|Triangle Love Battle: Kusare-en no housoku 1 by Yoshihara Rieko and illustrated by Shinba Rize
||[May. 9th, 2008|06:37 am]
Triangle Love Battle: Kusare-en no housoku 1 by Yoshihara Rieko and illustrated by Shinba Rize is (obviously) book 1 of an ongoing series called Kusare-en no housoku. Despite some major problems I have with it (thanks to Yoshihara Rieko's major deficiencies as a writer), I really like this series and look forward to reading each new book.
Renjou Tsubasa, Ichimura Ryuuhei, and Sugimoto Tetsushi are childhood friends in the second year of high school. They are all very different yet very close. Tsubasa is drop-dead gorgeous but is rather aloof and can really scary and violent, Ryuhei is the ace of the basketball team and sweet like honey, and Tetsushi is the (seemingly) most ordinary guy ever. No one can puzzle out what makes the three click. Tsubasa and Ryuuhei are popular (for their own special reasons), which often causes Tetsushi problems because their fans gets jealous that such an ordinary nobody can walk amongst the stars. Because of some incidents that occurred in their first year, the current second and third years know full well not to mess with Tetsushi else they incur the wrath of Tsubasa (and possibly Ryuuhei). But the first years don't know the history and can't understand the dynamic. So...they mess with Tetsushi...And all hell breaks loose.
Okay, not quite "all hell." But I wanted to use the phrase. XD
The biggest problem with it is, sadly, the writing. Yoshihara-sensei shoots herself in the foot by conceiving of appealing (or at least compelling) characters and interesting storylines, but then bogs down the narrative with her crappy writing style. She has an *unholy* love of sentence fragments that makes everything irritatingly choppy. She also has pet themes she loves to talk about *a lot*, going on and on and on (and on) about them (often using her beloved sentence fragments). It's rather maddening. Typically, the novel is better than the CD drama because there's so much more in the novel. But in her case the CD drama just might be better than the novel because they only have dialogue (the good part, despite its slightly forced nature at times) and cut out Yoshihara-sensei's often annoying narrative. This book isn't nearly as bad as, say, Ai no kusabi in terms of unreadability, though.
The teacher in charge of a third year class in intermediate school is flummoxed. The other teachers notice his distress and inquire as to what is wrong. He tells them that he received the responses of a survey of what his students want to do in the future. They mock him at first as it is his first year in charge of third-years, but then he shows them the three responses that give him concern. The other teachers see them and are dumbstruck. First off, Sugimoto Tetsushi wants to work instead of go on to high school. He is a great student academically and otherwise (he was student council president). The teachers wonder if it's a joke, but the teacher in charge explains that Tetsushi's only family, his grandmother, is not doing well. They had already been living a pretty hard life as they only had her meager pension, but should she pass away...Even if he could get a scholarship for school, how would he manage living expenses? Next, Ichimura Ryuuhei's response is to go to the same school as Sugimoto Tetsushi. Two big problems with this. First, Tetsushi might not be able to go to high school. Second, Ryuuhei is the star of the basketball team and already has been recommended to the best basketball school around...The last response, by Renjou Tsubasa, is blank. The teachers can only nod at this. Tsubasa is, to put it mildly, a problem student. They don't think any school would take a student who not only has the worst grades ever but is famous for his conduct. He is arrogant and insolent, heartless and mesmerizing. He is charisma personified, with many who wish to serve him. He only is considerate to Tetsushi and Ryuuhei, not giving anyone else a shred of respect. He's also frighteningly violent when provoked. In any case, the other teachers can only give the poor teacher in charge of these three troublemakers words of encouragement and pity...
Fast forward two years. The trio are in their second year of high school. They all attend the same school but are in different classes. When lunch time comes, Tetsushi's classmates are filled with anticipation. Ryuuhei walks in...
