As always, Brian did a hell of a job. And could this be a plot developing? Say it ain't so!
And, yup, there's another Overlooked Manga Festival today!
So let's talk porn.
I've covered yaoi/shonen-ai type stuff before, most notably Shout Out Loud! But Shout Out Loud! isn't especially smutty; it's more of a romance/drama that just happens to feature lots of beautiful men gazing longingly at each other. Gerard and Jacques comes from the same publisher, Tokyopop's BLU imprint, which boasts a lot of the better guy-on-guy manga available in English, and it's closer to straight-up yaoi. You know, man-pr0n. It's by the brilliant Fumi Yoshinaga, whose less-smutty (but still cheerfully hot) Antique Bakery is probably too popular to make the Overlooked Manga Festival, but please read it anyway, because it's awesome. If you have read Antique Bakery and thought that all it needed were a few extended sex scenes, Gerard and Jacques may be right up your alley.
To be perfectly blunt, a lot of yaoi is not very...what's the word? Oh, yes. Good. It's porn, and porn, by its very nature, tends to be a little flimsy in the plausibility department. I'm defining "porn" here as work created primarily and specifically for sexual arousal. That's why I'm categorizing Gerard and Jacques as porn, even though there are actually only a few sex scenes, none of them are as anatomically explicit as, say, an average chapter of Bondage Fairies, and the naughty bits are frequently whited-out in the traditional Japanese censor-dodging style. It's not hardcore porn, but it clearly exists to put its beautiful characters in titillating situations, and therefore it's porn.
Also, it opens with a cold but handsome libertine "breaking in" a lovely, virginal teenage boy in a brothel by teaching him the pleasures of the flesh. When this is your character-establishing scene, dude, you're writing porn.
It's France, it's the Age of Enlightenment, and everyone who can afford debauchery is being very debauched indeed. Gerard is a wealthy commoner with a dark past and an alluring eyepatch. Jacques is a child of the aristocracy whose parents sold him into sexual slavery to pay off their debts. Gerard hates aristocrats, and he's more than willing to introduce Jacques to the concept of class warfare, courtesy of his penis. But he also buys Jacques's freedom from the brothel. Spurred to prove himself, Jacques comes to work for Gerard as a household servant, and they totally do not have any more steamy, tormented sex.
Really. They don't.
For entire chapters.
Come on, Gerard. Are you in some kind of wholesome manga?
And Gerard and Jacques is only two volumes, so obviously they can't hold out for too long. Yoshinaga delays the inevitable by filling in Gerard's backstory, explaining his scarred face and distaste for the bourgeois.
Also, she thinks she can distract us with a sequence in which a woman becomes the filling in a Hot Yoshinaga Man Sandwich. She is so right. Damn you, Fumi Yoshinaga!
MANGA CAN HAVE ALL MY BABIES.
There's more going on. Gerard's career as a writer of bestselling lesbian erotica, for instance.
Oh, and the French Revolution, which causes the characters to periodically stop and discuss Enlightenment philosophy and politics (and lesbian erotica) in enormous word balloons.
For the most part, Gerard and Jacques is a light, smutty romp, certainly fluffier than the more rounded Antique Bakery. But it also goes to some dark places. Porn often does, because darkness is boner-inducing. Gerard and Jacques includes prostitution, underage sex, rape, sadism, sex with horrible people, and the French Revolution, which is not sexy at all. As soon as I flipped the manga open to this panel, for instance, my husband knew it was destined for the OMF:
Yoshinaga gets away with a lot of this through cultural relativism: wealthy Frenchman of the eighteenth century generally screwed around, had marriage arrangements that would seem deeply wrong today, and patronized brothels. Okay, most of them probably didn't patronize gay brothels, specifically. Only the hot ones. But Gerard and Jacques is not just porn but romance, and we can be reasonably confident that love will eventually conquer all, more or less.
Aww. Poor hot tormented manga men in period costume.
And that's my sexy manga fix of the week. Gerard will show you the door.
Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Your and My Secret
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga