Restart by Shouko Hidaka
Tadashi is a male model who is feeling very down on his luck. In addition to being rejected at a bunch of auditions, one of his fellow models, Aki, is ignoring him after they had drunken sex one night.
Tadashi feels totally inferior to Aki, who has just begun to land international gigs, and doesn’t feel like giving his all to his work because he can’t compete with the popular Aki. But it turns out that Aki is just mad that Tadashi never returned his confession of love! (Tadashi was too drunk to remember.)
As they reconcile and begin their new relationship, Aki is able to inspire Tadashi to work harder and not give up.
The story is then retold from Aki’s point of view as he recalls how long he’s had a crush on Tadashi.
The rest of the volume consists of two unrelated stories about a young model and the photographer who falls in love with him; and a college student who can’t let go of a now-deceased old flame, but finds solace in his younger brother instead.
This volume was going so well for me until the last two stories. Both were about May-December couples, in both cases the younger person was almost ready to graduate high school. I’m only giving this book a pass for that reason, although it still made me a bit unhappy. Also a photographer hitting on a model like that sounds like every model’s worst nightmare.
Tadashi and Aki’s story was really good though. I felt like the reader got to see a good chunk of the modeling world and that Tadashi’s insecurity and the resulting depression he faced was real. And his reaction to Aki’s advice was well-written too. Instead of just cheering up immediately, Tadashi only began to recover when he realized that Aki’s advice was right, and even then he still didn’t escape his insecurity immediately. It was a relatively slow process that built Tadashi up into a more confident person.
It was also refreshing to see a BL/yaoi manga about someone in a profession other than businessman or yakuza (or yakuza-related.) Too much we see the generic office worker doing something that makes their job look only like mountains of paperwork and hours spent impressing clients, but that’s really just mangaka shorthand for “I was too lazy to do any research about what my characters do for a living, so here are some stereotypes!” Boooring! With this book, you can definitely see that Shouko Hidaka did some research on what models do on a day-to-day basis and used that in her manga. Bravo, I say! I wish more mangaka of all genres did that.
I don’t have much to say about Hidaka’s art other than that I liked how she used different hair lengths and textures on her characters. Wispy short hair with long bangs can get rather boring. (Especially after 20 days of yaoi!)