I like Hyouta Fuyiyama. I liked Ordinary Crush and Sunflower and Freefall Romance and probably Lover’s Flat, although I don’t remember anything about that one. I think I liked it, though, because I remember that I read it, and the memory doesn’t tarnish my feelings for Fujiyama, so I’m sure it was fine. This book – Tale of the Waning Moon – is nothing like those books, though. Well, that’s not true. It’s like them in that the blond uke looks pretty much the same in every book – but I see that as a feature and not a bug. Besides, if we were to rule out titles in which the characters looked just like other characters in previous books, we wouldn’t be able to read multiple series by Kazuya Minekura, or Sanami Matoh. And that would be a damned shame.
Tale of the Waning Moon is not a modern love story, like Fujiyama’s other manga. She wrote this for a supplement to a video gaming magazine and thought it would be fun to do a fantasy role-playing game sort of thing. (Or so she said in the end notes, and I have no reason not to believe her. Why would she lie?) The story does read as a fantasy role-playing game. It’s set in an alternate universe where people journey on foot or horseback for days through forests, and shit like that. I have to give her credit because reading this book feels really a lot like playing a video game, which is kind of a cool thing she’s done. Don’t you think? Unfortunately, I fucking hate video games. That’s really my problem, though, and not yours.
And I basically like the book anyway. The premise is simple – elegant, even, if you don’t mind sheer lunacy (that’s a pun, by the way, what with the moon thing – oh, never mind) and a little sort-of non-consensual sex to get the ball rolling. As it were. (Wow. I’m on fire.) The story stats off with a bang (there I go again!), with the cute blond uke – Ryuka, in this incarnation – getting, er, manhandled by Ixto, the spirit of the third-quarter moon. Not the waning gibbous or the half moon, mind you. The third-quarter moon. Then we find out how Ryuka got himself into this situation. He got drunk because his girl left him for someone with more money, and then he accidentally went off to a magical hill to throw up. Because on this hill (it is said), once a year, when the night is most filled with stars, if one speaks his wish out loud, it will be granted. Fortunately, Ryuka doesn’t say, “Oh, my God, I’m so sick I wish I could die,” as perhaps you and without a doubt I would have done. Instead, he wishes for someone to love, who will love him in return. Nice, huh? Good Ryuka! I was proud of him.
And then Ixto descends, and Ryuka’s troubles really begin. He rejects the choices presented to him by the cards of fate because they’re all men, and that won’t do because he’s straight. (Ha, ha, ha! Poor, silly Ryuka! Like we haven’t heard that before!) All right! Ixto says, since this is apparently (and obscurely) the go ahead to ravish Ryuka, basically against his will (although there is not exactly a lot of struggling), and put a spell on him so that will make Ryuka’s body need to travel and seek Ixto out. And the yaoi video game begins. Ryuka gets lost in the forest, gets help from Ixto’s moon cat boy (who has ears and a tail and a little medieval cross-dressing go-go outfit and is supposed to be cute and sexy, I think, but consistently squicks me right out), meets all the attractive men who were pictured on the cards of fate, gets into trouble, is almost kidnapped, etc. etc. You know how it goes. Adventures are had. Additional rapes are narrowly avoided. The horse turns into a handsome man. It could be the story of any of us, really.
And, somehow – maybe because I’m such a sap – I did begin to like the budding romance between Ryuka and Ixto. (Yup; that sap thing is a good call. Also, I’m obviously not overly worried about the non-con situation. It strains one’s willing suspension of disbelief, but did I mention the story also features a horse turning into a handsome man?) There are a couple of genuinely sweet scenes between them, and you start to feel a genuine longing and affection. So much that I find myself sad to see that volume 2 may be a long time off. I went to the Yen Press Web site and didn’t see a sequel in their upcoming titles (through mid-2010). This was just published last year in Japan, so maybe the second collection isn’t done yet? I don’t know. If it shows up, though, I’ll buy it. Cat boy and all.