And the girls erupt into squeals of joy, "Kyaaa♥" and "Ichimura-kun♥" and "Welcome!♥" He is tall and toned and good-looking. He has a melodious voice that makes the girls swoon, a honeyed smile, and a gentle personality. He is the prince of the school. He's come to eat lunch with Tetsushi like he does every day. A girl classmate brings Ryuuhei a chair to sit on. They take turns giving him the chair so that they can receive personally his sunny smile and his thanks.
Tetsushi can't help but see it and think that Ryuuhei really is criminal, as he unconsciously seduces the girls. He also thinks about how much things have changed. Ryuuhei used to be the slowest, clumsiest kid in elementary school. When he decided to learn basketball, he was mocked mercilessly. The only ones who knew that Ryuuhei was working hard and encouraged him were his two childhood friends. And in the end Ryuuhei's mighty efforts paid off and he got good at basketball.
Back in the present, the door opens and the mood of the class changes. Everyone (except Ryuuhei and Tetsushi) tense. Tsubasa has arrived. His beauty is stunning and his presence cold and overpowering and undeniable.
Tetsushi remembers meeting Tsubasa for the first time, back at the entrance ceremony for elementary school. People were bowled over by the angelic Tsubasa and one foolish child was too touchy. When Tsubasa tried to bat away the invasive hands he was pushed. Instead of bursting into tears (as one could except a child that looked that adorable to do), he got up and slapped the kid hard. Then he kicked him. And as the kid crouched, crying, he ground his foot into the kid's back. When the kid tried to get away from under his foot, he kicked the back of the kid's head. No one could believe what they'd seen. After a moment's shock, the kid's parent started to make a big deal...But then Tsubasa shut the parent up real good. He asserted that the kid started it. Was there a problem with him dealing with it? Tsubasa then looked around the silent (stunned) room and walked up to Tetsushi (with everyone between him and Tetsushi making lots of room for him). He declared that Tetsushi would be his henchman from now on, then gripped Tetsushi's hand and smiled. While Tetsushi was being blown away by the whole thing, another kid came up and happily started to talk to them. He praised Tsubasa's actions against the touchy kid, likening it to a superhero taking down evil. It was Ryuuhei. He became "Henchman #2."
In the classroom, a guy from a group of hangers-on who call themselves "Renjou Tsubasa's Bodyguards" silently provide a chair for Tsubasa. Initially the guys in Tetsushi's class had fought over the privilege, but they lost out to the Bodyguards. While Ryuuhei attracts the girls, Tsubasa scares them away (they had initially been crazy over his looks, but he got tired of their fussing and told them all to shut up in a really mean way). Instead, he attracts guys who idolize him and want to serve him. In any case, Tsubasa never acknowledges the Bodyguards. It really looks like a king and his servant, it's so natural. Tetsushi has given them a pejorative nickname, he finds them so silly. Tsubasa then asks for his food from Tetsushi. Tetsushi had been making bento for Tsubasa since intermediate school. Tsubasa lives with his father, who is very talented at work but without any skill in housework. Tsubasa consequently ate whatever crap was available, typically bread. He'd even skip lunch. Tetsushi, who already made bento to stretch his grandmother's pension, started to make one for Tsubasa as well. It was not hard to make two instead of one, after all. It was a hassle dealing with Tsubasa's pickiness and the harassment of classmates who thought Tetsushi was sucking up to Tsubasa, but he didn't let things get him down. Tetsushi tended to get teased not only out of jealousy, but because he was abandoned by his parents. Tetsushi has blue eyes even though he's pure Japanese. Because of that, his father suspected his mother of infidelity, and though Testsushi's parentage was confirmed via DNA testing the rift in his parent's relationship was irreparable. He wasn't wanted by either parent since he was the cause of the rift and was shoved at his mother's parents. But his philosophy in life is very positive. He doesn't let things out of his control, such as his past or what other people think of him, bother him. Besides, if the teasing got too bad Tsubasa and/or Ryuuhei would attack the teasers. Tsubasa would throw curt words or fists at them. Ryuuhei would tease them back, telling them to be honest if they want Tetsushi's attention. Just tell him that you like him instead of being a meanie.
