Konoe, a high school student, is confused about his sexuality. He meets Hikaru in the sleazy gay district, and sleeps with him. They begin to play at being lovers, but Konoe's heart belongs to Atori, his friend and classmate. Can Konoe come to terms with his sexuality and reveal his feelings to Atori, and where do Hikaru's true feelings lie? (Source: BibloEros)
** For the Rules Series Timeline, see the More Info tab above.
Rules, with its realistic portrayal of homosexual relationships, deviates from the norm in that it does not come across as a yaoi fangirl's idealized view of the lovey-dovey relationship between pretty boys. It contains none of the negative clichés and stereotypes associated with the BL genre, i.e. non-existent plot, two-dimensional characters and cheesy dialogue. Like many good yaoi, though, this wonderful story was an absolute page-turner.
Part of Miyamoto Kano's highly popular Rules Universe that has spawned numerous fan fictions, the events described in this manga take place after 'Hydra' and 'Lovers and Souls', this time focusing on Hikaru and Tooru, as well as two new characters in the form of Yuki and Atori.
The story starts out typical enough: Yuki, having realized he's gay and in love with his straight classmate, sleeps with a stranger he meets in a gay district to alleviate his sexual frustration. That's where the typicality ends. What follows is an intricate, yet still grounded, depiction of how the four main characters' relationships change as their lives intertwine. The smooth flow of the story makes reading the manga akin to watching the lives of people you know unravel before your eyes.
If there is one thing that distracts the flow, it would be the somewhat abrupt shift in focus onto different characters that occurs after Volume 1. Although the shift could have been executed better, it's not a huge issue as the story remains compelling throughout.
As mentioned previously, there are no clichéd character archetypes; it's completely irrelevant who play out the seme and uke roles. Instead, with their unique personalities and development throughout the vast Rules Universe, they act like real people would. Yuki and Atori experience teenage insecurities, confusion and even carefreeness, and grow from the experience. Since they've appeared in previous titles, the development in Hikaru and Tooru's characters are even more evident; at times, how they act may seem odd or even unreasonable, but it's easy to understand why they do what they do when the Rules Universe is read in chronological order.
The art, in keeping with the storyline, looks realistic. Miyamoto adds even more realism to Rules with her little quirks, like changing the characters' hairstyles as the seasons pass or altering their expressions with the slightest stroke so that they're never exaggerated. Their appearance are also modified to correspond with their moods or to signify their growth as individuals, like how a certain character is given a haircut after a relationship he was in ended.
Several things stand out in Rules that set it apart from many other works, including how well issues such as sexual confusion and prostitution are dealt with. The sex is not superfluous, but rather a tool to further the plot and character development. Also, while such stories could very easily become an angst-fest, Rules avoids that by keeping it moderate, though it's not completely absent; after all, what teenager is completely devoid of angst? Finally, Miyamoto understands the minutiae of the Japanese gay community, and this knowledge is apparent in Rules through the use of language and lifestyle details.
While personally I don't have a problem reading yaoi with all its glorious clichés, Rules was a great change of pace. It's a wonderful manga I'd recommend to people who like character-driven stories.
- Written for the Miyamoto Kano Society -read more
Rules revolves around characters Yuki and Hikaru, who had developed a relationship after Yuki came across Hikaru to relieve his sexual tensions.
The story, as i see it, has been carefully thought through. Even the psychology of the plot and the actions the characters took seemed real enough that it could be happening in reality. The various conflicts of emotions and interests give this series are really interesting edge. It's like the things that went in this manga could have happened in real life. I'm not really bothered with how much angst there is, because in reality, i know people act like that even if it seems cliche on manga. Even though we'll think it'll end up well, the journey towards the end contained enough very interesting conflicts to keep me hooked and amused and excited for the next developments.
Art wise though, comparing with other mangas on my favorites on this genre, it doesn't rate that high, but i like how the scenes depicting the sex scenes didn't overpower the plot of the manga. Add to that is the sensuality of the act is there. It's at this right mixture that you will enjoy the sex scenes but still not forgetting the entire plot.
Each character was made to look really unique from each other that people who have less patience on memorizing manga faces to their names won't have that much of a problem. Some characters show a lot of angst but i don't think it's bad. The emotions of each character, in my opinion more or less, resembles real people and that in itself is a good aspect.
I really enjoyed reading this manga so much that i don't regret having had to stay up till 3 AM to finish reading every chapter. read more