What the heck can I say about this story? It’s all about bonds–known and unknown; tangible and intangible; new and old; remembered and forgotten; true and false. I love this story.
One of the things I love most about it is how the pace is modulated to develop the the various characters’ story lines, expertly so. The story starts out focusing on Yuki–a teenager who was orphaned, impoverished, and prostituted–as he struggles daily to take care of his brother, which is hard to do when most days he feels like all he wants to do is die. In the course of his daily grind he and his bestie, Tetsu, get caught by Hyoudou, the wakagashira, of the Seidou-kai. Instead of killing them, Hyoudou makes Yuki visit his office once a week. This arrangement is very interesting–it exposes a part of Yuki that even by the end of the 4th volume, I’m still unable to settle on.
For his weekly visits, Yuki sits across a table from Hyoudou and plays him in a game of chess or shogi. Yuki is uncomfortable to the point of aggravation because that’s all they do. His past has made it so that him being in the presence of a man, particularly of Hyoudou’s ilk, means sex is soon to follow and when it doesn’t, he doesn’t know how to deal with it. He’s prepared to turn himself off to endure the degradation–that’s how he gets through it–but how do you turn yourself off from a board game? Before Yuki figures that out, his past comes back to haunt him and we get to see how he came to where we meet him. From those encounters spring forth a dizzying web of connections, past and present, that Yuki is unknowingly at the center of. We get to see more of what’s going on in Hyoudou’s world and how long the chain is that links him to Yuki. That leads us to Masatsugu, the heir to Seidou-kai, and he ties the story more tightly to Reiji, someone Hyoudou is trying to figure out. But even within that network, there are other lines leading to and from the various players. There’s so much going on, but I don’t feel lost at all.
[/threecol_one_last]Another thing I like are the themes. There’s the yakuza element, the connections between the past and the present, how the air can be so sexually charged, but the scenes never really pay off in that way, and most of all, the overarching concept of family–what that really is and how it is both the foundation of and supported by the numerous bonds crisscrossing, intertwining, and snapping throughout.
There’s so much to talk about. So many questions, like is Ryuu really dead? What happened to Hisako? Is her hospitalization and Reiji’s eye connected to the same event? Is Yuki going to develop feelings for Hyoudou? What can Tetsu do? Will the covers always be so beautiful? And why am I such a masochist when it comes to Kyuugou? Hopefully I’ll get some answers in volume five.