Saturday, February 20, 2016

His Favorite (manga, vol. 2) by Suzuki Tanaka, translated by Ivana Bloom

His Favorite is basically a m/m romantic comedy. It's published by SuBLime.

Review:

One half of this volume is devoted to the main story, and the other half is mostly a couple completely unrelated shorts. I never know how to handle stuff like this, but I suppose I'll treat the shorts like extras.

The main story starts off with Yoshida and the other less popular (and less attractive) guys in his class being forced to act as cheerleaders in the upcoming school sports matches. After the sports stuff is over, Yoshida learns that Sato is modeling for one of the school's art students. Then Yoshida encounters a friend from junior high at his current school.

I thought the first part was kind of cruel of the other students, although Yoshida's friends, at least, tried to embrace their roles as cheerleaders. The art modeling stuff was okay, although I wasn't a fan of Sato's hypocrisy. He agreed to be an art model and found the idea of Yoshida possibly becoming jealous appealing, but then he got mad when Yoshida agreed to be an art model too. On the plus side, Yoshida showed that he still had a spine by continuing to be an art model even though Sato told him to quit.

The best part of this volume, though, was the last part of the main story, which featured a secondary romance between Torachin, Yoshida's perpetually scary-looking friend, and Yamanaka.

In the first volume, Yamanaka was the second most popular guy at school. He was determined to be more popular with the girls than Sato, and he was the only one who noticed that Sato and Yoshida seemed to have become a couple. He then proceeded to take things too far by trying to kiss Yoshida. Sato's response, after saving Yamanaka, was to completely and utterly destroy his reputation by spreading nasty rumors about him (readers were never told the specifics of those rumors).

Yamanaka was left with a bone-deep terror of Sato. He also no longer had any friends, at least until Torachin, another outcast due to his scary looks, took pity on him and tried to befriend him. Then both of the guys started to become interested in being more than just friends.

This was the cute mismatched romance I had been hoping for from Sato and Yoshida. Neither Torachin nor Yamanaka knew that their feelings were returned, and so both of them went to Yoshida for advice. Torachin was worried about how Yoshida would react when he admitted that he was attracted to another guy (he didn't know about Yoshida and Sato), and Yamanaka knew he'd been pretty good with the ladies back before Sato spread those rumors about him, but he wasn't sure how to move forward when the person he was attracted to was another guy. There was a sweet flashback to a scene early on in Torachin and Yamanaka's friendship, and I loved that Yamanaka's thoughts of Torachin had little sparkles in them. I hope that this isn't the last readers get to see of this pair.

All in all, this volume was much better than the first. Sato didn't try to mess with Yoshida quite so often, and, although he still displayed some jealousy issues, I was pleased to see that there wasn't a single jealous comment when Yoshida told Sato they couldn't walk home together because Torachin wanted to talk to him about something. Considering Sato's past behavior, that was actually extremely surprising.

Extras:
  • The first short manga was called “A Turtle's Love Is Eternal.” For some reason it made me think of CLAMP. The setup was a little confusing, although I didn't realize how much I'd missed until I got to the second short. Anyway, it starred Shiro Kazama, a school Discipline Committee member, Masami Kaito, and Chiaki Komiyama. I had assumed that Chiaki and Kaito were also both Discipline Committee members, based on the dialogue, but they were actually known rule-breakers Shiro had been told to keep a closer eye on. In retrospect, their lack of armbands should have clued me in. At any rate, it was fairly obvious that Kaito had a secret crush on Shiro, although Shiro didn't realize what was going on until after he spotted Kaito secretly dealing with a local snapping turtle problem. This story was okay, but maybe a little too cute for me.
  • The second short manga, “Love or Bust,” starred the same characters as the first one. This time around, Kaito was being pursued by Tetsuya Honjo, a known rule-breaker who was in trouble for not only breaking the school's dress code by wearing a black uniform (the school's uniforms are white), but also for trying to force other students to wear black uniforms too. This story also made it clearer that Chiaki is actually transgender (or possibly just enjoys cross-dressing? I wasn't sure). Although this is a boys' school, she prefers to wear a girls' uniform. Her uniform breaks the rules, but it's usually tolerated, unlike Honjo's actions, because it's not like she's trying to force other students to wear girls' uniforms too. I enjoyed this short more than the first one.
  • A 3-page His Favorite short featuring the art student who wanted Yoshida to model for him. It was...weird.
  • A one-page postscript written by the author, with a reading-related illustration that makes me smile every time I see it. 
  • A full-page color illustration of Yoshida and Sato. I like this one, although the setup looks more like a guy teasing his younger brother than like two guys on a date.
This is a copy-and-paste of my read-alikes list for the first volume. Again, it could be better.

Read-alikes:

  • Awkward Silence (manga) by Hinako Takanaga - More m/m romance, in this case involving an introvert who has a long-time crush on a popular baseball player at his school. One day, out of the blue, the guy asks him out. Reviews say this is a cute series, although I haven't read it myself.
  • Green Light (book) by Yura Tamaki, art by Taishi Zaou - Be warned, this is a short novel, not a manga. It's another m/m romance between a guy who isn't popular with his classmates and one who is. I've read it, but can't remember much about it except that the writing was so-so and that, yes, there was explicit sex.
  • Our Everlasting (manga) by Toko Kawai - I haven't read this, but it sounds like the first half of the volume has a story in which a more confident guy confesses his love to a shy introvert, which may work for fans of His Favorite.
  • Ichigenme...The First Class Is Civil Law (manga) by Fumi Yoshinaga - Another one I haven't read yet, although I own both volumes. The main character has always assumed he's straight but starts to question his sexuality after he's hit on by a gay man with whom he'd become friends. Yes, I know, I'm getting further and further from His Favorite's original premise. Still, it might work for those who enjoyed the part where Yoshida started to wonder if maybe he really was in love with Sato.

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