Welcome to the June installment of BL Bookrack! This month, MJand Michelle take a look at two debut series from SuBLime Manga, Blue Morning and Sleeping Moon. In Brief: Help! God of Love and KINE IN! (DMG).
Akihito Kuze is the son of a viscount, but spent the early years of his childhood living away from Tokyo with his sickly mother. When his parents die six months apart, ten-year-old Akihito inherits the title and moves to the Kuze estate, where everything is capably managed by a cold young man named Tomoyuki Katsuragi. Akihito is instantly in awe of Katsuragi, but the latter shows the child neither warmth nor sympathy, but instead piles on the studies and repeatedly informs Akihito that he must be perfect in order to carry on the Kuze line. Akihito does his best to comply, and, as he grows, eventually develops an obsession to make Katsuragi notice and approve of him.
There’s a lot of really complicated and interesting character work going on here. Akihito’s early fascination with Katsuragi makes sense, given that he seemingly lived his early life mostly among women, as does the eventual evolution of his feelings. Katsuragi’s treatment of the boy makes sense, as well, once readers learn how the man came to be in the Kuze household in the first place, and the lengths to which he went to emulate his former master, while Akihito is going about, being his own person without a care. My one complaint is that a conversation about Katsuragi’s true parentage doesn’t make much sense, but perhaps it was meant to be cryptic and will be clarified in future volumes.
Complex, dark, and a bit twisted, Blue Morning is the best BL I’ve read so far this year. And, as if that weren’t reason enough to celebrate, this is a continuing series, with volume two due out in August!
– Review by Michelle Smith
Using his research in comparative religion as an excuse to visit his family’s ancestral home, Akihiko is confronted both by the awakening of his inherited paranormal abilities and the awakening of his heart, as he finds himself drawn to two very different men. The first of these is Ren, Akihiko’s free-spirited but lonely cousin who shares his ability to see ghosts and other supernatural beings. The second is Eitaro, a young man living 100 years in the past, whom Akihiko visits in his dreams, and who bears a striking physical resemblance to Ren.
The premise I just described could so easily be the worst kind of supernatural romance, filled with overblown psychic powers and cross-generational mistaken identity. Fortunately, in Miyamoto-sensei’s capable hands, it is instead the best kind.
Akihiko’s reception in his family’s home is the kind one encounters only in stories of old, well-to-do families—an odd mix of unquestioned acceptance and extreme discomfort. That, together with his supernaturally-based connection to his cousin reminds me of nothing more than Mary Stewart’s Touch Not the Cat, a favorite novel from my teens.
This sort of strained (but undeniable) intimacy between people who’ve met only at distant family functions creates an immediate sense of history and makes relationships that spring up too quickly feel somehow perfectly natural—a decided advantage in this kind of romance. In particular, Ren’s desperate need to connect with someone, anyone, who shares his fate feels urgent and genuine, helping to ground the series despite its supernatural premise. Miyamoto’s artwork is a highlight as well, nicely capturing the sense of both past and present haunting Akihiko’s every move.
The second (and last) volume of this series is due out in September, and I admit I’m quite anxious for its arrival. Highly recommended.
– Review by MJ
Review copies provided by the publishers.
Disclosure: MJ is currently under contract with Digital Manga Publishing’s Digital Manga Guild, as necessitated for her ongoing report Inside the DMG. Any compensation earned by MJin her role as an editor with the DMG will be donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
Other recent BL reviews from MJ & Michelle: Blue Morning (SuBLime)