NightS Manga Review

Yakuza, mechanics, and others fall in love… oh, and some high school kids, but who cares about them?

Kou Yoneda’s surely a familiar name to yaoi fans; most of her work’s gotten published in English, and her Twittering Birds Never Fly series is one of the works to get the movie treatment by Blue Lynx, who also made the Given TV series and anime. I’d enjoyed some of Yoneda’s stuff in the past (although have not read Twitter Birds*, both as the synopsis didn’t interest me and as I will not buy titles from licensor DMP), and I was hankering for some yaoi featuring adults, so picked this up on a whim.

NightS is a short story collection, albeit one in which two of the stories get the bulk of the page count, as they each span multiple chapters. Luckily, these are the stronger works of the piece; the title one focuses on familiar ground for Yoneda, as its about a man who transports smuggled goods and the man who hires him for a job. The other, Reply, is less instantly salacious, as it instead takes place within a car dealership, where one of the mechanics is falling for the top salesman. It’s also less problematic, although by Yoneda’s standards, NightS isn’t all that troublesome from an ethical standpoint… granted, I think for some readers the particular aspect which is may be a pretty huge dealbreaker (if you loathe cops in your fiction, may be best to skip in favor of just reading the other bits of this volume). The third story, Emotion Spectrum, was the stealth high school boy thing I wasn’t expecting, and which I managed to completely forget the plot of in the couple of days since I read it and am now reviewing it. It wasn’t bad – I would remember it better if it had been – but its pretty bland. That none of the stories are bad is a rarity for a short story collection – there’s usually at least one stinker in the mix in even the best cases.

As much as I enjoyed this on the whole, though, it was frustrating to run across some of the “I’m not gay, its just you!”/”I’ve never fallen for a guy before…” junk. The stories in this collection do date from 2008-2012, when it was a bit more common an inclusion, so I wasn’t entirely surprised, but… a lack of surprise doesn’t make me happy about it.

SuBLime delivers a strong release… as is typical for them! I’ll admit that this feels a bit like “duh!” to me given how ably they handled Blue Morning, an incredibly dense and complicated tale involving politics and a changing society in aristocratic and upper class Meiji Japan. But, the relatively small staff at this imprint deserve kudos for regularly turning out good work.

Altogether, this is a pretty good volume, especially for folks who aren’t particularly keen on high school BL. NightS does have a one-shot sequel that’s also available from SuBLime, so I’ll be picking that up, although my favorite was Reply. I’ll freely admit that salaryman yaoi is probably my favorite type at this point… although I guess I’m stretching the definition somewhat given that mechanics aren’t exactly salarymen. Whatever, I think you probably get my point on what I like out of my gay male romances these days (normie dudes falling in love in normie circumstances, gee, somehow I became really boring, huh?). But, yes, to get back to NightS, its a title I can easily recommend.

* But I have seen the first the movie adaptations! Er, admittedly because the Given movie isn’t out at all in English yet. What did I think of the movie? WELL I think it was true that Twitter Birds isn’t a story I’m much interested in. I also think its choice to depict blowjobs by showing a man licking air – in deference to Japan’s censorship laws – was a damned odd one, and it would’ve been better to just cut all those scenes so that the penis being licked would’ve been out of sight anyway. And, as long as I’m talking about that anyway, it feels additionally pretty weird that almost all these scenes involve a man who can’t get hard… so its a guy licking a flaccid penis and the other guy just… not having any reaction to it. Whoops, should I have said “spoilers”?

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