There’s never a dull moment when the life of a boys’ love fanboy turns into one! From encounters with cats to bookstore trips and every sweet moment in between, enjoy this anthology featuring stories exploring Sasaki’s and Miyano’s relationship together ― including three original stories by series creator, Shou Harusono! (Yen Press blurb.)
This is exactly what it says on the tin: an anthology of shorts/one-shots and artwork by other mangaka as a kind of homage to Shou Harusono’s BL manga Sasaki and Miyano, as well as three original stories by the series creator herself. Inevitably with so many other minds and artistic skills brought into play here, there’s no real room for anything but quite peripheral variations on the central theme. It’s interesting… and fun in places… but contributes very little to the overall progress of the story. It gives Shou Harusono a little time to breathe on the relentless treadmill to keep providing new chapters, even though her contributions are – of course they are! – the most faithful and convincing. Another problem with these kind of ‘tribute’ anthologies (and we see very few of them in translation) is that many of the mangaka taking part are unfamiliar to us in the West. However, it’s good to find Mika of I Cannot Reach You here and, not surprisingly, hers is one of the better shorts in the volume. Another familiar name is Itokichi (Merman in My Tub) as – possibly – is Fujiazuki (The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent) but others are not published in English, especially newcomer Shichimiya (who at the time this anthology was put together in c. 2021, was yet to see their work in print). They’re not all BL mangaka, either, which gives some variety to their approaches to the material.
It’s also interesting to see other mangaka interpreting the art of the series – such an important and distinctive element – and to realize that those who try to produce the most accurate copies of the original character designs etc. are the ones that look the most ‘wrong’ or ‘not quite right’. Whereas the artists who genuinely try to give the reader their own take on the original material, like Itokichi, are the most successful. In some stories the guest mangaka home in on one aspect from the original material that makes the characters tick and weave a whole little story from it: as in Ogasawara’s girlfriend and her obsession with ‘bad boy bottoms’ or Sasaki’s tendency to say (or think) “Sorry… can we stay like this… a bit longer?” when holding Miyano’s hand or hugging him in school. The other variation on a theme is for a story element to be reused; in this case, the search for a lost key chain in the OVA/anime that gradually draws in the whole cast.
The three original Shou Harusono stories are the most fun to read, not surprisingly: Breaktime Plans, Shiritori and Team Captain. In the first, we see Sasaki and Miyano trying to make the most of another snatched encounter between lessons. In the second – and perhaps the most successful – Hirano and Kagiura are arguing! What’s caused the disagreement? The third story is told by Miyano’s classmate Tashiro as he does his best to avoid third-year team captain, Hanzawa, who’s determined that he should succeed him.
We also get three very brief crossover stories (Mika again!) and then Shou Harusono’s afterword in which she thanks all the mangaka individually, which is a thoughtful gesture and, I imagine, much appreciated. An anthology is, after all, a sign that your series has ‘made it’!
The translation for Yen Press is, as usual for Shou Harusono, the very capable Leighann Harvey so we’re in safe hands and the translation notes helpfully explain the shiritori moves from her second story; lettering is also, as usual, by DK. There are four colour pages at the beginning: two by Shou Harusono, one by Kudan Naduka and the last by Sawa Kanzume, the mangaka for Minato’s Laundromat.
This anthology will appeal to Sasaki and Miyano fans as an ‘extra’ but inevitably, from a story point of view, it adds nothing that we don’t already know, it just offers some light embellishments on the central theme and characters.
Our review copy from Yen Press was supplied by Diamond Book Distributors UK.