Jackass! is a one-shot school-life yaoi manga by Scarlet Beriko. The title refers to the boys in the story, who are all either afraid to admit their feelings for each other or allow silly, stupid obstacles get in the way of their desires. It’s a sweet, romantic story and it avoids one problematic aspect of the yaoi genre: the sexual encounters are all completely consensual.
The main plot concerns Keisuke and his classmate Shonada, neither of whom identifies as gay. In fact, Shonada is quite the ladies’ man: wealthy, attractive and popular. Keisuke, on the other hand, lives with his older sister and has to work a part-time job to help out at home. The sister plays a small but integral part in the story. She borrows Keisuke’s gym sweatpants and accidentally leaves a pair of her pantyhose inside them. This creates an awkward situation in the locker room for Keisuke. When Shonada tries to save him from the embarrassment, his hot-button hosiery fetish is triggered.
Thus begins their dance around the subject of friends falling for each other, or trying to avoid it, and what happens when your friend becomes something… more.
Beriko’s art is beautiful. The boys are all lovely and well-proportioned in a modern manga style, and there is a hint more realism and much fewer romantic special effects. The awkwardness of the plotline is funny enough in itself so joke panels are used sparingly. One of my favorite things about this book is that all the characters are easily recognizable. (Beautiful manga boys can sometimes start to look an awful lot alike.)
The first subplot does include a common situation in school life manga. Keisuke’s best friend, the openly gay Mayuki, is having an illicit relationship with the school’s male nurse, Aramaki. This is also illegal in Japan but it’s an often-used plot device. A minor subplot forms a sort-of love triangle as Miyoshi, a classmate who acts homophobic towards Mayuki but is secretly attracted to him, finds himself involved in a bit of blackmail. The three interwoven stories are deftly handled with the correct amount of tension and drama, ending in a satisfactory conclusion. As far as yaoi is concerned, this is definitely fluff—the good stuff (the sex) doesn’t happen until the third act, and even that action is subdued (but very sexy). But, it is explicit and the book is justifiably rated mature.
Good, single-volume stories are a nice break from longer series and I enjoyed this one immensely. It is available in traditional, paperback manga format, in e-reader formats, or as a downloadable PDF from the publisher. I would recommend it for any yaoi collection, and any adult manga library. It is filled with likable characters and has a feel-good ending, with everyone getting his man in the end.
by Scarlet Beriko
Sublime Manga, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: adults 18+