I did it. I dropped the ball and took a one day break from the 30 Day Yaoi Challenge. I’m disappointed with myself. Though, if I may forgive myself here, there wasn’t much of a chance for me to read manga. Too much face time with my mom. Whelp, now I’m back. I may try to do two posts in today if I can manage it.
Kimi Shiruya-Dost Thou Know? by Satoru Ishihara
Two rivals meet during the final match of a kendo competition. As one, Katsuomi Hanamori, walks away with the trophy, it sends him and Tsurugi Yaegashi down a spiral of frienship, love and really blatant kendo euphemisms.
Yaegashi and his younger brother move into Hanamori and his younger brother’s town, which means the two elder brothers run into each other more often. Hanamori wants to see Yaegashi as a serious rival that he’d like to “cross swords with,” but he just can’t help falling in love with Yaegashi.
Hanamori finally makes his intentions known after a passionate kiss late one night while they’re looking for their missing younger brothers, but that doesn’t mean that Yaegashi wants to be “defeated” by him. The two keep competing and getting “stronger” in order to better face their opponents in the next “match,” until Hanamori confronts Yaegashi with more passionate kisses during the summer festival.
It is there that Yaegashi rejects Hanamori, declaring that he won’t “lose everything” to Hanamori. This makes Hanamori decide that he’s going to make Yaegashi “submit by force.” They both strive towards their goals during a joint summer training camp between their dojo, which culminates in the two of them having an epic kendo battle with an excellent “making the penises kiss” visual metaphor when the two of them cross swords at the climax.
With this, the two clear up their rivalry and head their separate ways as they go to college. It isn’t until months later that Yaegashi “surrenders” and lets Hanamori be with him, just as their two younger brothers start to get involved with each other…
I almost want to blame a gay friend of mine who has been reading my yaoi challenge reviews for making me think everything is a euphemism, but in Dost Thou Know? everything really is a euphemism.
That being said, this is a solid love story. Hanamori questions his feelings and whether or not they can face each other in a match, but doesn’t really question his sexuality (a bit of a relief after all those “I’M FALLING FOR A MAN? THIS IS SO WRONG! But I can’t help it…” characters.) Neither does Yaegashi (he just doesn’t want to be “defeated.”)
The two are much more intertwined than I implied in my description. Rather than the common trope of throwing two characters until they finally get together, Satoru Ishihara has one of the younger brothers study at the same dojo as the opposite elder brother since the younger brothers are also kendo rivals. This means that Hanamori mentors and looks out for Yaegashi’s younger brother, which is a major component of the overall plot, and vice versa with Yaegashi and Hanamori’s younger brother. They come together first as rivals who are both concerned about Yaegashi the younger, but become friends in the process.
Also noteworthy is the character’s devotion to the ethics of kendo, which I found to be much more educational than other manga with kendo elements like Kizuna. Even though everyone’s really focused on kendo, to the point where it’s a surprise when Yaegashi the elder gets into medical school, these seem like fully-fleshed out characters that are not written without thought. It’s just that so much focus is put on either kendo or their relationships with each other, that there’s hardly room for anything else. (Except the younger brothers, we get to see a bit more of their lives outside of kendo.)
The art is a typical BL style from the early Aughts, but rather appropriate at the same time. The older boys are tall and muscular, but also pretty and not drawn in an overly masculine fashion. The younger boys are cute-looking in comparison, but still have defined muscles when they show a bit of skin.
Overall, I think the best part of this manga is reading for the euphemisms. It turns what would be an otherwise forgettable manga into something more memorable and witty. It’s hard not to smirk or giggle when another euphemism pops up.
Aside from that, I don’t have anything to talk about except that I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone use iaido as a euphemism for showing someone your dick.