Reviewby Rebecca Silverman, Nov 19th 2011
Only Serious About You
Naoki Oosawa is a hard-working single dad. He divides his time between work at a Japanese restaurant, caring for his daughter Chizu, and just generally trying to make ends meet. Seiichi Yoshioka is an openly homosexual playboy who clearly has a crush on Oosawa, but also has a reputation as a serial dater, making him even less appealing to Oosawa than his gender alone would render him. But when Chizu comes down with a fever, it is Yoshioka who steps up to the plate and offers a helping hand. Is there more to this man than Oosawa first assumed? And does love really take gender into account?
Asou Kai, author of DokiDoki's Cool/Uncool, has, perhaps unintentionally, provided a visual representation of the bumper sticker “Two Moms Are Better Than None.” Of course, in this case the “moms” are dads, but what is really at the heart of this first of two volumes is the relationship that Naoki Oosawa has with his five-year-old daughter Chizu. Naoki's wife left he and Chizu several years ago, claiming emotional distress from having to take care of the little girl all day while Naoki worked to support them. Ever since then Naoki's life has revolved around Chizu and making sure that he's giving her the best possible life. When he receives a phone call from her daycare center telling him that she's running a high fever, he feels like his life is about to fall apart – how can he possibly both work and take care of a sick child, especially when he lives so far from the restaurant?
Taking a step back, we first meet romantic interest Seiichi Yoshioka as a regular customer at the restaurant. He casually hits on Naoki, who is very much uninterested. Partially this is because Naoki identifies himself as straight, but it is also because he sees Yoshioka as a player, an ultimately frivolous man with no willpower. Naoki is therefore quite shocked when Yoshioka shows up at the daycare center to help him get Chizu to the doctor – Naoki got the call at work, and Yoshioka, without being asked, leapt into action: he calls an old friend with a doctor husband, gets Chizu her medicine, and convinces Naoki that he and Chizu should stay with him in his much closer to work apartment until the little girl recovers. This is Naoki's first hint that perhaps there is more to Yoshioka than he at first thought.
As their stay inevitably stretches longer, both Naoki and Chizu begin to feel warmth for Yoshioka. The best parts, even if you're reading this for the romance, are undoubtedly Chizu's swift acceptance of her daddy's new friend. Yoshi, as he tells Chizu to call him, is terrific with the little girl, and it is clear that Chizu is more than willing to see him as a second parent. Later in the book she seems to be considering this in a much more serious light as she listens to Yoshi flirt with her dad. It is genuinely heartwarming to watch this small family interact, and when Chizu's mother makes an appearance later on with an unreasonable request, readers may find themselves really rooting for the “unconventional” family.
In terms of romance, which this ostensibly is, the content is very mild. Yoshioka is clearly in love with Oosawa, who is growing to trust him. There is only one kiss and little-to-no touching, so if you're looking for racy yaoi, this is not the place to get it. One bathtub scene strongly implies genitals, but it is nonsexual. The heart of this romance is really more domestic – it is about Naoki creating the perfect family for his daughter. Love is clearly part of this – after all, the ideal parents should love each other – but it is more about what makes a family than hot, steamy passion. It is a refreshing angle for any romance to take, and inevitably calls up comparisons with Yumi Unita's Bunny Drop. Fans of that series will probably enjoy this one, regardless of whether they like homoerotic romances or not. While there are some conventions of yaoi and BL present – most notably that Oosawa is straight but falling for a man – even the most BL-shy should be able to stomach this, and maybe even enjoy it.
Kai's art is light and attractive, with all of the men having distinctly different builds and figures. There aren't many backgrounds, and whenever she tries to draw someone sitting with his legs crossed the left hip appears to be totally unattached to the body, but for the most part this book is pleasant to look at. June's translation is fluid and natural sounding. The only complaint is that a number of traditional Japanese dishes are mentioned at the restaurant and there is no glossary to provide any definitions. While most of us know what “nabe” is at this point, it is unlikely that many would be as familiar with “motsuni.”
Overall this is a sweet, touching tale of a man realizing that appearances can be deceiving and that love comes in all forms. With its family angle and likeable characters, Only Serious About You is not just good BL, it's a good book.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B
+ Sweet, charming story, unusual familial approach is both heartwarming and culturally important.
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