zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Monday, August 24, 2009

I Shall Never Return Volume 2


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via Comics Village Reviews by Katherine Farmar on 8/5/09

Genre: BL/yaoi

Price: $12.95

Age Rating: M/Mature/18+

"You're such a Goody Two-Shoes. You're screwed if you stick with him. He'll mess you up. And if you already know that, why are you still together?"

The second volume of I Shall Never Return continues the saga of Ken and Ritsuro's passionate and stormy relationship, amping up the melodrama like nobody's business. After the tearful declarations that ended volume 1, Ken confesses to a terrible secret from his seedy past; Ritsuro goes on a school trip to Okinawa for three days and both he and Ken practically have heart attacks from the pain of being separated; Kazuyoshi angsts dramatically about his father marrying his former secretary; Moeko finds out her teacher, Mr Yumioka, is falling in love with her; Ken gets a postcard from his mother in Singapore, who wants him to live with her again; and the former client who stabbed him in volume 1 shows up by coincidence, and things take a very nasty turn from there...

The unpleasantness that was already present in volume 1 is taken to a whole new level in volume 2, and it's hard to say whether Uchida entirely pulls it off. Ken was never presented as an admirable character, but given the things he confesses to here, it seems likely that some readers will lose sympathy for him entirely. And yet, there can be no doubt that Ken is more sinned against than sinning, and that when he behaves badly it's because of the deep and terrible hurt he is suffering. Despite Ritsuro's passionate declaration that he'll stay with Ken no matter how awful he is, there's still no attempt to justify what he did or to downplay it.

The angst and drama increases along with the unpleasantness, and I have to admit that Uchida goes a step too far for me. Much as I like melodrama, and much as I like vicariously wallowing in a character's angst, there are times when an author tries too hard and tips the story over into farce, and this is one of those times. I'll be blunt: if I'm reading a brutal rape scene, I shouldn't be laughing. If the humour is intentional, the author is making light of one of the most awful things that can happen to a person, something that nobody should ever make light of; if the humour is unintentional, well... call me callous, but I think that means she should turn the volume down on the angst-amplifier. Sometimes less is more.

All of those reservations aside, I Shall Never Return volume 2 is still a compelling read, even if it occasionally made me roll my eyes. I'm still gripped by the relationship between Ken and Ritsuro, and the gradual development of Kazuyoshi beyond his relatively shallow role in volume 1, not to mention Ken's reconciliation with his mother. It's not the best volume of the series, but if you've read volume 1 I would still recommend volume 2. For all its flaws, it's worth reading.


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