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Laugh Under The Sun by Yugi Yamada
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Laugh Under The Sun

by Yugi Yamada

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Laugh Under The Sun is about ne’er-to-do-well Sohei, who wanders through life aimlessly with the help of his two childhood friends, Chika and Naoki. When he was younger, Sohei dreamt of becoming a boxer, but an accident scared him away from the ring. Now, with Chika’s prodding, Sohei is trying to pick up the pieces of his dream. It’s not easy when he realizes he’s years older than the high school punks at the gym; it becomes even more complicated when Sohei learns that Chika has been in love with him all this time.

Laugh Under The Sun had a lot of stuff that I like in a romance. First: psychological development outside of the love story. In this case, Sohei is learning to face his fears and achieve his dreams, and Chika has to deal with the pressure of his job. I like this because it makes the characters feel like real people instead of sex machines.

Secondly, the love was between two people who have known each other for a long time. This is more of a personal kink, but a lot of love stories feel false to me because the characters fall in love so quickly it feels more like lust. They don’t know anything about each other. Not true for Chika and Sohei. They have been best friends since high school and they have no illusions about each other. Sohei is a cowardly but passionate flake while Chika is a cynical, stoic writer who nevertheless pushes Sohei to greatness. There’s no hearts and flowers here, but just friendship and then love.

If I do have a quibble, it’s that at times calm-mannered Chika seems to fall into the ‘macho seme’ trap like when he pushes Sohei up against the alley wall and gropes him. But Yamada Yugi shows how it is Chika's frustrations that lead him to this uncharacteristic behaviour, and he feels guilty about it afterwards, worrying about whether or not he can face Sohei. Sohei, in turn, is damaged by the act. The “I will overpower you” is shown as a negative thing, not a positive. I wish the scene didn’t have to be included at all, but at least it’s done well.

Naoki was also a nice addition, fleshing out the story. Chika and Sohei do not live in a closed world where they only have each other. Naoki is also there, with his own history and experiences, which he offers Sohei to help him. In addition, the closing pages of Laugh Under The Sun are some of my favourites in any manga. I love the way Yamada Yugi combines the past and the present, Chika and Sohei as they were then, and how they are now. ( )
  veevoxvoom | Apr 8, 2008 |
Yamada’s characters, with their thick lips and huge, liquid eyes, are sexy, and their personalities are a little more complex and mature than those of most yaoi protagonists.
 
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