Hyouta Fujiyama steps out of her usual genre — contemporary yaoi romance — and comes up with a hilariously absurd take on RPG in Tale of the Waning Moon, in which our traveler is a young lovelorn man who has been sent on a mission to fall into the arms of his “fated one.” Who just also happens to be the spirit the last quarter moon, Ixto (i.e. he’s also a dude!), and the one who sent him on the mission in the first place.
Fujiyama sets up the (purposefully flimsy) premise of the book in a few pages — Ryuka’s been dumped by his girlfriend for someone with more money, and after boozing it up he gets up on a random hill and under a bright starry sky wishes for a love that won’t leave or betray him. Well, this poor heartbroken bastard happens to have made his wish on a hill enchanted by the trickster-ish spirit of the quarter of the last moon, Ixto, who offers Ryuka his choice of lovers on fated cards. Ryuka is displeased to discover that all the cards have men on them, not to mention, one’s kind of old and another pretty macho looking! And, oh yeah, he’s not gay! and so rejects them all. In response, Ixto decides he’ll become Ryuka’s fated love in place of the men on the cards and so decides to “seal the deal” right then and there.
Ryuka’s heart and body however aren’t really into men and so Ixto casts a kind of spell on him that compels Ryuka’s body to seek out Ixto, which starts him off on his journey. His heart, however, isn’t moved quite that easily, so Ryuka’s journey is one bizarre misstep after another. Ixto is “kind” (or “evil”) enough to give Ryuka a companion to help him along, a small “catboy” named Coon who Ryuka picks out of two possible options because he is supposedly obedient but then rejects immediately upon the discovery he’s got a disgustingly cute factor — he says “nyan” (a cat’s meow sound in Japanese) after every. single. sentence. However, it’s too late and now he’s stuck with the cutest thing on earth as his helper.
So let’s recap, shall we? Ryuka’s body is compelled on a journey that will end when his heart and body have entirely accepted Ixto. In the meantime, he’s got a sickenly cute companion and he keeps on running into his “rejected” potential lovers from the cards of fate. He also keeps ending up in predictably non-consensual gay situations from which he often needs to be rescued — who knew fantasy worlds had their own versions of Tokyo’s ni-chrome (i.e. gay district)? The rub is that all he has to do is call Ixto’s name and he’ll be saved, but the individual missions succeed and fail in relation to the constant emotional and physical push-and-pull between these two. While Ryuka starts to fall for Ixto in spite of himself, Ixto continues to watch over Ryuka’s progress with some degree of smugness and some degree of real worry (particularly when Ryuka refuses to call Ixto’s name, preferring to save himself, thank you very much).
Tale of the Waning Moon is hilarious because Fujiyama cheerfully implodes the conventions of real player games by sending “an ordinary guy” — as Ryuka introduces himself to others in the book — on a mission in a world defined by its queer and campy sensibilities. To fulfill his tasks, Ryuka must open his heart to the mercurial spirit of the waning moon and finally come to terms with the waning and waxing of his very human heart. Fujiyama’s art is always a treat and here she offers a range of different masculine types, everything from the “exotic” desert prince, to the twenty-something hipster, to the “cool” office worker, all adapted to roles and personalities appropriate for this unusual fantasy world. In the end, this book is a delightfully strange little trifle with enough charm to smooth away some of its questionable representations of non-consensual encounters (i.e. plot) as spurring very consensual relations (i.e. romance).
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
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