Toru thinks he has all he needs – a loyal best friend, Ryoji, who makes him laugh and an encouraging art mentor, Kashiwazaki, pushing him to excel at painting. Never mind that he’s been in love with Ryoji for years – he knows there’s no hope there, and so he’s content to keep his friend. Then life gets complicated. Ryoji, a jock who has a string of girlfriends, suddenly confesses that he thinks about Toru when he’s having sex. Startled, Toru cannot comprehend what Ryoji hopes for until Ryoji proposes they “try it out” once so he can see what it’s like. Toru is at once ecstatic and miserable – he can finally touch his beloved but must suffer through knowing he’s no more than a fling for the curious Ryoji. Ryoji is persuasive to the point of being pushy, and Toru gives in knowing that Ryoji would never knowingly hurt him. Though awkward and uncomfortable, Toru relishes the contact even while anticipating desertion. Then Ryoji wants to do it again. It seems to Toru that every time he thinks he’s got his friend figured out, he turns around with another proposal. The pair’s shrewd friend, Tadashi, sees the tension growing between his friends and, once he figures out why, warnes Toru of hurting himself by allowing Ryoji to get his way. Not sure what to do, Toru confesses all to Kashiwazaki, who encourages him to break it off with Ryoji by instead appearing to date Hashizaki himself – then Toru could tell if Ryoji’s feelings for him were at all serious. Of course, the best laid plans backfire, and what can Toru do when Hashizaki seems a little too interested? This newer shonen-ai/yaoi title is more explicit than other titles, hence why it’s in Adult – the sex scenes are along the lines of an R rating and the publisher has slapped a (perhaps overzealous) explicit content advisory on the cover. That being said, though it may seem from a plot summary to be all too soap opera-esque, this title is a compelling high school drama with teenagers who definitely act like teenagers. Trying to figure out the difference between sex, friendship and love is a minefield for any teen struggling through first times, and this title is remarkably free of fantasy-driven romantic contrivance so common in this subgenre. As fans of such series as Gravitation and Fake grow older, titles like Desire will satisfy.
by Maki Kazumi and Yukine Honami
Digital Manga 2004