seen cowboy style,) but I actually REALLY liked their flirting most of all.
The follow-up chapter at the end of the volume that returns to these two, “A Night One Month Later,” is a lovely, flirty end for their story.
The other two stories, as I said, are COMPLETELY different. “Emotion Spectrum” follows Kugo, a high school delinquent type whose best friend is an attraction magnet. Everybody falls for Nakaya–boys, girls, everybody. Kugo is pretty sure, in fact, that cute “slightly emo” Usui is totally after Nakaya , and works overtime to help connect Usui and charismatic friend.
Only, yeah, you guessed it. Usui is actually hot for Kugo.
This story is very sweet and ends with a kiss and nothing more. No cowboy style here.
The last and longest story by far is “Reply,” which is about a car salesman and a repair guy who work at the same dealership. I can not actually think of a profession I could care less about and there are seriously long parts of this story that actually revolve around talking about how car sales work and these guys are both straight and hardly even know how to get together and it TAKES THEM FOREVER OMG.
This is one of those stories that makes me wonder who is reading these stories and why.
I mean, the interactions between polished salesman, Takami, and mechanic, Seki, are sort of cute in an angsty sort of way. There’s some kind of class divide between them, though not very much is made of that, and so it’s really just about two dudes who like each other’s company in an awkward sort of way and spend a lot of time agonizing about it all.
I kind of get it. I mean, I remember falling for my first girlfriend and how confusing that was, at first. But, you know what I would kill for? For one of these straight-turned-suddenly-gay yaoi heroes to have that moment where they’re all, “Wow, that guy is cute. Whoa, maybe I’m gay” and then GO TO THE INTERNET AND READ ABOUT BEING GAY. Or, maybe they could go to a gay bookstore and pick up The Joy of Gay Sex and spend some time talking to the clerk behind the counter about what it’s like to be gay. That’s what I did, only wherever I have written ‘gay’ substitute ‘lesbian’ (and of course the internet didn’t exist until I was already out.)
Also, I’d love a whole ‘I should maybe connect the dots of my life up until this point’ moment for one of these straight-suddenly-gay guys. That was the other thing about my life. I could look back through all of my diaries and see where I’d been really pretty focused on my girl friends, even while I was dating boys.
But, again, I’m not sure these stories are written for me. I can appreciate them as a queer fan, but they’re not trying to say anything about what it’s like actually being Japanese and queer (or a queer mafioso, WHICH I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO KNOW A LOT MORE ABOUT FOR THE RECORD, THANK YOU).
And, just in case anyone isn’t clear, I knew that going in. I know these stories are mostly written by straight women for straight women. I mean, I, myself, am a lesbian fan writer who writes a ton of m/m slash. Slash has always been like this, too–where gay men aren’t really the audience for all the gay male sex: lesbians are.
Go figure that one.
So, yeah, I enjoyed this collection, though I really wished there had been a lot more hot yakuza/triad chemistry.
A. Lot. More.
Also, if you want to check this one out for yourself, I was able to find it on Mangagogo: http://www.mangago.me/read-manga/nights/nme/en-manga/nights/1/1/2/