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Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary — 2 Yaoi Short Story Collections

Tonight I take a look at two yaoi short story collections — On Bended Knee and Unsophisticated and Rude.  Neither is going to set the world on fire, but both have their charms.

on bended knee

On Bended Knee, by Ruri Fujikawa, indulges in a number of yaoi genre cliches, but steers clear of some of the morally questionable ones by emphasizing consensual relationships between adult men.  From the start, the stories embrace yaoi cliches through the characters — for example, the stories feature a “businessman” (i.e. mafia most likely) and his bodyguard, another is about two clinic doctors, the third about a college professor and one of his students, the fourth about a model and his manager, and the fifth a restaurant owner and his chef (pretty much every yaoi cliche I can think of has been faithfully explored, particularly if we’re talking about yaoi featuring adult male relationships).

The stories are highly romantic, although they feature a healthy does of lust as well.   Generally, all the couples are already in love but some “misunderstanding” arises that makes each man think the other doesn’t love him.  This being a happy yaoi book, all misunderstandings are cleared up, paving the way for happy & “sexy” endings to each couple’s emotional dilemma.

Fujikawa’s art is attractive and clean and her men are on the pretty, but still recognizably masculine, side.  The writing is a bit dull but as a whole the book is a pleasant, although not very demanding, reading experience.

Review Copy provided by DMP.

UNSOPHISTICATEDGN

Unsophisticated and Rude, by Momoki Tenzen, is also a short story collection, but these stories are somewhat longer in length and there is some nice character development in each that actually draws the reader into the romantic conflicts — in the end, one actually cares about how the couple gets together and what allows them to overcome the various emotional obstacles they face.

My favorite story of the bunch is “Midori Vivid in My Eyes” — Midori is both the name of the “kooky” character in the story as well as the word for “green” in Japanese.  Midori is a weird one — he seems like a total space case when the younger Takamiya saves him from a caterpillar of all things.  Midori comes off as a spaz at first, and Takamiya defends him from rumors about his weird demeanor circulated by their college classmates.  However, as the story continues Midori becomes a surprisingly smooth operator, while the forthright and principled Takamiya finds himself overwhelmed by Midori’s warmth and devotion.  This couple is not merely sweet, but genuinely heartwarming.  (In other words, kooky guy and non-kooky guy falling in love make for interesting reading).

All of the stories are related to school in some way — some of the couples are in high school, others in college, and even one story follows former schoolmates who find each other again at their 10 year school reunion.  Like On Bended Knee, this book nicely avoids the trap of non-consensual relationships, meaning that one can enjoy these stories as pure romance, particularly since these characters are developed enough to have actual conflicts that stem from personality, not simply “random yaoi cliche” that keeps the couples apart.

Review copy provided by DMP.

4 Comments

Hey, I just reviewed U&R myself! :D I was genuinely surprised by how much I liked it, considering my usual feelings about these anthologies. Agreed all around on both books!

[...] AstroNerdBoy on vol. 23 of Negima (AstroNerdBoy’s Anime and Manga Blog) Danielle Leigh on On Bended Knee and Unsophisticated and Rude (Comics Should Be Good) Michelle Smith on vol. 1 of Pig Bride (Soliloquy in Blue) Johanna Draper [...]

Danielle Leigh

July 27, 2009 at 4:51 am

hee! I’ll look forward to your review (either on MR or PAD?).

Yaoi anthologies, in particular, can be forgettable since the stories are so formulaic.

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