Tono Haruhi and Mamahara Ellie’s Mr. Kayashima’s Graceful Life is a very passionate tale of a nobleman and his gardener. They are quite the pair; I just fell more and more in love with them with each chapter.
It’s not as if you can’t tell from afar that Kayashima Sumito is willful and haughty, but somehow, someway, he manages to stealthily ingratiate himself into your life and you just find yourself dealing with him.
I usually roll my eyes at the story lines where one character is openly willing to accept a one-sided relationship. It’s different (not better) when they hide their feelings and pretend they’re OK with having casual encounters, but when one character tells the other that they don’t or won’t have feelings for them and the other characters says they’re OK with that and they “just want to be with them,” my eyes threaten not to roll back to their proper place.
Not that he should have felt shame, but for a man of his status, Sumito was absolutely shameless in expressing his desires. However, Tono managed to strike a very difficult balance in writing him. Although he often seemed to be demanding and intrusive (in a sense) he often let himself be at the mercy of his lover. A lover who was distant, arrogant, and, in his own way, demanding. Using their attentions as carrot, they teased and baited each other–playfully and seriously.
He was known, among other things as “the Master’s lover,” “the gardener,” “he,” you,” Onii-chan,” and the “unfilial son.” There was a point where I thought that his name was so seldom mentioned that I forgot it, but once I finished the story, I realized that he didn’t have one. The guy who angered me, seduced me, and even managed to evoke compassion in me was a nameless lover from beginning to end; you never even get to hear/read Sumito calling out his name in the heat of the moment. Everyone else had a name, even the dog, but not the guy who was the center of Sumito’s world. It’s far too late for there to be anything done about it now, but I find it very odd. However, they did manage to slip in wink wink-nudge nudge a time or two about the whole thing.
Hidaka Shouko did the illustrations for the novel series and though I love her art, I think Mamahara’s style is much more suited to the story and the characters, particularly Sumito. Even after seeing Hidaka’s primness for Katsuragi and the other nobility in Yuuustu na Asa, I still think the rheumatic forms Mamahara is so fond are what I prefer to see for this story.
I had a lot of fun reading it and I’ve reread the series a number of time already; the first two volumes even more. I’d love to see their happily ever after as well as what Koizumi gets up to in his private life.