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Just Around the Corner

Review

Just Around the Corner

Yuuya has no luck, but that seems to be changing when he meets Kiriya by chance one day and saves him from getting hit by a car. The two men begin a friendship with benefits that helps Kiriya heal from a broken heart and Yuuya get over the damage to his hand, which ended his piano career before it had a chance to start. But Yuuya’s bad luck starts up again when Kiriya’s new job brings them face-to-face—at the high school Yuuya attends, much to Kiriya’s astonishment and horror. Fans of Kawai’s work will be thrilled to see that she again combines humor, drama, sex, and reality in a powerful story, but readers looking for a light hearted work that is tied up neatly at the end will be disappointed. There are a lot of interesting questions raised in this work, and easy answers are not readily available.

Kawai is great a building characters. Yuuya is a typical older teen boy, sometimes acting like a mature young man, sometimes seeming so young that it is like he shouldn’t yet be in high school. But his moments of maturity are enough where it is easy to see why Kiriya would be mistaken about his age. Kiriya, for his part, is not a warm and fuzzy person. He is demanding and bossy, but also torn between what he desires and what the right thing to do is. Side characters are mostly foils for the protagonists, acting as friends and confidants or getting in the way romantically, depending on what the story needs.
 
Kawai’s men and boys have an angular prettiness to them, but they also have a tendency toward stiffness, awkwardness. It's not a terrible downfall in her lighter works, but it might throw readers out of the story in a more serious tale like this one. On the other hand, Kawai has a nice way of drawing emotion in her character's eyes and her art fits well with the humorous bits. The strongest part of this book is Kawai’s use of humor. She uses it not only to lighten the mood, but also add a dose of realism to the story. Kiriya’s reaction when he finds out the truth about Yuuya’s age is hilarious, even as readers can tell that he is furious. There are also some achingly romantic scenes, especially when Yuuya tries to play the piano again despite his injury. Kiriya’s thoughts at that moment show the bond that ties the two together even with issues of age and personality.
 
The humor, though, is not enough to cover up the seriousness of Kiriya and Yuuya’s situation. Yuuya is a minor and Kiriya is his teacher. What they are doing is wrong and Kawai doesn not hesitate to point that out. This is an interesting take, especially considering how many yaoi stories feature a teacher/student relationship. (Or how many shojo titles, for that matter.) On the one hand, readers will feel for them, seeing how much they love each other and how much each one needs the other. On the other hand, mature readers will probably agree with the idea that their relationship is wrong and very possibly hurtful, something that makes the sex scenes more difficult to absorb. The combination of those feelings makes for a strange read, but don’t begrudge Kawai the element of realism. The reminder that reality and fantasy are two different things can be hard to find, especially in “yaoiland” and it is nice having a talented writer to bring you back to earth. If you're looking for a fantasy romance to make you forget about the real world, then this might not be the title for you, but if you don't mind a little thoughtfulness in your yaoi, then this is a strong choice.

Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith on July 9, 2012

Just Around the Corner
by Toko Kawai