Watase branches out

October 15, 2010

Sometimes information comes your way that forces you to set aside your best-laid plans, you know? I had thought about doing a Friday piece rounding up feedback from last week’s call-out for Kodansha requests, but a comment from JennyN (or “the French Connection,” as I like to think of her) has put that on hold:

“Three volumes in French translation so far, and quite unlike anything else she’s ever done. For one thing it’s straight-out yaoi, and for another it has a historical rather than fantasy setting – Japan immediately after WWI i.e. the Taisho period which is also the setting for the “real-world” episodes of FUSHIGI YUGI LEGEND OF GEMBU. (I’d guess that this is something of a personal fascination for Watase, just as 19th-century Germany and Austria seem to be for Yuu Higuri).”

The “she” in this case is Yuu Watase, the wildly popular shôjo manga-ka who has also dabbled in shônen. But seriously, Watase is doing yaoi? Watase, who always seems to include some unnerving psycho-sexual undertones in even her fluffiest romantic comedies? Who wouldn’t at least be curious about that?

So what do we know about Sakura-Gari? Its three volumes were serialized in Shogakukan’s josei magazine, Rinka, and it’s being published in French by Tonkam. Here’s my attempt at a translation of the French volume descriptions. Volume one:

“Masataka Tagami goes up to the capital to succeed, he enters into the service of the Saiki family to finance his studies. While becoming the family’s majordomo, Masataka will plunge in the middle of the schemes of this strange family whose beautiful eldest son exerts an irresistible attraction on all those around him!”

Volume two:

“Since the incident of the library, Masakata is tortured and reluctant to leave the Saiki residence. But he learns that his brother is involved in debt to gangsters. He reluctantly accepts the bargain that Soma proposes to him: if Masakata remains near him and agrees to become his plaything, Soma will give him the money Masakata needs.”

Volume three:

“After the tragic events visited upon Masataka, Soma is gripped with remorse. He will do anything to avenge his friend and to try to make Masataka forget his painful past. Of course, the pile of bodies around the Saiki family sparking suspicions among the police force, but that matters little to Sora…”

Okay, so it sounds like fairly standard, coercion-friendly period smut, but it’s Watase doing full-on same-sex romance. Someone needs to get on this right away.