One nice Monday afternoon in May, Tetsushi is called out by the Bodyguards. They attack his "suitability" to hang out with Tsubasa. After all, he's just a small, ordinary nothing, unlike Ryuuhei who is talented and good-looking. They acknowledge Ryuuhei's right to be with Tsubasa. But Tetsushi? Nuh-uh. Tetsushi has heard this spiel too many times to count. Who the hell do any of these people think they are that they can decide who is "suitable" to be with Tsubasa? Only Tsubasa can decide, and he has chosen Ryuuhei and Tetsushi. Tetsushi tells the Bodyguards that they shouldn't talk, as they don't do anything but provide Tsubasa a seat during lunch (and boast about how they are his Bodyguards, probably). The Bodyguards react badly, insulting Tetsushi even more. Tetsushi turns their insults around, telling them that Tsubasa doesn't even use them for errands or whatever (as they claim Tetsushi does for Tsubasa). From vast experience Tetsushi has learned that it's best not to be gentle with these types of deluded fans. He goes on to tell them that there have been many fan clubs, none of which lasted long. They always got into trouble with Tsubasa for harrassing Tetsushi. It is general knowledge in the upper classes of their school that messing with Tetsushi will bring down Tsubasa's wrath. Tsubasa has a policy of exacting three-fold retribution. Unfortunately, the first years don't know this. The leader of the Bodyguards thinks that Tetsushi is just talking big. Tetsushi informs him that he isn't boasting, he's just telling it like it is. The leader retorts that they aren't threatening Tetsushi but simply cautioning Tetsushi because his hanger-on behavior is so pathetic. He's just too dense to realize it. Tetsushi throws the dense label back at them, telling them that they can't see reality because they are blinded by Tsubasa's charisma. He tells them that the upperclassmen don't act like them because they know better, not because they are cowards. The Bodyguards start getting worried that Tetsushi might be telling the truth. They expected Tetsushi to be all frightened like the pathetic hanger-on they thought he was, but he's talking back to them with great confidence. The leader figures it's a bluff, but Tetsushi asserts that he has no reason to bluff. The Bodyguards get even more nervous, and the leader can only respond by repeating what he'd said before: Tetsushi isn't worthy of Tsubasa. Tetsushi is exasperated. The leader, upset, hits Tetsushi's face with his book bag. The group hurriedly leave.
Tetsushi is left dealing with considerable pain, as some metal part of the bag had hit him and had cut his face.
Luckily, Toudou and Takatsukasa, third years and president and vice-president of the student council executive committee, happen to be in the vicinity and help him to the school infirmary. (Both, btw, are gorgeous. Famous in school as well.) As the infirmary turns out to be empty, Takatsukasa tends to Tetsushi's wound. He explains that they hadn't been spying on the confrontation. They'd actually been there before Tetsushi and the Bodyguards showed up, but once they arrived they were stuck. Takatsukasa tells Tetsushi that he couldn't let Tetsushi leave without doing something about the wound because Tsubasa would run wild with one look at it. Toudou scoffs at the idea, but Takatsukasa says there's ample precedent. Tetsushi can't deny it since Takatsukasa is the only student from his intermediate school other than his friends and knows all about their troubles there. He'd actually been the president of the student council executive committee before Tetsushi. Takatsukasa comments that he'd never imagined the three of them would go to the same high school, especially with Tsukasa as the top scorer on the entrance exams. Tetsushi replies that it was only to be expected given Tsubasa's abilities, confirming Takatsuka's suspicion that Tsubasa's abysmal grades were just an act. Takatsukasa asserts that while Tsubasa may be so imperious that he doesn't give a shit about what others think (thus the purposeful academic failures in the past), he has the ultimate check in Tetsushi. He smiles at Tetsushi, captivating Tetsushi with its brilliance. Toudou tells Takatsukasa not to seduce innocent underclassmen. Takatsukasa demurs, claiming that he'd never seduce Tsubasa's sweethart. It'd be too scary. He then looks into Testsushi's eyes and comments that it's too bad about the beautiful cobalt blue eyes (though he doesn't use the noun "eyes")...
