Gerard & Jacques – A two volume yaoi manga!

**Special guest post by nichan.***

The other day I was randomly e-mailing somebody at work, and casually mentioned that I’d started to reread “Gerard & Jacques”. He’d never heard of it, so he (also at work) looked it up and replied that the first review he’d found had referred to it as something like “confrontingly graphic”.

It was this idle distraction from being productive that made me decide to review the tale, so…

This is “Gerard & Jacques”, books 1 and 2, by Fumi Yoshinaga!

“Gerard & Jacques”, volume 1, on Amazon.

"Gerard & Jacques"

“Gerard & Jacques”, volume 2, on Amazon.

Warning! …I’m really sleepy right now.

The basic idea…

Jacques, the only son of a fallen aristocratic family, has found himself in a brothel, having been sold into service in order to pay off his father’s debt. Perfect timing, too, because his first patron is Gerard, a wealthy (and rather significantly older) commoner who hates nobility. Hates ’em. Really, really hates ’em. …In fact, he hates the aristocracy so much that he decides to buy Jacques’ freedom so that the poor kid has to learn to live on his own. …The resolution of which turns out to be that Jacques somewhat accidentally becomes one of Gerard’s servants.

On the surface, it seems like these two books are about Jacques growing up (a rather nicely handled evolution, thanks to Fumi Yoshinaga’s artwork) over the course of about ten years (give or take) and becoming aware of who he is, and how he fits into the world, and what he thinks about Gerard.

It’s really all about Gerard, though. There’s a reason why he’s wealthy, there’s a reason why he hates the nobility, there’s a reason why he sleeps around with guys instead of girls, and there’s a reason he becomes so protective of Jacques in his own, peculiar way. …Of course, I don’t want to give any of that away and spoil the fun, but his whole story makes up a far meatier chunk of the plot than anything else.

The bad parts…

I imagine that in the process of publishing the first volume, an uninterested, abused, and weary intern was handed the pages in a loose stack, told to run across a breezy street, subsequently lost control of all of the sheets, grabbed them as best he could, tossed them on the counter at the printer, and then the printer accidentally dropped the stack, the lights went out, he couldn’t see what he was doing, and the book went to press as-is. …Good luck navigating that volume the first time through, because there aren’t even page numbers to reference.

The second volume, luckily, is actually in order.

The good parts…

The story sometimes goes along slowly, really reveling in the moment (the dirty parts, for instance), and then suddenly takes off at a frantic clip (one chapter has something like a five year gap between panels). This becomes a pretty awesome technique, because there’s a whole lotta story to tell, and there’s very little space in which to tell it.

Seeing Jacques maturing is pretty neat, but the really, really rewarding part is seeing how Gerard adapts to having Jacques in his life. He has different stages of acceptance, from merely hiring him on a whim, to giving him the same respect he gives his other servants, and then… Well, then things get just as confusing for Gerard as they do for Jacques.

Fumi Yoshinaga handles this not just with the storytelling, but also the art. Gerard’s hesitations are fantastically rendered. …And then there are the familiar goofy faces and silly reactions that just make me grin every time.

Oh, and I just noticed last night that Gerard cuts his hair towards the end of the story, and he looks less like Gerard and more like Fumi Yoshinaga’s attempt at fanart of Maki Murakami’s Eiri Yuki.

The dirty parts…

This book was put out by Blu Manga, so it’s… It’s pretty dirty.

Some of the dirty parts are a little unnerving, because Jacques is, um… Not necessarily all that old at the beginning of the story. I like to tell myself that he’s gotta be seventeen or eighteen, right? But… I dunno, man. It’s kinda hard to tell.

All of the dirty parts are graphic. This isn’t just a typical yaoi, where you kind’ve have to squint and fill in the blanks. …Most of the blanks are drawn out pretty clearly.

The last scene is my favorite. It’s almost… adorable. Everything is suddenly right in the world, and stuff gets a little smiley and happy.

But, you know… This isn’t the kind of yaoi you want to be caught reading if there are other people in the room who might perhaps flip out if they see naked manga characters rubbing their naughty male bits together.

So…

If you like yaoi, and you’re looking for something without one of the two male leads being super-soft, and you’re down with an historical setting, and you don’t mind Fumi Yoshinaga’s sometimes choppy storytelling, then you should totally check this out.

…Unless you get easily frustrated by reading an entire volume out of order due to crummy editing. In that case, you might want to skip this whole story.

But… I wouldn’t suggest skipping it! I’d totally suggest checking it out! (*nod, nod*)


About nichan:
nichan (aka “The Other Nicole,” “The Bad Nicole”)
i like cantonese music, japanese music, a dash of korean music, and our site owner has recently exposed me to mandarin music. — joey yung was my introduction to asian music.

i like manga and anime. — “sailor moon” was my introduction to anime, and my first manga obsession was “gravitation”.

i really like ancient chinese literature. — i believe “the tale of genji” was my introduction to asian literature, but i very quickly converted from japanese to chinese. i’m pretty sure my first chinese literature experience was “a dream of red mansions”.

i was a history major in college. i did my senior thesis on the comparison of yaoi and slash fan histories. when i got out of college, i still had a year left on my parents’ insurance, so i went back to the local college and did an independent study on learning world war i through “gundam wing”.

i like the occasional asian movie, but i don’t really have the attention span for movies…

i loves me some loligoth/gothloli.

the problem, you see, is that i’m way, way, way too cheap and lazy to bother getting new stuff, so i predict that all of my reviews will be on things i’ve already watched/read/heard, rather than new and up-to-date releases. don’t be expecting to see new titles and whatnot listed under my name… i buy from the bargain bin!

Wanna share your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s