I’ve enjoyed Momoko Tenzen’s previous works published in English, but Suggestive Eyes feels a little too vanilla to interest those of us who are experienced yaoi fans. Newbies, however, might like the fact Tenzen writes about adult men of fairly equal status falling in love.
Suggestive Eyes opens with its main couple already in a sexual relationship, but each partner struggling in isolation to figure out if the other also loves him. Young-looking Megumu is actually the older partner, who struggles to maintain his pride in spite of the fact he’s falling for the younger, but cool-looking Kina. Luckily, the age difference isn’t an obstacle in the story since Megumu is a 25 year old grad student, while Kina is a 21 year old college student. In reality, as a grad student, I would find such a relationship problematic but since this yaoi I’m just relieved they are on relatively equal footing in terms of power dynamics.
Megumu and Kina’s story time skips frequently, jumping from various points in their relationship, which confuses me as to why Megumu ever thought it would be a good idea to get over another guy by jumping Kina. Well, okay, I guess it *worked*, but the emotional time-line gets muddied along with the chronological one. There isn’t a lot of romantic tension here — the book opens on Megumu’s anxiety about what to do about Kina, showing he obviously already cares for him a great deal. Kina, in return, isn’t as calm and collected as he pretends to be, and he’s so honest he can’t stand the idea that he could just be a “sex friend” to the more emotionally repressed Megumu.
I actually liked the second couple in the manga a lot more — two college professors who have known each other for over a decade and are in an established relationship. Actually, they’ve been together 15 years since they themselves were students. Once again, Tenzen opens with their love story on-going, and then backtracks in a later chapter to show how each originally turned to each other and recognized the other as a kindred spirit. There is a sweetness to a couple the that has survived so long and still manages to be a source of strength for one another.
It is hard to stay very emotionally engaged with the story thanks to the time jumps — the relationships feel somewhat jumbled when you are introduced to characters already screwing things up, when the writing hasn’t get established who exactly they are just yet. Meanwhile, Tenzen’s art has some high points — I kind of like her rather off-model lanky male figures with thick lips — but generally it is fairly unremarkable.
Review Copy provided by DMP