by Hinako Takanaga
published by Tokyopop; $12.99 US
Reiichiro, previously seen in You Will Fall in Love, returns in this yaoi sequel from the Tokyopop Blu imprint.
Reiichiro is running a fabric store, a family business, with older employees reporting to him. Jinnai’s one of those experienced workers, and he’s struggling with their ten-year age difference. Jinnai is frustrated to be passed over for manager in favor of a choice based in nepotism, and he questions Reiichiro’s experience and abilities.
The two end up finding a way to work together. Jinnai uses Reiichiro’s attractiveness to benefit the store, and Reiichiro takes advice from Jinnai on how to be a good salesman to the customers.
He also winds up talking to the older man about non-work-related concerns involving family. Reiichiro needs to learn tact and consideration for others, both in and out of work; it’s not that he’s selfish, just that he’s never thought much about how others think or what they want. Jinnai provides simple advice that works well in helping Reiichiro better understand people. It’s reassuring, and the reader might even learn something.
I find it odd to call this a sequel (as seen on the back cover) when there’s only one character in common, and his life is so different that he doesn’t even seem like the same person. It took me a while to realize that this story is set *before* the events of the first book, shedding new light on a younger Reiichiro. An author’s note at the end of the book refers to this as a “spinoff”, which is probably more accurate.
If you look at this book as Jinnai’s story, and if you’re familiar with the previous volume, you’ll realize this book can’t have a permanent happy ending. He cares for and helps Reiichiro in ways he needs to become the man we’ve already met, but Jinnai by definition will be left behind. All he gets is temporary enjoyment and the small comfort of knowing he was an essential teacher for Reiichiro on many subjects. But if you don’t know the characters, reading this before You Will Fall in Love is definitely the way to go.
The figures are attractive without being unpleasantly stylized. There are plenty of closeups, for emotional focus, but few scenes of physical contact until the major one at the end. This is a coming-of-age story more than a love story, although there are a few kisses and clinches. I was disappointed to see that Reiichiro’s “indoctrination” fell into the usual cliche of “it’s ok to force him and ignore him saying ‘no’ because he really wants it after all.” But then, I’m not going to believe in their love because I already think Reiichiro belongs with Haru. That’s one of the drawbacks of a flashback story. Otherwise, it’s very readable yaoi. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)