Editor's Note:I am unable to figure out the font/spacing issues at this time
It is left for the readers to decide if it is intentional, but every time yaoi comes up on this blog it's always Lily “I can't keep a plot going longer than four chapters” Hoshino's work. In the spirit of breaking that habit we're going to look at a yaoi manga that is: A. not by Ms. Hoshino and B. not a collection of sexy short stories. Instead we're looking at a single volume yaoi manga known as After I Win. Even though it is given time to garner some depth it's still kiddy pool shallow.
Now I'm not going to spend an entire article complaining about a book clearly meant to be used as fuel for itching the ditch lacks depth. That would be like playing a Persona game and getting mad because it makes heavy use of Japanese culture.However I am going to complain because it is boring. Every chapter is our lead Hiyori wondering if his dorm mate/boyfriend Kasumi actually loves him. It starts with them unable to communicate and ends with the boys “grabbing burritos” except in the last chapter where they finally “stuff the burritos”. It's like the manga-ka,Kaname Itsuki, decided to condense the plot to Happy Marriage!? and made Chiro a boy. I'll admit I'm a fan of the seme being the younger guy and the uke being older; I would exactly call it a shake-up per se but it adds to the sexy factor...if that's your thing. This still doesn't excuse the fact that the lead couple has the chemistry of wet cardboard.
The only shining moment in this otherwise dark dredge of cute boys is the relationship between Hiyori and his brother Sawa. It's a fine if poorly utilized example of Hiyori being a somewhat unreliable narrator. He see his brother as a playboy seducing scads of high school boys. However Hiyori believes that Sawa doesn't care about people's feelings for which he is wrong. Sawa's care for his brother is a tad subtle, mostly making sure he's eating right, which Hiyori writes off as him being a nutritionist. The book drops little hints that Hiyroi is wrong before just going all out and letting the last two chapters show how much Sawa truly cares.
The book should have been about the brothers with Kasumi being relegated to side status. Sure, he gets some development but his relationships with his little sister and Hiyori are sorely lacking. Has it been about the brothers they could have an exploration of two different lifestyles and the tensions that arise between the men. Instead nothing is really done with the relationship and we are left with bland jock boy hiding his “baton” in the cute sempai. The fact that the brothers are set up as opposites seems to only be there for the twist in the loosest sense, that Hiyroi is the uke. Which is painfully obvious without the unnecessary level of detail to the brother's relationship.
The art is pretty well done with all guys looking reasonably fine however despite the 18+ rating on this no one’s “ink pens” are ever really shown. Also as stated above it's most the two boys just “helping each other read” till the fourth chapter where they “dictate to each other” and if that's your thing then by all means go for it just feels a tad bit lacking to me. Also as a side note the back cover seems to make this book out to be this aggressive fight for love when it's tamer than Pat Boone.
After I Win is a pitiful waste of potential that focuses on the wrong relationship. It's like the manga-ka wrote this detailed back story the brothers and was determined to shoehorn it into this book about sexy guys "drinking milkshakes". The fact that the relationship is competently written weakens the book as a whole since all I can think about is how it should have been about them and not the asinine romantic couple. I know I took a jab at Lily Hoshino earlier but the fact that after 2 years I still remember Night Circus is a testament to some degree of staying power. This is forgettable garbage that lacks any real appeal outside of what could have been.
Till Next Time: Stay Positive