Title: His Favorite (アイツの大本命 – Aitsu No Daihonmei)
Genre: Shounen Ai
Mangaka: Suzuki Tanaka
Number of Volumes: 10
His Favorite is an amazing shounen ai by Suzuki Tanaka and I almost made the grave mistake not to buy it. I found it by chance in my favourite manga store in Liège and honestly, the only reason why I took the first volume with me is because by buying two manga I could get one free. Therefore, I decided to choose one randomly in order to discover something new. The volume was wrapped in plastic so I could not take a look at the drawings inside and I did not like the cover at all. Moreover, the summary did not seem that interesting but, after some pondering, I still decided to take it, thinking: “you never know, maybe I will be pleasantly surprised”. And indeed, it quickly became one of my favourite manga. It is funny, refreshing and provides my cold heart with the amount of fluff it needs.
The story follows Yoshio Yoshida, a high school student considered one of the ugliest boy in the school and often tormented by the girls. One of his classmate, Takahiko Sato, oppositely, is so hot the girls cannot handle themselves nor their ovaries around him. When he wants to turn them down without being rude, he simply pretends he already has something planned with Yoshida, who will then be even more bullied by the girls because he keeps Sato away from them. Although the two boys barely know each other, Sato makes it seem as if they were the best of friends. For this reason, one day, a girl who was turn down by Sato when she confessed her love to him decides to ask Yoshida who is the person Sato likes. Sato accepts to reveal this information to Yoshida at one condition: Yoshida must kiss him.
Firstly, regarding the drawings, after opening the first volume I was actually very happy with what I found, I believe the drawing style is beautiful and, most importantly, really suits the story. And, except for the first volume, I do really love the covers which keep getting better.
What makes this story delightfully refreshing is the way Suzuki Tanaka twists around the codes and tropes of the Shounen Ai and Yaoi genres in an almost parodic way. The predatory gay man, the love triangles, the cute guy that everybody seems to fall in love with, super-duper jealous boyfriend, the return of the mysterious ex, etc. All these tropes that can easily become horribly annoying due to their presence in many manga of the genre are twisted around and freshened and it is mostly due to characterisation and the relationship between the characters.
Indeed, that is the centre of the manga: the characters. The manga actually lacks of a real, long lasting intrigue. Every chapter is telling another adventure of Yoshida, his friends and his boyfriend, but the story as a whole does not have much of a plot. The characters, their developments, and their relationships make up for that. Through the story they evolve and grow, and you understand more about them, especially Sato who he is full of secrets, pride and has really bad communication skills.
The humour in His Favorite is very theatrical and full of exaggerations but does not take away the fact that, even on a first degree level, the characters are really interesting . Sato is a genuine bully and yet throughout the story he will change and start to question his own behaviour. His attitude towards Yoshida keeps evolving, but he never completely loses that nasty temper of his either: he does not become somebody else, simply a better version of himself. As for Yoshida, he is absolutely not in denial regarding his boyfriend’s personality and does not hesitate to put him back in his place when he goes too far. As the story goes on we see him really try to understand Sato, accept and face his own feelings with a bit more ease as well as gaining more confidence. Both characters change naturally and never lose themselves completely. The manga also focuses on mainly two other couples which are also very interesting and has several loveable second characters – like Akimoto, the purest cinnamon bun – but to avoid any spoilers, I will not go further on that subject.
His favorite is probably not the manga of the century, nevertheless it is ridiculously funny and feels like a breath of fresh air. Moreover, in the current climate, it is really nice to focus on something a bit more positive.