Color, by Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou, perfectly exemplifies the "yaoi with training wheels" mission statement of DMP's new imprint, Doki Doki.
Color is both a collaboration between two artists of similar artistic styles and creative sensibilities and an inspired interpretation of their own meeting and budding relationship (apparently with added gay sex, which I find amusing). Our protagonist, Takashiro, is overwhelmed when his painting -- "Color" -- is exhibited in a gallery next to a painting of the same name and similar abstract interpretation of the subject. Before he even meets the other artist, he's become infatuated with them, never dreaming that such a coincidence could ever really happen. Somehow, someone has seen directly into his heart and Takashiro's love grows out of the mistaken assumption that the other artist is a woman thanks to a misleading use of the Japanese honorific "chan" by the gallery's owner. However, when Takashiro discovers this his "artistic soulmate" is actually a guy named Sakae, instead of being too disappointed, he and Sakae immediately fall into a passionate, yet quite chaste, friendship.
Takashiro and Sakae are so adorably devoted to each other it doesn't take very long before their fumbling toward love is accompanied by their fumbling attempt to physically express their love. While the two are both charmingly naive at first in all matters sexual, they are also very much normal high school boys in love so it doesn't take long for them to fully explore the body as an instrument of their feelings. High school becomes a kind of happy playground of love for the two, but as they grow older the expectations of the outside world begin to pile on, putting a weight on the relationship. My only major critique of the book as a whole is the rather bumpy build to the final denouement when the boys face the considerable question of whether or not they can remain together as they grow into adulthood, or if their same-sex romance is just a passing fancy of youth. However, in spite of this critique, I still found myself rather moved by the Takashiro's insistence that they face those obstacles head on, while poor Sakae -- usually the more expressive partner -- finds himself saved by his lover's stubbornness and devotion.
Color is an attractive release with a story that nicely highlights aspects of yaoi that really should be more prevalent in the genre as a whole. The romance between the two boys in the story is based on equal parts affection, respect and interests. Importantly, loving another person may not always be easy -- particularly when you love someone of the same sex -- but love can be rewarding...so long as you can learn to trust it enough.
Review Copy provided by DMP.