It has been a long time since I have been so entranced by a story. Even though I am a fan of yaoi novels and my estimation of them is generally biased, I am sure that this time it is not the case. Read the book and form your own impressions - it's definitely worth it.
I had read the first volume of S, long ago, on a boring summer afternoon. I hadn't been much impressed by it then because the technical details just didn't interest me. Thankfully, I've matured somewhat since that time. Hence, when I re-read the book two days ago, I was drawn in by every aspect of the book. I've got to admit that 'S' has played a big role in rekindling my interest in organised crime. Not the healtiest interest to date, but definitely something I'd have regretted leaving behind.
The best thing I loved about the novels was their suffocating and depressing atmosphere. Shiiba Masaki is an undercover detective and as such he has to face crime from the inside. His work is merely of investigative nature and he makes no arrests. He cannot carry his police ID without permission. The painful stress of his situation is conveyed convincingly. Shiiba doesn't lead a pretty life and even though it's a yaoi novel, Aida-sensei does not delude the reader. It's gloomy and dark - something I had not expected of yaoi novels because they portray the worst of situations with thornless roses. 'S' is definitely an exception.
I wasn't horribly amused by the knowledge that the light-haired guy on the cover was supposed to be a detective. Oh, I adore Detective/Yakuza yaoi as much as any other fangirl. However, I like things to be interesting. I'd set out reading expecting Shiiba to be some closet gay wimp whose only aim as a detective was to get his ass saved by his extremely handsome Yakuza boyfriend. Which he does - get his ass saved, I mean - but that's not all he does. Shiiba definitely has more purpose in the story than that and it was thrilling - it was actually one of the reasons that made me want to read even when my head was about to split at three in the morning. He is one of the few darkest ukes out there who does not attribute his morose nature to being sexually assaulted in his past. Saki Aida-sensei was serious when she wrote this series, and I respect her for it. She deserves all the adulation fans show her for this series.
My secret drug in the story was Munechika Keigo. I wish he had been explored more in the story. For one, he is Shiiba's love interest and since the story is from Shiiba's point of view, it would have made sense to show more aspects of his personality. I suppose which was why I liked the last volume, Afterglow, so much. Munechika's more than a sex-crazed smartass in it and I enjoyed that a lot. He's had his share of woos however, he handles his past and present admirably. That's what made me fancy him so much and I'm sure that's the point Shiiba loves the most about him after his fuckilicious body. Aida-sensei mentions that he is a contrast to Shinozuka, Shiiba's brother-in-law. With Shinozuka as a career-track official and Munechika as a bussinessman and yakuza, Munechika would seemingly be the darker side of the balance. However, he's actually the lighter, more admirable face of the coin. I like the way he actively protects what he loves and repents for his mistakes. His overwhelming passion speaks of an honest nature that is lacking in the withdrawn Shinozuka. It's easy to see why Shiiba pushes away his brother-in-law in the beginning and is drawn to Munechika as soon as he sets his eyes on him.
The second volume, A Love Bite, was the most heartbreaking of all. I mistook the man on cover for Munechika, and was slightly disappointed that Munechika wasn't going to play a big role in this volume. As for Nagakura, well, wow. Thank you, sensei, for revising the manuscript till he turned out to be what he finally is. Frankly, though, I didn't expect him to die. And that was what dead convinced me that this story means business. It does not play around. The irony of Mao and Nagakura's situation had me crying for real. I was far more worried about Mao than Shiiba could have been. There's a scene in the third volume, Split, where Shiiba is walking with Nagakura in his dream. Nagakura invites Shiiba to dine with him and Mao. I have a presentiment that Mao is with Nagakura - Mao didn't show up after Love Bite and yes, I'm scared. I'd thought that Nagakura and Mao would be portrayed as a detective-S relationship that had no sexual tones to it, and that maybe Mao really was in love with Kumugi (who doesn't show up at all). Cliche~ I liked Aida-sensei's take on it. Even though I'd rooted for Munechika and Shiiba throughout the series, the only time I wavered was when Shiiba returns home after being abused by Munechika and finds Nagakura waiting there. I'd actually wanted them to go further than that kiss but I guess Nagakura liked Mao for real. Even though he had declared that Shiiba was not his type, I imagine some time in past Nagakura sported a soft spot for Shiiba. However, at the end of this volume, I only had tears for Nagakura and Mao and prayed that Shiiba and Munechika had a better fate in store for them. It didn't help when I read the title 'Split'.
