Featured Columns

January 11, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Brilliant Blue

More articles by »
Written by: Kristin
Tags: , , ,

brilliantblue1Title: Brilliant Blue
Author: Saemi Yorita
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, under their Doki Doki imprint
Volumes: Two, with the second one slightly larger than the first, (about 175 and 220 pages, respectively), both for $12.95
Vintage: 2004, 2005 in Japan; late spring, summer 2009 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi, 16+, mild sex, some language

A sweet tale about many forms of love – sibling, parental, romantic, colleague admiration.  Shouzo Mita has recently returned home to run his father’s construction company, after a back injury put him out of commission.  Shouzo has no intentions of hanging around longer than necessary, until a resurgence in his father’s back pain causes Shouzo to stay on longer than he expected…allowing him to become attached to those around him.  Specifically Nanami Ushijima, whom he went to school with years ago.  They’re the same age (somewhere in their mid-20s, I think), but Nanami still looks like a teenager.  When Shouzo last knew him, Nanami was chubby and plain; now he’s so beautiful he looks like he stepped right out of a shojo manga.  And Nanami instantly forms an attachment to the kind Shouzo, who looks out for him.  Nanami is dimwitted, a little clumsy, and incredibly naive, like a child.  Traits which cause him to enter into a strange relationship with one of Shouzo’s clients, Douwaki.  When Nanami begins exhibiting strange behavior, Shouzo puts the pieces together, and is off to the rescue.  Nanami is naive enough to be talked into almost anything, a trait Douwaki has been taking serious advantage of, but Shouzo rescues him from his despair.  Which causes Nanami to form an even stronger attachment to Shouzo…who is starting to develop some strange feelings of his own.

The first volume is really good; it’s quite touching.  The second volume….  There’s a loss of focus.  As if the author was in a rush to get the two characters together.  As a reader, I felt uncomfortable with the speed of their relationship.  There needed to be some more development, or a time lapse at the very least.  Nanami confesses, and suddenly it’s open season.  I understand the mangaka wants to get to her sex scenes already, but it’s too rushed at that point.  It felt much too much like Nanami’s earlier relationship with Douwaki, which was terribly abusive.  Shouzo cares more about Nanami, but that doesn’t change that he’s still behaving in a similar way.  You may do a sort of double take at that moment, and think to yourself, “Wait, isn’t he just as bad as the other guy?”  The point may be that it’s supposed to parallel the previous relationship, and in that it’s successful.  One of Nanami’s brothers even makes the comment within the story, but strangely Shouzo doesn’t pick up on it at all.

brilliantbluespread

A good example of Nanami's goofy innocence, from Brilliant Blue volume 1.

To say that Nanami is dimwitted (as he is called often in the book by others) is an understatement.  He’s exceptionally dense, naive and childlike, to the point where he appears slow, as if he has a mental retardation.  (I’ll try to be as tactful about this as possible.)  But there is no reference to any such condition within the story.  It’s hard to believe that a normally developed person of that age could really be that slow and innocent, even having been sheltered by his family and living in a small town.  It’s as if he’s stuck at age 11 (or something near).  The mangaka suggests that he is simply a “dumb uke,” but he comes across as way more than that.  But as I said, the state of his mental constitution is never mentioned.

I found a comment by a reader at another blog who suggested Nanami exhibits elements of autism.  I don’t know that I fully agree with that.  While it’s true that Nanami has clear problems verbalizing his feelings (or at least his own desires), and is not exactly apt at socializing, I’m more willing to believe that he has some sort of mental disability that has prevented him from maturing past a certain age.  It’s a good suggestion, though.  Though it doesn’t explain his extremely good math abilities and impeccable memory.  Or maybe it does.  I’m just fishing around here now; I’m clearly no medical expert, but if anyone has any ideas, be sure to post them.  I’m sorry for focusing so much on this, as I’m probably more concerned about it than I should be.  The mangaka didn’t seem to make an issue of it, but it stuck with me and I was a little bothered by it.  It’s not like Nanami is forced into a relationship with Shouzo, because that’s not what happens.  It’s mutual…but his innocent confession (which really could mean anything) causes Shouzo to practically pounce on him.  I do at least want to make it clear that it’s the rapid evolving and instigation of the relationship that doesn’t sit right with me, not the relationship itself, which when in full bloom is rather cute and sweet.

