Secretary’s Job?

Thirty-something Takase is known as the ‘Legendary Secretary’, so the company president thinks that he’s just the right man to sort out his lazy and unmotivated son Toshiaki Honjou. At first young Toshiaki-san resists all Takase’s motivational strategies but, little by little, the magic begins to work upon him – a little too well. So that when, carried away, he kisses Takase, the secretary realizes, rather too late, that he has unwittingly captured the young man’s heart. One thing inevitably leads to another (this is a BL manga, after all) and poor confused Takase requests to be re-assigned. But, separated from his young protégé, he finds that he can’t function effectively any more – and Toshiaki is so demotivated that he refuses to go to work. How can matters – and the two salarymen – be reconciled?

The second story ‘I’ll Make You My Prisoner!’ deals with another (male) secretary in the same company, the smooth-talking Setoguchi, who just can’t resist laying a bet with one of the girls in the office that he can succeed where she has failed; he will seduce good-looking (but oblivious) Monma in Sales. However, even Setoguchi’s cynical seduction ploys are defeated by Monma’s dazzlingly open nature.(Is it just me, or is he sparkling? I was so floored by his exuberance, I forgot to make my move.) Misunderstandings ensue until Setoguchi, all his seduction tactics utterly undermined by Monma’s frank and trusting nature, confesses that he’s failed to win the bet, only to realize that Monma is within earshot and must have heard what he’s been up to. As Monma storms out, Setoguchi realizes that not only must he have hurt the young man’s feelings, he has also just ruined any chance of pursuing a more meaningful relationship. And he’s never felt this way before!

There’s a third, unrelated story, ‘Falling In Love With You’ which is set on a university campus and deals with Tokuno, another arrogant, self- regarding protagonist (Being popular is the number one-one thing I take pride in) who just can’t stand being compared to Kanbe, the cool and detached ‘prince.’ Tokuno determines to pretend to get closer to Kanbe to try to find out his weak points – and then expose them to their fellow students. But things don’t quite work out the way Tokuno expects…

Secretary. Even in these days of gender equality, the title still has a certain ‘not quite pc’ ring to it, conjuring up images from some 1960’s Mills and Boon romance in which a super-efficient young lady brings impressive changes to an unapproachable and difficult boss… only to end up being swept off her pretty little feet by the simmering hunk! I found it impossible not to see Takase, the secretary of the first and main story by Miki Araya, as a girl (with male bits, natch) in a man’s suit. He’s constantly complimented by the Greek chorus of office workers on his beautiful skin (even though he’s in his thirties); he impresses his new boss by making him a ‘Hello Kitty’ bento box and the morning after they fall into bed together, he wakes up horrified to think he might be pregnant and have to raise his child as a single father… And in moments of emotional stress, he wells up, making the alpha males around him offer handkerchiefs to mop up the tears streaming down his innocent, boyish features.

Now I confess that I’m a fan of salarymen manga – but I prefer the protagonists to be recognizably – believably – men, as in Hyouta Fujiyama’s excellent ‘Freefall Romance’ (DMP) or the classic ‘Close the Last Door’ by Yugi Yamada (also DMP.) But I don’t object to a little light-hearted fluff – and ‘Secretary’s Job?’ very definitely falls into this category. This is the first manga by Miki Araya that I’ve read and I really appreciate her little touches of humour: the constant comments mentioned above by the chorus of attendant office workers, male and female, adds to the amusing and absurd tone. I suspect that her intention was to inject a playful element of parody into her tales of office romance; these light-hearted tales are not to be taken seriously! And yes, a warning to the sensitive, there are some scenes of man on man romance (this is BL, after all) but nothing too detailed, which is mostly down to Araya-sensei’s style which favours economy and sketchy lines.

I read the Kindle for the PC version and it was clear and easy to navigate (a tip: click on ‘Show Notes and Marks’ to get a single page at a time; if you don’t, you get the pages as a double spread in the wrong i.e. left-to-right, order.) The manga is also available as a paperback. Personally, I still prefer good old-fashioned paper and print, but the Kindle version is ok as a substitute. The translation (from Laura Russell) is fluent and captures the flavour of Araya’s humour well.

So, fluff, then. Fun to read to pass the time, but no feeling that you’ve got to know the characters really well, laughed and cried with them… Office fluff.

Warning: This title is rated 18+ and contains graphic sexual content

7 / 10