After reading in love with Future Lovers, vol. 1, you can imagine how excited I was to get in volume two. This second volume isn’t as amazingly strong, but it still has realistic feel to it as our loving, but very, very different pair of men struggle to work out the details of their relationship. Kento and Akira’s problems often stem from how very different they are. Kento is very conservative and traditional, whereas Akira is much more of a free-spirit. In this volume, though, we begin to understand why Akira is the way he is. Kento was raised in a loving, caring family and even if his parents had died young, his grandparents were still wonderful caregivers. Akira’s family is less cohesive than that and when Kento begins to realize that, he also begins to see a new side of the fiery man he loves.
Much of the volume explores Akira’s thoughts as he tries to process the relationship he’s found himself in. Even though Kento started out as straight, he is more than willing to acknowledge Akira as his boyfriend. He doesn’t always know how to do that, though, which frustrates and worries Akira. The art teacher rejects Kento’s attempts several times and the first three chapters are mostly about Akira pushing Kento away and Kento assuring him that he really does want Akira in his life forever. This can feel a little repetitive, but when I thought about it, I could see that relationships often take that path, that they hit a point, a plateau, where there has to be a lot of negotiation and discussion before they can move forward.
There is one chapter that feels typically manga, especially shojo manga. Akira’s middle school art teacher (who had a huge effect on him when he was growing up) shows up unexpectedly and invites himself along on the men’s vacation. Even though elements of the chapter are over the top, it’s a cute story that helps cement the relationship. The volume ends on a sweet and moving note which echoes the beauty of the beginning of volume one. It’s a perfect ending that wraps things up neatly, but still feels believable.
Kunieda’s art is as beautiful as ever. The sex scenes are steamy. Kunieda has a real way with drawing naked male bodies. Akira’s long lean lines never slip too far over into feminine and Kento is a solid, muscular chunk of manhood who also looks stunning in a New Year’s kimono. The chibi faces are usually outraged, especially Akira, and his fire-breathing face is hilarious. The attractive art and terrific story make this a winner. If you haven’t picked up a copy of volume one, go get both today. You won’t regret it.
NOTE: This review was previously posted at an old blog of mine, Fujoshi Librarian.
Future Lovers, vol. 2