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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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05/09/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Fake Fur"

Fake Fur
Story and art by Satomi Yamagata
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ginger Mayerson

I liked "Fake Fur" a lot more than I thought I would. The main story is about a high school boy named Yamashita, who falls in love with his classmate Kubo. Kubo is straight and leaving for a distant school at the end of the year. Yamashita invites him to stay at his grandfather's place, which has an artist's studio attached. Kubo and Yamashita walk in on a pair of male lovers, which ignites at least a discussion of their feelings about each other. They remain friends and Kubo is even cool enough to give Yamashita the sweet smooch he's been pining for. Exit Kubo and enter the stranger Yamashita will casually give himself to. However, even after giving himself away somewhat carelessly, Yamashita finds true love in college and a happier ending than the other story in the book about a runaway boy, Maki, trading his body for shelter, and falling unexpected in love with the Yamashita's heartless stranger, and running away from that, too. It's not easy being a teenager, in this manga or in life, there's a fragile balance of circumstance, chance and temperament that determine happiness or sadness, success or failure, creation or destruction. Yamishat is lucky; Maki is not, and this is very sad in an otherwise upbeat, if moody, book.

Although the cover lovely, it's also terribly misleading because it makes the very boy protagonist look very much like a girl. I'm still puzzled by the title, because this book has nothing to do with fur, fake or otherwise. The book's mood is dark, but there are moments of light and hope all through it. It's light on plot, but heavy on sex and more about love than romance. Yamashita gives his virginity to the cold stranger named Reni because, after Kubo leaves for a school far away, he's lonely and doesn't know what the next step is. I suppose he's lucky that he didn't draw someone worse than Reni as his first lover (for one afternoon), because Reni is able to deflower him without devouring him and then lets him go. After this encounter, because he's freed of his burden of innocence and his fears of the future, Yamashita does move on to collage and a happy love affair with his formerly straight friend, Fukazawa.

Maki's story isn't so pretty. Reni picks him up and gives him a place to stay. Unfortunately Maki has some pretty serious punishment and self-esteem issues to work out. Too bad, because if he'd been just a little less fucked-up, he might have humanized Reni somewhat so they could live happily ever after. At least that's what I think, but I'm a hopeless romantic. There's a prequel to "Fake Fur" called "Manic Love," which is about Maki's backstory. I'm looking forward to reading it when it comes out in September.

So this book is sad, happy, sexy, moody, and all of it beautifully drawn and told in a refreshingly clear-eyed style. It's not an angst-fest or a tear-jerker, but it leaves a little ache for that time when we were all so young and so brave, and stepping into a world that is much bigger than we ever knew.

Replies: 1 Comment

Rats, too much comment spam, had to close the comments early.

Posted by Editor @ 05/20/2007 05:33 PM PST

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