by Tetuzoh Okadaya
published by SuBLime Manga; $12.99 US
I was eager to read this yaoi manga about tango, since ballroom dancing is an interest of mine. What better to symbolize and visualize passion and desire than the most sensual dance?
Angie (Angel) is a tango teacher and exhibition dancer. He and his partner Bene give lessons, although they get distracted by the men that fall in love with Angie but don’t last with him (which allows for the explicit sex scenes that give the book its mature rating). Angie has yet to find anyone who raises feelings in him, until he meets Hiro, a half-Japanese man trying to cope with a recent death in the family.
Hiro’s quickly swept up by the two, particularly Angie, who wants to teach him to dance tango. Hiro winds up sleeping over, and he and Angie have a dream-like, alcohol-induced encounter. Angie’s knowledge of bodies and movement comes to good use when seducing Hiro, who takes great pride in “not being gay” but still finds himself wanting the dancer.
Unfortunately, the artist pays so much attention to strong, solid torsos — a nice alternative to the willowy yaoi pretty-boy type — that the characters at times wind up looking like pinheads, with heads too small for their bodies. Bene is also drawn solidly, a welcome change from the usual comic book wasp-waisted woman, but she can be read as somewhat masculine in frame.
A final chapter shows the couple 30 years in the future. Some author’s notes explain a bit of the publishing history of the stories here, which helps put it all into context. The Man of Tango will be enjoyable for readers looking for visual portrayals of brawny men involved with each other, and the author’s love of dance and its moods come through. The characters didn’t have quite enough development to ring true to me, but the artist clearly loves drawing naked muscles. (The publisher provided a review copy.)