Saturday, October 21, 2017

REVIEW: Hot Steamy Glasses (manga) by Tatsumi Kaiya, translated by Sachiko Sato

Hot Steamy Glasses in a one-shot yaoi manga - I suppose you could call it m/m contemporary romance. It's licensed by Digital Manga Publishing.

Review:

Hot Steamy Glasses features two stories, although the second one is extremely short, more of an extra than anything. Most of the volume is devoted to the story of Takeo and Fumi. Takeo is the president of a successful I.T. company. He’s been in love with his friend Fumi for the past 17 years. He lives in hope that, despite being heterosexual, Fumi will one day agree to live with him and go on a date with him. Fumi’s younger brother, Shogo, is doubtful of this but does want something to change: either for Fumi to finally give Takeo a chance or for Takeo to move on and fall in love with someone who isn’t quite so mean to him.

Takeo’s an otaku, specifically one who’s into moe characters (romanized here as “moeh”), and Fumi isn’t shy about expressing his annoyance and disgust. Still, Takeo persists and does what he can to appeal to Fumi and make him happy.

I picked this one up after reading a review that described it as sweet and said that it contained surprisingly little sex. I hoped that this meant it’d be non-rapey.

Although Hot Steamy Glasses had quite a few amusing conversations and lines, it didn’t turn out to be the sweet and fun romance I’d hoped for. The first chapter was written from the perspective of Shogo, Fumi’s younger brother, and I was immediately convinced that the real romance would be between Takeo and Shogo. Shogo would finally convince Takeo to stop chasing after his brother, who’d repeatedly told Takeo that he wasn’t interested and who, to top it off, was also a bit of a jerk. Shogo would give Takeo a shoulder to cry on, and gradually the two of them would fall in love. That story would have been so much better than what actually happened.

The first half of the volume was okay, even after I realized, to my dismay, that Fumi really was the person the author planned to pair Takeo off with. The chapter where Fumi got sick had some nice funny moments, and I particularly liked Reiko, the secretary Takeo sent to take care of Fumi after he had to go back to work.

The volume took a sudden turn for the worse when Fumi finally agreed to be Takeo’s boyfriend. For one thing, Fumi’s change of heart came practically out of nowhere. He’d spent 17 years telling Takeo “no,” and here he was, changing his mind because of a few comments from Shogo and because Takeo reeeally loved him. Never mind that he’d repeatedly said he wasn’t gay and that Takeo had shown some tendencies towards controlling behavior, asking Fumi to quit his job and move in with him so that he could take care of him. Fumi’s response to Takeo telling him to quit his job was one of the few times I cheered for Fumi.

For another, there was the issue of sex. It strained my suspension of disbelief that Fumi had more of a problem with the lack of sex in their relationship than with the idea of having sex with a man for the first time. Again, he’d spent his entire life up to this point believing himself to be heterosexual, and there were no prior signs that he was interested in Takeo or other men. Even so, the only thing that bugged him was that his and Takeo’s relationship wasn’t much different after they officially became boyfriends than it was before. They didn’t really go out on dates, they didn’t kiss, and they didn’t have sex.

And boy did the lack of sex bother him. That’s when the volume got slightly rapey. Fumi decided that the two of them were finally going to have sex, and that was that: “Even if he resists, I’m gonna force him!” Thankfully, Fumi was gone when he got home, or it might have gone from slightly rapey to “this includes rape.”

Or maybe not. Their first sex scene was very sudden, and also initiated by Takeo. There was none of the awkwardness I would have expected, considering. Just BOOM, sex. Even Fumi found himself wondering why Takeo was so skillful and confident considering that he was probably a virgin.

Okay, let’s go back to the “Fumi really wants sex and isn’t getting any” stuff for a bit, so I can talk about something else that bugged me. I’m sure it was completely unintentional on the author’s part, but this part of the volume became a bit acephobic. As Fumi tried to feel his way around how to handle this part of their relationship, his frustrated thoughts included statements like “What is he, still a middle school student…?” and “I’m almost thirty years old! ‘Going together’ = ‘sex’ - I’m sure I’m not mistaken on that point.”

The implication was pretty clear: if Takeo really hadn’t been interested in having sex, Fumi couldn’t have handled it. And then the volume might have included rape instead of, say, the two of them talking through their differing needs and maybe breaking up if they couldn’t figure out a resolution that would work for both of them. The last time I had to deal with crap like this was in a book actually featuring an asexual character. This wasn’t quite as bad as that, but I still really could have done without it.

The volume’s ending was the one thing I’d agree was sweet. It took place several years after the events of the bulk of the story, showing how things were working out for Takeo, Fumi, Shogo, and Reiko. That said, it couldn’t make up for Takeo and Fumi’s shoddily constructed “romance.”

The volume ends with a short unrelated manga, “Young Love Graffiti.” Naomi fell in love with his tutor, Aki, when he was in junior high, but he didn’t realize it at the time and they both went their separate ways. He was excited to reconnect with Aki when they were both invited to the same wedding reception, but their relationship since then hasn’t been nearly as wonderful as Naomi could have wished. Naomi worries that he’s more in love with Aki than Aki is with him.

This story was so forgettable that I had to reread it before writing this review. It accomplished little more than adding to the volume’s page count, and I’ll probably forget it again in a few hours.

All in all, Hot Steamy Glasses wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and the artwork didn’t do much to make up for the story’s deficiencies - many of the male characters looked alike, and characters’ expressions could have been better.

Extras:

The volume includes a 2-page manga-style afterword by the author. The afterword was a little funny. Kaiya’s editor noticed that both of the stories contained characters with the same family name, and both of those characters looked kind of similar, so Kaiya came up with a quickie explanation that relied on both of the stories being set in the same world.

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