Iwaki Kyousuke and Katou Yoji are two hugely popular adult film stars looking for a way out of the industry. Their chance arrives when they're both invited to audition for a new erotic film. Imagine their surprise when the director decides the only way for him to choose who will get the coveted lead role is for them to perform one of the film's love scenes on the spot—with each other! Things get even crazier when Katou decides to take drastic measures to ensure he can continue seeing Iwaki after film production wraps. How will Iwaki respond to Katou's impulsive act?
Volume 5: Fuyu no Semi (Winter Cicada, 3 parts)
Next time you hear someone complaining about yaoi being filled with nothing but effeminate whiny boys, please, as a personal favor to me, introduce them to Embracing Love (Haru wo Daiteita).
I've been around the yaoi block over the years of my obsession and I've seen it all. The good, the bad, the doujinshis, the one-shots. And this series is one of the best. It combines everything that we love in yaoi; beautiful men, drama, romance and sex. More importantly, it does it does it all masterfully.
The only way I can accurately describe Embracing Love is to call it a Yaoi Soap Opera. And I mean that in the best way. There isn't one main driving plot such as 'hero must find sword and defeat badguy', instead it's more of a slice of life, episodic series. The driving force behind it all would be the romance between our boys and their professional lives. The series deals with issues ranging from petty jealousies and insecurities to dealing with homophobic relatives and struggling to get a job in a tough industry. I'm under no illusions as to it's realism, obviously things are going to be sugar-coated, but all in all it is one of the most honest, realistic yaoi manga I have ever had the pleasure to read. It's dramamtic without being dark and funny without being too light and carefree.
It all comes down to our leading men; Iwaki and Katou. To be honest there aren't many other shining performances besides the two guys, the other characters are a bit bland. But does this matter? Not at all, because these two are more than egotistic and explosive enough to keep your interest for a full 14 volumes of drama and lover's tiffs.
Those familiar with the genre will be surprised to hear that there are no assigned 'roles' to these boys. Iwaki, older, serious and professional is normally the uke of the pair, but only where sex is concerned. He's no pushover, he can be surprisingly cold and harsh. Deep down he's sensitive and even insecure. Katou on the other hand, is bright, flamboyant and impulsive. He's normally the seme (yes, I did say normally twice, the boys occasionally switch roles) and is characteristically jealous and over-the-top. It's Katou who initiates and pursues the relationship in the beginning.
What makes it all work is how Iwaki and Katou are men. Undeniably, unquestionably men. They look and act like guys. (Well, you know, romanticized fictional guys, but still!) Iwaki struggles with being the 'wife' of the relationship despite having a dominant personality. Katou struggles with insecurity and jealousy. They are in the same industry, sometimes competing for the same roles, sometimes not even able to meet each other for days despite living in the same house. They squabble, argue, fight and yell constantly. And then they work it all out and make-up. With great sex! The drama never ends.
The artwork is absolute top notch. I am a huge fan of Youka Nitta now, the way she draws men is just too much. I honestly don't know how she can make these guys looks completely manly and yet totally beautiful at the same time. Please don't be turned off by the cover artwork, or even the first volume or so. Give it a chance, the art work may seem a bit dated by today's standards, but a few volumes in and I'm sure you'll love it. Her grasp of anatomy, of complex expressions, the pacing and paneling, it's all beautiful. I've never seen art quite like it before. It's different, it's unique, it's perfect for the story.
Now, the only problem I have with the series is this: sometimes the characters just don't shut up. Youka Nitta has a great sense of drama; her artwork and paneling reflects it. So every once in a while I wish the boys would just hug or cry...in silence. Their thoughts are analyzed and they really just go on and on. Which isn't bad, because it gives great insight into their minds and characters. But no one really talks like that. A grand speech or apology once in a while is great, but silence is great also. You can say so much with a look. Youka Nitta sometimes achieves this affect to great success during their sex scenes when they finally stop talking and she lets the artwork talk and the emotion show through body language and facial expression. Her sex scenes are stunning.
Speaking of which, Embracing Love is fairly graphic with the sex. There's no cutting to black once they start kissing. But it's very tastefully done, in my opinion. It's certainly not pornographic. The guy's manly bits are drawn in screentone normally, or with the faintest detail, just hinted at or sometimes not shown at all. There are kissing scenes, cuddling scenes, and pretty much every position imaginable. Youka Nitta keeps it fresh, ranging from hot quick sex to romantic, wordy sex. There is a fair amount; sex normally features during the climax of each episode, once their fight is resolved, or if they're reunited after a long separation. All in all, not too much, not too little for me, but for someone else it may be a bit overwhelming.
Embracing Love is a classic of the yaoi genre and for good reason. It's well-paced, smart, always fresh and the chemistry between the lead couple is one-of-a-kind. The artwork is beautiful and a manga where a gay couple get married and face real life issues is a rarity. It's forgiving, loving and optimistic. Embracing Love truly is a manga about just thatl embracing love. Because it's worht it. The series iis well worth a look. You won't be disappointed!
In case you didn't know, AV means Adult Video. Yes that's right, this manga looks at the life of two young and aspiring AV actors who are trying to gain fame in the acting world, the long-haired blonde hunk Katou Youji and the serious black-haired Iwaki Kyousuke. At first glance, this looks like your typical, boring, predictable yaoi manga: They fight for their positions, get (insert some bad interaction here) with each other, and the next thing you know, they totally absorb their roles and fall in love.
But no, this is not your typical yaoi anime. Not at all.
