Friday, February 21, 2014

Yaoi Manga Review: BLUE MORNING Volume 4

SUBLIME – @SuBLimeManga

CARTOONIST: Shoko Hidaka
TRANSLATION: Jocelyne Allen
COVER: Shoko Hidaka with Shawn Carrico
ISBN: 978-1-4215-5555-3; paperback (February 2014) Rated “M” for “Mature”
218pp, B&W, $12.99 U.S., $14.99 CAN, £8.99 UK

The fourth volume of Blue Morning, the yaoi manga graphic novel series from creator Shoko Hidaka, was recently released.  In yaoi manga, the love story features romantic leads that are both male.  This subset of boys’ love (BL) manga can also feature explicit depictions of sex.  Blue Morning focuses on Akihito Kuze, the heir to a viscount-ship, and Tomoyuki Katsuragi, his very capable butler, to whom Akihito is attracted.

After the death of his father, Akinao Kuze, 10-year-old Akihito moves into the Kuze mansion, as he prepares to inherit his late father’s viscount-ship.  There, he meets the Kuze family butler, Katsuragi, who is tasked with raising Akihito.  By the time he is 17-years-old, Akihito finds himself relentlessly drawn to Katsuragi, but also frustrated by the distance between them.

As Blue Morning, Vol. 4 (Chapters 16 to 20) opens, the truth of Katsuragi’s lineage has already been revealed.  With this truth revealed, Katsuragi leaves the Kuze household, and enters the employment of Soemon Ishizaki, the father of Akihito’s friend, Soichiro.

Akihito is determined, however, to have his way.  He attempts to live a life different from the one meant for him, and he breaks off his engagement.  He makes such a bold move regarding the standing of the Kuze family that Katsuragi is forced to counter them with strategy of his own.

The Blue Morning manga is a romantic period drama.  It is like a comic book version of one of those Merchant-Ivory films from 1980s and 1990s.  The series does sometime earn its “yaoi” label with a sex scene.  Blue Morning Volume 4 offers a torrid love scene that leaves the characters in need of a bath.  Everything that Akihito and Katsuragi can’t or won’t say to one another is translated into urgent lovemaking, complete with pants, moans, and groans.

Beyond the sex, there are more reveals.  Through the dialogue, Shoko Hidaka opens the characters, their lives and secrets, in ways that cement Blue Morning’s status as an exceptional character drama and period romance.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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