[There was a lot of background interspersed in the above conversation. I didn't want to bother cutting back and forth from flashback to present conversation over and over so I saved up all the background to explain in one fell swoop. God, Yoshihara-sensei's writing style just makes everything so damn hard. -_-] Basically, we learn how the three ended up at the same high school. Ryuuhei and Tsubasa had heard about Tetsushi's response that he wanted to work instead of go to high school and been shocked. Ryuuhei made a huge fuss, begging Tetsushi not to abandon him. He declared that he won't go to high school if Tetsushi doesn't and went on a hunger strike. He ended up in the hospital. Tetsushi asked Ryuuhei to eat. Once Ryuuhei was better Tetsushi promised to think about the future again. Tsubasa also told Tetsushi (in a less dramatic fashion) that he won't go to high school either. He'd gotten used to being fed by Tetsushi and can't eat any other lunch anymore. In the end, Tetsushi got to go to high school thanks to Tsubasa's father (an elite lawyer). Ryuuhei threw aside the recommendation to another school with a really good basketball team and studied his brains out to go to the same school as Tetsushi. No one could believe it when he passed. Some exclaimed that it must have been the power of love. ^^; Tsubasa, for his part, had always done awfully in school on purpose. It was due to a bad experience with a teacher in elementary school that soured him to school. Tsubasa was very smart and very quick to pick things up, but the teacher was a great believer in everyone being "equal" and in doing things together. There was a battle of wills between her and Tsubasa, with the teacher treating Tsubasa quite badly (not to say Tsubasa was blameless but considering that she was supposedly the adult and the authority figure...). Tsubasa kept going to school despite it all because he didn't want to lose to someone he hated. In the end, the class itself fell apart and she was taken off teaching the class. She lost all confidence in herself and effectively quit as a teacher. Tsubasa was labeled a troublemaker and a "teacher smasher" and a dunce. He steadily maintained his pose as a "dunce." That is, until Tetsushi asked him to show what he can really do at least once, on the high school entrance exam. Tetsushi promised to do anything Tsubasa asked in exchange, and so Tsubasa turned in the highest exam score ever (with perfect scores in several subjects).
In the meantime, Ryuuhei is leisurely changing into his uniform for practice. He notices the laces of his basketball shoes [Did you know the Japanese shorten the term into "basshu?" I didn't!] are wearing out, and comments that he'll have to buy a new one on Saturday. A teammate suggests they stop by a store afterwards as he needs to buy something as well, but Ryuuhei declines. He doesn't have money and wants to get a particular brand. When the teammate asks if he plans on going with someone, Ryuuhei replies that he will go with Tetsushi. Tetsushi had chosen the current pair which have worked very well for him so he wants Tetsushi to chose for him again. The teammate asks if Ryuuhei always has Tetsushi go shopping with him. Ryuuhei replies that he does, smiling sunnily. The teammate points out that this is not normal behavior for guy friends. Typically you go with your girlfriend. Ryuuhei disregards the teammate's comments and decides to call Tetsushi that night to make sure Tetsushi is available. As he's about to go out, though, he overhears some third years talking about someone being ambushed. They are muttering about the stupidity of first years and how they seem to be unafraid of Tsubasa's retaliation...Ryuuhei listens more carefully when he hears Tsubasa's name, but throws himself into the group when they mention Tetsushi. He demands (politely) to have the situation explained from Kurosaki, the team captain. Kurosaki doesn't want to say anything at first because he doesn't want to rile Ryuuhei up. They'd already experienced Ryuuhei turning into a scary demon from a smiling dopey "prince" after a teammate had insulted Tetsushi the year before. Ryuuhei presses Kurosaki, so Kurosaki admits that the Bodyguards had called out Tetsushi. Ryuuhei goes to find them. Kurosaki, worried that their ace will get into a brawl and get injured or something, follows.
