by Shungiku Nakamura
Published in the U.S. by Blu
Slugline: College student Misaki falls for famous author Akihiko and Hiroki falls for Nowaki. Caution: explicit gay porn.
This is a story in two parts, and Akihiko seems to be the only connection -- Hiroki had a thing for Aki, but it's not clear if this is parallel to Misaki's story or not. Maybe it doesn't matter. The transition threw me for a loop since I kept confusing Hiroki with Misaki's brother.
I'm not a big fan of romance stories, partly because there seem to be a set number of ways for the relationship to develop and one of them involves what would normally be prosecutable cases of sexual assault. That would be the style featured in Misaki and Akihiko's half of the volume. The theory that the ends not only justify the means but somehow make it more "romantic" has never sat well with me. Hiroki and Nowaki's relationship reads more easily, after an initial case of home invasion.
Both stories contain well developed characters with heartaches and fears and a life outside their porn, but the plot focuses solely on getting two guys in bed with each other. Along the way, some funny moments and snarking kept the drama from getting too thick. The art is all right -- the guys are prone to having gigantic shoulders, though, and too-small heads -- and the sex is explicit without being hardcore, obviously drawn within the bounds of Japan's censorship laws...