two of hearts
Two of Hearts, Kano Miyamoto, 2008, Deux Press

Cat reaction shots. I love gratuitous cat reaction shots.

And you know what else I like? Romantic tales with damaged people who help each other heal. Which is what this story is about. There’s an older guy who suffers from writers block – which is, of course, a manifestation of his inability to have a real relationship. (Of course, everybody suffers from writers block, and of course people who aren’t able to really connect with their deepest emotions write books all the time, but we’ll let that slide because there’s no need to be obstructionist.)

So, what we mostly have here is a sweet little story about two people finding each other. There’s the blocked writer, Haruya, and there’s a magnificently fucked up high school boy, Maki. Maki has OCD and a stutter and crippling shyness and some very difficult personal circumstances, and he’s really quite appealing. Haruya is kind of letting his life drift by but is obviously a pretty good person, as he’s moved to go far out of his way to help Maki when he happens to run across him. Their interactions are pleasantly ambiguous, initially, and their growing relationship is satisfying.

Except. This is another one of those yaoi titles with a bizarre rape scene (or near rape – they get interrupted just before they get to the full monty) that just leaves you scratching your head. It seems to come from a “guys are different” kind of place, but it doesn’t play right. The motivation is extremely sketchy, and no one reacts anything like appropriately. “Oh, sorry I was getting ready to rape your emotionally damaged boyfriend who’s still in high school – Oh, don’t worry about it.” “Sorry my friend tried to rape you; he’s just upset because he’s been in love with me for years and I’ve been ignoring it – Oh, that’s fine, then.”

This weird lack of concern over what should be a seriously traumatizing event is part of what ruins the ending for me. Miyamoto is so determined to make everything heartwarming and sweet and happy that she goes overboard. Everybody is going to be fine, all the problems be damned. I like a dazzlingly romantic ending as much as the next yaoi fan, but this time, the happy-ever-after is cloying. There were some interesting complications, and suddenly everything is – all right. Maki is able to get it on with Haruya and straighten out his life. The rapist is able to help Haruya write that prize-winning novel everyone knew he had in him, and to move on with his life and find someone who loves him. Haruya is able to realize that he loves Maki and to work past his emotional distance, write brilliantly, and love selflessly. Just all of a sudden, like Miyamoto got fed up with the whole thing and decided she needed to wrap this up and move on to the next manga. Which might well have been the case – and I’ve been there, Kano, I really have.

So, is it wrong for me to be disgruntled in the midst of all this comprehensive bliss, just because I find it kind of under-motivated and sudden? I don’t know. There’s a lot to enjoy in this story, and it will not leave you weeping, even if you’re in a state where you’re feeling sorry for yourself and you’re getting overly emotional and sniffly over the whole Jon and Kate Gosselin saga (so brilliantly, ably, and thoroughly covered in Us Magazine). I wouldn’t have bothered to tell you about Two of Hearts if I didn’t think there was something special about it. But – you know. There are problems. Forewarned is forearmed.

Oh, right. The cat. It’s a stray that Haruya takes in and grows to love. Get it? Yes, of course you do. It’s still pretty cute, though.

two of hearts

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