An ordinary name attracts extraordinary love.
Written by Masatoshi Inoue
March is a busy time of year for many people, as the fiscal year comes to an end. I’m also overwhelmed with work (Boys’ Love manga) this time of year, and I find myself thinking about nothing but work (BL manga) on days like this. (LOL)
So, for this installment, I’d like to introduce you to some BL manga set in the workplace. Get the Key to Your Heart! (Julian Publishing) was released in 2013 and is Emi Mitsuki’s first comic.
The protagonist of the story is named Taro Suzuki. He’s 25, and he has a bit of a complex about his name; it’s so ordinary that you could probably find it used as an example on government paperwork. When Taro moves to a new area after changing jobs, he’s visited by someone claiming to be the previous tenant of his apartment: a drunk man who comes to return their key and mistakes Taro for somebody else. “Suzuki?” the man says, and upon seeing Taro’s face, begins crying his eyes out.
Taro realizes that he’s being confused for some other Suzuki and develops a renewed hatred for his name, but then the drunk man says, “You’re the only one like you in this world.” Somehow, those words really resonate with him and lift his spirits.
The next day, when Taro goes to his new workplace, for some reason the man who visited him while intoxicated is there.
The man introduces himself as Ryota Shiga, and it turns out he’s Taro’s boss! Not only that, he was apparently dumped by a woman named Suzuki recently. Things start to make more sense to Taro. An astonishing truth comes to light: the woman who dumped Ryota was Sakurako Suzuki, Taro’s older sister…
When he realizes that the man who helped Taro get back on his feet was dumped by his older sister, Taro begins involving himself in Ryota’s life, hoping to at least cheer him up somehow. Although Ryota conflates Taro and Sakurako at times and is pained by it, Taro’s efforts do help lift his spirits to some extent.
Taro gets discouraged at work from time to time, and Ryota tries to cheer him up with kind gestures. As the two of them continue working together like this, Ryota gradually realizes that Taro has become quite special to him. Taro also senses his feelings toward Ryota changing.
It seems like the two of them are moving toward the next step in their relationship… but things don’t progress quite so smoothly in this story. Although they realize their feelings for each other, they still try to deny it and continually get their signals crossed, causing frustration.
Do check out this manga for yourself and experience the intensity of two people trying to grapple with their own feelings while they consider what they want in a partner and what they want to express to them. This single volume is packed with the charm of men passionate about both love and work!
An incredibly touching back-and-forth of mature love between two men around 40 and 50!
Written by Fudansy
Just thinking about an office romance unfolding in the workplace brings all kinds of fun fantasies to mind, doesn’t it? (LOL) This time around, I’d like to recommend a certain title that fits this theme: Higashi Nishida’s Mada Ai ga Tarinai (Love is not enough yet) (Libre).
The protagonists of this story are Kitahara, a handsome Sales Department employee whose subordinates trust him completely, and the masculine Inoue, the head of the Human Resources Department, and the kind of person anyone would love to have as their boss. One day, Inoue receives a written complaint accusing Kitahara of sexual harassment. Back when the pair worked as boss and subordinate in the same department, Kitahara would always handle discussions of sexual harassment with great care. But this time, something feels off to Inoue. And thus, the story begins.
It turns out that Kitahara is a playboy who uses his money and skill to draw men to him, but he seems to realize there’s not enough love in his life. He develops an insatiable desire to make Inoue his and begins approaching him. Inoue gradually realizes Kitahara’s charm, but their relationship doesn’t progress smoothly. It’s the obstacles that pop up along the way that make the story so interesting.
Since Kitahara goes through so many partners, he doesn’t understand how to develop deep relationships and emotions. . Inoue, on the other hand, is recently divorced, his daughter and ex-wife are still part of his life, and has no experience with men. . Inoue accumulated pride and values he’s held dear throughout the years. As the two of them misjudge each other’s intentions and struggle to determine the right course of action, their back-and-forth interactions make this story not so much heart-wrenching as gripping, leaving you gasping for air and thinking, “Where will this romance end up?!”
Also, Kitahara is kind of a tease, but his facial expressions at critical moments are intense. His eyes are especially amazing! That gaze could pierce right through you. (LOL) The male characters drawn by Nishida are refreshingly different from other BL manga designs, lacking the unrealistic “ticks all the boxes” look that are often depicted. Instead, these middle-aged men are rather realistic, which makes them more human and incredibly appealing.
There’s a smattering of comedic elements throughout, and the way the story develops at the climax is sure to make your heart skip a beat! Despite screaming, “Seriously? They’re going this far in the office…?!” in my head, it was a relief to have a happy ending. (LOL)
The final scene with Kitahara talking to his subordinate slightly off in the future was just great.
A shy office worker takes love at his own pace
Written by Kifujin
This month’s topic is “office romance”! Since office romance is a rare theme in BL manga, I thought it seemed rather refreshing when I heard this was our topic!
Anyway, the title I’d like to introduce to you is Pariko London’s Unmei tte Koto ni Shimasen ka? (KAIOHSHA).
A shy office worker named Goto joins a matchmaking party as a favor to his superior when they need an extra guy, and he meets a good-looking but emotionless otaku named Fujiwara. Remaining completely expressionless throughout, Fujiwara sings an anime song medley that energizes the gathering, then leaves without exchanging contact information with anyone. It turns out he’s even less comfortable around other people than Goto. Fujiwara doesn’t take an interest in anyone but Goto, and they later end up exchanging phone numbers… Could this be fate? From there, the two of them start spending time together, but since they both have such calm and complacent personalities, nothing ever seems to go anywhere.
Their hobbies match, they’re on the same wavelength, and spending time together is relaxing for them. If that’s all they’re after, isn’t just staying friends the best choice for both of them? But since their feelings go beyond friendship, they don’t want to just stop there. They try a variety of methods to express their “desires,” but it’s all so hard to understand that the message doesn’t get through, and they end up frustrated. In the end, Goto makes his move, and they take the next step toward a more mature relationship.
Since both of these characters are so easygoing, the story seems plain at first. However, there’s a fire hidden under the surface. Goto is passionate as well, but Fujiwara’s hidden passion is truly impressive!
After all, the only times Fujiwara’s expression changes are when he’s talking about his favorite TV shows and movies, or when he’s getting physical with Goto. In some strange ways, Fujiwara just makes sense.
The heartwarming ending will leave you thinking these two are sure to stay together and keep their easygoing relationship inching along.
There are also some series mentioned in the story I wish I could watch, such as Animal Sentai Saban Ga-in (Animal Squadron Saban Ga-in), Sekai no Shasai Camera kara (From In-Vehicle Cameras Around the World), and Furimukeba Tomie (When You Turn Around: Tomie).
Translated by Lapin, inc. Edited by Suika.
About The Asahi’s Shimbun’s “Good Life with Books ‘BL Kotohajime’”
A monthly column that introduces and recommends BL books from a variety of perspectives for those who want to learn and read about the world of BL. The BL staff at the hybrid general bookstore “honto” (https://honto.jp/) brings their recommendations with a full range of characteristics.
Good Life with Books ‘BL Kotohajime’
Three Boys’ Love Manga Revolving Around Office Romance
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