I was deeply confused by this three-book series, but in a good way. Mostly. I avoided Kiss All the Boys for a while, despite my love for Shiuko Kano, because – I don’t know. I’m up for many forms of kink. Kink me, I usually say. But I was worried about many things. The picture on the back cover of the first volume, for one.
I’m all for cross dressing, but I never developed a taste for young boys in girls’ school uniforms. Maybe it’s those baggy socks. But the big, adult-looking hand lifting up the skirt is really kind of the last straw of squick here.
And then there’s, oh, the plot. (Spoilers ho; if you’re sensitive about being spoiled, you’ll want to hop off the bus now. Bye! Be sure to get some breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day!) Here is my short, concise, and entirely to-the-point synopsis. Pornographer’s gay son comes to live with him, displaying a truly alarming level of sexual precociousness; pornographer is unpleasantly homophobic and also battling impotence, which is played for laughs in a way I don’t quite know how to deal with; pornographer’s son brings home his crush object, his cute’n’clueless best friend; pornographer snipes mercilessly at son; pornographer accidentally winds up jerking off a male stranger in a movie theater (and, you know, somehow that has never happened to me); the stranger falls in love with the pornographer AND winds up being his new neighbor; the pornographer has sex with his new neighbor and gets caught by his son; the son hits on his friend and sends said friend running, screaming, into the street (that’s never happened to me, either, but I’ve come a lot closer to this than the other scenario); the pornographer chases down the friend and accidentally comforts him; the pornographer finds out that his friend and editor who is also the son’s uncle is in love with the pornographer, sending the pornographer running, screaming, into the street; the pornographer finally cruelly dumps his neighbor, who surprisingly and for no obvious reason winds up with the best friend, who I was sure was going to wind up with the pornographer; the son winds up not with the clueless object of crush, which I also thought was a sure thing, but instead with the pornographer’s kind of skeevy replacement editor, who shows up after the pornographer’s best friend quits after the pornographer runs screaming into the street after he finds out his friend loves him; as a bonus surprise, the son turns out not to be alarmingly sexually precocious at all but actually a virgin, which the skeevy new editor cures him of, so we don’t get total relief on the whole kind of disturbing underage sex front; and, just to prove that, the pornographer winds up with the son’s dorky, innocent, underage crush.
I’m going to give you all a few moments to catch your breath; I know I’m feeling a little winded.
OK. If you made it all the way through that plot summary, you now understand two things. Thing one: There is a certain amount of dubious sexual content in these books. Not dubious as in dubious consent – although there’s a sprinkling of that, too – but dubious as in “I don’t know, that might not be hot so much as kind of gross.”
Thing two: Oh my God! It’s like Kano took everything she had left in her refrigerator, then raided her neighbors’ houses and took everything they had in their refrigerators, and diced it all up into a huge bowl, and then had to go find a bigger bowl because the first bowl wasn’t big enough, and then had to divide it up into both bowls because otherwise she couldn’t add the salad dressing, and then she threw both bowls up into the air at the same time, creating a whirling salad storm that was so all-encompassing, all you can do is roll around in the salad and laugh uncontrollably.
Or maybe that’s just me. It’s kind of a salad day here in Chicago, hot and humid, and I could really use some lunch.
Anyway. This series is funny and squicky and messy, and the squicky and messy are there on purpose to add bite to the funny. And let’s not forget the sex (as if you could; Kano creates some, shall we say, vivid scenarios). There’s lots of it, and despite my initial reservations (and the invisi-penis syndrome) ( and step right this way for a discussion on yaoi conventions re. the handling of the penis), I finished the series happy and not permanently damaged by anything I’d seen. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is. This series is sort of like watching clips of Bam Margera skateboarding . You think, oh, he’s kind of nasty, but he does have that adorable relationship with Ville Valo from HIM, and Ville Valo is surreally hot, and Bam is kind of amazing on the skateboard, and it’s a little bit satisfying watching him wipe out, too, and overall, well – yeah.
You will have no doubt noted that I have invoked both salad gone wild and Bam Margera in my attempt to describe these books. All I can say is, if that doesn’t make you want to read them, I don’t know what would. I’ve done my best.