As I just got to 43k in CampNaNo and am in need of a small break and I haven’t read mangas for over a year, I decided to do just that. I am undeniably a fan of some, but they don’t hold much appeal to me since Alichino and the incident of never ending series. But, well, if you go running around on Pinterest, you are bound to happen one or another old timers and last week wasn’t any different, when I happened on an old image that brought back memories – a cover of Mori No Koe by Naono Bohra.
She is a mangaka. She writes mostly yaoi, but she has also shounen ai works if you want to to experience the different side. I went searching the net, hoping dearly that since she’s been active for so long, some of her older works might have ended up on internet. AND IT HAS! Ta-daa!!! <- Follow the link and you find a lot of her works!
So, why should you take up the trouble and go?
I first found her after an older friend (hahaa! :D) introduced me the other side of Japan. The side that my teachers would gladly keep hidden for a another hundred years. But that doesn’t matter. I would have found it anyway.
If to count up the reasons, why to read her works, I’d start with art. I have added several images I found online to the end, so you can see the style, but to put it in words – it is classical art meets manga! It is sketchy – instead of just shading the shadows, she draws them, like when you are taught in art school that you line the shadows – she does that! Look at that pretty pinup in the bottom! No over the top long hands, half head cut off hair styles or girls and boys looking eerily similar! No! Classical beautiful body structure with muscles that move under the skin and faces that carry emotions together with age.
Yes, if there is one thing I really want to point out is the little fact that her characters carry the markers of age – gray hair, wrinkles, the bodies look beautifully aged. Not one of those, where the age is simply indicated by suddenly drawing a square face instead of pointy – nothing like that.
At first it doesn’t seem much, but after you read at least one and don’t just jump between the text and actually take a look at the images, they strike with style. It’s the kind of sketched style you get from years of hard work in art school and I am really happy to see a mangaka, who is not afraid of it. It stands out.
One reason behind her style and why her characters have received such care is because she writes about middle aged men. And that is the real reason, why I warmly suggest reading her works. As we all get older, our little quirks and insecurities can turn love life close to misery and out of many mangaka, what she has done, is to take those insecure feelings of middle aged men and turned them into a heartwarming stories. Out of the many “older man goes for young boys” theme that is typical to yaoi, she has turned it around and let younger men try get the affection of older men.
Doesn’t seem much? If you take up, lets say 100 gay romances/ comics nowadays – who are the main characters? Young men. Older men are often shown as perverted, dirty, rapist inclination carrying guys, who only use and abuse. You can count about 3 or 4 out of that 100 that doesn’t carry that idea. That’s sad statistics. As if when you get old, you should stand out of the youngster’s way and bury any sort of feelings you might have, because you should be ashamed. Why should you be ashamed if you are 57 and have urges?
She has done a great work in changing that perspective. Her characters are a janitor, an art teacher, older co-workers, a pottery maker – all men, who have already looked into the mirror and seen their own downfall. Then a younger man comes and is suddenly interested in them – who wouldn’t feel insecure about their body, their age; who wouldn’t see the rivals stacking up to take away the young lover?
It’s such a taboo to have a young lover. Even if moralists and ethics says it is ok to have a younger lover, go out with someone at the age your child and you can feel the negativity piling up. And try explaining that you were not the one, who went after the young lover- no one believes that the youngster might see an older man or woman as anything different than a mentor. And the guilt of “ruing” the younger partner does not go away just with whispers of the youth, because the society has hammered it into us since our birth – age gap must be taken in consideration, when searching a suitable partner.
So when I saw that cover again, I went to read it and fell in love again – she addresses the problem of the age gap in a relationship, the fears that come from it and the misunderstandings rooting from it. And for that, even if you don’t like yaoi in general, I suggest at least following the link up there and reading one of her stories.
She also has a very interesting world of demons and historical stories that pretty much run around the same age gap problem, but are freekin’ adorable. Not to mention her werewolf stories ;).
She has many stories to choose from. I can proudly say I have read them all since they came out – thank you, internet!
Oh, and if you happen to run around in the mangago page more – among all of those stories is one that will make anyone laugh their heads off no matter if you are into yaoi or not – try to find it – it’s “theory of holes and sausages” ;). Oh, and the short story of humanized buses, which sends me to giggles even now. Pretty much proves that inspiration can come out of anything.