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Samejima-Kun and Sasahara-Kun by Junko…
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Samejima-Kun and Sasahara-Kun

by Junko Koshino

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I acquired this because it was being talked about as one of the best books to come out this last year, and I figured what-the-hey, may-as-well. I got the Nook version, because I don't like to purchase hardcopies of manga unless I like it enough to reread it, and I couldn't find a decent preview/free version of this title to tell me if it's one I'd want to reread. The Nook version was difficult to read on my computer, since I don't have an ereader and have to use desktop software, and I ended up having to strip the DRM and turn the book into a PDF file in order to actually read the words without weird stretching, but that's neither here nor there.

I can see how this is a popular book, I suppose. The storyline itself is pretty cute/sweet, and the kind of thing that I normally enjoy in romance plots - two friends, one of whom falls in love with the other, must navigate their changing relationship and figure out what it means to be in love versus just being friends. This story is told mostly via Sasahara, who is pretty much completely flummoxed by Samejima's confession of love, to the point that he tries to ignore it entirely. But, of course, in the end, Sasahara decides that he doesn't like not having Samejima in his life - as a friend or otherwise - and so agrees to date, and ultimately decides that he can try being in love, too. With this kind of manga, the ending is a foregone conclusion and the fun is in how we get to it.

I just can't really say that it's a rereadable book for me. It was nice the first time through, and wasn't completely porny (a few sex scenes are present, but they don't feel completely gratuitous), which is something I'm not crazy about with BL manga. It also didn't use the rape-of-love trope and seemed to try to take a more-or-less realistic view of how such a relationship between these two guys would play out. But... I don't know if it's the tsundere archetype or what, but there was way too much prickliness and shouting in the dialogue that irritated me and the art style just didn't work. The art is...I don't want to say amateur, but it doesn't look very polished (even for a sketchy style) and had a lot of variable quality. I don't know how long Koshino has been drawing, but I'd like to see her work in a few years, to see if it has balanced itself a bit (part of this could be due to the printing quality, as I especially noticed it in the hair and eyes and the way the line drawings worked with the screentones).

So I don't think it's a bad book or anything, and I can definitely see how it's an improvement on a lot of other BL manga that is just atrocious, but I'm not sure I agree with the sentiment I was seeing that this is one of the best books in recent years. The storyline is nice, but the art weighs it down, and the end result is mostly mediocre. ( )
  keristars | Aug 4, 2012 |
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