Yaoi Manga: Lover’s Kiss

August 24th, 2006

I’ve been holding on to the classic manga, Lover’s Kiss, for a while, meaning to review it eventually. After reviewing Audition, I thought it might fit in nicely this week. :-)

Written by Yoshida Akimi in 1999, Lover’s Kiss is best known as a Boys Love high school drama. (Yoshida is probably best known here in the west for Banana Fish.) But towards the end of the story is a Yuri narrative that is not without interest.

The narrative as a whole involves six students at one high school in a complex love polygon, which I will attempt to summarize. (I do so under protest…I tried to find a good synopsis to steal quote, but no one has written one that I could find in 45 seconds of searching. So here we go:

In a seaside town, Rikako (female) has fallen in love with Tomoaki (male). Tomoaki is also the object of desire for Sagizawa (male), who is the object of Oosaka’s (male) desire. Oosaka is best friends with Eriko (female) who is in love with her sister Rikako’s best friend Miki (female)…who is in love with Rikako. You got all that? That’s only the “love” part of the equation – the “hate” part just complicates things. :-)

One of my favorite moments in the manga is when Eriko draws a little mental relationship chart in her head and wonders “What’s *with* this school?” ^_^

Just over half the story focuses on the awkard relationships between the guys in segments refered to as “Boy Meets Boy” and just under a half covers Eriko’s story in “Girl Meets Girl.”

In order to do this review I sat down yesterday and re-read chunks of the manga and you know, it’s pretty damn good. There’s just about no histrionics or hysterical denials in the BL arc – very unlike the typical BL story, from my perspective. The art lacks many of the more annoying qualities of Yaoi manga, as well. It’s much more just guys trying to deal with various difficult relationships, while still functioning in their school and in society. TheYyuri arc reads much the same – a perfectly natural set of crushes and unrequited loves that don’t come with more shrieking than necessary.

Eriko’s love for Miki becomes painful when she realizes that Miki is in love with her older sister, a sister that she herself cannot stand. Eriko’s confession, rejection and ultimate understanding of both Miki and Rikako make good drama – while almost completely lacking in melodrama. In other words – it’s a damn good story.

Ratings:

Art – Classic, but you know, I don’t really like it – 5

Story – Realistic, tense without being annoying – 7

Characters – Soap opera-esque interconnections, but that’s the handwave – 7

Yuri – None of the girls get the girl, but I don’t think any of the boys get the boy, either. And the one girl doesn’t get the guy, so it’s evenly distributed misery. :-) – 6

Service – None. Nada. The kisses are staid and age-appropriate. 0

Overall – 7

In 2003 a live-action film version was made of Lover’s Kiss. It apparently keeps to the manga pretty closely, with a slight emphasis on Eriko’s story over the boys’ (Because it’s easier to sell movies where girls kiss than boys?) I have not had a chance to watch it, but you can be sure that if I do, I will report back.

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6 Responses

  1. neo_hrtgdv says:

    I find it really interesting to read about this kind of manga, along with the previous one, because some people think Yuri and yaoi are two completely differente realities, truth is many good stories have both Yuri and yaoi (probably to appeal to more customers >>) but it makes a very interesting story regardless, just a few days ago I remember a boy saying “how can there be not a single male in Strawberry Panic!?” and as much as we like it or not we can’t just think Yuri is an isolated world we can live in, yes, there’s more, much more and complex things out there. Just my toughts on it and, since my sister seems to enjoy yaoi a lot I’ll point her to those two mangas, thanks ^_^

  2. Anonymous says:

    There’s a detailed summary at http://www.callenreese.com/loverskiss.html
    Found it way back when, when I posted bits of the manga at daily_Yuri. :)

    -Erin

  3. jrwelker says:

    Finally a work I know…..

    What I thought was really interesting about LK is how Yoshida frames it between the poetry of (lovers) Verlaine and Rimbaud. I’m too lazy to rephrase, so here’s what I wrote in a paper that is actually about Yoshida’s Sakura no sono (which, if I’m lucky will be published next year in a book about shojo reading in 20th cent. Japan):

    Yoshida’s choice to open each chapter with a poetic epigraph, alternating between excepts from lovers Verlaine and Rimbaud, as well as to adorn the covers of both volumes of the book edition of the manga with the opening lines from Verlaine’s “Il pleure dans mon coeur” situates Lovers’ Kiss within the long tradition of using queer foreign literature in order to make sense of same-sex desire. Yet, as the epigraphs appear in the original French with no indication of their authors or origins, the place of this text within that tradition is obscured.

    All in all, I really prefer her schoolgirl/schoolboy narratives to her adventure narratives because they seem to do so much better at capturing the psychology of the characters. But by far my favorite is Sakura. Of course again with the literary references–and you know right that she quotes from lesbian translator Yuasa Yoshiko’s translation of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard. Gotta love it.

    cheers

    james

  4. a-yin says:

    Thanks for this review. There are few of them for Akimi Yoshida’s manga. Lovers’ Kiss is great. The story is deep, the art is simple but very expressive, and the characters are so interesting… This is one of my favourite.

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