Sure the plot seems to be a normal, "ho-hum I've seen this 9762726 times in drama before" kind of thing, but as the story progresses, you begin to see the untypical part of this yaoi manga: LE GASP! It actually has PLOT! Most yaoi manga (or even the mention of the word yaoi) either contains hard-pumping hot sex with NO plot at all (take Asami Tohjoh and Yugi Yamada for instance), or too much plot with hardly any love scenes. But Haru wo Daiteita is so balanced, a ballerina would fall off her feet on a balance beam! Well okay maybe not THAT balanced but you get the idea.
Now don't get me wrong. I love yaoi from the bottom of my heart. It's just that Haru wo Daiteita moves so beautifully, so smoothly, that even extras in the middle of some chapters actually fit into the plot! And the good thing is, as a reader, you can feel the extreme chemistry and TRUE TRUE love between Iwaki and Katou. This, in my opinion, is the first ever yaoi that has featured REAL, TRUE, GENUINE love. Sure, some yaoi has that "owh I love this guy and I'll willingly die for him" kind of thing, but what makes HWD different is that they ACTUALLY put their words into actions. And OMG you cannot believe this: It features marriage. Yes, the first yaoi manga I've read that features marriage. This further proves their true love for each other.
One thing I don't like about is how it gets too sappy at times ^.~ It's the "give me a break, I'm getting a toothache" kind of sappiness. Especially since they use overly tired lines such as "Owh Iwaki-san I love you so much I'd die for you" or something of that nature.
This manga is excellent in the way it was plotted out: not too much or too little sex scenes, balanced showing of their business and private lives, and the occasional love triangle plot (Miyasaki and Kikuchi and that reporter guy who looks like Iwaki XDDD and numerous others). It certainly satisfies all people who like yaoi, even those who don't like seeing sex scenes very much. Because sex-scenes here are different: while in most yaoi, you can't really feel the love, in HWD sex-scenes give you goosebumps and just leave you in awe, "wow, they really love each other..." and to quote Miyasaki, "a beautiful thing".
And... I gave this a low character rating because in my opinion, although Katou and Iwaki's character developments are excellent, is that they're another part of the overused, ready-made characters. Iwaki, a serious guy with black hair who has a hard time expressing himself. Katou, a hot-headed blonde who is extremely possessive. Ho-hum, I mean, how many times have we seen characters like this? And also, the art is beautiful and elegant, but as I am an extreme CLAMP fan, I find the art style to be semi-old and think that it would have been better if they were drawn as skinnier, cuter bishies. Of course, that's just me fangirling. XDDD
Overall, this manga is a MUST read for those who love yaoi with plot. It, in my opinion, satisfies everyone, including those who look for hot sex-scenes and those who look for just something sappy that will give them goosebumps all over. If you like yaoi, no matter how you like it, this is definitely something that should be on your list. If you, as a yaoi fan, don't read this, you have just missed one of the greatest yaoi ever made. Too bad for you.read more
Haru wo daite Ita begins with two actors, Iwaki and Katou, that are trying to make it to the big screen. Iwaki is quiet and humble, a strong man who is deeply ashamed of his past as an adult film actor. Katou, on the other side, is an arrogant and proud young actor who thinks of Iwaki as a rival in the adult film industry.
It’s only natural that, when they try for the same part, their competitive personalities clash against each other, turning the audition into a decisive war. To their greatest surprise, the director has different plans for their future and they end up working together on a project really different from usual. How much are they willing to bet for the sake of their dreams? Will their careers finally explode to stardom like they both expect?
Focusing mainly on the characters' inner growth, this piece is different from your usual "I love you, let’s have sex" story. It shows the lives of two men with strong personalities who work equally to feed and maintain their love, as they deal, sometimes together and others individually, with hardships, jealousy and trust issues through the years.
We can see the several obstacles that come with commitments, not only in their relationship, but also in their job as performers, shaping this story into a rich and complex masterpiece. There's more that meets the eye here than just a tale about romance; in my opinion, this piece is an essay on long and successful relationships.
Now, when it comes down to reviewing the artistic side, this autor's work is original and appealing, but it's not especially pretty. Being the first title I read from Youka Nitta, I have to admit that it was a little hard for me at first, but I ended up getting used to it quickly, finding it beautiful and very fitting with the story. So, don’t pay much attention to the covers; what’s inside is way better.
Besides Katou and Iwaki, this title features several couples in related and non-related oneshots. It also contains a special volume with the story Fuyu No Semi; a tragic but epic tale about two men in love having to face one another in the battlefield during war, while they hide and struggle with their feelings.
There are two anime adaptations for this series, one for the main story and the other for the extra one; the former doesn’t make justice to the manga, only contains up to the third volume and it's not up to the mangaka's art , so don’t hold high expectations for it. In the other hand Fuyu no Semi seems to be quite a good adaptation to the extra story, the animation is still the same, but the story has been well portrayed.
In the form of 14 volumes, Haru wo Daiteita is one of the most known and acclaimed works in the genre, proving that real men in real relationships are a better read than the overdramatic or unrealistic cliché that the industry is often trying to sell us. If you haven't read this, go do it, you won't regret it at all.
--- Zetsuboshita & Queen2408 for The Anti Girly Uke Yaoi club. You are invited to join and participate in the discussions.read more
I'm definitely picky in rating Yaoi's I've read/watched, which is why in giving Haru wo Daite ita an overall 10/10 is an honor!
It's a must read, although the sex can be graphic (which I understand some people enjoy that and others don't) the story for HWD is GREAT!
I have to agree that as much as I love the story, the artwork in the beginning was something that was hard for me to look over (which is why that whenever I re read it I always read the beginning a bit hastily compared to the ending) but the improvement of the artwork from chapter 1 all the way to the end is shocking!
If I were only able to recommend one yaoi to any of you, it would be Haru Wo Daite ita! it's enjoyable, the characters are great, overall the story deserves a 10, and I high recommend it.read more