Over the next few days, I’ll be offering three short (somewhat casual) reviews of manga I’ve picked up recently. They aren’t all new, but they’re new to me. Here’s the first!
Future Lovers, Vol. 1
By Saika Kunieda
Published by Deux Press
This story has been recommended over and over, and it’s not hard to see why. It is one of the most engagingly natural boys’ love stories I’ve read, and Akira in particular is extremely well-written. His reluctance to let himself care too much for a man who so recently dreamed of a wife and family rings very true, as does his unwillingness to conform to heteronormative ideals. Kento’s character is also very nicely fleshed out, and it is made very clear that his interest in his former girlfriend had more to do with his concept of an ideal future than with an actual attraction to her. It’s nice, too, that the girlfriend is allowed to recognize these things for herself and make strong choices instead of playing the doormat or the vengeful scorned lover. Everyone in this story avoids becoming a stereotype which is incredibly refreshing, especially in boys’ love.
Future Lovers is also one of the unfortunately small number of 18+ titles I’ve read where I haven’t felt the sex scenes got in the way of the story. All the sex here has a real narrative purpose, either in enriching the characterization or actually driving the plot along. Another thing that works well here is that the story is divided in half–the first half from Kento’s point of view, and the second from Akira’s. I’m not always a fan of this kind of writing, but Saika Kunieda does it really well, providing just the right amount of insight into each man’s heart and mind to best tell the story.
More to the point, Future Lovers is very simply a really good romance. The characters are interesting, they have real chemistry, and it is impossible not to root for them as they face the very real challenges in their relationship. It’s difficult for a romance story to maintain its momentum when the characters get together at the beginning rather than the end, but this one remains compelling throughout and it just left me wanting more. My only complaint is that the final third of the volume is made up of a completely unrelated story. No offense to that story–it’s perfectly nice–but I was truly heartbroken when Future Lovers came to an end. Now I must get my hands on the second volume!