Ace no Kyuujitsu by Nishida Higashi

I’m staggering these posts, but I’m STILL cooking. So, while I continue to slave over a bubbling deep-frier, I’m reading manga. This time I decided to hop over to my old favorite, Mangago and see what appeared in the “popular” sidebar.  I saw Ace no Kyuujitsu and could NOT resist this cover….

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I mean, am I right?

SPOILERS

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Hidaka Tohru is the star pitcher for the Blue Seas.  The season is over and so he’s off for a cruise with his girlfriend… only she cancels on him last minute.  Seems Hidaka-san is kind of a player and boasted about it in some tabloid or another.  Since Hidaka got on at an earlier port, he’s now stuck on the cruise ship without a playmate.  Worse, he’s constantly hounded for autographs and photos.  He loses his patience when a little brat comes up to ask for his autograph and can’t even pronounce his name right. Even though the kid is no more than 8, dude gets up in his face and tells him to bug off.

Generally in a foul mood after that, Hidaka gets drunk at the big opening dinner and has to get escorted off by security.  Not letting that stop him, he moves to the lounge and attempts to set up his own ‘hostess club’ with all the ladies there.  Security is not amused and contrives to trick him into going back to his room for ‘an urgent message.’

The ‘message’ he gets is in the form of a late night visitor.

The visitor tosses him around and eventually pins him, face down on the bed. Hidaka is then told, ‘shape up or get off the boat at the next port of call.’  When Hidaka continues to be belligerent, the masked stranger sticks his fingers up Hidaka’s butt. Like, yeah, just kind of finger rapes him.

Well, well… off to a good start, I’d say, eh?

Yeah, I know. But look at these two:

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A scuffle ensues and Hidaka manages to scratch the assailant’s arm with the edge of a broken lamp.  The guy runs off leaving Hidaka bewildered (and, because this is yaoi, vaguely turned-on.)

The next day, Hidaka is still weirded out by what happened, but he’s out and about.  He sees the annoying kid playing by himself.  The kid accidentally goes over a railing and Hidaka uses his baseball sliding skills to catch the kid.  He saves the boy, but gives himself a concussion.  As he’s passing out, a man thanks him for saving his son—in the very voice of the guy who assaulted him last night!

Of course, it turns out that the assailant is the captain.

Hidaka’s bravery complicates things because even as the captain wanted him off the ship, now it’s kind of not cool to have kind of raped a guy to coerce him into leaving the ship.  Hidaka makes it clear that he knows that the captain is his assailant. The captain mostly avoids dealing with that awkwardness by thanking Hidaka profusely for his son’s life.

What’s kind of amazing throughout this manga is that the captain never is entirely remorseful for his actions. Oh, he apologizes at one point, but he’s kind of unabashedly skeevy and rape-y.  I guess that’s his version of being a seme.  It’s explained that he can overpower this trained athlete because he was in special forces and is some kind of war veteran (though what war Japan has been active in lately, I’m not entirely sure. But, who cares. He’s seen things.  And… maybe got kicked out for being a huge homo?)  The idea that the captain is just the kind of guy who ogles ikemen‘s hot butts is a given all the way through to the HEA.

Also there’s a side character, the security guard/steward, who was apparently the captain’s adjutant during service who is very odd and fussy and weirdly kick-ass (implications make it seem as though he was once a crack sniper, too.)

How the two guys finally get it on is a semi-baffling series of one-upmanship challenges and random ‘hey, so maybe I’m gay and horny?’ moments from Hidaka.  But, when they do get together it’s kind of hot and I found myself sort of deeply amused by the end omake in which they appear to be off on an extended holiday celebrating Hidaka’s retirement from baseball and sending home videos back to teenage kid. Although it says “20 years later” so maybe this is young adult kid, although he seems to still be living with the steward.

The love confession is a pretty good moment too and involves the captain launching himself off the side of the cruise ship to run after Hidaka.  So, I mean, all the rape-y-ness aside, it’s kind of a good story?

I don’t know. It might be the exhaustion kicking in.