Friday, March 11, 2016

His Favorite (manga, vol. 3) by Suzuki Tanaka, translated by Ivana Bloom

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

Review:

The series continues to have a bit of an episodic feel, as each chapter has its own “story.” In this volume: Yoshida feels stressed and preoccupied because a cute girl has asked him out; Yoshida gets upset when he learns that Sato isn't a virgin (I had thought he and Sato had had sex already, but apparently not); a heat wave makes everyone feel gross and cranky; Nishida, an openly gay student, confesses his love to Yoshida; and readers get to see more of Torachin and Yamanaka now that they're a couple.

This series has grown on me, even though I still have some issues with it.

I'm glad that Sato seems to have mellowed out some. He's still a secret jerk, but he doesn't mess with Yoshida quite as often as he did in previous volumes, and there were some nice panels of Sato and Yoshida just hanging out and enjoying each other's company. I still wonder if Tanaka ever plans on digging a little deeper, bringing Sato's emotional issues out into the open, and really dealing with them.

One thing I did not like, however, was how Sato acted during the heat wave chapter. He was absolutely awful to Akimoto, Yoshida's overweight friend. He absolutely destroyed the guy in only two sentences. He claimed it was because Akimoto got between him and Yoshida, but I imagine that his own usually hidden feelings of self-hatred and fat phobia played a large part as well. He's gone from being the guy who was bullied when he was fat to the guy who spews hateful words at Akimoto when the heat causes his “nice guy” mask to slip.

I cheered when Yoshida immediately jumped to Akimoto's defense and demanded that Sato apologize. However, Yoshida seemed to forget how awful Sato had been to one of his best friends the instant he realized that Sato was probably just as stressed out by the heat as everyone else. Okay, yes, the heat was making everyone cranky, but only Sato reacted so viciously. I wish Yoshida had continued to be angry at Sato, or given him the cold shoulder.

I enjoyed most of the rest of the volume, though. Nishida, in particular, was a fun new character. He was ridiculously and hilariously kind, at one point simultaneously helping an old lady carry heavy things, catching a thief, saving a little kid's balloon, and saving a drowning puppy. Although Yoshida didn't seriously considering dumping Sato for him, Nishida's wonderfulness did highlight how much more awful of a person Sato tended to be. I'm still waiting for a satisfactory answer (beyond “Sato won't leave him alone”) for why Yoshida continues to go out with Sato.

I was thrilled to see more of Torachin and Yamanaka, although the end result wasn't quite as good as I had hoped. Torachin was perfect – the tough guy who's a secret softie. The problem was Yamanaka. Falling in love with Torachin did not cure of him of being a good-looking sleazeball. He and Torachin haven't had sex yet, and he wanted their first time to be good...so he asked Yoshida “Is it okay if I screw you once?” (142) Thankfully, Yoshida gave that proposal the response it deserved.

It sort of helps that both Yoshida and Torachin are aware that the guys they're going out with kind of suck...and yet it doesn't. I want better for both of them.

Oh, one thing I should mention: throughout the series so far, almost all the female characters have been boring rabid boy-chasers. Tsuyako, who made a brief appearance in the first volume and who was basically a female Sato, was one of the few exceptions. Happily, this volume provided readers with another. Inoue was one of the few girls who wasn't afraid of Torachin. She acted as a middleman, asking Torachin for help on behalf of a female classmate, but she also made it clear that he was basically being used and that she wouldn't blame him if he decided to refuse. I liked her attitude and her pragmatism, and I hope she becomes a recurring character.

Extras:

This time around, the entire volume is devoted to His Favorite. There's a 4-page one-shot in which Nishida and Sato publicly fight over Yoshida (their classmates think they're practicing some kind of comedy skit). There's also a short postscript and one full-color illustration.

My read-alikes list is just a lazy copy-and-paste from my post for volume 2.

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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