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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/30/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Melted Love"

Melted Love
Story and art: You Takumi
Publisher: Juné, imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10: 156970760X
ISBN-13: 978-1569707609

Review by Cat

Do you know how when you meet someone for first time, you just - and for no apparent reason - feel all your hackles rise? And no matter how you'd try to rationalise, you just can't help but want to stay away from that person?

Well, you can get that kind of reaction towards a book, no matter how well written or popular it may be. That's the case for me with Melted Love. In fact I'd go as far as to say there are two characters in this book that I'd dearly love to punch in the face. Even though it's painfully clear that they didn't do anything to deserve that.

There are six stories in this book: five contemporary and one historical. Three of those are loosely connected through characters.

Melted Love
Handsome working model and self-confessed player Juzo's feeling insecure. He's not sure whether he definitely has a place in his older lover Mitsuya's life and whether Mitsuya's as faithful as he claims.

Juzo's always treated his former lovers, male and female, badly for being too clingy. Now it seems that he's starting to be clingy towards Mitsuya because all guys Mitsuya's slept with are the 'cute little kitten' type. Nothing like him at all. Yet Mitsuya seems indifferent to Juzo's insecurity. Is Juzo about to taste his own medicine?

I'm not sure why I'm not keen on this one. Perhaps, I'm a bit put off by how Mitsuya and Juzo behave throughout the story. It seems that as the story progresses, Juzo becomes child-like - as if he's growing into his new role as the so-called "uke" - while Mitsuya increasingly becomes patriarchal. It's hard to explain, but it was a little too weird and distracting for me. It's strange because I don't normally notice that kind of thing. When I do, it's usually "Whatever. It's only a comedy after all."

It's not the case here. I wonder if it's because I didn't like how Juzo was being reduced from a self-confessed smug predator to this 'cute little pouting kitten' type, the kind Mitsuya likes? I don't know, really. It doesn't help that Juzo isn't that likeable. Neither is Mitsuya, actually. I suppose the story itself didn't hold my attention well enough for me to ignore all that.

Poking fun at the former "seme"' Juzo's vanity and ego is the core of this comedy. So, if you like this kind of humour, you'll enjoy it.

Lovely Stubbornness
When Tetsu spots Kazusa in a street with a woman, he's bemused and concerned. Kazusa's his new boyfriend after all.

OK, although they have been dating for three months, they haven't had the chance to see each other. Still, does this mean Kazusa has been two-timing him? Tetsu decides to seek help from his friend, Machi, who happens to be Kazusa's ex-girlfriend.

Although it's nice to see female characters portrayed as normal people, there isn't much to write home about. It revolves around a couple of communication breakdowns. I do find it strange that a couple, who have just started dating and only for three months, didn't notice how much time has passed since they saw each other. It's a pleasant, easy-going story, though.

The Agony And Ecstasy of Dentist Nakazawa
A dentist loves seeing fear and pain in his cute patients' eyes. He knows it's wrong, but he can't help it. So, he's thrilled when he discovers that a new patient is phobic of dentists due to a traumatic experience he had when he was a child. Will this patient become his all-time favourite victim? But it doesn't quite go the way he's expected...

Two things:

1) I'd like whatever the mangaka was on when she came up with this story (kudos to her for having that much guts to go for it, though.)

2) it reminds me of that sadistic dentist from the comedy movie, Little Shop of Horrors, which isn't a good thing because that sadistic dentist (or rather, Steve Martin as the dentist) haunted my sleep for years afterwards. Granted, I was only eight when I watched this on late-night TV, but still...

With dentists are generally associated with pain and that dreaded drilling sound, it's be tough to accept a dentist - no, scratch that - a sadistic dentist as a romantic interest, even in a comedy. I mean, when Nakazawa openly admits that he gets off seeing fear and terror in his "cute" victims' eyes, I had to remind myself: "It's a comedy. It's a comedy. It's a comedy!" I admit I was too distracted to notice the overall story, so I can't quite outline my opinion here.

My reaction to this story was pretty much like this: 'read, "what? ...are you serious?", read, read, "ohmygod!", skim, read, "poor guy...", read, "you have to be kidding...!", skim, skim, *cringe at SFXs of scraping teeth*, skim-skim-skim, read, skim, skim, "there, done! thank God it's over". Dentists...ew.'

