Title: The Spiral of Sand
Author: Yuna Aoi
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Juné)
Volume: One-shot, $12.95
Vintage: 2005 by Taiyoh Tosho Publishing, December 2010 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (18+), romance
When his sister, Saori, and his best friend, Ryo, get married, Haruka couldn’t be happier. Feeling a little overwhelmed by everything, as the newly married couple leave on their honeymoon, Haruka stays behind at the hotel where the reception was held to spend the night. Sometime during the night, there is a knock on Haruka’s door, and a strange man pushes himself inside the room. The man immediately turns off the lights, and then sexually assaults Haruka, claiming he is after some sort of revenge. When Haruka returns to work (he works in the forensics section of the police department where Ryo works) several days later, only to find that the nightmare of his life is far from over. A new coworker named Homura is introduced to him, and Haruka soon notices the same scar on his wrist that he noticed on his attacker. Homura is out to make Haruka’s life a living hell as revenge for an event from their past as children. According to his mother, Homura’s father died when Haruka’s father turned down saving his life in order to save the life of his own son. Homura grew up in misery with his poor and often hysterical mother, blaming Haruka for his situation, and jealous of the loving family life Haruka had that he desired. Strangely, when Ryo notices something is going on and tries to force an answer out of Haruka, Homura steps in and rescued him. When the three are out searching for evidence at a crime scene and a strange man opens fire on them, Homura jumps in front of the bullet and once again saves Haruka. Somehow, Haruka feels himself falling for this strange man who seems to be harboring and deep and painful secret, despite the terrible things he has done to him. When Ryo notices that something is going on between them, the feelings for Haruka that he has been hiding boil over and he eventually lashes out at his long time friend. A random comment from a doctor sends Haruka on his own detective chase, as he attempts to uncover the truth behind Homura’s past. What he finds could destroy Homura or bring him salvation.
Despite typical yaoi non-con sex and near Stockholm Syndrome driven relationship between Haruka and Homura, this is actually a rather sweet story. Homura, despite his violent acts and twisted sense of revenge, is presented as a very tragic character. As a child, he would look in on Haruka’s family and gaze at the loving atmosphere longingly, fueling jealousy, but also somehow drawing him toward Haruka. Even as he was angry for what Haruka’s family had done to his own, he was drawn to Haruka’s bright personality and innocent nature, which is why even though he hated Haruka, he repeatedly rescued him from trouble. For Haruka’s part, his gentle nature causes sympathy for Homura’s obvious suffering, and he has a desire to free him from his troubled past. Ryo isn’t much more than a third wheel, unfortunately; his attempts to get between Haruka and Homura don’t really go anywhere, and other than occasionally incite Homura into action (which could be done by anyone), he doesn’t do much at all. Saori does even less, and really just serves to torment Ryo who is upset he married her instead of pursuing Haruka. A nice bonus chapter cleans that mess up, though, so he’s not a jack ass anymore. This sort of rape-inspired relationship seems common in Aoi’s works, as it also kicks off her Jazz series (the similar character designs for this story made me connect the two works even more). It’s not my favorite type of relationship, but you can’t really avoid it when you read a lot of yaoi, as it’s a staple of the genre and appears in many, many stories. Discussing that is an entirely different column, however. In the end, this is a decent read, very melancholy, but with a sweet ending.