Go to any site that allows comments on a story, and you'll see that this manga has people balling out crying.
Which means it's obviously not for the lightly hearted.
-Why did I give it a 10 overall?
People will have different interpretations of this story depending on their level of intellect and the point in their lives at which they read it. It's a given considering the topics Boys Next Door cover are very serious and reach out to a vast number of vulgar and cruel things that go about in the world around us.
The themes of this story are thick and dark, centered around a murder. Kaori Yuki skillfully weaves us in and out of the clues concerning the protagonist, until we find ourselves purely and irrevocably supporting and wishing for Adrian's salvation, perhaps not in the moral outlooks of society, but in his confused mind.
By taking a look at the background of Adrian and--what little we know of--Lawrence, we find that the two have been constantly mistreated their whole lives. The bulk of their bad experiences seemed to spur from no where, and from no cause of their own wrong-doing. In response to this, somehow the two characters went spiraling into two different paths of morally incorrect behavior--one into the works of a serial killer, and another to that of prostitution.
The story's main outlook on the world is a simple and yet very very brittle concept: The world is unfair.
The characters commit things that are shunned by society because, from the get-go, fate had cursed them to a series of events that would have undoubtedly led to some sinful future. The readers are forced to believe that, despite everything WRONG with the pity of such shameless characters, there is something so very incorrect about how the characters have been treated by the world.
Adrian is a child in the mind, undeveloped and screaming for some sense in the world; or at least for someone to care enough to see how jaded he'd become on the inside, and how much of him they really would not accept if they knew of. Lawrence is that push that leads Adrian to self realization, though Lawrence himself yearns for a recognition from his brother, and perhaps even from society, that he wants to be free in every sense of the word, and that he is disgusted by selling his body.
At the climax of finding everything in themselves and in their love, Lawrence is again reminded of his goal to become free, which is ultimately what sends this story crashing down into another unfair and cruel act; an act that pulls the protagonists apart again, and gives them exactly what they wished for all along: To be cared for, and to be free. But the bitter irony about Boys Next Door is that, no matter how hard the reader tries, we just cannot help but think that the characters were not happy.
-The story has many multi-layered symbolism uses. Here are a few big ones that you should look out for in the story, in order to understand the true genius of the story design, and perhaps further understand how Kaori Yuki comes to bring us to the side of her characters:
Symbolizing the absolute unstable nature of the world, and how it might be torn down and rebuilt again in instant, as a traveling circus does often. It also shows the pure craziness and scary ways in which the world works, masked over by cheap games and fake smiles. To Adrian specifically, the carnival, which represents the world, is also in part his childhood, which is a curious thing that is constantly disturbed and ruined by the presence of his mother, who is completely unfit to be a parental figure. When The Carnival is brought it up, it is a hideously conflicting memory to Adrian; full of happy memories that came back ten fold with the bad. Just as the Carnival is twisted in its treatment towards young Adrian, so is his childhood.
One of the more explicitly said tools of symbolism in the story, the balloon represents the masses of guidance, affection, acceptance, and consistency which are gifted to each and every normal child. Adrian feels apart from the rest of the world from the moment he is able to construct a sentence, but that is confirmed figuratively when he runs to a jester and finds there are no balloons left for him.
Towards the end of the story, with the last appearance of the balloon, the meaning seems to change. Ironically, Adrian, who has always thought of the balloon, eclipses it's symbolic meaning and becomes the balloon's meaning himself, having a complete understanding of what the balloon offers, but somehow regretting the price that came with finally receiving its features. The balloon is a bittersweet gift and, as we understand by the end of the piece, a deadly weapon.
The Merry-Go-Round Music Box:
The music box was not meant to be purchased by Adrian, and remains a secretly kept item to symbolize the childish longing one might have to be released from all the stress and uncertainty in life. When winded, the melody brings one back to a time of carefree acts and zero responsibility. The fact that Vicky rejects the gift for later use symbolizes that she herself is not yet exposed to the stresses of adult life, but is already in her childhood and not in need of the music box. However, it was not mere coincidence that it was stored with Adrian. The box was wound by Lawrence, the key to Adrian's discovery of himself and his needs. It is the symphony that kicks off the relief of the pressure in life. When it is dropped to the ground, it also signals the end of the show, the finale of the carnival.
The Iguana – Lawrence Parallel:
The iguana and its collar appear both in the flesh and as an insignia upon Lawrence's body to represent the boy's enslavement as a prostitute. On the one side, Adrian yearns for the collar and seems to go out of his way for a mundane thing which he could just remake at the pet store anyway; he also seems to keep a pet iguana at his house for not apparent reason save the fact that he enjoys its company. Lawrence has several parallels with the iguana; his eyes are said to be similar to the iguana's, and the fact that he is imprinted with an iguana upon his skin symbolizes that he is forever something Adrian will yearn for, possessing everything that he wants and all the answers to his questions.
-A twist to the perfect ending, and a deliciously disturbing tale of ghastly proportion, Shounen Zanzou makes you think about the world, about how so many “bad” people might have a tale in the newspaper, spun so easily to seem like they are the most monstrous ones in the world, when in actuality they were the true victims their whole lives. The story screams for us to wake up, to understand that sometimes, even if we reach our goals, our lives will still end abruptly and without a clean cut. I highly recommend it to those ready and willing for a challenge to popular thought.
i must say i'm a huge kaori yuki fan and this work like her other mangas is absolutely beautiful. It combines all typical yuki's ingridients like tragedy, gothic, cute guys etc and mixes them into this very touching yaoi manga.
i highly recommend it!
This was actually the very first manga I've read from Kaori Yuki, and I've got to admit it got me hooked on her style.
I found this manga when I was searching for 'yaoi that would not have cliches, would be dark, and would leave a lasting memory'. I wrote that to one of the numerous forums I've been active in and got this piece recommended. After I've read it, I can't say that I'm disappointed.
I was impressed in the art style from the very first pages, but what really got to me was the dark atmosphere. And of course the fact that this manga made a clear note that there's no such a thing as 'black and white' on this world. People do horrible things, yea, but there's some reason behind the actions. And that fact made my inner philosopher sing with joy.read more