Back in 2018 I had picked this manga up but with only 18 chapters released, I had to put it on hold until more chapters were released. And now... 2020... oh BOY was I not disappointed.
Kabuki and homosexuality... a combination that's nothing unique historically yet the premise of Hanakoi Tsurane is... Brilliant!
Quick rundown of the plot without giving too much away:
The story starts off as your typical enemies to lovers plot. Sougorou, after failing miserably in a show and faced with criticism online becomes depressed and is immediately thrown into another role with his (seemingly one-sided) rival of the same age, Gensuke. And in
the typical enemies to lovers fashion, this meant they had to work together and while doing that, they grow closer together and remember what they love about acting and kabuki.
It doesn't sound too interesting from just a summary, but the interactions between Sougorou and Gensuke is hilarious and their chemistry really works out. Even as fictional characters, I feel a sense of joy every time they show up on stage together. The two complement each other and genuinely look like they have a lot of fun on stage. This is further highlighted with the expressive faces of Sougorou mixed with the soft warm look Gensuke uses when he sees Sougorou. It captives the fictional audience. And it captives the reader.
I've seen many people complain about the pacing is too slow but in my opinion, I don't think it's bad. In fact, I think the pacing really helps show the growth of Sougorou and Gensuke as actors on stage and their relationship. Each character (yes! that includes minor characters!) goes through a lot of character development and you really get to learn more about their family's kabuki lineage and the family relationships with each other especially on stage. For the first time, these background characters mean something. They exist, they have their own background, they have names, they have faces, and they're memorable.
Highly recommend if you're looking for a unique BL manga with an interesting premise and stay for the characters. This manga easily makes it onto my favorites list (except I already maxed mine out so....).