Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Only Serious About You
With the date for Chizu's move to her mother's looming, Oosawa grows more and more conflicted. Is he making the right choice for his daughter? For himself? As he struggles with this issue, he also finds himself growing more and more dependent on Yoshioka. Yoshi has repeatedly asked he and Chizu to just move in with him so that he could better help them – would that solve Oosawa's problems of both parenthood and the heart?
Readers of the first volume of Asou Kai's sweet nontraditional family tale will remember the dilemma protagonist Naoki Oosawa was left with at its end – his ex-wife is getting remarried to a man with a five-year-old son and she wants Chizu back. She and her new husband feel that it will be more beneficial to Chizu to be raised by two parents with a sibling, espousing the more traditional view of what family life should be for a child. Oosawa, who perhaps has some insecurities about being a single dad, seems willing to give in. After all, it's supposed to be better for Chizu, right?
This is a theme that comes up several times in Only Serious About You, giving it an edge over more genre-conforming yaoi titles. Oosawa and Yoshioka are thinking not just about the romantic potential of their relationship, but also about the family implications. When Oosawa decides to fight to keep his daughter, Yoshioka agrees to help him, making it clear that he wants Chizu to be a part of their lives. He also remarks that they do not hold the ideal legal position for a custody battle and that as a father, Oosawa is not eligible for childcare benefits, which may refer to the governmental allowance or child support from his divorce. In either case, it is an enlightening detail for readers of both this series and Yumi Unita's Bunny Drop, and also helps to give the story an element of realism. Other social issues that may arise from a child being raised by a gay couple are mentioned, and while none are expanded upon, those who are interested will find food for thought.
Most of the major wooing was accomplished in volume one, with Yoshioka devoting himself to winning both Oosawa and Chizu over, leaving this book to complete the work of establishing the main pair as a loving couple. Most of the hurdles lie within Oosawa, as he comes to terms with the fact that he may be in love with a man and equally that he has come to trust that man enough to rely upon him. Short stories in the back provide more of Yoshioka's thoughts about the relationship and how this is the first time he has been, to paraphrase the title, serious about a single person. Watching the two men come to rely on each other for their emotional needs is satisfying, and the way that they incorporate Chizu into the group is charming. At one point the two men sleep on either side of her, and Yoshioka comments that they resemble the character for “river.” It is worth mentioning that that is one of letters that makes up Oosawa's name, giving the remark a deeper significance.
It should be noted that while volume one carried a 16+ rating, the series ends with an M. The sex scenes aren't as graphic as some, and only take place after the couple is firmly established, but those uncomfortable with more explicit yaoi than the first book provided should consider themselves informed. While Kai mostly implies genitals, pubic hair and glimpses of penis are present on some occasions, along with the ever-elusive male nipples. The scenes are fairly well done, however, and those who lamented their absence in the first volume should be satisfied.
Art remains at about the same level as the previous book, with attractive yet basic character designs, few backgrounds, and primarily white artwork. (Complaints abound in the comments about Yoshioka's toned hair.) Kai does provide some nice visual tricks with the custody issues, such as Chizu's hair styles and even the coloring of the two contenders for her – Chizu and Oosawa share white hair while ex-wife Kana, her husband, and his son all have black. As far as symbolism goes, that's fairly obvious but still a good touch. Anatomy is slightly improved this time, and detached legs are happily absent.
The strength of Only Serious About You lies in its depiction of not just two men coming together, but in the formation of a family. Chizu's interactions with both of her father figures is sweet without being falsely so and her ready acceptance of her father's choice is heartwarming. Likewise Yoshioka's attachment to both members of the Oosawa family gives this romance a little something extra to make it worth your time. Much yaoi takes place in a closed world of beautiful men – Asou Kai's is a story that, despite its clearly fictional elements, has a little taste of possibility to it. Add to that a set of truly likeable protagonists and a story you can get invested in, and you have a winner.
Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B
+ Likeable characters, a heartwarming take on the nontraditional family.
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