I saw the bright, stylized covers of Tokyo Shinjuu and its intriguing title (心中 can mean a double/lovers’ suicide) and knew I had to obtain these. I’m glad I did and I was definitely not alone–all the online stores quickly went through their initial stock and were sold out for weeks. Originally released as doujinshi, there are now four tankoubon under the Edge Comix imprint. This entry will be a quick peek into the series, hopefully highlighting what makes it so appealing in the vast sea of BL manga.
Tokyo Shinjuu focuses on a young, aimless man and how he finds some direction in life. Miyasaka Ken gets a job as an assistant director in the TV industry. He’s often running around doing errands or odd jobs. It’s a tough, tiring job that is made even more grueling because of his stern boss, Yano Seiji. Just when the indifferent Miyasaka ponders quitting his job, he sees an unexpected side to his boss.
Before, Yano only made him feel nervous and uncomfortable, but he becomes a little more human and relatable. Throughout the manga, we see Miyasaka drawn in by Yano, attracted to both his personality and his dedication to his job.
Miyasaka, who has never had much interest in others, is hooked by Yano. He works longer hours and tries harder to succeed at his job, neglecting his girlfriend completely. He doesn’t understand his growing interest in Yano, yet craves his hard won approval. At one point, Miyasaka’s enthusiasm bubbles over and he goes in for the
While Miyasaka is becoming more flustered and confused, Yano is completely unfazed by this development. Later, Yano even offers a kiss as a reward for a job well done, much like you’d feed a tasty treat to a good dog. Conflicted, Miyasaka is left with the realization that his actions were not having the intended effect.
A lot of effort is spent trying to decipher the enigma that is Yano and what he thinks about their “relationship” or if he even links the physical acts to a relationship at all. However, that’s not the only thing going on in the story. The manga is about the lives of working men who are not your typical salarymen. It’s a refreshing change. The “slice of life” part flows well for me–it’s engaging and doesn’t bore me to tears. It drives the relationship between the characters. A big part of understanding Yano is his love of movies and how that passion is communicated through his work. It’s a love he doesn’t believe he could have for another human being. So Miyasaka makes it his goal to be next in line.
Another enjoyable aspect of this manga is the art. Some might find it polarizing, but I like the layouts and the energy in the characters. Most of all, I love the covers and color choices.
For the inner art, there can be some consistency issues, particularly with Yano’s character design. Overall, it looks great.
However, sex scenes get a bit awkward because once Yano becomes flustered and loses his trademark stoic expression, he looks very young. The diminutive 29 year old now looks… about 9 years old.
It’s best to keep in mind that this was originally self-published and it improves somewhat later on, as shown by this NSFW page from the 3rd book. Even with a few off panels and some awkward “suddenly shota” moments, I do enjoy the art style.
I was trying to pinpoint what I liked so much about this series and what made it stand apart from other BL manga. Miyasaka and Yano’s characters are not reduced to the function of their dicks. They have lives, goals, ambitions–and they are not utterly dependent upon one another. They enhance, not define, each others’ character traits. Their relationship, both personal and working, is allowed time to develop and evolve and it’s not necessarily the common linear path: “I like you!” *blush* -> unnecessary drama -> resolution and (one panel later) sex. Sex and even romance are only two aspects of life and I think many BL manga forget that, focusing solely on the chase and culmination. Once achieved, the manga ends. Well, this one keeps going while developing the story and characters outside of their sex lives. Even then, she still draws a nice sex scene. Thank you, Totempole.