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Natsumizu Ritsu: Good Morning

We all like little surprises, but more than the ones that bring on the warm fuzzies and uncontrollable blushing, I prefer the surprises that make me a bit uncomfortable or appalled even. I enjoy it when life-like bits of cruelty and ignorance exist amongst the sparkles and flowers. I never had high praises for Natsumizu Ritsu until now. I don’t think her work is awful, but the only reason I re-read her titles was because I couldn’t remember what they were about.

The main story in Good Morning is about Hayashi and Shinohara; two salarymen whose companies have them working together on a project. Poor Shinohara… such a cute crybaby who had every reason to cry. Why did you fall in love with such a bastard? Hayashi is an idiot and a mean one at that. His apologies are hilarious and rather pathetic. This makes him somewhat endearing and that’s a bit disconcerting because his insensitivity is oddly charming as well. No matter how you look at him, he’s trouble. It’s hard to escape the “gay for you” motive in bl and I tend to roll my eyes every time I encounter one—even if I enjoy the story—but I ate it right up this time around. I loved every minute of Hayashi’s fall (or ascension, depending on how you want to look at it). My contentment with the ending notwithstanding, I have lingering concerns about Hayashi’s temper. I think his jealousy and avarice, if left unchecked by his daily dose of remorse, could easily wander off into dangerous territory. But that could be interesting, too.

Is someone being called a “strawberry custard danish” an insult or a compliment? I don’t know and Fujino, the thinker of such thoughts, can’t seem to make up his mind about that either. In the first part of the second story, “The Melon Bread War,” Fujino, the unapologetic regular melon bread, is being harassed in the sweetest way by fellow employee, Kuraki, the aforementioned strawberry treat. Everyday, Fujino’s lunch includes melon bread and, for some reason, this bothers Kuraki. After an unsuccessful attempt to convince Fujino to buy something else, Kuraki takes progressive action and makes a daily habit of bringing a different variety of melon bread for his new lunch buddy to try. Once he runs out of ammo for his melon bread attack, we find that he’s not just some lunchtime lunatic, but that his afternoon antics were part of his idiotic plan to break the ice with Fujino. Meanwhile, Fujino’s been a mess since Kuraki started imposing on his break time and he can’t figure out what Kuraki wants with him. I don’t know who I pity more: Fujino, who finds himself interested in a guy who’s really good at frustrating him or Kuraki, whose misguided attempts to indulge Fujino are more successful at unveiling Fujino’s well-hidden mercurial nature. Well, they’re both so awkwardly adorable, it’s impossible to choose.

This is the book of the apologizing seme. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many mea culpas in one volume; it makes me feel good. I think it’s great that the ukes actually have the upper hand in these stories, though one’s wave is more silent that the other. I loved all the characters and their quirks. However, I have a special place in my heart for Hayashi’s co-worker who was willing to help him out with anything save one. My emotions were all over the place while delighting in this new, immediate favorite and I can’t wait to read it again. If you haven’t already, give it a go and have your own Good Morning.

Nastumizu Ritsu’s Good Morning has become one of my favorite titles. When I read it, I usually read it a few times back to back because there are so many great moments in there. A while back, someone asked why I didn’t give it a perfect score [5.0]. I must apologize to the asker because I never did answer and I forgot who you are. I have no excuse for my negligence, but I’m going to answer it now.

Spoilers ho!

Say “good morning” to Hayashi.

Hayashi, the seemingly dominant male lead of the title story, is an interesting seme. He is personable when he needs to be–at work, for instance–and is capable of expressing genuine concern, but otherwise he’s possessive, aggressive, mean, rude, tactless, and a bit of an idiot. We watch as he goes through a sex-life crisis. He comes to understand that Shinohara, the soon to be object of his rejection, likes him and in his own denial/conceit he wonders if that means that he’s actually a pretty decent guy (that warrants a smack right to the back of the head). Considering such things, Hayashi hangs out with Shinohara after hours and in his mind he’s just indulging Shinohara a little bit. What’s actually happening is that he’s just bolstering his ego by being in the presence of an adoring fan. Of course it isn’t until he gets a whiff of rivalry that his crisis picks up speed on its downward spiral. Hayashi retreats into a world of confusion, assaulting and insulting his colleague along the way.

Let’s meet Shinohara.

Shinohara is a model uke; I wish more could be like him. He’s conniving, straightforward, brave, and, by his own disclosure, well-behaved. Hayashi is his type, so he tries to make the most of the situations he finds himself in. Sleeping naked next to, having drinks with, and attempting fellatio on the one he desires; these are all due to his ear being keenly tuned into opportunity knocking. Even though he cried and was thankful that he didn’t have to go ahead with the head, I believe he wanted to do it. It wasn’t as if Hayashi was forcing him, he simply offered. But who wants to taint what should be an intimate moment with that kind of drunken, loveless atmosphere? And you’d think that after such an awkward moment they’d be hesitant to hangout again, but no. A sober Hayashi offers and Shinohara excepts the invitation for a few drinks.

Enter the Professor.

From the beginning, it’s an open rivalry. Now Hayashi’s afraid Shinohara’s adoring eyes will turn elsewhere. So to avoid being left before he even comes to terms with not not being gay, he decides to strike first. Having reacquainted himself with the professor and having picked up on the Professor’s intentions, Shinohara visits Hayashi to make sure of their standing before he gives up and moves on. Hayashi answers in the most humiliating of ways. Very cruel. And from there Shinohara cries to the Professor and Hayashi regrets it immediately.

Just like after all of his other sophomoric moments, Hayashi jumps into action with efforts to make amends. So he texts him again and again and Shinohara ignores him each time. Being a man of action, Hayashi goes into full ex-boyfriend stalker mode and tracks Shinohara down while he’s out with the Professor. And then my jaw hits the floor as Hayashi chastises Shinohara for not responding to his solicitations, politely asks him to accompany him and then physically insists that Shinohara get a move on. All in front of the Professor as Shinohara is frozen in silence. I shouldn’t have been surprised; Hayashi is just that kind of obnoxious, self-centered guy.

Here is where the .04 points lie; they kind of build on each other.

The Professor asks if after thinking things over if Hayashi would be able to have sex with Shinohara. Hayashi responds

“…I want to, which is why I’ve been looking all over like this … Asshole!”
This isn’t too bad, but what would have been great is if Hayashi said something to the effect of, “It’s more than that, but yes … Asshole!”

Shinohara asks Hayashi if he really wants to have sex with him. Hayashi responds

“That’s the first thing out of your mouth?! Just like a gay man!”
Really Hayashi? You haven’t the slightest bit of self-awareness, do you? That really hurts.

Shinohara returns with an affirmation of Hayashi’s perceived notions of gayness. So this is fine because it could be taken as incensed sarcasm, but Shinohara lands the final blow when he says

“All I think about is having sex with a man.”
I’ll admit that from Hayashi’s first response to the Professor, the scene had almost nowhere else to go. But did it have to come down to homosexuality being singularized as carnal desire? I was really into Shinohara’s affection for Hayashi and I thought that if Hayashi stopped being an idiot for a minute, he’d see that he was falling in like with Shinohara as well. But that line turned their awkward closeness and growing affinity into a joke. Yeah, I know it’s BL and many of them are bound to be about sex, but I think this could have managed that AND included an emotional awakening for Hayashi.

I know all of that is pretty specific and it seems like .04 points doesn’t quite cover that level of disappointment, but even though I feel that way, the scene was hilarious and I stand by it as really good writing. As the reader, you usually have some say in how you perceive and are affected by what you read, so I just chose to let the humor override most of it and what was left only amounted to .04 points.

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