Friday, May 13, 2016

"Blue Sky Complex" by Kei Ichikawa


Reading shounen-ai/yaoi manga is an acquired taste for a good reason. Its demographic is primarily female, and so you can't expect to read a realistic queer story from these titles because a lot of 'boy-love' manga don't exactly tackle real issues and struggles concerning romantic relationships between men. Most of them tend to be about cutesy, overblown and ridiculously steamy moments between 'pretty boys' where one boy gets to become unavoidably feminine, especially when he is the 'bottom' or 'uke' in the sexual dynamics of the coupling. It's entertaining and adorable as all fuck though, so I tend to ignore whatever real-life implications are being distorted here all for the sake of fanservice. I'd like to think that most female readers are self-aware enough to acknowledge that this isn't how gay relationships work. Authors write these formulaic scenarios because they are female-centered fantasies that cater to what women think happens when two men get it on; much like what men think happens when women get it on when they watch lesbian scenes in porn.

It's not to say all BL mangas are construed this way because there are a few and far between that can still appeal to its demographic while at the same time able to develop the queer relationship within the story in terms more attuned with what happens in real life.

Kei's Ichikawa Blue Sky Complex is definitely one of them.

There were no big moments of fireworks explosion in this boy-love manga. In fact, the plot and setting themselves are pretty ordinary; the kind of coming-of-age and coming-out story that had been a familiar concept in fiction. Hell, even the characters themselves can be easily dismissed as stereotypes of high school romance. We have the studious and bespectacled Narasaki who is trying to find some peace and quiet so he can just read books and do his assignments while at school. After a series of misunderstandings and awkward conversations with a teacher, he was tasked to stay after classes as a volunteer in the library. There he was accompanied by the school's delinquent and social recluse Terashima. It's as straightforward as they come, and one can pretty much predict what would happen next for these two opposites who seem to be a mismatch on the surface. They'll fall for one another and--since this is a BL manga--they'll unceremoniously fuck anally.


'Them gonna fuck, aight? I mean, 'the hell am I reading this for?' -the average fujoshi


So what makes Blue Sky Complex special and worth browsing through? It's the fact that it's more earnest than gimmicky when it came to how these two teenage boys developed an attraction towards each other. There is believable chemistry between the two as each chapter moves forward, making readers care enough about these characters despite the lack of immediate boy-on-boy sexy-times action. That's why we're reading this, ain't it so, ladies? We want to see these boys to get down to business. But this is not the central point of Blue Sky Complex. The relationship that occurs later on between Narasaki and Terashima happen not just because the author wants them to hook up, but rather because it felt organic and convincing. 

Truth be told, the first volume of this manga was supposed to end without any kind of sexual pay-off, focusing more on the two boys admitting to themselves and one another that they simply cannot be platonic. However, due to its slow burn and the palpable tension between the two that wasn't resolved physically at all, readers were really desperate for more so the author had to write a sequel to it which had a different tonality than the first but still just as riveting. But before we get to that, let me show you some sweet, sweet, sweet kisses shared by these dorks. It's the only physical interaction that readers get to witness, and they're so unbelievably charming that it's almost like the author is punishing readers because of how chaste everything continues to be for Narasaki and Terashima especially when neither of them would acknowledge the incidents. These moments are gratingly hot too!






There is also a real discussion regarding their sexual identification during the chapters. The delinquent Terashima admitted in a chapter which reveals his past that he does not find girls attractive at all, and was afraid to be judged for it so he hides in his closet, forcing himself to uphold his masculinity even through destructive ways. Narasaki, on the other hand, didn't think gender ever mattered when it came to sexual and romantic attraction, so he dealt with his feelings for Terashima without any kind of insecurity or prejudice He believed it's the person you fall for that is important, regardless whether he is of the same sex or of the opposite sex. You can really tell that the author has taken time to craft characters who didn't just exist in her story just so they can have lots of gay sex with each other. She didn't rush to get them to confess their feelings for one another just so readers can get to the steamy parts. Readers actually were happier that it remained chaste.




Still, the steamy parts do happen eventually, but not for the first volume. This is what the second volume tackles; the physical aspect of Narasaki and Terashima's relationship after they have been dating for three months. No spoilers, of course, because y'all gonna have to read it yourselves. What I will say about the sex scenes was how realistically they are because it wasn't just a simple matter of putting it in (like most BL mangas would portray anal sex between men); there is a lot of work and preparation that entails in this kind of lovemaking, and Ichikawa made the most of these scenes in the second volume by making the awkward foreplay itself incredulously titillating as well. Conflicts about inadequacy and jealousy were also tackled in that volume. With only eleven chapters so far, it has quite a strong readership so it's possible that Ichikawa might give us more and that is certainly something to look forward to! YOU CAN READ THE MANGA HERE!



RECOMMENDED: 9/10

2 comments:

  1. I started reading this yesterday and OMG I LOVED IT! They were so adorable! Thank you so much for recommending it to me! ^_^ :D

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    1. No problem! It's really well-written and doesn't do fanservice sex scenes just for the sake of it :)

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