Let me first start off by saying (1) this masterpiece can not be fully appreciated by being read only one time. (2) The content is too mature for a younger audience, and I personally believe that people like me who give this a whopping 10/10 can relate to the realistic struggles portrayed throughout the story--drugs, sex, & violence. (3) This is one of those beautiful mangas where if you've never lost anyone dear to you, you wont understand it; you wont understand the tears, the numbness, the reactions, the flashbacks, the memories, the love....none of it.
Now with that said, I will try to give a completely unbiased review, but once again, personal relativity to the underlying themes is key to enjoyment:
This manga is given absolutely zero justice with the hideous cover photo and vague summary. Just needed to mention that.
We start off following our protagonist, Ikki, (present day) as a happy-go-lucky guy, but we soon come to find out he has a dark and haunting past--all awakened by his ex best friend's (Toshimitsu's) little cousin, Ryuu.
Without any spoilers, Ikki and Ryuu come to terms with their relatively similar pasts all connected by one person--Toshimitsu. Vague? I know, but everything about this story is hidden within the memories of Ryuu and Ikki which simply blow my mind. No exaggeration. It's a one-of-a-kind plot that I have yet to see replicated in any other manga, yaoi or not. Incredibly well thought out and creatively played. STORY: 10/10
(SURPRISE: Aside from the random ugly cover photo, the characters are actually cute and sexy!)
Personal preference as always, but for the sake of an unbiased review, I'm giving this a 9/10. I would give it a 10/10 because personally I appreciate extremely realistic interpretations in the art. This mangaka reminds you that boys can sag their pants, have messy hair, get dirty and scraggily, and like to "fool around" every one in a while. It's simply drawn to perfection, in my opinion, but again, not everyone likes saggy pants. ART: 9/10
Each person in this story has a distinct and quaint atmosphere that makes you wanna keep reading just so you can learn more about them and how they all tie together with a cohesive past.
That's about as much as I can say, I'm afraid, because it's VERY hard to describe these characters without giving away anything important. And so for that, I'm skipping this section and allowing you to judge me for it. CHARACTERS: 10/10 (Just take my word for it)
The only reason this is a 9/10 and not another 10/10 is because I didn't "enjoy" crying my eyes out and wailing at the angst and obviously tragic backstories. I applaud the author for creating such an ominous atmosphere, though. This made it to my top five favorite manga because I'm not the type to "enjoy" whimsical fluff in a wonderland where everything falls into place either. ENJOYMENT: 9/10 A little bit of angst never hurt anybody.
It was one of the first yaois I ever read, so naturally I "judged a book by its cover" and held extremely low expectations (that cover photo and summary...shivers). I picked up this manga long before anybody I personally knew died--naturally, nothing made sense, because like I said earlier, you have to relate to something in this manga to understand it. But four years later after losing three close people in my life, I stumbled upon this manga again and thought to myself: "You know I never really understood this story at all—it didn't make sense." Maybe I was too young, so I gave it another try. Soon afterward I was in tears and I only made it to chapter three. Everything about this manga made sense after I was finally able to relate.
It's simply a masterpiece broken up through different time periods and flashbacks. EVERYTHING has a deeper meaning, which is exactly what life is all about. OVERALL: 10/10
Do I recommend this manga? Yes.
Is this for everyone? No.
Would I read it again? Yes.