|FRAGILE by Konohara Narise
||[Aug. 30th, 2008|09:39 am]
I feel like I constantly write about the books I hated...I need to devote more time to writing about the books I liked. Unfortunately, it takes so much longer to write about a book I like while it's easy to whip up a nasty rant for the crappy ones. :P
This time my crap rant is for Fragile by Konohara Narise and illustrated by Takao Hiroi. Though it's not my taste AT ALL, I wouldn't have stuck it in the "crap" category if Konohara-sensei had ended the book earlier. You know how people talk about how a movie would've been so much better if it had ended 15 minutes earlier? This is definitely like that. The end I thought would've been appropriate (and elevated the book out of "crap") is pretty nasty, it would've been cool.
I tend to avoid books with naked people in chains on the cover, but I went for it anyway because it was by Konohara-sensei. Oooh, boy. I ended up skipping to the last fourth of the book because I couldn't read the middle where the uke gets degraded and dehumanized and humiliated. The end was actually pretty interesting, but ultimately made me want to hurt something. She ruined the chance for truly shocking ending! It wouldn't have redeemed the book, but it would've left me with a feeling other than utter disgust!
The book is about Ookouchi, a nasty guy who has a pleasant demeanor but is all about sucking up to get ahead and being an asshole when he can get away with it, and Aoike, a guy who'd worked under Ookouchi and had been the victim of Ookouchi's jealousy of his talent and ability. Initially Aoike had been fooled by Ookouchi's pleasant demeanor and, being gay, had been attracted to Ookouchi's looks. So when he came to work under Ookouchi he'd tried really hard to please Ookouchi, but all he got was rejection and insults. Finally he snaps and attacks Ookouchi at work . Of course he resigns (he would've been fired otherwise). Ookouchi is all pleased to get rid of Aoike, but his satisfaction only lasts until Aoike shows up and threatens him. With a gun, I think. In any case, Aoike turns Ookouchi into his pet, imprisoning him in his own home, chaining him up naked and treating him pretty badly. Yes, Ookouchi is a pathetic loser who sort of deserved what he got, but I just...don't handle dehumanization and utter humiliation of characters well. Especially when it goes on and on and on. That's why I skipped the entire middle part (I did go back and read a page or two here and there, but I don't think I could sit and read the entire novel from front to back).
Reading the Amazon Japan reviews was enlightening and horrifying. The utter lack of sympathy for Ookouchi just astounded me. They seemed to think he deserved all of it. ALL OF IT. They chided him for not being sorry for the bad things he did to Ookouchi and feeling sorry for himself instead. I dunno, I'd think a person would protect himself in whatever way he can when put in such an extreme situation. Some might wallow in regret and be really sorry, but others might focus on their own victimhood. I guess where I come from is very different from many BL fans because I felt a lot more angry at Aoike since he's the one with the agency for most of the book. This is the same disconnect I felt reading reviews of another Konohara Narise novel, Iya na yatsu. Why did the readers feel so damn sorry for the seme? He's the one pursuing the self-destructive behavior! He chose to bother with the worthless uke instead of finding something else more normal and healthy to do! As I had mentioned when I wrote about Iya na yatsu, love doesn't excuse everything for me. I couldn't excuse Aoike's behavior by viewing it as something inevitable and uncontrollable because he's just so full of "love" and "hate" for Ookouchi. I found Aoike's self-indulgent fantasy that maybe Ookouchi will accept him and they can become regular lovers even as he treated Ookouchi like a dog laughable.
The thing is, Aoike's fantasy does come true! Ookouchi eventually softens and does accept him. Aoike slowly takes away the bonds that hold Ookouchi, scared that Ookouchi will turn on him at each step. But he so desperately wants to love and be loved that he takes the chance. Even when he takes off the final chain, Ookouchi doesn't run away or leave him! Instead, they "become one" (Aoike doesn't actually fuck Ookouchi in the ass for most of the book, just using it as one of the threats to make Ookouchi submit to him) and live together happily. That is, until the day Aoike comes home to find Ookouchi's stuff gone. There's a note that simply says "DIE!" left on the bed.
Ookouchi had deceived Aoike. He didn't want to just escape Aoike, he wanted to hurt Aoike as well. He figured it would be so much damaging to Aoike if he made Aoike think he was in love with Aoike before making himself scarce. Yeah, this is pretty contemptible and stupid. I won't defend Ookouchi on this one. In any case, he starts a new life in another city with a new job and a new home. Aoike had tendered a resignation in Ookouchi's name early on in the confinement so Ookouchi had no job to go back to even if he could've somehow found a plausible excuse for missing work for a month or so with no contact. Unfortunately for him, Aoike happens to find out where he is. Aoike lays in wait for Ookouchi at Ookouchi's new apartment. He ties Ookouchi to the bed and fucks him mercilessly. Ookouchi begs for forgiveness and tells Aoike he'll do anything. Aoike retorts that he can't believe a word Ookouchi says since he's a lying bastard. Too true. He prompts Ookouchi to instead say what he'd written on the note. Ookouchi starts yelling "DIE! DIE! DIE" over and over again. Aoike takes the knife he'd threatened Ookouchi with and slits his own throat. He tells Ookouchi, you wanted me to die, right? I'll die...inside of you. I'll keep fucking you even when I'm dead. He wraps his arms around Ookouchi and feels a great sense of satisfaction. His body will stiffen, still clinging to Ookouchi. He'll continue to fuck Ookouchi even as he rots. And Ookouchi will eventually die as well. He figures he must be messed up in the head, just as Ookouchi had said.
This is where I think the book should've ended. Instead, what happens is that Ookouchi's bonds happen loosen and he gets free. He calls the ambulance and Aoike is saved. They end up living together, though Ookouchi adamantly denies even liking the guy to the very end.
Yes, really. That's how the book ends. It felt like Konohara-sensei was going for a bad taste in your mouth end like Iya na yatsu, but I just felt disgusted. Her attempt to explain Ookouchi's motivations for not fleeing from Aoike (his new life away from Aoike just didn't have the zing he'd become used to--normal sex with a normal girl was kind of boring as well) totally failed.
The art is of the more "realistic" style, which made the illustrations much more disturbing. I think it fits the book, but I definitely don't care for it.