CUT by Toko Kawai: A

“Life is kind of a pain,” thinks Chiaki Sakaguchi at the outset of this exceptional one-shot. Chiaki is bored with school; it seems so trivial compared to the painful secret guilt he carries over his father’s death. In an attempt to dull that pain, Chiaki seeks out new pain, getting involved in an abusive incestuous relationship with his stepfather and resorting to cutting himself as a way to relieve his anxiety. When he meets Eiji Yukimura, a young man with his own dark secret, he finally has found someone who might understand.

CUT is a moving story of two very broken people connecting and finding, through each other, the strength to move forward. There are some disturbing elements involving incest and masochism, but such scenes are not played for titillation, since it’s clear Chiaki is merely doing these things in an attempt to forget his unbearable pain. Later on, when Chiaki turns his stepfather away and tells him, “You made me forget something horrible by doing something worse,” it’s truly a moment of triumph.

The relationship between Chiaki and Eiji is both sweet and sad and made me teary a few times (I never knew a knee nudge could be so poignant!). By the end, neither is completely healed, but they’ve both come to a place where they’re able to live with their wounds and trust that, with time and love, they will fade.

You don’t have to be a boys’ love fan to appreciate CUT. Like the works of est em, I think what it has to offer could appeal to anyone.

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

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