Not only that, there's this little "professionalism" issue, e.g. he sexually harasses the poor guy in the dentist's chair. But hey, the dentist finally sees the light, thanks to love, which makes it all right, doesn't it? -_-

In spite of my reaction, I'd describe The Agony And Ecstasy of Dentist Nakazawa a black comedy with a wicked sense of mischief, which it is. I know many readers truly loved this wacky tale and that many simply hated it. There's no in-between. So it's either you love it or you don't. In my case, I don't.

False Rumor: Started? Or Not? and False Rumor: Started
Since their school days Kimura has been taking care of Tachibana who's working as the CEO of a company with Kimura as some kind of a secretary. Kimura loves knowing that Tachibana, a cute but incredibly stupid guy, depends on him to keep his life together.

When pressures for Tachibana to marry start to pile up, Kimura isn't that bothered because, even when married, Tachibana will still need him. However, Tachibana finally twigs that he's been relying on Kimura too heavily and for too long. So, he takes it upon himself to rely less on Kimura by learning to be more responsible. And that includes to putting himself on the marriage market.

How will Kimura react when he notices Tachibana's withdrawal from his life?

You want an idiot couple? You'll find it in Tachibana and Kimura. Tachibana is indeed a moron, but rather sweet. Kimura is an uptight, smug little git that you cannot help but laugh at. It's a predictable, calming, easy-going, and rather cute story, which is the very thing I needed after that dentist story. So, with that in mind, I liked it. False Rumor: Started is a two-page gag, so I won't detail this one as I don't want to be lynched by the anti-spoiler army.

Unparalleled Service
For a couple of years, hotel concierge Morio is used to fending off hotel guest Kamiya's attempts to get into his trousers. However, one afternoon Kamiya unexpectedly asks Morio for assistance in setting up a dinner meal in his room for him and a mystery guest. Morio's starting to feel rattled by this. Does this mean all these feelings Kamiya claims to have for him are a load of bull after all?

It's a gentle. sweet comedy, which is quite nice and surprisingly unusual as you don't usually see this kind of comedy with English BL manga nowadays if ever. I do find the form of address for Kamiya kinda weird: "Sir Kamiya". I think I understand what the translator tried to do, but I don't think it's quite worked. Anyhow, it's a pleasant read.

Tattoo
Displaced by the changing times that stole his family's place in the society, ronin Yu wanders to a town where he meets tattooist Seji whose intense eyes fascinate him.

Although initially cold to him, Yu cannot help but be attracted to Seji's proposal: become the canvas of Seji's special tattoo design. Since he has nothing to live for and nowhere to go, he agrees without realising what really goes on in Seji's mind.

I enjoyed this one, which is strange because I'm not usually keen on historical-set stories (because of those years of growing up with my parents' love for taiga drama). Tattoo is interesting enough to make itself outstanding. I think it's the mysterious air and the leisurely pacing that makes it work.

It's a bit disjointed, true, but I think it supports the atmosphere of Yu's time when everything seems to be changing, making him feel lost and alone, but it has a dark but happy ending. Not only it's historical, it's also the only one that isn't a comedy. Despite this I think readers will find some moments in this story rather quaint, especially the moment a certain tattoo is revealed.

Melty People
Two couples - one from Melted Love and the other from The Agony And Ecstasy of Dentist Nakazawa - accidentally meet at a cafe and for two of them, discover a surprising link.

I didn't read this properly because I was too busy questioning my ability to tell the difference between fantasy and reality for allowing the intense dislike to return and for wanting to punch those characters in the face. By the look of it, it's a "cute comedy of surprises" or something. Readers who enjoy their stories will probably love this one.

All in all, Melted Love isn't that bad as it does offer nice stories. Sex scenes aren't that graphic; I'd describe these as 'light yaoi' (between shounen-ai and medium yaoi, for instance) and it's a love-or-hate book. Having said that, why were German gothic style typefaces chosen for the mangaka's name, book title and chapter titles? It's so difficult to read these in that typeface. Actually, the best thing about this book is the book itself - it's really comfortable to handle and the paper texture and weight are ideal. I wish all DMP/June books were like this, too.

As whether to recommend this book or not, I can't even pass on a judgement because Melted Love is definitely a member of the "Either You Like it Or You Don't" club. Either way (and in spite of my issue with some of those characters and stories), it does have a high re-readability factor, which is a good thing. I think.

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