Rough Gay Samurai Yaoi Romance: Midaresomenishi: A Legend of Samurai Love.
Written: Mar 22, 2008 (Updated Feb 7, 2011)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Excellent, well written beautifully drawn historical Yaoi.
Cons:There is a rape theme. That and the homosexual themes may offend some.
The Bottom Line: This is a dark and brooding Yaoi, a Yaoi Noir, if you will. Handle with care.
Midaresomenishi: A Legend of Samurai Love. by Kazuma Kodaka.
Midaresomenishi: A Legend of Samurai Love is a Yaoi novel. Yaoi is a Japanese art form, graphic novels about gay romances written almost exclusively by women and for women. These books can range from sweet romances to torrid sexual adventures. This book and this review deal frankly with sex between men. So if this is not your cup of tea, well you have been warned.
A further warning: this is not a sweet romance. Its art depicts some pretty graphic steamy sex, with disturbing violence. You have been warned twice.
This story takes place in feudal Japan. Shirou is a red-head. This is rare in Japan, as you might imagine, and frequently is seen as a very bad sign; a red head is frequently given to fits of violence, and that is the case with our hero. Disowned by his family, the only person who has ever given him affection is Fujimaru, his baby brother.
When the brothers are captured by a gang of bandits, they find themselves trapped in a hell of perversion and degradation. The leader of the Bandits, an impressive specimen called Lord Sougetsu, takes a liking to Shirou, calling him his “crimson monster.” His appetites for lust and humiliation see him making the volatile Shirou his sex slave, using the threat of harm to Fujimaru to keep him in check.
To make matters worse, Renka, Sougetsu’s right hand man, is a twisted freak who loves his master, and resents anyone or anything that gets too close to him. He hates Shirou, and takes it out by abusing Fujimaru.
Both Sougetsu and Renka are formidable fighters, Sougetsu, much better with the sword than Shirou. Renka uses wires to ensnare his foes, something that is hard to counter.
So Shirou and Fujimaru are trapped, and spend years in Sougetsu’s service. Shirou is one of his stormtroopers, a shock wave of violence where needed. Fujimaru is put to use satisfying the rank and file’s carnal needs, unknown to Shirou. (Denial is a powerful force, but I think that one stretches it just a bit) Sougetsu continues to violate Shirou on a semi regular basis, and the hardest part for the Crimson Monster is that frequently by the end of things, he is quite enjoying it.
Fujimaru is in the care of Siazou. Siazou has recently been crippled in one leg. He is secretly in love with his ward, and as the novel progresses, we realize that the feeling is reciprocated. This is a typical Yaoi relationship; Fujimaru thinks he is too tainted for Siazou. Siazou does not want to have sex with Fujimaru because he thinks Fujimaru will think of him like all the other men that use him. Confusion and mixed messages ensue. This is Yaoi.
In the meantime, Renka is becoming testier, as he replaced more and more frequently from Sougetsu’s bed. Sometimes it’s Shirou, sometimes someone else; either way, Renka is blaming Shirou for alienation of affection.
After Fujimaru attempts suicide, he and Siazou finally hook up. Fujimaru wants to die, one, because he is getting raped more than the prettiest ewe next to a Scottish pub (hey, lay off! I’m Scotts; I can insult my people if I want to!) and because if he is dead, he will not hold Shirou back, and his brother can escape.
But Siazou can’t endure to see his love suffer so he hatches a daring plan. He tells Shirou to be ready the next evening when he will create a diversion by setting off the bandit’s explosives. But they are overheard, and by Renka no less.
What will Renka do? Will Shirou escape? Will Fujimaru? How could the crippled Siazou? And does Shirou really think that he can escape Sougetsu’s obsession so easily? And why is Sougetsu so obsessed? What might it drive him to do? Will Shirou ever find love? Will Sougetsu? (for answers to these questions and more, tune into the next exciting episode of Soap!)
This is not a fun little yaoi tale. This is a dark and disturbing exploration of rape fantasies, obsession, degradation and other very adult themes. The Japanese aesthetic on these matters is radically different from ours, and this has a much bigger impact on westerners.
That said, it is very well done. Kodaka’s art style is one of the most recognizable in Yaoi, as she is also the author of the definitive Kizuna series. It is not cartooinsh, not “chibi” at all, with a firm understanding of anatomy and proportion. And while Fujimaru, and later, Chihiro are slender somewhat effeminate men, most of her men are masculine, Sougetsu particularly so.
And the writing is excellent. There is a good mix of emotion and action, the pacing is dynamic, and the plot is pretty darn good. It hits on a lot of Japanese hot buttons; wild emotions that get the better of the person, family loyalty, duty, the whims of powerful men ruling those around them, doomed lovers and suicide.
The art is very graphic, and the sex scenes leave almost nothing to the imagination. Not for kiddies of any age!
Taken as a hole this is a five star Yaoi. With the disturbing influence of the recurrent rape theme, I’m docking it one star, for a total of four.
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