Book 603: Don’t Be Cruel (#3 & #4) – Yonezou Nekota

When I returned Don’t Be Cruel (#1 & #2) to the library, I was pleasantly surprised they had this one on the shelf so I grabbed it. Sadly, it’s the last one I think the library has, but I haven’t looked at all the digital options yet.

This one was much more to my taste than the first two volumes. It was much more loving and nurturing and much less focused on blackmail and rape/sex. There were still a few blush-inducing scenes, but they were more loving and caring than in the first anthology. I was able to successfully read this without closing it and quickly putting it in my bag.

In these volumes we see Maya maturing, and thanks to his relationship with Nemugasa, and starting to think about his future. Instead of goofing off as he has the past year in high school, he decides he wants to go to college and is taking studying seriously. This is great in that it shows him what it was like for Nemugasa when they started “dating” and it gives him more depth as a character. It’s no longer just smutty magazines and forced quickies, there’s conversation and an actual relationship developing.

What I enjoyed most about Nemugasa’s character in the latter of the two issues was his growing independence. I do question the overly dedicated “doing this for you—Maya” around why he wants the independence, but I like that he’s growing up and away from the protective and super strict/structured bubble his parents kept him in. I also, thoroughly enjoyed the introduction of Okino, Nemugasa’s fellow student and the new dimension it added to the story and Nemugasa and Maya’s relationship.

One thing I found myself thinking about in all four volumes are the issues around sexual identity and sexuality. There are a couple of occasions in these two in which Maya makes it very clear he’s not gay and barely tolerates that he’s with a guy, and yet he’s doing things that are loving and caring (a note back to the fluidity the author is adding that apparently doesn’t happen as much). When Okino refers to Maya as Nemugasa’s boyfriend, it is very clear that Maya is not happy about it and he says so. It’s not a bad thing, I just found it very interesting and I guess that’s why these are generally classified as M/M Romance vs LGBT. Who knows though?

Recommendation: This one was MUCH better than the first two for me. The stories were both great, but where volumes one and two were so explicit and the situations were edgy this one seems to have found a maturity and simplicity in their growing relationship emotionally and physically. I probably won’t seek out the rest if I can’t get them from the library, but I do wonder where the story goes.


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