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Maeda Sakae & Takamure Tamotsu: Jazz V03-V04

WARNING: THIS IS A RUNNING COMMENTARY; SPOILERS HO!

Volume 3

I had to take a break from this story for a bit, but now I’m picking up where I left off. Shall we?

Just as I feared, the mother has returned and she has Naoki’s father in tow. So Naoki’s parents know about his relationship with Narusawa and his father told him to stay away from Naoki. When Naoki finds out that’s why Narusawa hasn’t visited him, he starts waxing naive about consoling the banished doctor. It’s so infuriating! One second after he hacks out some badly written manipulation his inner monologue professes that he’ll “do things right this time.”

Narusawa starts wanking off about how they’re not right for each other. Really? He’s never been completely happy. Always worrying how things are between them and how other people will see them. He’s always contemplating leaving and Naoki is way more trouble than he’s worth. I think Narusawa missed the first two volumes because this idiot is talking about how just saying, ” Naoki–we must break up” would end everything. No way, no how. There isn’t a chance that Naoki’s just going to let him go. Never so easily.

There are some isolated gems in this story, but they are all too few. Naoki’s father invites himself into Narusawa’s place and gives him a blank check to stop seeing Naoki. You know the game, “who do you think you are?” “Is that how you see me? “I don’t want your money,” and so on. Well, Narusawa plays the bad guy in front of the father–although I don’t really see his response as villainous–but rips up the check after the father exists while mouthing off about how cold Narusawa is. How can you not see the obvious change in attitude? But the best part was when Narusawa broke up with Naoki at the hospital the next day and when Naoki took a sharp object to his own throat, Narusawa threw Naoki’s own words back at him and walked out. Yes! I never understood people who try to undo a break up by threatening their own life. You just got dumped! Real intentions aside, the person doesn’t want to be with you, for all you don’t understand, you’re about to make it easier on them. Personally, I don’t like being pressured and I don’t like ultimatums, that idiot can croak for all I care. It may sound harsh, but all their actions are telling me is that they don’t give a crap about what I want or what I think is best.

So, Naoki has an asthma attack after all this time. It was definitely the part of him that takes after his mother that brought it on. Then dear old dad asks Narusawa to save Naoki. That man can go eff himself with a cat of nine tails and an extra long cactus. Naoki is just like his parents. Using people as he wishes, flying off the handle for no good reason, and delusional if he thinks anyone is going to continue to put with his BS. And Narusawa just stands there with his back curved and his shoulders hunched taking it.

It’s all nonsense, I tell you! Nonsense!

Volume 4

OK, where was I…? Right! First Naoki’s father damns Narusawa and then he agrees to lend Narusawa an apartment on the same floor as Naoki’s. What?!

So, Narusawa’s all settled in and then his obnoxious colleague from the states drops in. Of course this is a total set up for a spike in confusion and jealousy. The colleague, Michael, gets drunk and kisses Narusawa in the hallway. And then, something I never expected happened: Naoki sees them! Of course he sees them; otherwise, Narusawa’s agony would be for nothing. And there’s little worse than pointless angst.

On most days, I like to keep my religion and my porn separate. But as long as it’s just a matter of fact and it’s not a part of the story merely to be a punching bag, I don’t really care too much. That said, I think this story includes one of the most useless and forced inclusions of religion in porn I’ve ever read.

So, after more drinking and misunderstandings, Michael apologizes to Narusawa for causing him trouble. Wait! Before I finish this I just have to share this part that happened right before. Michael asks Narusawa if Naoki got violent after their last encounter and Narusawa, due to lack of good judgement(?) or a grip on reality(?) or maybe oxygen, I don’t even know, anyway, due to a deficit of something vital, he says, “I know he doesn’t look it… but he’s a perfect gentleman.” Then, to himself he thinks, “well, when he’s not angry.” ?!?!?!?! In what universe does that make sense? Where, when, and how is that acceptable? I just want to punch this book.

Alright, back to religion. Michael apologizes and asks Narusawa if he still loves Naoki. Narusawa gives the guy a look of complete shock and Michael’s response is, “don’t worry! I’m a Buddhist. We’re more accepting of gays than Christians.” The were no discussions of homophobic views relating to Michael or assumptions made regarding Michael’s or anyone’s spiritual compass prior to this exchange, but here it is. I had to pause for an hour or so because I got stuck on why, out of all the responses Narusawa’s reaction could have elicited, did this even make the list? Out of four volumes of nonsense, it seems like such an insignificant thing, but that’s what bothers me most, I suppose. If it was so insignificant, it should have just been left out.

Moving on… Naoki and Narusawa run into each other at the grocery store and end up playing with fireworks and that turns into a roll in the hay. Narusawa sees it as closure, but Naoki believes it’s a way back to happiness. What does that even mean in this story? Naoki goes looking for Narusawa at the hospital. Really? Come on, man. It’s his job. He works there. It’s a place of business. You can’t just drop in any time the mood strikes. He runs into Dr. Takino who spills the beans about Narusawa’s omiai. He dashes off to the meeting and has a moment of clarity. Meanwhile, Narusawa delivers a sliver of a gem by growing a backbone out of thin air. The candidate’s mother is going on and on about him being a doctor and how her daughter is well-suited to be a doctor’s wife, and Narusawa interrupts with, “…is that why? Did you arrange this interview just because I’m a doctor?” Of course his chaperone, the senior that put him up to it, almost has a coronary. But like I said, it’s just a sliver and it fizzles out and erupts into a scene that’s reminiscent of The Graduate with Naoki looking on from behind glass. But, unlike Elaine, Narusawa takes a minute before he runs off to reveal that he’s been in love with someone all along. I sense another coronary.

After the touching (through glass) reunion, Narusawa’s full past is revealed, and I don’t even want to talk about how anticlimactic it was. But it ain’t over yet. Naoki gets an offer from some company in the states and throws a fit about not wanting to be apart from Narusawa, but Narusawa says he’ll wait for him. Then, just when I was wondering what happened to the Jazz theme, the story ends with a Christmas reunion and a new box of the cologne.

I suffered through four volumes of increasing awfulness. And although I was spared from having to endure Naoki’s mother too much, the little shots of Drs. Takino and Mizushima didn’t really amount to much. So much for the bright side. I knew by the end of volume 1 that it was going to be a struggle, but boy was it ever. Having finally completed it, I can stop feeling like I completely wasted my money by letting it do nothing but collect dust and take up space on my shelf.

Overall, the series scores a [2.3].

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