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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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08/20/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Kiss Blue, volume 1"

Kiss Blue, volume 1
By Keiko Kinoshita
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc
Preview available on DMP's webcomics site: eManga

Review by Ryes

Wow! Kris and I couldn't have had more different reactions.

Tomosaka is in love with Noda, his best friend. He can't let on about it though, because Noda is a regular Casanova and really loves his women. I'll admit that the storyline is as old as the universe, but Keiko Kinoshita's execution is damn near flawless.

Before Kiss Blue, I'd read only one other work by Kinoshita. You & Harujion didn't strike me as particularly memorable, but I liked her efforts and Kiss Blue sounded like just the book for me.

Kinoshita's art reminds me of Honami Yukine's (another artist I love), except that Yukine's characters are much prettier. Kinoshita's characters look very ordinary and I guess I like that about them. Her lines are rarely solid and very skritchy, like she's drawing them in a rush, but the attention to details tells me that isn't the case. The characters are very expressive, and I love every one of their expressions. I love Tomosaka's embarrassed expression, his sleepless and tired expression, his frustrated expression, his I'm-going-to-murder-you expression.

The style works well with the understated and subdued tone of the book. There isn't any in-your-face angst and long, rousing confessions. There wouldn't be anyway, because it doesn't fit Tomosaka or Noda's personalities. The book is mostly just the two of them going about their everyday activities—Tomosaka's school, his job, etc.—with one teeny life-threatening event. Tomosaka doesn't often say straight out what he's thinking, and you mostly glean his thoughts through his posture or his facial expressions. The sparse narrative worked well, especially with Kinoshita's attention to detail in her art.

I love that Kinoshita focused more on their friendship than just rushing into the whole unrequited love issue. She developed their existing relationship first and that makes Tomosaka's love all the more moving. Tomosaka and Noda are like all best friends. They borrow things from each other, they eat out together, they barge into each other's rooms without knocking. In one scene, they're joking about Tomosaka taking a dump. It's pretty nasty and I was laughing at them for it, but the point is that they are very close and there's virtually no secrets between them. Well... except for Tomosaka's unrequited love, but you can't blame him for wanting to keep that under wraps.

Tomosaka is a wonderful main character and Kinoshita makes it so easy to relate to him. It's heartbreaking to watch him struggle with his crush when Noda is joking about two-timing his girlfriend. He knows how hopeless his situation looks. And he flies into a panic when he realizes that he's so transparent his boss at his part-time job knows exactly what's going on. He's too easy to read, so he has to distance himself from Noda to make sure his best friend doesn't also read him as easily as his boss.

All except for the last chapter is in Tomosaka's narrative. In fact, the POV shift threw me for a loop, but if nothing, it made me want to read the second volume even more. Noda is just as appealing to me as Tomosaka, and it's funny how he's falling for Tomosaka but doesn't realize it.

When they're eating together with their friends one afternoon, one of the guys asks Noda what he likes best about a woman. It's such a subtle detail, but he sees Tomosaka handling a pair of chopsticks and says, "Wrists." And Tomosaka in turn wears a new watch the next day that gets Noda noticing and holding Tomosaka's hand. There's no other way to say it, I love the interaction between the two.

To say I'm looking forward to volume two is an understatement. Kiss Blue is a favorite that's going to stay in my library forever!

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