If you've been following along with my reviews, you'd probably think that SuBLime was my favorite BL publisher and that I thought that they could do no wrong. That's not entirely true, though. They've put out plenty of works that I don't like, such as today's selection.
HIS FAVORITE (Aitsu no Daihonmei), by Suzuki Tanaka. First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2012.
Yoshida has always been an awkward, goofy looking sort of guy. In middle school, he was actually kind of popular in spite of his looks because he stood up for the bullied kids. Nowadays, he's a social outcast. Part of that is due to his looks, but the the other part is due to his proximity to Sato the class idol. Sato is tall and handsome now, but back in the day he was a picked-on fat kid. Now that the tables have turned and every girl wants to be with him, Sato prefers to hang out with Yoshida and pawn the angry girls onto him. Why? It seems that despite how much Sato likes to pick on Yoshida, he actually loves him. All the attention leaves Yoshida feeling uncomfortable, but soon enough he begins to question the nature of his own feelings for his erstwhile friend.
I know of quite a few people - normal, sensible, BL-loving people - who love this series! I wish I could join them in their adoration. It's not terrible by any means; if anything, I rather like the idea of the premise. It's just that Sato is such a dick!
I should be used to the fact that most semes are going to be douchier than a Massengill warehouse. It just seems to come with the territory. It's just that for someone who professes to be Yoshida's friend, Sato sure seems determined to act like an asshole. He flat-out admits that he's a sadist and he likes seeing Yoshida made uncomfortable. It doesn't matter whether that's from Sato touching him inappropriately, teasing or from his using Yoshida like a meat shield whenever he needs to shake off some clingy girl. He demands to know Yoshida's every thought and his dating history despite refusing to disclose very much about his own. He even tries his hardest to isolate Yoshida from both his other friends and his other classmates. So long as Yoshida is unhappy, he's happy. These are not the actions of a good boyfriend or a good friend. These are the actions of a terrible person. Worse still, it's being played for humor. I know that this sort of uncomfortable humor is enjoyed by some, but for me it's just awkward. Had Sato's teasing been more playful in nature, it might have worked, but like this it's just cruel and entirely for his own benefit.
It's a shame that Sato is so awful because Yoshida is such an endearing dork and because I can kind of see the sort of dynamic she's going for here. There's a bit of a manzai thing going on here with Sato and Yoshida, along with a bit of a childish teasing. You know, the sort of thing where a boy pulls the pigtails of the girl he likes, but in this case more like a boy groping the boy he likes even when he protests. I do really like Yoshida, though. He's got the franticness that tends to come with most ukes, but he is also a generally decent and upstanding guy. He's got a strong sense of loyalty towards his friends, which explains why he puts up with so much from Sato. He does try hard to pacify all the angry popular girls, even if Sato tends to ruin it. He even does his best to support and encourage his equally wonky looking friends, all of whom are just as dorky and unlucky in love as Yoshida. They in turn support him in what they presume are Yoshida's romantic ventures, being oblivious to the true nature of his situation. It's a shame that a nice guy like him is stuck with a jerk like Sato and that his suffering is played off so lightly because it really hampered what could have been an enjoyable beginning.
Thankfully I have far fewer reservations about the art. There's a loose-limbed, almost cartoon-like quality that serves as an intriguing contrast to the gangly sharpness of most BL art. The wackiness of the art is most obvious in the faces of Yoshida and his friends. Their faces are positively squiggly at times, with big flappy mouths, bugging eyes, and large hatchy blushes that threaten to consume an entire face. In comparison, the rest of the cast looks more typical of what one usually sees in BL, all handsome and tall. Still, there's a bit of bow-leggedness to them that helps them fit in with a walking cartoon like Yoshida. The backgrounds are pretty much absent, but that's OK because it keeps the focus on the characters and on Yoshida's over-the-top reactions. Overall, it's simpler, lighter, and looser artwork than one usually sees in BL. It doesn't take itself seriously and that's something I can totally get behind.
His Favorite is far from my favorite, but its broad comedic artstyle was a delight and I am always welcome to more humorous BL. Next time, let's just make sure that everyone in the story is in on the joke, OK?
This series is published by Viz under their SuBLime imprint. This series is ongoing in Japan with 9 volumes available. 8 volumes have been published and are currently in print and available as ebooks through SuBLime.