|megpie71 (megpie71) wrote,|
@ 2008-07-03 16:40:00
|Current mood:||somewhat squicked|
|Entry tags:||manga, reviews|
Review: Manga - "My Paranoid Next-Door Neighbour" by Kazuka Minami
Genre: Explicit Yaoi Manga
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 10
This is the first yaoi manga I've actually read (they're a bit hard to find on bookstore shelves in my neck of the woods - I haven't penetrated the somewhat seedy environs of the average R-rated bookshop to find out whether they make it to the shelves there) so I'm not overly familiar with the genre. I've read a certain amount of yaoi fanfiction, and I'm familiar with the seme/uke roles, but I'm not one hundred percent on how they're applied. So, I may be being a bit harsh here.
First up, while the artwork is okay for the seme character (yes, he's definitely a he, even with the standard bishounen markers of narrow features and hair in the eyes) the uke character winds up being portrayed as pr-cutetty much a chick with a dick, and not much of the dick visible either. I'm not sure whether this last is a result of censorship, authorial coyness, artistic style, or a combination of all three. The poses the uke character is put into are often rather feminised too (the cover pose is a good illustration), which just adds to the gender confusion.
Possibly the gender confusion is part of what contributed to my major annoyance with this story. To put it bluntly, the storyline has several scenes where had the uke character been played by a female, the scenes would have been depicting rape, or at the very least a serious sexual assault. There are consent issues all the way through the story, with the most blatant being in what is supposed to be a "seduction" scene. Call me picky if you will, but when someone who is seducing you has to say something like "doesn't the fact that you're aroused mean you want it?" I call lack-of-consent on the part of the "seductee". Just to make things clear: consent doesn't mean the person you're asking has to say "no". What consent means is that the person you're asking has to give a very clear and definite "yes". This doesn't happen in that scene.
My "eeeh... not-so-good" feeling got compounded by the next chapter, which pretty much starts off with the uke character being harassed by another student and a teacher. This teacher is shown to be involved in a sexual relationship with one student, admits to being sexually attracted to the seme character (to the point where he's called over the uke character to find out who his "rival" might be) and then sexually harasses the uke character. By now my brain was busy saying "squicked now!" rather loudly.
[Some context: In my rich and varied university studies, I've spent time training to be a teacher. One of the things we were pretty much told from the get-go was "don't touch the students, no matter how much they say they want you to". Things may be different in Japan... but permit me to doubt this.]
For a teacher to be admitting to a student that they feel sexually attracted to another student in their class is unprofessional enough, and raises questions about power issues and consent issues in my own mind. For a teacher to be involved in a relationship with a student is even more unprofessional - and the questions about the legitimacy of consent start to really leap to the fore.
I wouldn't be recommending this manga to anyone who has problems with issues of consent, rape, harassment, or power imbalances within relationships for just this reason. It's just too steeped in what I have to describe as our culture of rape - the culture of the "unwilling seduction", of "try it, you'll like it", of "no means maybe" - for me to be comfortable with it. The artwork is okay, and the sex scenes concentrate more on "this is how I'm feeling" than "this is how the plumbing is connected", but between the highly feminised uke, and the active endorsement of a highly predatory model of masculine sexuality, I found it disturbing on a personal level.