Review: Gerard and Jacques Vol.01 & 02 by Fumi Yoshinaga

Blurb: The heroes of this story meet in a rather unlikely place – a brothel. Gerard, after deflowering the young aristocrat-turned-prostitute Jacques, pays to free him from his profession and spares him a life of selling his body to survive. Jacques shows up at Gerard’s door soon after, willing to work to repay his debt, not knowing that he would soon be tangled up in a web of romance with his new master.

Set in the years around the French Revolution, Gerard and Jacques is a story we’ve all seen before – Jacques is a young man sold into prostitution for whatever reason and comes across Gerard, a man who takes him away from all this (not before raping him, though; this is yaoi after all). “Unlikely” isn’t exactly a word I’d have used either, I’ve read so many books where brothels are involved.

Gerard wants to humiliate Jacques, to make him realise that he might as well be a whore, because he’s of no use—as an ex-aristocrat—for anything else. The boy surprises him by working hard around the house.

Jacques had my admiration for battling on with his chores, until it transpired that he’d learned to shoe horses after just being shown once. Hmmm. I’m not looking for a huge amount of realism in yaoi novels but this really annoyed me. I’m forced to admit that there are aspects of manga that I really don’t like, such as the cartoony faces of surprise like this—I know there’s probably a huge tradition behind this, and it’s what the readers like and expect, but as a grown adult who has jumped from childhood comics to graphic novels with an interim of many decades, I can’t acclimatise to it, and it pulls me from the more realistic drawings that the rest of the novel is drawn in.

I also don’t like the words to describe the actions. If the pictures are drawn well enough, and they are, I don’t need the words “JERK UP!” or “STARTLE!”to describe action.

There’s no real story here, though, in volume one. It’s a little plot, interspersed with backstory, mainly relating to Gerard who was married once.

I’m not enamoured of the homosexual image either – as expected Jacques, being the uke, is unwilling and resentful of his new master. He finds the advances distasteful but in secret he feels a sexual attraction growing – this is expected in the genre, I suppose. However as Gerard’s backstory emerges we find that he was pretty much hetero, but was “lured into m/f/m” by his “evil wife.” When the other man makes advances to Gerard on his own, Gerard rejects these advances calling them filthy.

The sex scenes are a little more explicit than I’ve seen in other yaoi-almost accurate cocks and such like.

There were interesting sections—discussions of politics, literature and philosophy – and I’d have liked a bit more politics and a bit more plot but then that’s probably just me.

Volume 02 was marginally more interesting, but rather repetitive and dull in parts, whole pages of just the same expression, or so it seemed to me, and the plot jumped all over the place which made it very confusing.

I did like the drawing in the main (apart from the aforementioned funny faces) the period clothes were beautifully done, although I’m no expert, and there were touches of humour that really made me smile but all in all the whole angst angst he raped me no no no no oh maybe angst maybe i love him angst angst thing just wasn’t for me. I just think I’m not a natural yaoi reader, I’m afraid.

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