Living for Tomorrow by Taishi Zaou is short on plausible romantic relationships and but strong on pretty, pretty art. Which means this title is very much like most of Zaou’s work actually.
Living for Tomorrow is a cracked-out comedy and so you can’t really take anything very seriously in the book. Mizouchi loves his dimwitted childhood friend, Ryouta, but because he can’t allow himself to believe a relationship between men can actually flourish in a homophobic world, he refuses to acknowledge how much he cares for his old friend. And instead uses the fact they are both on the karate team as an excuse to physically abuse Ryouta. He kicks and punches the poor boy, sort of like pulling the pigtails of the girl you like in 5th grade. These violent outbursts are pretty much on that level of maturity, save the fact Mizouchi thinks he is doing the right thing by trying to drive Ryouta away. Mizouchi hates himself for both liking a guy and liking a guy who isn’t bright enough to figure out he is *letting* Mizouchi beat him up because he actually returns the other boy’s feelings.
Mizouchi’s one hope is that he actually may be the son of an “ageman” (pronounced ah-gay-man) or a woman who brings good luck to the men in her life. If he’s inherited these powers he may be able to bring the man he loves — Ryouta — good luck, giving him the excuse that he wouldn’t be ruining Ryouta’s life if they were together. Mizouchi’s logic is bat-shit insane and very, very sad. He assumes that Ryouta would only be willing to be with him so long as he was brought good luck — assumed to be something as literal as winning the lottery — and couldn’t imagine Ryouta loving him simply for who he is and not what material bonuses he can bring his long time crush.
Mizouchi initiates sex with Ryouta as a way of “testing” out his powers of good luck, but Ryouta has to go through the painfully slow process of actually figuring out that he loves Mizouchi back. Luckily, Ryouta, while being an idiot is also a good person and actually decides to save Mizouchi from himself and his own self-loathing tendencies. Same-sex love is thankfully redeemed by the end of the book as a valid expression of romantic love, but it is hard to enjoy Mizouchi’s own internalized homophobia as played for laughs. Luckily, the majority of the book follows the innocent Ryouta coming to terms with his love for his friend, and this part of the story is much more palatable in the end.
As always, Zaou’s art is a real treat, particularly her character work. While everything is easy in the eyes, this is also someone how knows how to make a comic compulsively readable, as I find myself carried along in spite of how much the premise of this particular yaoi book fails to appeal to my personal tastes.
Review copy provided by DMP.
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