There's an amusing side commentary woven into the conversation above about how everyone figures Ryuuhei must be a virgin because he doesn't seem to really notice all the fangirls. There has never been a rumor about him being with someone. He openly declares that he loves Tetsushi (whom he calls "Tetchan") the most and Tsubasa ("Tsukkun") second, and because it's so open and so natural and so obviously not romantic no one except idiots (or bitter jerks) thinks otherwise. Though no one's ever seen Tsubasa with a girl, everyone figures he's had sex. As for Tetsushi, everyone figures any girl who wants to date him will need Ryuuhei and Tsubasa's permission...And since no girl will ever have enough nerve to get it Tetsushi will be a virgin for life.
Tetsushi rides his bicycle home...to Tsubasa's house. Tetsushi's grandmother had died in his third year in intermediate school. After everything was over, he was abducted to Tsubasa's house before he knew what was happening. Tsubasa told him that there were empty rooms that Tetsushi could use. He told Tetsushi to make him breakfast, lunch, and dinner from now on. Tetsushi was comforted by Tsubasa's brusque words, realizing that he wasn't alone. Tsubasa's dad did the proper paperwork to take him in and he's lived there ever since. He took over all housework. Tsubasa stopped roaming around till late all the time and seemed (in his own way) a lot less ill-humoured.
Tetsushi sighs at the reflection of his face in the mirror. The wound is pretty obvious...Everyone at school will know about it tomorrow. But before that, he'll have to explain it to Tsubasa. He also remembers Takatsukasa commenting on his eyes. He had decided to wear colored contacts to hide his blue eyes to avoid added problems.
Tetsushi's complex about his eyes was lessened thanks to Ryuuhei and Tsubasa's praise of their beauty, but the teasing never stopped. In the first year of intermediate school the teasing escalated so badly that both Ryuuhei and Tsubasa snapped and beat the shit out of the kids. After that Tetsushi decided to hide his eyes.
That night when Tsubasa comes home for dinner, he immediately notices the wound. Tetsushi tries to lie about it, saying he fell down. But Tsubasa won't have none of that. He demands to know who did it. Tetsushi puts it off until after dinner. He'd made Tsubasa's favorite foods. As soon as dinner is over, Tsubasa prompts Tetsushi to 'fess up. Tetsushi knows he can't hide it from Tsubasa, so he succinctly tells Tsubasa what happened. He knows Tsubasa will exact retribution, so he emphasizes that he was only hit by a bag once. Tsubasa assures him that he won't do anything that will get him suspended (small comfort for Tetsushi ^^;). Tetsushi just can't get all hot and bothered about such a small deal, but Tsubasa is pissed at how his "fans" always attack Tetsushi out of jealousy and frustration.
Tetsushi then mentions that Ryuuhei asked for a spare key to the house for his birthday. Tsubasa rejects that straight away, knowing that Ryuuhei will come over all the time (he's rather possessive of Tetsushi, even with Ryuuhei). He figures that Ryuuhei will probably ask that Tetsushi come to see his games instead, knowing Ryuuhei's personality well. Tetsushi concurs, adding that Ryuuhei will ask for both of them to come. Tsubasa doesn't want to but agrees to go once if Ryuuhei won't ask for a spare key again.
Tetsushi decides to wash the dishes, but he's quickly interrupted by Tsubasa. Tsubasa, his jealousy aroused by all this talk of Ryuuhei, comes up behind Tetsushi and starts to caress him. Tetsushi wants to tell Tsubasa that the only person he'd let touch him like that is Tsubasa, but he knows that saying anything extra will just set Tsubasa off more. He won't be able to stand up the next day if he's not careful...
Tsubasa sticks his hand into Tetsushi's pants and starts to stroke him. Tetsushi is getting aroused, but can't forget that not only does he have school tomorrow, he has P.E. At the same time, he's totally aroused so he gasps out that he wants to go upstairs and have sex on a bed.
