Well, the art looks nice.
In the past couple months, I will admit to having committed a grave sin – I’ve blind-bought manga without doing any check on reviews of the manga in question. It is a lesson that was hard-won years ago through so many encounters with rape-tastic BL, an experience that made me realize that, at the very least, when it comes to BL, one must read reviews before committing. And, really, I’d gotten so good at spotting potential problem titles from even just reading their summaries and taking a look at their covers that I slouched off a bit. And that is how I ended up with the first volume of Sleeping Moon, and it is also how I ended up with two volumes of Starting with a Kiss (which maybe I’ll get around to reading someday).
Although, thinking on it, that’s probably not the best way to put it – Sleeping Moon isn’t particularly molestation mad, it just isn’t very good. And the fact is, the description sounds promising, and the art is great. I think if it had been an artbook, I think I would’ve been perfectly pleased – author Kano Miyamoto is quite talented as an artist. But the story? Eh…
The premise is fairly straightforward – Akihiko Odagawa comes from a family wherein the men are cursed to die young, but he is determined to unravel the why of it in hopes of preventing the same fate for himself. He ends up taking time off from graduate school to visit the family’s ancestral home in hopes of doing so. Once there, though, he is discouraged from doing so by a younger cousin of his, a cousin who then proceeds to sexually harass him fairly constantly. He also experiences a weird time-slip one evening, and encounters a male ancestor of his named Eitaro who lived a century before. Eitaro is also trying to unwind the mystery of the curse, and Akihiko ends up returning again and again to see him and trade information. But even as Akihiko digs, it seems the solution is nowhere to be found.
The sexually harassing cousin isn’t mentioned on the back-cover blurb at all; you wouldn’t know he existed at all if you never cracked the volume open. And, really, it would be so much better did he not exist, as he is the primary destroyer of the entire thing. Written simply as a young man who keeps trying to dissuade Akihiko from digging into the mystery would be fine, but having him suddenly start trying to screw the protagonist is tonally off from everything else and is utterly inconsistent to how he is originally presented. And, really, there is the entire problem with this manga in a nutshell – inconsistency. The volume swings wildly between creepy and atmospheric to crass stabs at sexual titillation. Even as Miyamoto slowly builds up the attraction Eitaro and Akihiko have for one another, she can’t resist the urge to have the cousin randomly groping Akihiko every dozen pages or so. Its incredibly irritating.
It all makes me terribly disappointed, because all the elements are there for this to be good – a decent mystery, a touch of the supernatural, great art, a tragic stumbling block (the separation of time), two guys who are nice to look at and make for decent characters (Akihiko and Eitaro)… but the tone shifts too erratically, and the cousin is the hatchet to the entire effort. Spend your money elsewhere, this one just isn’t worth it.