Tableau Numero 20

“A painter who has the feel of breasts and buttocks is saved.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The yaoi artist known as “est em” has risen through the ranks of her field of work, having released several titles, and also worked alongside English-speaking manga translators.

This book is collection of several short stories. In the main story, “Tableau Numero 20”, an art student and restorer living in Paris called Maurice comes across what he sees as the ideal picture, one that was missing but has since been rediscovered. Maurice starts to restore it, but when he turns around for one moment he discovers that the nude male model in the picture has vanished. He goes out to his balcony and discovers the model has come to life. The two soon embrace and fall in love with each other. There is a follow-up, “Le Visiteur” which adds a sad twist to the story.

Many of est em’s stories are set in Europe. Another one, “Rasgueado” is about a dancer in Spain called Jesus who is in a relationship with his guitarist. This is one of the better stories in the collection, featuring one moment of passion involving a knife. Just when you think Jesus is about to attack his lover with the blade, a turn of the page reveals something different. The other two stories in the collection, “Just Not like a Merry-Go-Round” and “En El Parque” are not much to write home about sadly.

This collection is more romantic than erotic. This not a book to buy for arousal, but for more pure aspects. The art in it is very good. It is very gentle. Not only are the stories mostly set in the west, but you could argue that the art is so gentle it is impressionistic.

Usually I am not a fan of yaoi short-story collections. I prefer the plot to last longer and to feel for the characters. While certain aspects do fall flat, the art and the odd moment of passion make it a diverting read.

6 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

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