Reviewed at the request of the writer.Anderson, Tina and Caroline Monaco. Only Words. Iris Print, 2007. Summary
: Nazi Germany has invaded Poland, and Polish seminary student Koby finds himself taking classes with the Hitler Youth. When Koby, despite nurturing secret masochistic fantasies, bravely speaks up against his heedlessly cruel classmates, he finds himself "forced" into a sexual relationship with Oskar, one of their number. However, Oskar seems to have something on his mind besides brutality... Comments
: An aspiring Catholic priest and a future Nazi caught up in a sadomasochistic/romantic relationship. Besides boasting two popular BL tropes (see Minami Megumu), it's the perfect formula to scandalize many...and arouse some. As I fall into neither category (not my kink, sorry, but then it's really hard to shock me), this single volume manga presented itself to me as quite simply a well-paced, polished BL manga with historical context for added texture.
I was a bit disappointed to note that Monaco's artwork did not seem to rise to quite the level of her previous independent collaborations with Anderson; her earlier work had a stark beauty, and this time around the (over)use of screentone seemed to mitigate that effect somewhat. I was also a bit disappointed by the way in which Oskar's emerging psychological complexity is used merely for a quick-and-dirty plot twist at the end. Koby's submissive, martyr personality is pretty straightforward and, sorry, not all that interesting. But Oskar apparently wants to make love not war, though he cannot admit it and would rather die that resolve that conflict. Unfortunately, this stuff is made clear to the reader only through indirect inference; Oskar is otherwise a total cipher.
Anyway, I can safely say that Only Words
is at least as good as a great bulk of the BL manga out there...but this is not an especially high bar to clear, and I know the creators are capable of even better. Hell, I've already seen "even better" from Anderson, and if she can find a publisher with favorable terms, so will you. Notes
: paperback, 1st edition Rating
- Aesthetic brutality that's perfect for fans of hardboiled BL melodrama
a la Ai no Kusabi, but this is strictly a niche audience title.