Thursday, December 29, 2022

REVIEW: Midnight Rain (manga) by CTK, translated by Adrienne Beck

Midnight Rain is contemporary BL. I bought my copy brand new.


Content warning for violence, suicidal ideation, and sexual assault.

Every month, for 10 years and 3 months, Ethan has been paying off a debt to local mafia. He has about three more years left, at the rate he's going, but the thought doesn't excite him because he has no idea what sort of life he can even look forward to living. He's at his lowest when Mike, a guy he'd recently met at the neighborhood laundromat, shows up at his doorstep bleeding all over the place.

This isn't the kind of story where much happens - the focus is on Ethan and Mike's developing relationship and their efforts to deal with the baggage they're carrying around, at least enough to let someone else in. Mike is rough around the edges, to put it mildly, and gets into fights as easy as breathing. It probably doesn't help that he has resting tough guy face. On the surface, Ethan is easier to deal with. He's always pleasant, friendly, and welcoming towards Mike, despite the fact that Mike growls at him constantly.

This was an impulse purchase, which is usually not a good thing when it comes to BL. I didn't read any reviews before adding it to my shopping cart! What if it had been rapey and horrifying?

To be honest, the start of Ethan and Mike's relationship did have some moments that tend to be red flags for me. For example, while patching Mike up after a fight that left him with a stab wound, Ethan gives Mike medication for a cut in his mouth and gets so turned on that he gives Mike a nonconsensual handjob. Mike gets understandably pissed off, and yeah, Ethan is horrified by his own behavior but he still did it. Mike eventually beats Ethan up and leaves, which, combined with the volume's hint of "injuries are hot," seemed to indicate that I was going to be in for a bleak and abusive BL. 

At least from my perspective, this did get better and become surprisingly sweet. Part of it, I think, was that their next sex scene was entirely consensual and, in fact, initiated by Mike. And Ethan did seem to genuinely worry about Mike. Anyway, your mileage may vary, but somehow this managed to win me over. 

Mike as the grumpy one and Ethan as the sunshiny one really worked for me. I enjoyed it when Ethan openly expressed relief and happiness that Mike hadn't left yet, and when grumpy-faced Mike worried that he was causing problems for Ethan. One thing I wish had been included somewhere in the volume: a scene in which Ethan noticed the mold removal work that Mike did in his apartment. (Oh, the weird things that can make me feel mushy.)

CTK's art style really appealed to me. Character facial expressions were perfect, particularly in the more sweet and/or funny moments.


One full-color illustration, an afterword by the author (thank goodness this volume wasn't as bleak and dark as CTK originally intended it to be), a funny one-panel comic based on the cover art, and the floor plan of Ethan's place. My favorite comment from the author: "There's a lot of facial hair in this manga. Please enjoy." Heh.

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