Chiharu Nara-sensei has done a great job with the covers and illustrations. My favourite is the one for Split. The title is 'Split'. Munechika and Shiiba, the star-crossed lovers, face the worst in their relationship - a split. However, their embrace on this cover, even though they face each other, it's painfully obvious it's an embrace-before-parting sort of hug. Shiiba is going to break away and Munechika is holding on to him desperately. The blood on Shiiba's chest, the one-winged Morpho, the falling gun, the backdrop of ocean at night - Nara-sensei has depicted the soul of the volume quite well.
I had been waiting for Matsukura Motoaki to make an appearence - and it was good. He's piercing obsession is disconcerting but his brattiness is obvious. I liked the fact that he didn't develop any romantic feelings for Shiiba but hated him as would be expected because he is a detective and his brother's lover. Motoaki and Munechika make an interesting story - a half-brother in love with his mother. It made me a bit queasy but that's not what bothered Motoaki - he's anguished because he was left behind and when he finally gets to see his mother, she has killed herself. The half-brother is lost in remorse and pushes him away, too. It's ugly and you feel it. However warped he may have gotten, his love for Munechika finally pulls him through. Munechika's strength is indeed the best part of him. He's a strong character and he needs to be there.
Godou. He's pretty one-dimensional in his disinterested bitterness from beginning to end. His childhood circumstances were pretty terrible and he does elicit pity. However, I'm pretty sure that he was born crazy and his twisted way of dealing with things. If he had been born in a family like Shiiba's, Shiiba's circumstances would have turned him into a sociopath of the sort he finally becomes and not into a detective bent on ridding the world of guns. It's obvious by the way he coldly bares himself to Shiiba. He's not saying 'I hate that things happened that I turned out this way'. No, he's merely reciting the circumstances that gave him an excuse to let loose his darkness. He's remorseless, loveless. He loves darkness. He is not interested in Shiiba but the darker aspects of his personality. He's scary in his unpredicatability and affected disinterest in whatever happens to him, however, like Aida-sensei says humans are weak creatures who choose the easiest path. Even Godou wants to live - so he lies, he kills. Killing to him is fun, too.
The comparison between Nagakura, Shiiba and Godou, as they hold a gun was good. Nagakura, the sadist, kills when driven to despair. Godou, with his homicidal tendencies, doesn't need a reason to kill. Shiiba overcomes his darkness.
I confess his steadiness as he kills Godou shocked me. Was it because Godou had tried to kill Shiiba? Was it because Godou posed a danger to his own life? Was it because he wanted Shiiba to see Godou die but not let him dirty his hands in the process? Maybe all. Maybe he didn't need reason. Munechika is calm, calculating, cautious and sensible. Shiiba is the impulsive one and you feel he needs Munechika to hold him in check. But in the end, seeing Munechika lose all control is supposed to show that no one could be too predictable? Or maybe it's because Munechika is madly in love with Shiiba that he needs to do this. After all, Munechika didn't seem overly passionate when he fired at Godou. Eventually, I was left feeling as if he was doing something he knew he had to do all along.
I cannot trust Kiri Yoshikawa. Shiiba is good-natured and envisions a bright future for her and her child. I identify more with Shinozuka who has a hidden negativity - I can't help thinking 'Kiri loved someone as repulsive as Godou so she must be like him in some aspect; and that child... he's Godou's child'. Well, that's a story for another day. That child needs a stable father who can love him well. Someone like Shiiba but (un)fortunately, he's taken. The next candidate who popped up in my mind was Motoaki. Yes, he's got a few screws lose, too. However, he's fought back and successfully, too. Godou was destroyed by too much love. Kiri can destroy her child in her own way (no, not the way Godou was detroyed but that's not the only way of showing too much love). With Motoaki for a father, the child will have a parent who doesn't pamper him like a prince and who doesn't rely on him. I am sure that Motoaki only ever needed Munechika.
Of course, the secret fangirl fantasies have explored MotoakixKaname (no, I never imagined Motoaki as uke) or maybe the mysterious Tsuchii carries a torch for him? I'll have to search for more Saki Aida's works.
Lastly, I'd like to mention just two things about Shinozuka Hideyuki. One, I found his comment about Shiiba and Yukari together making a whole butterfly for him disconcerting - am I the one with a sick mind here or is it Shinozuka? Shiiba can think that his brother-in-law meant that his sister's death had turned him into a one-winged butterfly but I'm not going to believe it. And it's not because I want to fantasize about it - it's simply that Shinozuka declared that he is not what Shiiba imagines him to be. Two, he's real. That's all.
- Current Location:Novelland
- Current Mood: energetic
- Current Music:Nanchuu Koi wa Yatteru You Know (Patalliro Saiyuki Ending Theme)