FreshMen by Yuuya: C+

In the title story, Takeyuki Saito and Hitoshi Sato are both studying art at the same university. At the entrance ceremony, Saito, who’d been up drinking the night before, momentarily slumps into Sato’s arms, giving the impression that he’s weak and needs looking after. In the weeks that follow, Saito takes advantage of Sato’s kindness to some degree, and eventually realizes that Sato has feelings for him.

“FreshMen” surprised me in a couple of ways. First, take a look at the cover image up there. Which one is the uke? In nearly every other yaoi manga, it’d be the smaller-looking blond. “FreshMen” switches things around by having Saito, the younger and shorter of the pair, be the seme while serious, dark-haired Sato is the uke. Second, Sato really struggles with his homosexuality, expressing the desire to just be “normal” and worrying a lot about exposure. There are some plot points I’m not fond of, but these atypical traits put me in a kindly frame of mind toward “FreshMen.”

The latter half of the volume is made up of three short stories featuring Chomaru and Shiina—characters from Yuuya’s doujinshi—which I don’t like nearly as well. Particularly distasteful is a story called “memory of,” which recounts the story of how, after Chomaru has been living with Shiina rent free for six months, the latter comes home drunk and extorts the former into exchanging sex for rent. This particular episode is a flashback, but the rest of their relationship is also kinda cold and weird.

Speaking of weird, the art also has its strange moments. Each couple has its blond and its brunette and the blonds (Saito and Chomaru) look very much alike. Mouths are also drawn oddly at times, with very red, poofy lips. I amused myself by imagining the characters sneaking sips of Kool-Aid between panels.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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