More yakuza love as I continue to prep for the podcast!
Tsumasaki ni Kiss / A Gentleman’s Kiss is one that my co-host had read, but I had not.
The back cover copy reads thusly: “Karasuma Touji and Yasobe Homura have been secret lovers for the past 4 years. However, their families and respective groups are long time rivals. With Touji destined to take over as head of his family, as well as the group, can their relationship survive?”
It’s a good question, honestly, but not necessarily because of the politics involved.
As several fan critics pointed out in the Mangago comments, Homura is a little weak-willed when it comes to the handsome host he employs at his club. I am not sure, in fact, if Homura ever actually confesses his indiscretion to his lover at any point, so, I mean, no honor among thieves, I guess?
As for the rest of the story, I was a little ‘meh’ on it. The story was published in 2005 and the art is a little bit too ‘yaoi hands‘ for me. Plus, there’s not a huge amount of story here. The characters don’t particularly stand out and the plot is very run-of-the-mill.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the question we plan to pose on the podcast, which is: what is it about yakuza stories that we find compelling?
I’ll admit that one of the things I like, in general, are ‘bad boys’ that come from a rough-and-tumble background. In Tsumasaki ni Kiss / A Gentleman’s Kiss, both characters have been born into their position of power. I tend to prefer my yakuza heroes/anti-heroes to have gained whatever position they have by trickery (as in Jealousy or Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai / Twittering Birds Never Fly) or by sheer bada$$ery (as is implied in Gokushufudou: The Way of the Househusband.) I mean, I guess I feel that I good ruffian should be… rough, or at least fox-clever in a deviously evil sort of way, you know?
To be perfectly fair, there is a tiny amount of cleverness in Touji of Tsumasaki ni Kiss / A Gentleman’s Kiss. At one point, after he’s ascended to the position of boss of bosses, Touji is pressured by his cohorts into getting married. Being totally gay (and loyal, I might add,) for Homura (who, meanwhile, is off banging the host,) Touji concocts a scheme that involves choosing the daughter of a family who is in a very similar situation to his own–i.e., she has a longtime secret lover who she is very likely to run off and elope with, instead of accepting a forced political marriage. If she does this, of course, then the family will be thrown into shame and will owe Touji face/a favor.
It works out for him and he’s even able to leverage that deal into one where he and Homaura’s families are no longer rivals, but allies.
But, that’s the only hint of that personality trait that you see from Touji in the entire to volume story, and, frankly, it feels more deus ex machina than something that was foreshadowed all long/set-up within Touji’s character. I mean, it is a great way to solve the problem that the two lovers have (being in rival gangs), but I would have liked to have seen Touji being devious and clever previously. Maybe he was and I missed it, because I was too busy being horrified by how giant everyone’s hands were….
So, I don’t know.
There is a decent amount of sexy-times in the story, but it’s fairly vanilla–not the sort of tough or kinky stuff you might hope for from a bunch of mafiosos. (Also, where are their tattoos???)
It is short, however, so it might be worth a read, if any of this sounds interesting to you.