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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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11/14/2008 Entry: "Yaoi Review: Barefoot Waltz"

Barefoot Waltz
Story and Art: Romuco Miike
Published by: Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN-10: 1-56970-595-x
ISBN-13: 978-1-56970-595-7

Review by I-hsiu Lin

"It's unbearable this time of the year."

Abe finds the weather to be stifling. End of spring, beginning of summer. Words don't come as easily which presents a problem being that he is a writer with deadlines. But the heat is a reminder of him.

Him. Abe had a relationship with Nakahara two years ago. More like they slept together and that was it. No phone call. No romance. There was no love in the actions. Two years later, Nakahara shows up at Abe's doorstep. There was no sense of seduction. Just one kiss and Abe gave into the younger man's motions. "Let me stay here for awhile." Just the mere presence of him allows Abe to write easier. The words flow from his pen like a long time ago. His secluded lifestyle, his closed up heart...maybe they will change as well. Become lighter and flow like a waltz.

'Flow like a waltz' is too vague of a statement. Untrue for the time being since in the second chapter, Nakahara runs into a wall as he seeks to close the distance between them as lovers. He cleans up after Abe, makes sure he eats properly and sleeps well, but their thoughts are still apart from each other. Then, an ex-lover of Nakahara appears. The distance that separates their thoughts are as far apart as ever. Some things just need to be conveyed in words.

After the main story, there followed five short oneshots. Everything took on a subdued tone with aesthetic descriptions. Not to say they were flowery or overdone, the theme and feel of the stories is just comparably softer then other BL titles that I have read. The first oneshot was "Good Sky Sunny Day" which describes the blossoming romance of two athletes, Minori and Yoshizaki. Minori needed to take Yoshizaki's picture. He ended up with a bad shot and had to do it again with their second meeting pulling them a bit closer together. In "Cowardly Hand", Masashi says, 'Let's go out' to his friend Kei. Upon seeing his shocked expressed, Masashi withdrew his hands and throws off the statement as a joke. Three years later, Masashi tries again. In "Goodbye Winter Days", Rin decides to break if off with his lover, Keisuke, traveling all the way to the beach to do so. However, Keisuke interjects.... Like the main story, there is emphasis on the time or season these events occur. With Abe, it was the heat of summer. With "Goodbye Winter Days", the setting was a cold, wintery beach. The story of the athletes drew upon the outside with the last words being 'beneath the high blue sky.' These themes framed the stories in a gentler tone. They also concentrated on the thoughts of the characters rather then just actions. Morinaga in "Take My Hand" has a 'love phobia'...or perhaps a phobia for girls. After walking in on first year, Yokoi making out with a girl in the reference room, he canít help but think of him. The second time he sees Yokoi, he is in the room alone and Yokoi approaches him. "What Should I Do With This Love?" asks the question of Uno who fell for his senior at work, Kurokawa. Uno wants to work hard to impress Kurokawa, yet, he needs to rely on him in order to do well. Perhaps that's what Kurokawa wants. Even though the point of view is on only one of the characters, thoughts of the 'other' are revealed through their words. And it's more then them just saying 'I like you.' Kei agrees in "Cowardly Hand" that he too shared in the delay of his budding romance with Masashi.

The stories are simple but not boring. As mentioned before, the pace is a bit slow then other BL romance titles, but fits the atmosphere of the stories. The graphic level of each story is a bit different: sometimes all they do is kiss and others, they consummate their love on the page. Light humor is scattered about in just a right amount since except for one or two oneshots, it really isn't a romantic comedy. And it isn't manga filled with angst either.

The art and feel of the book is similar to "Desire" by Maki Kazumi and Yukine Honami so if you like that manga, you'll probably enjoy this one as well. The book closes with another oneshot that features the "Barefoot Waltz" couple and ends their story sweetly. Something to read that can draw you in, but not to deeply or seriously and enjoyable just the same.

For another comprehensive review, please check out Khris' entry on the manga.

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