How the two started having sex...It all started out with Tetsushi asking Tsubasa to show just how smart he is when he wants to be. He asked Tsubasa to do his best on the high school entrance exam. Tsubasa asked that Tetsushi give him the thing he wants most in the world in exchange. Though Tsubasa wouldn't tell him what it was, Tetsushi agreed. He knew Tsubasa was incredibly smart but was purposefully doing awful in school. Tsubasa didn't care about what other people thought since Tetsushi knew his abilities, but Tetsushi wanted Tsubasa to show up everyone who ridiculed him. He never in a million years thought Tsubasa would want...him.
Tetsushi was dumbfounded when Tsubasa asked for his end of the deal, but Tsubasa told him that he wants to have sex because he loves him. Tetsushi had never thought of Tsubasa (or any guy) in that way. He'd never even held hands with a girl, let alone had sex. He knew that Tsubasa was experienced...He wanted to confirm that Tsubasa would actually get hard for him. Tsubasa assured him it wouldn't be a problem since he'd always masturbated to Tetsushi. He demands Tetsushi hold up his end of the deal. Tetsushi was still stunned, but he wasn't grossed out or embarrassed by the idea. He confessed honestly that he didn't know anything about sex. Tsubasa responded that he'd never had sex with a guy but that it was the same...probably.
So they kissed. Tsubasa complained that Tetsushi's expression was too sexy for a virgin and crawled on top of Tetsushi, pressing his hard dick against Tetsushi. He came pretty quickly, before Tetsushi knew what was happening. Tsubasa was mortified at how uncool he was. He blamed Tetsushi for looking so erotic with his blue eyes all watery. He swore he'd do it right next time and make Tetsushi scream. Tetsushi couldn't help but laugh...
Back in the present, the two have proper sex. There are many pages detailing Tsubasa's thoughts leading up to the sex. Mostly it consists of him being jealous of Ryuuhei's casual touchiness (and use of Tetsushi as a pillow) and having his pride getting in the way of an honest confession. That's why he took advantage of Tetsushi's request to finagle a "deal" and retain the upper hand. But in the end his plans came to naught because he not only quickly confessed but was so aroused and out of control the first time.
Earlier that day, the student council executive committee has just finished their meeting. Toudou and Takatsukasa are alone in the room. Toudou asks Takatsukasa if he's serious about making Tetsushi the next head of the executive committee. Takatsukasa explains that Tetsushi had been student council president in intermediate school and was thus already experienced. Toudou finds it hard to believe that Tetsushi had been president, but Takatsukasa chides Toudou for judging Tetsushi by his appearance. It's not typical of Toudou. Toudou admits that he might be a bit prejudiced. He thinks of Tetsushi as the third wheel of the Ryuuhei and Tsubasa combo. Toudou trusts Takatsukasa's judgement, but he still has doubts since Tetsushi is a bit of a "troublemaker." Takatsukasa points out that Tetsushi isn't a troublemaker but a victim of retarded frustrations. He knows that Tetsushi is actually the key person of the trio.
Toudou asks if the trio weren't so conspicuous in intermediate school. Takatsukasa assures Toudou that they were quite a spectacle, including Tetsushi. He tells Toudou about Tetsushi's blue eyes and the incident that probably led Tetsushi to start using color contacts. Toudou gossips that the guys supplying Tsubasa's chair at lunchtime had switched from the Bodyguard to Tetsushi's guy classmates. Takatsukasa isn't surprised, but he's unnerved that Tsubasa hadn't done something to the Bodyguards yet. He feels a bit sorry for Tetsushi for having a "terminator for a darling." They discuss the leader of the Bodyguards, Saeki Shou, a tennis ace who'd fallen for Tsubasa (in a guy admiring another guy kind of a way) at last year's school festival and had thrown aside a recommendation to another school to attend the same school as Tsubasa. They comment how people who are crazy about something tend to overlook a lot of (very important) things and wonder what will happen between the Bodyguards and the trio...
ETA: Oops, I stuck the pics in the wrong places and forgot two of them. Corrected now!
ETA 2: The title's been corrected now as well...