Unsophisticated and Rude by Momoko Tenzen: B+

unsophisticatedUnsophisticated and Rude is a collection of five boys’ love tales from Momoko Tenzen. Unlike most compilations in this format, all of the stories are enjoyable and demonstrate an impressive ability to establish unique and compelling characters within a limited number of pages.

The first two stories—“Unsophisticated and Rude” and “Pretender”—are the best, offering additional dramatic complications beyond what’s generally expected with stories of this type. In the title story, Hiroto is surprised when his childhood friend, Satoshi, confesses that he has feelings for a male upperclassman. Hiroto pledges his support, but secretly possesses feelings for the same guy. While he cares for Satoshi and wants things to work out for his friend, he can’t help being jealous and, in the end, makes the difficult choice to seize love while he can. In “Pretender,” Katase has attempted to forestall his friend Manaka’s love confession by going out with a girl, to no avail. He’s very conscious of the stigma surrounding homosexuality, and resists engaging in a relationship, worrying that Manaka “isn’t really like me.”

My one real complaint is that, because of the inherent constraints of a short story, some things are not shown that I’d like to see. Particularly in the title story, readers are left wondering how Hiroto’s decision to choose love over his best friend will affect his life. Then again, perhaps it’s better to leave the undoubtedly painful implosion of their friendship to one’s imagination.

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

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