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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
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01/06/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Words of Devotion, volume 2"

Words of Devotion, vol. 2
Art and story by Keiko Konno
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Cat

I was surprised to discover that Volume 2 is a prequel to Volume 1. I'm not sure why this took me by surprise. I suppose it's because I thought there wasn't a need to explore their past, but I was wrong. Not in a way I expected, though.

It opens with Shinya Otani and Miyako Tachibana finding a forgotten school room that they instantly adopted as their private smoking room. High school student Otani is particularly thrilled with the finding because even though he doesn't quite know why, he likes spending time with his best friend Tachibana alone, without their girlfriends - one official and the other isn't - around.

Meanwhile, Otani's official girlfriend, Youko Akizuki, is getting impatient. After two months of dating, he still hasn't made a move on her. She's usually the one who initiates their dating and kisses. Also, every time she sets up a date, Otani brings along Tachibana, which forces her to bring her own best friend, Yuki. How long will she put up with this? More importantly, just what the hell is going on between Otani and Tachibana?

Her casual but growing suspicions and off-the-cuff comments force Otani to question his own feelings toward her - whom he feels he does love - and to his surprise and embarrassment, his best friend Tachibana.

On the other hand Tachibana, in his own way, starts to question his own feelings, too. And there's Yukiko "Yuki" Mizusawa who is equally embarrassed and enjoying of being recognised as Tachibana's "unofficial" girlfriend, but after witnessing subtle developments between Otani and Tachibana, she doesn't know where to stand. Is she standing in the way of Tachibana for Otani?

How will it all work out in the end? Will it end with a better understanding among these friends, or will it end with tears?

So, what is the verdict for me here?

I knew some Konno fans didn't enjoy the fact that volume 1 opens with Tachibana and Otani already in a relationship and living together, but I thought it makes a nice change because it's not common to have this kind of opening. And so, when I saw Volume 2 takes place two years before Volume 1, I was sceptical that it would be any good.

Frankly, it's the presence of Yuki, Tachibana's unofficial girlfriend, that makes it a worthwhile read for me, not the "how they met" aspect of Otani and Tachibana's story here, which is rather strange because Yuki isn't that involved with the storyline.

Her presence makes me view Volume 1 in a somewhat different light. For instance, her presence here makes Tachibana's surprise and gradual understanding of Yuki's secret at the end of Volume 1 much more poignant and perhaps, meaningful.

If you like a straight-forward story of two guys falling in love, then read Volume 2 first before you read Volume 1. If you like a character-driven story, then read Volume 1 and 2 in this order. Actually, if you are a fan of teen TV drama series like Dawson Creek, you will probably enjoy this volume.

Volume 2 also contains a side story titled Words of Devotion: Immovable like a Mountain and a collection of mini stories, Bed Time Stories, featuring Tachibana, Otani, Shogo, and Alfred.

Words of Devotion: Immovable like a Mountain (side story)

This is a story of Shogo and his former school friend and American actor lover, Alfred, who both appear in a side story found in Volume 1. The side story in volume 1 revolves around Shogo's unexpected visit to Alfred in the USA. In this story this time round, Alfred visits Japan to see Shogo.

Alfred's unexpected reaction - after seeing a girl in Shogo's arms and later, Shogo with Tachibana and Otani - forces him to reveal the truth of how he afforded a trip to Japan. Will the truth affect their relationship? It's rather sweet and quite funny.

Bed Time Stories: Men Who Won't Cross the Line

Tachibana and Otani have already made it clear that they aren't into anal sex, but after meeting Alfred with Shogo (as told from a different angle in Immovable like a Mountain), they cannot help but wonder. It's light-hearted and quite humorous.

Bed Time Stories: Shogo's Phone Sex

Shogo and Alfred have a steamy session over an ocean.

Bed Time Stories: I Want to See You Again

Tachibana and Otani learn the reason why Shogo asks to borrow their movie DVDs. They make a surprisingly sweet and poignant move to help Shogo. This is probably my favourite of the lot.

Bed Time Stories: 3:10AM

On the night of New Year's Eve, Tachibana's lust gets better of him that compels himself to push Otani to move across that forbidden line, but Otani isn't that much of a push-over.

Is Volume 2 worth purchasing? It depends on what you look for. It's a must for those who enjoyed Konno's Volume 1. Well, you don't need to read Volume 1 to enjoy this volume, but I think some readers might not realise the poignancy of Volume 2 if they read this without reading Volume 1.

I should point out that I'm a massive Konno fan, so I enjoyed both volumes equally, but perhaps, for a casual reader, Volume 2 might seem pointless as it doesn't really make most of Otani's gradual realisation of his feelings towards Tachibana and vice versa because it moves at somewhat leisurely pace.

That's unless you are a fan of Dawson Creek and similar.

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