Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Manga Review: I'll Be Your Slave

I'll Be Your Slave
Author: Miki Araya
Digital Manga Publishing
196 pages

Big boss Moriya has his entire company eating out of the palm of his perfectly manicured hand. He has just one problem: where can he find the perfect face for a high-profile ad campaign? In the nick of time, the angelic Ouno appears like a vision on a crowded street. Moriya will do anything to win Ouno's favor and keep him on the job...but will the coverboy sign on the dotted line and surrender his heart? (Source: DMP)

A lot of people will hate this story. In fact, a lot of people do hate this story. I cannot blame them, considering the story. It is, after all, about a man named Moriya who is pretty much a lovesick slave for Ouno, a spoiled rich brat who displays no emotion except for beauty. What could possibly be found in such a story? How can anyone enjoy a relationship between a weakling and a brat?

The answer is: surprisingly easy, if you want to! Even people who think they'll hate the characters might find something to enjoy in I'll Be Your Slave's odd take on the typical boys' love romance.

First things first, stop taking things so seriously! This is a very silly story; even the manga-ka Araya doesn't take it seriously half the time. What little genuine drama is in it is tempered by loads of humor and screwball romance. For a boys' love manga, it is pretty darn ridiculous sometimes, especially when Moriya goes into melodramatic mode over his favorite boy, Ouno.

Some people call Ouno a spoiled emotionless person who it is hard to connect to, but I assume they didn't finish the book. Ouno clearly shows genuine emotion in the final act of this story! It is his emotional response to Moriya's gestures of love that make the story, and I can't believe how many people missed that. Yes, he is distant and clinically detached from his surroundings, but I wouldn't call that a flaw so much as a quirk of character.

As for Moriya, I bet it would surprise many readers how many people in real life are Moriyas themselves. Maybe not to the great extent of Moriya himself but that is because his energetic zeal to please is part of his character, from being an important part of his company to keeping his young lover satisfied. Plus, his responses to most of the scenarios flung his way as people try to steal his number one model away from him made this book. 

The Moriya/Ouno relationship was genuinely fascinating and perhaps a little endearing, considering how they could communicate without speaking a word (although sometimes this lack of verbal communication would lead to a slip-up or two by Moriya). That is why Ouno doesn't need to say anything; Moriya already can tell what he needs and when, and it is usually right away. 

I see that Araya did her best to show that Ouno grew up being attended to and therefore became dangerously used to, although I think she could have developed that angle of his character a little more to show how Moriya's devotion is a different beast all together. What a wasted opportunity! Moriya is one of those characters that could actually be likeable if more of his past is shown, but I don't think this was done properly here.

Along with the main story, there is also an unrelated one-shot called The Barbaric Prince. It continues the trend of couples in which one is verbally unresponsive and the other is the only one who understands, although in this story the non-verbal boy seems to have something emotionally wrong with him and responds to stress with violence. It was sweet and sad at the same time; I can only imagine what the manga-ka could have done with this story if she had gotten the chance to expand it for at least another chapter.

In the end, I'll Be Your Slave is a work of BL that will certainly divide readers, but it will also entertain even if you don't necessarily love how standoffish Ouno is or how deeply Moriya's slavish devotion runs. For me, it was a lot of fun, and I kinda wish there were more stories about Ouno and Moriya out there to read.

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