I've been dying to post this review for a while. There's a lot of bad BL out there, but it takes a real hack to create something that's so odd and ugly that it stands out from the crowd. You Higashino is one of those hacks, and this but one of her many masterpieces of awfulness.
DEEPLY LOVING A MANIAC (Cho Maniac ni Aishite), by You Higashino. First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2011.
Morita is a shy, obsessive, neurotic otaku. Sakura is a popular, confident athlete. Against all the odds, these two have fallen for one another and demonstrate their affections for one another on a frequent basis. Will that love stand up to bouts of doubt, cosplay, track and field, and attempted rape?
Deeply Loving A Maniac doesn't so much have a story as it does a concept: a jock and an otaku are in hot, sticky, sweaty love with one another. That's not a bad place to start, but the problem is that Higashino just stops there. She doesn't build upon it in any meaningful way. She doesn't explore who these characters are, she doesn't develop their relationship beyond random bouts of sex, or try to do anything beyond shoving in a lot of BL clichés.
Neither Morita nor Sakura receive any scrap of development or backstory beyond what I've noted above and the story suffers greatly for that omission. There's plenty of story potential in such a pairing. What would make a guy who would normally go for waifus and hugpillows fall for a flesh-and-blood man? What would make a popular athlete notice a social outcast like Morita? We never find out, as the two are already a couple when the story starts. There's very little that challenges or changes that status save for a brief fight or two between them.
It's also a very slight and episodic story. It tends to follow a fairly predictable and noticeably one-sided formula: Sakura picks a fight with Morita over some petty thing, Morita tries to change himself somehow to make Sakura happy, Sakura sees the error of his ways, and the two have make-up sex. The only time that Higashino changes the formula is when she has another man kidnap and attempt to rape Sakura because he resembles the animated character he created. Worse still, she thinks that the best response to 'I saved you from imminent rape!' is 'So let's have sex right here in the rapist's bed!'
So Higashino didn't bother much with a plot, but she didn't want that to be obvious. So like many a lazy BL mangaka, whenever she needed to fill space or wrap up a chapter, she can just make her leads screw. She presumes that if you're distracted with sweaty guys tumbling, licking, and screwing one another in any way possible, then you simply won't notice the story's faults! Of course, without any character or motivation behind their couplings, there is no passion between these two and thus no reason to give a damn about any of their sex scenes. It takes effort to make so many explicit sex scenes so boring but that's what happens when you care more about sex positions and fluids than you do about character or plot.
Higashino's not a good writer, but it's her artwork that truly makes her a hack. It's just off in so many ways. The faces on the characters are so long and triangular that they look positively equine with their narrow eyes and huge lower lips. They all look like they got their chins stuck in a vacuum. Those horse faces are usually stuck on 'constipated' unless they are screaming in anger or orgasm. Their bodies aren't much better as their necks and shoulders are weirdly beefy and their limbs and torsos are bizarrely long. If you don't believe me, look at the cover image above. You tell me where the blond's hips are supposed to be because he either has a freakishly long torso or freakishly long legs, and both are feasible when it comes to bad BL anatomy.
Speaking of anatomy, the sex scenes are unusually uncensored and unusually sticky and fluid-filled. There's nothing wrong with showing sex as messy, but the sheer amount of semen, spit, and sweat on display here is the sort of thing you don't usually see outside of hentai doujin. She all but fetishizes it. Meanwhile, her pages as a whole are unfocused and her panels tend to stay claustrophobically close even when they're in the middle of sex. She can't even frame her sex scenes in a way that makes them look the least bit erotic. It's just an ugly book from cover to cover.
It's said that the term 'yaoi' is an acronym for a Japanese phrase that roughly translates as 'porn without plot.' Deeply Loving A Maniac certainly lives up to that term and then some. It has only the barest wisps of conflict to keep things moving from one empty sex scene to the next as acted out by a bunch of hideous horsey creatures posing as men. I can't imagine a single soul seeking this book out even as masturbation material, and it's best left that way.
This series was published by Digital Manga Publishing. It is currently out of print.