On the Night of the End of the World...
Summary: Yuri is an escort, trying to bury the memory of an accident 7 years ago in denial, while deeply in debt. When his brother Nagi miraculously reappears from presumed death, he finally tries to leave the profession. But it won't be easy on either of them...
Makoto's Notes: This is a heavy little story. It's only about 100 pages, but it's crammed full of angst in every scene. Billed as a "forbidden love" story, it's fairly obvious from the start that Nagi isn't who he appears to be. Still, he does have an intense Brother-Complex for the very pretty Yuri. So it's not really a complex, yet it is...? Your mileage (and sensitivity level) on that will vary. There's plenty of other things to worry about in this book.
The opening monologue is Yuri's, while handling a particularly rough client. "I don't hate sex, but sometimes when I'm doing it I have to think about other things." He's cold, very business-like, but miserable. Yabuzaki-sensei, a long-time friend, seems honestly concerned for his welfare, but it's only the mention of Nagi that cracks Yuri's exterior.
Honestly, I find the story too unsettling to recommend even to its proper audience of adults... the ending is "happy", I suppose, but it still leaves a bitter taste. The path Gokurakuin-sensei takes to reach her conclusion is so awful that it's hard to imagine Yuri and Nagi could possibly find happiness. Many of her stories deal with moving on from a difficult past, but none have so firmly offered the solution as "Deny it all, lie to yourself and everyone else, and suppress everything." Doesn't sit well with me. But I do like a book that makes me think, and this one definitely accomplished that goal. Even my review is torn!
The book is filled out with two shorts. The first is a Boku no Suki na Sensei clip set near the beginning of the manga. Kazuki, convinced that Ukyou-sensei has NO idea he's in love with him, decides he needs to confess his feelings. Ukyou finds it cloyingly endearing as usual, but still manages to scare Kazuki off with "adult talk". Cute and sweet. The second is "Kaze no Nioi", a period piece set in the 1600's. More historical coming-of-age than romance, it's one of her older works, from '93. But it tells a strong story in only 15 pages. There's no furigana anywhere, in case you needed a bigger hint this book is only for mature audiences.
Warnings and Suggestions: Serious warnings abound. Rape, prostitution, brother-complex, implied childhood trauma, guns and murder. Icky stuff. Not for the sensitive, but if you love Suki na Sensei like I do, you'll have to get this book anyway.