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more school boy angst [Oct. 13th, 2009|12:31 am]
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Zenryousei Ourinkangakuin ~Gothic~, Zenryousei Ourinkangakuin ~Renaissance~, and Zenryousei Ourinkangakuin ~Romanesque~ by Yukishiro Marie and illustrated by Takahoshi Asako are set in the utterly cliched Christian all-boys school world, this one very elite. There's an exclusive group that sounds kind of stupid romanized, Sarutoramu (Saltram?), that functions like a student council. It has a dirty secret: The student council president is chosen not by voting or merit or anything logical like that, oh no, he's chosen by a stupid shocking ritual passed down year after year. The ritual involves a first year student who hadn't come up from the lower school but had tested in, chosen as a "lamb." The person who fucks that lamb and takes that lamb's rosary (everyone is issued their own rosary with an identifying code) as proof of his conquest becomes the president. I *think* this is supposed to be depraved and horrible and shows how people will do anything for power and status, but I found the whole idea really lame. Especially set against a very Catholic environment. In any case, the winner can get the rosary by whatever means he wishes, be it seduction or rape. The three books feature different scenarios, all pretty silly. The angsty tragic back stories of the characters made me laugh, they were so trite.

The one I found the most amusing was the childhood friends who are part of Saltram (Renaissance). One is an uptight hardworking overachiever who is trying to follow in his three older brothers' footsteps and be perfect. They'd all been president, so he has to be it as well. He's shocked at the selection process and really can't compete. But his childhood friend, a very laid-back and carefree kind of a guy, is his opposite. And so the friend seduces the "lamb" and gets him to trade rosaries (as a sign of affection). But he doesn't want to be president. Oh no. He knows the other guy desperately wants to be president, so he makes a deal. He'll give the rosary to...er...I guess I should look up their names...Kazuki in exchange for Kazuki's submission to him, Ren. Which, of course, includes Ren fucking Kazuki. Which he does, denigrating Kazuki as he does. There's angst and shit because Ren continues to date the "lamb," and Kazuki realizes he loves (and has always loved!) Ren. But he wants the "lamb" to be happy in a way he's never been so urges Ren to treat the kid right. In the meantime, Kazuki has stopped getting letters from his brothers. When he goes home for vacation his brothers don't take him out to dinner like they did when he was in intermediate school. He's worried, but is happy when he finally gets a letter from one of his brothers. Unfortunately it isn't a letter, it's a file detailing Kazuki's mother's life. He had a different mother from his brothers, and it turns out she was a high-class prostitute who'd provided services to their father until she got pregnant. She dumped Kazuki on his father and waltzed off for a life of more men until she was stabbed by one of her lovers. Kazuki's brothers' mother, their father's wife, on the other hand, became mentally unwell from the betrayal and all that and ended up in an institution. So it turned out that the brothers had always hated Kazuki and had treated him nicely so that they could betray him in the end. They figured he'd never be able to become president, and so his entire life's work in trying to live up to their accomplishments would be destroyed. But when he does somehow manage to become president they decide to strike the final blow and reveal the sordid secrets of the past and their disdain for him. This, obviously, devastates Kazuki. But his distress brings Ren back, and in his vulnerable state Kazuki is able to finally admit his feelings for Ren. And, surprise surprise, it turns out Ren had a) always loved Kazuki and b) known Kazuki had loved Ren. So why didn't he just do the normal thing and seduce Kazuki? Who knows! It's more fun when things are convoluted and there's forced sex and slut-shaming! The thing I found the most stupid was the brothers putting so much effort into their "revenge" against a totally innocent kid whose only crime was being his mother's son. Talk about petty assholes. Too bad Kazuki spent his whole life adoring and idolizing them.

Another one was about a first year who had gotten into the school so that he could be close to his step-brother from whom he'd been separated for many years (Romanesque). His step-brother is cold to him, his classmates tease and bully him, but he persists. His step-brother even rapes him when he's chosen to be that year's "lamb," and yet he can't hate his brother and wants to be with him! I have to admit, I hate characters who endure and endure and endure for no good reason. That kid irritated me. And the tragic backstory is...ludicrous! He'd been told that his mother and step-father had died in a car accident, but it turns out that his step-brother's mother, who had been institutionalized after becoming mentally unwell because of her husband's philandering (does this sound familiar?), had stabbed them both to death. They'd just lied to the main character since he was just a kid back then. I think the kid's mother was supposed to be some kind of hussy who'd broken up the step-brother's parents' marriage. In any case, laaame.

The third one (Gothic) was not as awful, but not that interesting either. The main character has a dark secret--he's dirty dirty dirty and only his rosary and his prayers keep everyone from finding out! Turns out he'd been molested by his uncle and after enduring the abuse for a while had finally attacked said uncle with some sharp implement. He'd been made to think it was his fault, so he has that classic "I'm dirty and shameful and must hide it all" complex going for him. He ends up chosen as the "lamb," but it's not that important. The important part is that before he's chosen, he has a run in with a third year and ends up his "slave" because he'd injured him. The "slavery" doesn't include sexual services, btw. They just kind of snark and banter, which was cute. What *was* tiresome was the main character's cousin, who is in the Saltram and feels pressure from his family to do well and make connections, and *hates* the main character. He nearly rapes the main character, but main character is saved in the nick of time by his soon-to-be bf. Of course main character and the third year get together, but I don't remember how. I don't really care.

I thought the art was very pretty, but the lambs were drawn a bit too cutesy for me.

Kazuki and Ren from Renaissance.

[User Picture]From: keelieinblack
2009-10-13 11:59 am (UTC)
*laugh* I never get tired of the BL/GL obsession with incredibly ritualized and sordid Catholic schools. I went to a single-sex Catholic school and it was just as boring and ordinary as regular high school. Possibly even more so. XD

I just can't believe that ritual. What's to keep someone from cracking the 'lamb' over the head and taking his rosary, or sneakily swiping it out of his pocket, and just saying they had sex? How is anyone going to prove/disprove it?

Also, terrific, another series where the women are all 1) mentally ill 2) sluts or 3) dead. Bleh.
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[User Picture]From: insaneneko
2009-10-14 07:38 am (UTC)
Obviously you didn't go to the right kind of Catholic school. It also needs to be a *boarding* school. Full of repressed/frustrated boys. ^^;

The ritual was ridiculous, yes. You'd think they could just make deals with the "lambs" for privileges or something, but I suppose the whole deal with these types of stories is the contrast between innocence and sin.

Wow, I totally missed the portrayal of women in this one! I guess the main story lines were so bad I overlooked it. Bleah, indeed.

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[User Picture]From: leviosa8
2009-10-13 02:00 pm (UTC)
The other day I was browsing through a Moto Hagio book ("Houmonsha") which contains an extra story for "The Heart of Thomas", and remembered "Kaze to ki no uta" by Keiko Takemiya (weren't the two authors roommates at some point?), and after reading your summary for these stories I have confirmed there is a really twisted obsession for these kind of plots with loads of family drama in all-boys catholic schools... It must have been in fashion at some point, and I guess some more recent works just drink from those classics and dwelve on the same topics more explicitly (and ridiculously so!).
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[User Picture]From: insaneneko
2009-10-14 07:42 am (UTC)
Ah yes, I remember reading "The Heart of Thomas" when I was too young to really understand what was going on. I was obsessed with those classics about boys in boarding schools and totally missed the gay (or gayish) parts of them. XD; These modern day wanna-bes really are pale shadows...But then, they are churned out in quick succession, so I can't expect great literature. :P
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