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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/17/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi Novel Review: Gentle Cage"

Gentle Cage
Story by: You Shizaki
Illustrations by: Kumiko Sasaki
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1-56970-712-x
ISBN-13: 978-1-56970-712-8

Review by Kris

When it comes to yaoi novels I am truly a novice. My only experience is with Only the Ring Finger Knows novels. And I only read those because I loved the manga. With Gentle Cage there is no manga associated with it, so I had no idea what to expect.

Itsuki Hashimoto was sent on an errand by his boss to convince the sculptor Masatsugu Tokiwa to meet with him (Itsuki's boss). Itsuki works for the famed sculptor Yasuyuki Yamabe. It also turns out that Tokiwa studied under Yamabe as an apprentice. Not only that, Itsuki and Tokiwa have another thing in common. They happen to have a history.

Itsuki generally doesn't travel by himself and has to go to Tokiwa's home in the mountains. It's also winter and snowing. Anyone who's driven on snowy mountain roads know how stressful this can be (snowy roads in general are not fun). Once arriving at Tokiwa's he steels his emotions and knocks on the door. When Tokiwa answers he is suprised to see Itsuki standing there. Itsuki hands over the letter that Yamabe had entrusted to him. Once Tokiwa finishes it he refuses to see Yamabe and turns Itsuki away. Itsuki decides to go to the nearest town to stay for the night and will try to convince Tokiwa to meet Yamabe one more time the next day. He notices the beautiful surroundings while he heads towards his car and is enraptured by a stream running through the property. He gets to the car and realizes that he dropped his keys by the stream. The snow, by this time, is coming down quite heavily and he ends up falling into the water and injuring himself. Tokiwa comes to his rescue and takes him to the hospital.

Itsuki broke one ankle and sprained the other. Tokiwa decides to take him back to his house to let him stay. Itsuki notices that Tokiwa isn't treating him as kindly as he would have expected an old friend would. The next morning he calls his boss's personal assistant to let him know the situation. Tokiwa eventually flies off the handle in hearing that Itsuki is going to try and get home. So what does Tokiwa do? He rapes the poor guy. Picking on the injured, how evil! Besides, Itsuki's a virgin.

There is a bit of reminiscing that happens and we see how Tokiwa and Itsuki met. Tokiwa was watching a flea market stand that his friend had and had one of his sculptures on the table. Itsuki saw the totem sculpture and wanted to buy it. Itsuki, at the time, was a student at a vocational college and also an amateur painter. Their love of art is what drew them together. They became fast friends and spent much time together. One day Tokiwa confessed his love to Itsuki but didn't expect a response right away.Sadly debt collectors were piling up and his single mother couldn't handle the finances Itsuki had to quit school and work several jobs. The stress got to be too much for his mom and she tried to commit suicide. That left Itsuki with even more debt. He was soon approached by Yamabe about a job that would pay extremely well, send his sister to an exclusive school, and put his mother in a nice hospital to recover. All Itsuki would have to do is obey Yamabe's every whim. Itsuki takes the job and hands his freedom over to Yamabe. He's become Yamabe's living doll. A while later Tokiwa comes back to Yamabe's to work and is surprised to see Itsuki there. Unfortunately Itsuki is not allowed to have friendly relationships with anyone other than Yamabe. Rumors have spread throught Yamabe's workshop that Itsuki is Yamabe's lover. So Tokiwa doesn't know what to do. He decides to leave without saying a word, breaking Itsuki's heart.

We then come back to the present. During the day Tokiwa acts indifferent to Itsuki. He gives him food, takes him to the loo, bathes him, and treats him with cold indifference. When night rolls around however he rapes him again. This happens again and again. One day a hair dresser shows up and cuts Itsuki's hair (which he was required to grow long at Yamabe's request). This brings a different look to Tokiwa's face. What is going to happen with the relationship when Itsuki has to go back to Yamabe's? Will Tokiwa warm back up to Itsuki or remain cold? Read Gentle Cage to find out.

Like I said, I'm new to the whole yaoi novel world. I've never even read a bodice ripper novel. Generally romances aren't my thing. The descriptions were a little surprising to me. I'm used to the art so seeing it in the written word was a bit startling. I didn't like the idea of using sex as a punishment, or to bring someone to their senses. I realize that is a common premise in yaoi, but it's always bothered me a little. The book was pretty good and if you enjoy romance and yaoi, I say read it. The story flows well and I didn't seem to notice any editorial mistakes. The print quality was good and the illustrations were a nice touch.

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