Miyano may go to an all-boys school, and be a huge fan of BL, but he sure as heck doesn’t want to get involved in a BL plot himself. Nu-uh, no way! But it seems like his senpai Sasaki, who has been spending a lot of time with him recently, has other plans…..
When this title was licensed I saw a few folks bring up Horimiya as a somewhat similar romantic drama. But for me, Horimiya’s strongest point is its characters and that is probably the weakest part of Sasaki and Miyano. After a mere four pages introducing how these two met (both of them were trying to stop a school yard bully in their own way) we jump ahead three months to when the two of them have an established relationship of hanging out, Miyano loaning Sasaki his latest BL purchases, and other, low-key, innocuous interactions. It felt like Shou Harusono was so excited to get to the point where they could “will they or won’t they” with the characters that they forgot that the readers don’t know these characters nearly as well as the author does yet!
These comics were originally self-published on Pixiv so I wonder if some character-developing material was left out of the printed version (like small doodles as an example) or if this lack of grounding simply mattered less to the kind of audience that would come to read short, amateur comics. Sasaki and Miyano‘s art also reflects this non-professional origin as well: in the afterword Harusono says “Volume 1 consists of the contents of Log 1. When it started running as a series, I added more content” which I took to mean that some pages in volume 1 (and beyond) weren’t in the original Pixiv run and I think I can spot exactly which pages, not through an art shift but through paneling.
There are quite a few pages with the exact same four panel layout taking up the entire page and the fourth panel is always a gag (well, an attempted one anyway, overall I did not think the humor landed very often). But there are also quite a few pages with a more typical manga page layout which feels like they were added in later to flesh out gags into more serious moments. I noticed this pattern subconsciously at first (the fact that it wasn’t consistent agitated me until I realized what was going on) and while understandable why Harusono expanded upon some of these situations instead of just creating entirely new ones, it certainly felt inelegant at times.
It would have been easy to look past wonky paneling if Sasaki and Miyano had gripped me but it just didn’t; the story wanted me to be deeply invested in these characters and their burgeoning relationship before I had any reason to be invested! After two full volumes they both remain pretty one-note characters: Miyano likes BL (but not in real life) and Sasaki doesn’t like BL so much as he likes the opportunity to hang out with Miyano (and yes would certainly like to date him). It’s as if we’re watching real people from such a distance that they remain inscrutable, although ironically enough I don’t think that the upcoming anime adaptation is D.O.A because of this. In the hands of a more experienced staff, I can see how the story could be tweaked just a bit to give the viewers more investment in the characters (perhaps a longer introduction to both of them, lingering shots with soft music, etc) and that’s really all it needs to be a perfectly serviceable romantic comedy.
At this point I don’t plan on going back to the series, especially since it seems like Sasaki might secretly be the kind of overly-possessive romantic lead I don’t like, but I’m certainly curious what the reactions to the anime will be.