**Full Disclosure: I am non-professionally acquainted with one of the translators of this book. She did not solicit this review from me.**Yamada, Yugi. Spring Fever. Trans. MICHELLE and Adrienne Weber. Deux Press, 2007. Summary
: Originally titled Mizu Nurumu
. Two short stories. "Spring Fever" is about a teenager who falls in love with the much older single father next door. "Wildman Blues" is about two childhood friends who meet again as adults and become lovers. Comments
: If you haven't figured it out by now, Yamada Yugi has a thing for oyaji-ukes and toshishita-semes. The former are typically self-identified gay men more or less in the Western sense, while the latter "become gay" (a potential point for offense) for love of their respective ukes. The former are superficially carefree while hiding emotional damage of some sort, while the latter are straightforward, pure-hearted, and sincere. Etc. The quality of her stories tends to be directly proportional to the degree she deviates from these two character archetypes, and how succinctly she can do it; the mangaka's best work (artwork aside, which is invariably lovely) happens in stories of well under one-hundred pages. So it is here, and the treat, as far as I'm concerned, is not the title story. In "Wildman Blues," Yamada develops two complex personalities who evince complex feelings for each other and grounds their tale in a world real (at least by BL standards) gay life and gentle humor. (She ends her tankoubon-only bonus chapter with a steamy sex scene--which she also does remarkably well, for the information of any who care about that sort of thing.)
Oh, I should also mention that this is the first English-language release from Aurora Publishing (irritatingly NOT mentioned anywhere on or in the book itself) that I have seen or read, and I am reasonably impressed. The production is far better in most respects than other modest manga and manhwa startups of late in that it has managed both decent print quality AND decent translation/adaptation quality. (Other outfits--you know who you are--typically achieve one out of the two.) Though on a couple of occasions some of the original meaning was lost in translation (see the final page of the second chapter of "Wildman Blues"...inability to literally translate gendered Japanese speech renders this important resolution potentially confusing), the manga remained as pleasantly readable as it was in Japanese. Perhaps the most annoying thing about the entire experience was the exceptional thickness of the paper and stiffness of the binding. But, since that's due to the exceptional quality of the paper used, I can't complain overmuch. Notes
: ~B6 paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Houbunsha in 2001 Rating
- It's not her best work by any means, but Yamada Yugi's manga are all must-haves for BL fans. Also worth checking out if you're interested generally in manga/comics, GLBT fiction, and/or plain and simple good reads.