Creative Alchemy: GMO-Project: Homecoming

Homecoming is part of a larger framework called GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Project (GMO), which was unknown to me until Yaoi Revolution (YR) took on the English distribution of this title. I like the simplicity of the cover; the art is quite pleasing–I really love their lips–but that’s kind of where my appreciation for this title ends.

The book’s prologue attempts to present what has happened in the lives of Camille and Kain that allowed what we see in this peek at their domestic bliss possible. But even with the details provided, this slice of their lives that’s been offered feels disconnected. The circumstances alluded to at the beginning and end of their 26-page sexcapade seem out of place because the prologue barely hinted at it. And the hint itself is rather ambiguous and only relates to one aspect of those circumstances.

There is very little story told between the glossy covers and the sexcapade is preceded by what I think amounts to bad porn dialogue and followed by–objectively speaking, because it’s not my thing–something a little more stimulating. Where you would usually be pulled along by the progression of a very intimate experience, you aren’t. There’s no tangible excitement, the passion and tension never build and the sequence as a whole is lacking in sensuality or even carnality. Perhaps if there was more dialogue, it might have stirred something in me, but instead, the sequence left me with the impression that, even though the art is very clean, I had just flipped through a sketchbook containing figure studies and posing and positioning thumbnails.

Sometimes I write completely off the cuff, but I generally prefer to do a little background work on my subjects before and while I write; this goes especially for when I’m writing about an author/mangaka/work I’ve never encountered before. It’s because of this that I found my way onto Creative Alchemy’s GMO Project site and was able to get a better feel for what was going on in the GMO world. I browsed through the illustration galleries and that did a lot more for piquing my interests than Homecoming even came close to. I also read the first chapter of their story, Genesis, which, by the name, I assume is the beginning of the GMO series, well not “day-one,” but the beginning as far as the point at which they’ve chosen to begin telling the story. I liked it and I would like to continue reading it. Unfortunately there’s a minor obstacle for me and possibly a significant obstacle for many others: it’s in French.

Yaoi Revolution mentioned this on their Facebook page (I couldn’t locate where exactly), so I wasn’t surprised, but this could be troublesome for anyone who read Homecoming‘s English release and liked what they saw or even if they simply saw past what was presented to the possibilities. Even with the French I know, translation apps and browser add-ons can only do so much. In particular, they can’t seem to keep the gender straight;  there are parts where pronouns are being used instead of names and as a result of the gender inconsistency, it can get a bit confusing. I really want to continue, but honestly, it’s quite literally a headache. And who’s to say if Yaoi Revolution will deem the response to this initial offering sufficient enough to pursue the greater work?

If I had just left Homecoming as something read, but to be forgotten, it would have been fine, but I didn’t and now I’m here and troubled. GMO’s premise of science, mutants, and a motley crew of orphans is right up my alley, but I only have so many hours in the day to devote to leisure and I’d rather not get into the habit of preparing for my leisure time by having to grab a bottle of Aleve.

To me, Homecoming is not strong enough to stand alone and I don’t think it was really meant to, but it leaves me with the same feeling I get when I read doujinshi (AU or not) for a series I’ve never read or seen. I think it makes you curious about what else might be going on in their world, but not enough to start the series. And because of that, it makes for an awkward and weak introduction to a larger universe. My preference would have been for the English release of Genesis volume 1, Chapters 1-10 to have been the catalyst for my pursuit of the GMO universe, not my dissatisfaction with Homecoming and my choice to write about it. Should YR continue on to the main story, how I became interested is certain to be a lesser concern to them than the fact that I am interested. However, for me, the journey is just as important as the destination. The sentiments born from this less than ideal experience will linger for sometime each time I encounter GMO. It will fade eventually, but  knowing my nervous system, I’ll be revisited by this cranial discomfort until these sentiments are replaced by ones created by an overwhelmingly more satisfactory GMO experience.

I think the other thing that bothers me about Homecoming is that YR is trying to position themselves as revolutionaries, serving up better BL; BL that’s light on the tropes and fluff and heavy on the guts, glory, and divergent story lines. And so far, with Orochi no Kishi (which I’ll be returning to shortly), Arena, and Lotus Eater, they have managed to cut a fine figure in the emerging cosmos of alt-BL. Admittedly, this was an “oh, what the heck” purchase because I was really hype about Samurai and I thought that even if the story was bad, I’d be alright with just the idea of having expanded my non-licensed BL bookshelf, but there was no story! So, when I’m expecting a story, but I get a picture book, the taste on my tongue sours a bit.

Now that I’ve aired my grievances, the throbbing in my head has begun to subside. While Homecoming hasn’t made me feel any less like a stranger, I’ll be sending out good thoughts about GMO Project as a whole in hopes that someday I’ll have a place to rest my aching head.

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