I first read In these Words V01 back in June of 2012; I continued on to chapter eight and then stopped. The Redux arc starts with chapter nine, so until now I only had the vaguest of idea of what was truly going on in the story. Last night I read the 2015 edition of volumes one and two. Chapter 14 comes out soon and I can see the story has almost come full circle, so I thought I should resume my reading. It will be slow going because I only have the uncollected chapters in print and the trim size is not conducive to comfortable bedtime reading. I’m determined, so I will manage somehow. I just hope my body doesn’t hate me for the weird positions I’ll be reading in.
It’s taken me a few years to get up the courage to talk about this story, but now that I’m doing it, I realize that there’s only so much I can say without spoiling it.
In These Words is an intelligent and perfectly paced psychological mystery. It begins with Dr. Asano Katsuya, a U.S.-educated psychiatrist, returning to Japan after working for the NYPD. Some time after he takes up a teaching position at an elite university, he is approached by the Tokyo Police Department to work with them on a serial killing case that is currently under investigation.
In the prologue, after his second encounter with a nameless man, Asano wakes up to find himself drugged and in an abandoned place. He stumbles about and almost escapes, but his captor catches him at the very last second and drags him back to the room Asano just left and proceeds to torture him. Chapter one puts us at the onset of Asano’s sequestering to interview Shinohara Kenji. Shinohara is being held in a lock-down and while the days-long interview continues, The Good Doctor is to be chauffeured back and forth between the facility and a police dormitory.
During the day Asano is both annoyed and intrigued by his subject, but at night he is plagued by migraines and horrible dreams that make his waking hours confusing and uncomfortable, to say the least. And it’s within this blending and twisting of realms that the mystery of the story lies. Are they dreams or are they memories or something else altogether? This is what confused me when I first read it–I wasn’t sure, between reality and dreams, which was which; G|P does a good job of screwing with your head, making you question time and place right along with Asano. Of course, stopping where I did did nothing but keep me in the dark.
Well, I’ve finally seen the light, or a sliver of it anyway, and it’s being cast by the Redux arc which takes the story back to before the beginning, back to Asano’s recruitment and back to his first encounter with Shinohara. I only read what was collected in the first two volumes–c01-c11 and “Wrapped Around Your Finger”–but the arc continues to chapter 14, at least, so there are still questions to be answered. Interestingly enough, I have most of the same questions I had when I read chapters one through eight the first time around, but I’ll get to those in a minute.
Most of the time, I’m a voyeur; it’s rare that I find myself identifying with one character or another to the point that I put myself in their place or want to be on the receiving end of whatever they’re giving. That said, when I do, it’s almost always the pov character regardless of their role. But, of those times, I’m more inclined to latch on to the seme. So, it was to my utter surprise that I fell in love with Asano. Moreover, I realized I wouldn’t mind at all being taken by him. I still can’t wrap my head around it, but it’s the truth. It would never work, of course. Him being the “Ice Queen” and me actually being rather frigid. Among other, more obvious reasons. But, that it is something to mention at all is a testament to finesse of both the writing and art. He’s gorgeous (the art is freaking amazing, so delicious, so many beautiful penises), but he’s also an interesting character.
I think, for the most part, that he doesn’t deny the Ice Queen label because he really is and he has no problem being upfront about it or much else for that matter. Usually the straightforwardness a uke has in regards to sex is accompanied a mercurial or overly flirtatious attitude, so him being anything but is a nice change. It also tells me that he’s not going to have that typical moment where it’s revealed that he uses his body to get close to people because love is impossible. I’m not saying that he doesn’t believe in it, but he doesn’t believe that the two are part and parcel and, for now, while it may be informed by his yet to be known experiences, his attitude about it is pretty refreshing.
However, since there are things in his past we don’t know about and some of them seem to be things he’d rather not discuss, I think he also uses it as a shield. Another thing is that even though he is an Ice Queen, he’s very affectionate, receptive, and assured. And it’s his direct way of addressing things that keeps him from being a tsundere. Man am I thankful for that–other than irritate, they do absolutely nothing for me. I suppose some of this is kind of cheating since my impression of him is the sum of what’s in more that these two volumes, but there are some things I just can’t unsee–like that one exchange in “Wrapped Around Your Finger” when Shinohara made a comment and I KNOW Asano was reminded of David from the prequel.
Then there’s Shinohara. The second time we meet him is the first time for Asano. He has a sharp mind and seems to operate knowing that he’s good at what he does. He’s a bit playful, but he also seems kind of helpless in front of Asano as if he understands that he can’t win against him, but it won’t stop him from trying. What’s interesting is that he isn’t all that different from the first time we meet him. The first time around, the confidence is there, the desire to win against Asano is there, and the playfulness is there. It’s only because they’re backed by different motives, that they seem twisted and depraved. I wont go into him too much because that’s a sea of spoilers. But, for the record, I prefer Shinohara with shorter hair and I think he is really good at what he does and I’m am looking forward to seeing him do more. I won’t go into the other characters because while they’re interesting, I think it’s better for the story if people discover them on their own.
On the subject of discovery, those lingering questions… What continues to puzzle me is why Asano took those pills he didn’t remember being prescribed? Although he seems uptight, he’s not, he’s just very precise and that precision wouldn’t usually allow for the unknown, especially when it comes to something like an unremembered substance supposedly prescribed during an unremembered encounter. That precision also wouldn’t allow for unprotected sex with someone he wasn’t exclusive with (well, at least the visuals didn’t suffer for the lack). And what of Shinohara’s lack of restraints? Why was he escorted through the lock-down facility uncuffed? Then, when he was left in the room with Asano while Iwamoto–the officer at the lock-down–stood sentry outside the door, he was told to stay seated, but nothing was done to physically prevent him from disregarding that order. He’s supposed to be dangerous. I don’t think I’ll get answers to these, so I’m just shouting into the wind, but they’ll bother me forever more. There were other questions, and not that they were necessarily answered, but I feel like their answers are coming, so I’ll wait.
From this point, I don’t know if I’m going to read chapter 12 and on or if I’m going to re-start and catch up with the prequels. But either way, I expect to have a good time.