Digital Manga usually has good quality books, so I was surprised by how many errors I found in just these two volumes.  Missing words, duplicate words, misused apostrophes, etc.  There was even one instance where it seemed an incorrect character name was used (I can’t say 100%, because I don’t have the original, but it was referencing something specific, which was spoken by someone else).  I expect that sort of thing from Tokyopop, but not from DMP.  At least not on these levels.  Otherwise, I’m very happy to report that they included honorifics, which always makes manga better, in my opinion.

One last note, you can now follow me on Twitter!  You can follow my personal Twitter account here.  ComicAttack.net also has a Twitter feed, which can be found here.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net

Review copies provided by DMP.

Share/Save





7 Comments


  1. InfiniteSpeech

    I’ve worked with children with varying mental disabilities over the years and the character you’re describing could very well be autistic. While not being able to mature past a certain age and his social skills lacking by “normal” standards him excelling in math isn’t too far of a stretch nor is the great memory part either. So whomever posted could be on to something, but the fact it’s not mentioned by the author at all may be a sign he just doesn’t want that to be the focus of the character.


  2. Kristin

    My problem is that if he IS meant to be autistic (or anything else, for that matter), then the mangaka’s simple explanation of a “dumb uke” is kind of insulting. That she can let him do stupid and embarrassing things because he’s “dumb.”
    You’re probably right that it isn’t the focus of the character. And I may be reading far too much into it. But when you’re dealing with a sexual relationship like this, I think glossing over the mental maturity of one of the partners is a huge deal. It’s hard for me to enjoy their relationship with I’m thinking “Does Nanami really understand what it is they’re doing together?” Because when you read about him and Douwaki…. His brothers tell him that if another man touches him down there, his “ding-a-ling” will rot and fall off (that’s actually what Nanami calls it). So when Douwaki comes back and molests him again, he thinks he’s going to die. He doesn’t have a real understanding of what he’s doing; he’s just having sex with Douwaki because Douwaki convinces him that’s what you do when someone loves you (and Douwaki tells Nanami he loves him to get him to comply).
    The only thing that helps me later with Shouzo, is that Nanami confesses first. His confession is prompted by watching Shouzo laugh with a friend who is a girl, and he gets jealous.
    I don’t know…I’m thinking about it WAY too much.

    It really is a sweet little story, though I do still think the relationship is rushed a bit.



  3. Ok, I think I’d become guilty reading this. Also, I don’t like the idea of a rushed story, so it’s a real turn off for me.

    (Still, I’m intrigued for some reason O_o)



  4. The story isn’t rushed, but the change from “Oh, I like Nanami but I can’t do anything about it” to “Shouzo I love you” to “How do I get Nanami in bed” happens too quickly.


  5. InfiniteSpeech

    I see what you’re saying Kristin and it would be insulting but it also resembles a predatory type of relationship or just a really unhealthy one especially if one person in it has a mental disability and is being taken advantage of…wow


  6. billy

    @Speech-What your describing is my son to a “T”. He has Aspergers disorder and is somewhat socially inept, get’s stuck on a subject and can’t get off of it(currently Dinosaurs), and is emotionally all over the place. But he is also sharp as a tack with most of his school work(usually honor roll) and the most loving and compassionate person I’ve ever known.
    @Kris-I agree with your asessment about calling him a name. If they wanted to write the character that way(Autistic) they shouldn’t have done that.



  7. @Billy:
    Oh, sorry…. She wasn’t really calling him a name. She was just saying he was “dumb.” If you meant the “uke” part, that’s his role in the story. Shouzo is the “seme.” They’re yaoi terms.

    @IS:
    Nanami was being taken advantage of by Douwaki, yes. That’s VERY clear in the story. Shouzo keeps his pants zipped until Nanami confesses his feelings, and Nanami does respond to his eventual advances. With Douwaki, Nanami very clearly didn’t enjoy the relationship, but either didn’t know how or wasn’t strong enough to pull away on his own.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *