I’m a very sick puppy, my friends, so I enjoyed Yoru wa Tomodachi for all the wrong reasons.
The set-up is simple. By chance, masochist, Tobita, meets a boy his own age, Masume, who is willing to entertain Tobita’s BDSM kinks. The drama of the manga comes from the fact that Masume isn’t, initially, entirely… into it. He’s shown as this super-popular, well-adjusted sort, but it’s clear that he likes the intimate, personal power trip of being someone’s dom.
And, eventually, of course, they’re going to fall in love, because that’s how these stories are expected to go.
And, they do.
I’m going to say, for the romance, I wasn’t terribly sold on it, at first. At first, it seemed as though Tobita ‘loved’ Masume simply because he was so grateful to have found someone his age who was into his kink. When we get the flashback of how our two heroes met, we learn that Tobita had previously been kinda-sorta renting himself out to salarymen who were into BDSM with younger men. (I should note, both Tobita and Masume are adults. They’re at the same university together.) But, Tobita is very insistent that, even when Masume happens to be more flush, they always share the bill or at least take turns paying for things.
Except sex toys. Apparently, Tobita is okay with Masume being the one to buy all the sexy toys and bondage gear.
But, at any rate, in the meet-cute flashback, we discover that Masume randomly inserted himself into an argument between Tobita and a former lover. And, then later met-up with the former lover to get the whole scoop. Masume seems to have done it, partly out of altruism, but mostly because he’s noisy af and likes knowing everyone’s business.
And, that’s the part that started working for me.
Like, the other thing about Tobita is that he’s “weird.” Even Masume characterizes him as kind of an alien. He’s nerdy. He’s socially anxious and very, very classically introverted.
And, in total contrast, Masume is a social butterfly. Everyone likes him; everyone wants to date him, or at least hangout with him.
Thus one of my favorite dynamics is born.
I really have a weakness for introvert/extrovert romances. I’m an extrovert myself. My wife is a complete introvert. And, Ido-sensei gets us. The moment I was willing to say, “yeah, okay, you can interrupt perfectly good smut for romance if it’s going to be like this,” was when Tobita and Masume end up, for reasons, out on an actual date at an aquarium. Tobita is enchanted by the sharks and Masume does this thing that should be very familiar to anyone in charge of the care and feeding of an introvert, which is that he’s done. He’s seen all the things he wants to, but he recognizes that Tobita is different. He needs his one thing and he needs to have his own time with it.
So, Masume says, “Hey, take your time. I’ll just be over there when you’re ready.”
This is an actual expression of love towards an introvert when you’re an extreme extrovert. Stepping away from the introvert and giving them their space? That’s every introvert I’ve ever known’s “love language.”
It’s no surprise that after that, Tobita also suddenly “gets” extroversion. He says to Masumo, “You fake your smiles a lot.”
Look, I’m not saying that us extroverts are faking it. Mostly, we aren’t. But when an introvert worms their way into your heart and not only notices those times when you’re not even aware that you’re kind of just going along to get along, and then turns to you and says, “You don’t have to do that with me. I’m happy just to be with you…”
That’s kind of a nice moment.
At least, it’s one I could relate to. Extroverts are often popular because they’re perceived as a lot of fun to be with–because we often are. But, just because social stuff comes easily to extroverts, it doesn’t mean we don’t recognize how much hard work it is. And, having that one person who says, “You know, you don’t have to work that hard. I like you no matter what” can feel like a real gift.
That being said, the BDSM practices in this yaoi are questionable. If dubious consent is a turn-on, there’s several scenes that work well for that. If you’re at all “WAIT, YOU KNOW HE CAN’T SAY HIS SAFEWORD LIKE THAT,” then, yeah–no amount of pleasant extrovert/introvert romance will save this one for you. Especially since Masume is an inexperienced dom as well, he semi-intentionally, but under the aegis of ‘but I’m trying to figure this out’ learning, blurs the lines between pain that’s fun/sexy and full-on physical violence.
So it comes recommended to you with those caveats.
Read at your own risk.