I found Simple Days when looking for stories about handymen. Alas, the “handyman” in this is actually more of a worker for hire. By that, I mean, he doesn’t fix toilets or install new track lighting; he isn’t “handy,” as in good in a physical labor trade like carpentry, plumbing, or electric work. Instead, he gets hired as an extra hand by a detective agency.
Technically, this is a possible use of ‘handyman,’ but it’s not QUITE how that term is used in the West.
Our two heroes meet when Kuromoto (the dark-haired, sullen one) gets hired to tag-along with detective agency employee, Takamura Rei, who has been assigned to drive out to the country to clean out an old estate that the family and the locals won’t touch because its believed to be haunted.
Takamura is easily scared, and, of course, the wind (or something!) blows a door shut and the two are trapped together until the other employees are scheduled to arrive in the morning. Sexy hijinx ensue.
But, Kuromoto has a girlfriend back home, so that seems to sort of have been a one-time thing. Except, Kuromoto ends up telling Takamura his tragic backstory that involves being orphaned after a house fire, where the perpetrator was never caught. He’s clearly very wounded by it, and obsessed with trying to figure out whodunit.
So, even though they part ways, Takamura keeps working on the mystery of Kuramoto’s tragedy.
Kuromoto, meanwhile, does some soul searching and decides to dump his girlfriend. I don’t quite remember why, but Takamura isn’t ready to commit. Maybe Kuromoto is still in high school also? (Even though this manga is only six chapters, I read this over the course of two days, plus the relationship was so not central to the story… but I’ll get to that complaint in a moment.) But, for whatever reason, they stay apart. Takamura at some point decides to start calling Kuromoto regularly, but Kuromoto won’t pick up the phone.
This becomes a plot point later when Takamura has finally tracked down the arsonist/killer thanks to some detective footwork and contact with an old high school friend who is tangentially involved with the yakuza. Takamura goes to confront the guy on his own and ends up getting shot, but manages to call Kuromoto before passing out. They have a reunion in the hospital and become a couple, the end.
The story was okay. I liked the art a lot and am thinking about looking through some of the other stories drawn by Miyamoto-Sensei, but it was like she really had only a passing interest in the ROMANCE. What was weirder to me, was that she wasn’t particularly interested in following the mechanics of the detective work, either. There would be a lot of panels of people asking Takamura, “Oh, you’re working hard on that case!” and “You’ve got bags under your eyes! Is the case keeping you up?” and it was clear that Takamura was doing SOMETHING, but the specifics were vague af. Piles of paper! Oh, he must be reading up on…???? Yes, stuff, but what? Is he combing through newspaper articles, if so, using what keywords, etc? I mean, my feeling is that if you’re writing a story about a gay detective and aren’t interested in just showing us cute scenarios where casework leads to sexy situations (see initial haunted house scene), then maybe go in hard for the mystery and show us the actual details of putting the puzzle together???
We spent a lot of time watching Takamura be sad at a gay bar. Where he mostly talks to the cute bartender about relationships, except for that one time when he asks about scents….
So, I dunno about this one. There’s not enough sex in it for me to make up for the meander of a plot to be worth it. If the plot where tighter or more the kind of-slice-of-life where you learn something real about a profession, it would be easier to recommend. It is, however, complete. There is a whole story there and it is short, one volume, about six chapters, all of them available through the link at the top.
* Information is taken from Japanese Street Slang by Peter Constantine (first edition). I guess okama has been somewhat reclaimed, but I would still caution that you hesitate to use if you are a non-native speaker and/or are not part of the gay/queer community.