Hot Steamy Glasses by Tatsumi Kaiya
We continue our rape-free streak! This time there isn’t even any sexual assault! Woot!
The main story is about two long-time friends, Takeo and Fumi. Takeo has been deeply in love with Fumi since junior high, but Fumi’s just not interested. In fact, he finds Takeo, a successful CEO and serious otaku, to be rather annoying. (Especially when faced with Takeo’s moe girl collection.) Fumi’s brother, Shogo, and others push Fumi to get together with Takeo, but he won’t budge.
Takeo begins to spiral into depression over his unrequited love, causing Shogo and others to take desperate measures. Finally, Fumi gives in and begins dating Takeo. Unfortunately, Takeo likes taking things slow and Fumi begins to get frustrated by their lack of intimacy. It takes a trip to New York City to make Fumi realize that Takeo is actually quite passionate in bed!
To top it all off, Shogo suddenly announces he’s getting married to Fumi’s nemesis, Reiko Kawahara! This forces Fumi to move with Takeo. Three years later, and the two are lovey-dovey and doting on Fumi’s adorable niece.
Then there’s one final story about a young writer and his long-time, glasses-wearing crush who have finally started dating. The only problem is the writer has with his new boyfriend is that he’s more interested in his work than he is interested in the writer! But, of course, it gets resolved in the end.
I appreciated this volume’s lack of sexual assault, but unfortunately it should really be called “Tepid Steamy Glasses.” Takeo and Fumi’s romance was forced, drawn out and rather boring. The short story about the two of them babysitting Fumi’s niece was more exciting than the rest of their courtship.
Fumi had little character development going on. Repeatedly, people coerced him to turn gay and start dating Takeo, which made Fumi feel cornered and defensive. Normally, this is where most creators would introduce moments (or non-consensual sex) where Fumi would realize his true feelings, but there’s none of that here. When Fumi does decide to get with Takeo, it feels like Fumi is giving in to other people’s demands rather than his authentic feelings. It’s only after they get together that Fumi starts showing some romantic interest in Takeo, but, again, it feels like someone flipped a switch rather than natural progression. Thankfully, the short story about the young writer was a little bit more satisfying.
I feel rather meh about the art style. While it’s perfectly fine, I don’t think the angular eyes that Tatsumi Kaiya draws are expressive enough. She even makes up for this by often drawing Takeo’s face “eyeless,” where his glasses imply the existence of his eyes and his expression relies on his other features.
The “straight man turned suddenly gay” trope is another bad habit of BL/yaoi creators. I think that it is mostly untrue to life, though I realize that this genre is fantastical in many ways. But even if BL and yaoi are pure fantasy, the stories often occur in the real world. This just sets up gay men to be objectified by BL/yaoi readers, which I would think is quite annoying for a group of people who are already discriminated against. It’s kind of like the otaku equivalent of thinking every gay man will be your sassy gay friend.
I just find it more satisfying when creators work in actual issues gay men face into their stories instead of creating a gay utopia. It shows respect for the people we are fantasizing about and it can add an element of drama that falls outside the usual, overworked BL/yaoi tropes.
Hot Steamy Glasses is especially bad when it comes to this trope. There is nothing to show readers that Fumi is gay, it’s more like he suddenly decides to cave to the pressure he’s feeling to be with Takeo. Considering how so many LGBTQ people feel the pressure to pretend to be straight because they’re afraid of discrimination or violent retaliation…Well, it just doesn’t feel right.