Welcome to the latest installment of BL Bookrack! This time, MJand Michelle take a look at two titles from SuBLime Manga, The Man of Tango and Sleeping Moon. In Brief: Blue Morning, Vol. 3, Off*Beat, Ch. 14, and Tableau Numéro 20.
Though tango dancer Angie is irresistible on the dance floor (and in the bedroom), he’s never experienced any love approaching his passion for the dance until he meets Hiro, a biracial salaryman who finds himself unexpectedly drawn into Angie’s tango-focused world. Hiro is initially reluctant to become sexually involved with a man, but his growing passion for both Angie and the tango eventually wins him over, introducing him to a kind of warmth and happiness he’s never known.
On the face of it, this sounds like any average BL premise, even down to the reluctant “straight” man, but The Man of Tango is anything but average. Even its looks defy the norm, as the manga features bulky, muscular characters who skew more bara than BL, but given that the artist was influenced by bara legend Gengoroh Tagame, that’s no surprise. More unusual, perhaps, is the story’s fantastic female costar, Bene, whose dream of returning to Buenos Aires is ultimately left for Angie and Hiro to pursue. The self-made family created by the three of them is really at the heart of the story—perhaps even more than its romance—and this isn’t a negative thing by any means. Bene’s presence somehow brings more meaning to everything, including Angie and Hiro’s relationship.
That said, friendship and romance are hardly the volume’s only draw, which is to say that it’s pretty much teeming with sex—passionate, graphic, manly sex—the likes of which are seldom seen in BL, at least on these shores. You’ll find no grimacing, helpless uke here, which dramatically affects my perception of the story’s initial sex scene, in which Hiro is clearly too intoxicated to give consent. It’s a rare BL manga that can overcome my distaste for rape fantasy, but this is one of the rare few. Furthermore, I often complain that sex scenes get in the way of stories rather than genuinely enhancing them, but this could not be less the case with The Man of Tango. Not only do Okadaya’s sex scenes advance the story and the characters’ relationship, but they’re genuinely sexy, which is also surprisingly rare for BL manga.
In short, The Man of Tango is well-crafted, emotionally compelling, and downright hot. Recommended.
– Review by MJ
Sleeping Moon is complete in two volumes, which is a little bit of a disappointment, because it definitely seemed at first that there was enough meat to the premise for it to go on a little longer. That’s not to say the resolution is unsatisfying, though I do admit to being more interested in the origins of the curse itself than in Akihito and Ren’s rather rushed romance. Miyamoto-sensei sustains a nicely creepy atmosphere, and I definitely could’ve read lots more about the fox spirit attempting to protect the family.
I also really liked how Miyamoto depicted the home’s resident kitty. He just kind of wanders through scenes, stepping on people who are in the midst of having a conversation, etc. I hate, though, that his whereabouts are not accounted for at the end, and that no one, in fact, seems to care at all about whether he’s okay, given what happens. (How’s that for vague?) Do not introduce us to a cute kitty then not show him all safe and happy on the last page!
Anyway, Sleeping Moon is a solidly enjoyable supernatural yarn. The romance aspect is somewhat lacking, and it’s not exactly the most original story ever, but it’s still definitely worth reading.
– Review by Michelle Smith
Other recent BL reviews from MJ & Michelle: Sleeping Moon, Vol. 2 (SuBLime), Off*Beat, Ch. 13 (Chromatic Press)
JRB saysNovember 5, 2013 at 1:22 pm
The Man of Tango is not my kind of thing, but I do want Sleeping Moon, once I get my finances sorted out (so much manga backlogged on my “to buy” list, sigh…). I read the first two volumes of Off*Beat and didn’t really get the hype; if/when V3 comes out in collection I’ll give it another shot.
LG saysNovember 5, 2013 at 10:43 pm
The last time I tried to set up an account with SuBLime, I failed (I can’t remember why, but somehow I succeeded enough to end up on their newsletter mailing list). I really need to try again. I love that their stuff is DRM-free, and they have so many things that look interesting.
Lee saysNovember 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm
Love love love Man of Tango, yay for a wider variety in men in BL and yes, an interesting and appealing female character, something I’m happy to see in ANY media at this point tbh. I hope we get more of Tetuzoh Okadaya’s fantastic works in english and I hope we get more older guy BL too.
Miyamoto Kano is one of my favorite authors but I do prefer some of her other work to Sleeping Moon. I bought the Off*Beat books (haven’t read yet though) but I don’t follow webcomics, I’ll probably buy vol 3 when it comes out, assuming it will eventually. I’m buying Blue Morning as well, Thank goodness SuBLime keeps volumes rolling out in a timely manner on their multi-volume series.
Regarding the main story in Tableau Numéro 20, it was almost amusing how abruptly a love/lucre conflict was resolved: “I’ve been in love with you for 20 years but get back in that painting or I’ll lose my job.” Not very emotionally satisfying, which is too bad because I think the premise could have been expanded into something longer and way more compelling. Ah well, the art was lovely and I liked Rasgueado as well.