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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/09/2008 Entry: "Yaoi Review: Wild Butterfly"

Wild Butterfly
Story and art by Hiroki Kusumoto
Published by Juné, imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10:  1569705623
ISBN-13:  9781569705629

Review by Jilly Gee

If I were to give Wild Butterfly a quantitative score, it would be very low.  The stories are amazing, the art is beautiful and detailed, and there are even color pages.  It does not, however, fit the boys love genre.  Oh, there is one brief story that features a male on male couple, but that hardly changes the feel the graphic novel and justifies dumping it into the Juné line.  There are a couple of other stories with a slashy feeling, but if an affectionate and close relationship was enough to brand a story as BL, then half of the Shounen Jump series should move to BE X BOY.

"Wild Butterfly", namesake of the book and the first story, starts with a hint of the tragedy to come as the color pages show a tired-looking, dark-haired man with his students, silently contemplating the past.  Oliver, a young, dark-haired man who longs to join in the war his country is in the middle of, but unable to because of a bad leg, is assigned as a teaching assistant to Sir Michael von Straum Liedelhart.  Michael, despite being a military man who has led many men to victory, or perhaps because of it, only wants to see peace in the world and teaches the children so.  The two develop a close friendship, Oliver slowly changing the way he sees the world.

"Senyōden ~Legend of the Demon World~" is the tragic, ironic story of the emperor's oracle, executed for simply telling the truth.  An unfortunate traveler wanders into the home of this now cursed half-demon, hoping just to get some rest and instead getting an unwanted fortune.

In "The Strange Tale of Shiramine", a teenage boy from present time somehow washes ashore on the island of Shiramine.  There, he meets the exiled Emperor Sutoku, or "Akihito-san" as the boy calls him.  Akihito promises to send him home after he is done with his work, but Miki is reluctant, knowing that the man will once again be all alone once he is gone.

"Fangs" is the one story in this collection that can be considered boys love, though it is not sweet and romantic the way that BL usually is.  Wor insists that he is a vampire and that is why Myong can smell other people's blood on him, but Myong says there is no such thing and that Wor has other people's blood on him because he loves those other people enough to drink their blood.  Sweet and romantic in its own twisted, sick way, I doubt it's what most people that pick up a Juné title are looking for.

"Tomuraishi ~Protector of the Dead~" is the one story that doesn't make me wallow in depression.  More like an action hero story than anything else, Kō attempts to stop an evil force from the underworld hat is attempting to send the dead to cause chaos in the living world.  Of course, things are never easy for action heroes; the young boy who shows him the way to the bridge connecting the two worlds also insists on coming with him further.

Wild Butterfly is full of great human drama, the emotions for every character very strong in the art and in their speech.  The former oracle's shock at having realized what he had just done, Akihito's wild-eyed planning and insane rambling, Wor's agonized expression and pleading words, blood streaming from his eyes and mouth as he insisted he wasn't lying, all made deep impressions, if also greatly disturbing ones.  Unique and emotional takes on snippets of legend and history, this collection of Hiroki Kusumoto's tales have interesting plots and characters that require a lot of emotional involvement, rewarding for its characterizations, but draining for the wringers they are put through.  Not something to enjoy if you were expecting BL, are squeamish about blood and gore, or if you like stories that make you feel good.

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