Aug 31, 2020
StarFire_ (All reviews)
Since there's only one review here, I will give it a try and write another one to add to the discussion.

Let's start by saying: Color Recipe IS NOT a manga for everyone.

I personally believe that in the genres' section of this website it should include "horror" and "psychological", but that is just my opinion. As anyone who knows a bit about the author Harada's fame, simply saying it's a BL, or yaoi like it is classified here, is just too plain.

The story shows Shoukichi, a hairdresser that is really talented, but lacks the social skills necessary to go well in the industry. He then meets Fukusuke, an amazing hairdresser who starts to work at the same salon as Shoukichi. As you can read in the original synopsis, after a few series of events, Fukusuke ends up assaulting Shou and the story goes on from there. I am trying to not go into details to not spoil it too much; I will try my best!

While it is possible to see from the synopsis alone that this might be just another edgy BL with extreme scenes of violence e pure gore –such as some of the author's other works– Color Recipe ends up being different: it's actually pretty scary. Not scary in the sense that the violence was too much (which it was); it was psychological aspect that was the actual frightening part. I genuinely believe that more than just a good BL, Color Recipe is a good psychological horror story.

Harada has a talent; even if you don't like their works you have to admit: they know how to make a good crazy character. However, different from what we saw previously, both the protagonists are extremely well constructed. It is easy to understand and accept why each of the characters act the way they do; we can see why, unfortunately, the victim became the victim and why the predator did the things he did, even though everything was pure madness. Some people might argument that all the situations are just too extreme and unrealistic. While I might agree with some of it, I don't think it is THAT unrealistic; considering that one aspect of the Japanese culture is the desire to avoid causing problems to the people around them, all the aspects of victim shaming and their own mental state being impaired, it is totally believable that the victim is not able to react as we, the readers, want him to act. The entire aspect that makes the story plausible only adds to the terrifying feeling of reading the story.

But well, even though I am here trying to defend this work as best as I can, I cannot ignore that fact that it is not a perfect manga at all. While the first volume is amazing in building the plot, putting pretty good twists, and being overall pretty efficient, the second volume does not live up to it. I remember I felt some chapters were boring or that the situation happening was just too forced. In special, there's a grotesque rape scene that I feel was actually super unnecessary for the story and the overall plot. It was like Harada just wanted to add a scene like this to "spicy things up", and it might be it; I am not going to pretend that this is indeed not their style. However, when it came to this story, I wanted the violence to have a reason, and not being just pure "fanservice" (I don't know if we can call it this, but anyway).

BL can be pretty cliché –I know it from personal experience. So, a few years ago when I found out about Harada I was terrified at first, but then I became curious. While yeah, some of their works indeed made me regret this curiosity, Color Recipe got my interest. It is not just a BL; it is a psychological horror story that it's also a BL. It has a plot, and it has characters that were well constructed. It's not simply another meaningless torture porn. Even though I don't think Harada is the best author in world or anything, I really appreciate the effort of putting something different out there for us, BL readers, to read.

Then, again: I don't think it is a manga for everyone. If you don't enjoy psychological horror, skip this one; if you don't enjoy gore, skip this one. But if you can deal with all of this, give it a try and read one of the most interesting BL manga from the last few years.