Title: Junior Escort
Author: Sakurako Hanafubuki
May Contain Spoilers
Junior Escort is a BL anthology that offers up a fairly bland batch of stories. None of them connected for me, not even the title chapter, which features Ayukawa, an up and coming idol, and superstar Mizuhara. After being set up by his manager, Ayukawa finds himself alone with Mizuhara, and the two sleep together. Shortly after, Ayukawa is told that if he keeps Mizuhara happy, he’ll continue to get work. Ayukawa’s relationship with Mizuhara is then built, not on feelings of love or affection, but on furthering Ayukawa’s acting career. There is zero romance in the two chapters they are featured in, or in any of the chapters that follow. It seems that all of the relationships in the book are about deception or controlling another person, and not about attraction, love, or even desire. Everything is so clinically presented, too, and that made the characters seem distant and unapproachable.
One of my complaints about BL anthologies is that there isn’t enough time to get to know the characters, and it’s hard to set up a convincing set of circumstances for them to overcome. Instead, the characters have to drive the stories, but in Junior Escort, that just doesn’t happen. Their personalities aren’t compelling enough to make the reader want to learn more about them, and in a couple of the stories, they are just downright unlikeable and I didn’t care to know what makes them tick. Aki, one of the callous leads in “Baku,” treated his live-in lover Megumu so poorly that I couldn’t figure out why they were still together. Especially when there was the kind-hearted Senno looking out for Megumu’s best interests. I was hoping that Megumu would actually dump Aki and hitch up with Senno.
In “Behind Closed Doors,” Rin is drawn to the scarred Haitani. Haitani is rumored to sell himself for sex, but Rin doesn’t let that stop him from wanting to get to know Haitani a whole lot better. This was probably my favorite chapter, but there’s a lot of build up that doesn’t really go anywhere. “Angelic Seduction” was a little to shota for me to enjoy, though the story flowed the best. Yuta’s age was a huge turnoff, and I just couldn’t get past it. “So Loveable, So Kind” is about an insomniac and the friend who tries to help him sleep.
The mix of stories in Junior Escort is disappointing and ultimately forgettable. Bland characters, bland settings, and scratchy art form a volume of BL tales that is, at best, worth a borrow from the library. Read Toko Kawai’s Cut instead, and just skip this one.
Review copy provided by June