Home Manga Review: My Beautiful Man Vol. 1

Manga Review: My Beautiful Man Vol. 1

My Beautiful Man is unlike any other romance story I’ve ever encountered before. Most stories, especially BL stories, end up falling into the category of one of the more common tropes. The main characters may go from enemies to lovers, they may have grown up as childhood friends, or the quiet, austere type may fall in love first before the loud, talkative one. My Beautiful Man, on the other hand, to a certain extent defies the boundaries of tropes and comes across as something quite unique in the process. Author Yuu Nagira and illustrator Megumi Kitano bring together a kind of story you’re unlikely to see anywhere else.

Our main duo starts with Kazunari Hira, a tall, quiet guy who has struggled with dysphemia (a stutter) for his entire life. Other kids thought the way he talked was “gross” because of it, leading to him having zero friends growing up and sticking to himself. Worse than that, because he’s seen as strange and weird, he exists at the absolute lowest rung of his high school’s social ladder, leading to more popular and outgoing boys in his class bullying him into running errands for them and more or less treating him as their servant.

On the first day of Hira’s 2nd year in high school, he lays eyes on and immediately falls for Sou Kiyoi. Kiyoi isn’t quite the opposite of Hira (he doesn’t have a bubbly, talkative personality to contrast with Hira’s stutter) but he is very different. While Hira is at the mercy of those around him due to being at the bottom of the pecking order, Kiyoi’s good looks make him immediately popular with those around him. His attitude is incredibly selfish and self-focused, and that along with his looks sparks an immediate obsession from Hira. That obsession, powerful as it is, was not something Kiyoi had upon looking at Hira. I should note, this series is for ages 16 and older.

The King and His Attendant

One thing I immediately noticed about this manga, especially in comparison to the light novel version of this story, is that it very much enhances dialogue and thinking from its characters, especially Hira. Like with any romance story, yaoi or otherwise, a lot of the things expressed by characters come from emotions, facial expressions, movements, and, most importantly, thoughts. In the format of a novel, this can lead to a lot of information being told rather than shown, as there is no option to illustrate every little thing. The manga takes advantage of its opportunity to really show the detailed faces of its characters. Hira’s panic over his stutter comes through strongly as we trace through his childhood and understand why he is the way he is. Kiyoi’s selfish, cool expression is sharply drawn and Hira reacts to it appropriately. Within panels, the art for the background is minimal if it’s there at all, creating a strong bias towards the characters and forcing a reader to direct their attention at what’s being depicted and not what’s around it. Textually, this is usually conveyed by having a narrator or a character only talk about what’s being focused on. In My Beautiful Man volume 1, which is told from Hira’s perspective, the pointed focus on characters feels quite appropriate alongside Hira’s single-minded focus on Kiyoi and his beauty.

Story-wise, things are still plenty early by the end of the manga’s first volume. Without spoiling the finer details, Hira is only just beginning to interact more with Kiyoi and slowly understand what it is about him that so strongly draws his attention. Aside from the physical attraction, what draws Kiyoi to Hira is his unique charisma as it contrasts to the actions of the other boys in class. Kiyoi is by no means nice to Hira; he treats him as a gofer errand boy just like the popular guys in his friend group. But, while the other boys sneer and act vile, Kiyoi is expressionless. He does what suits him and doesn’t care for things that don’t. In a sense, submitting to his will provides a sense of control for Hira. Rather than be pushed around by multiple currents who themselves are at the whim of social norms and expectations, he can dive headlong into a river that flows in a single, unending direction.

Their dynamic is weird, shocking even, at times, but it grows on you in the strangest way. While there are explanations as to why Hira might fall for someone this hard, they never quite feel satisfactory. The above is just a sliver of the surface. In reality, you’ll find yourself incredibly curious about how far Hira’s obsession will go and if he’ll ever have the chance to know Kiyoi more seriously, something the plot eagerly tempts you along about as more and more about him is revealed to Hira.

A Unique Story in My Beautiful Man

Ultimately, you’ll like this manga if you’re looking for BL but you want to be surprised (and maybe a little confused at times) at the form it takes. The art style is solid, but the premise and the story are what will drive the story for you. For other forms of the story, you can check out the light novel series, published in Japanese by Tokuma Shoten and in English by Tokyopop. A live-action television drama series aired for two seasons and a theatrical film from 2021 to 2023. The manga adaptation is serialized in the bimonthly yaoi manga magazine Chara and will published in English by Tokyopop from July 16th.

Anime Corner was provided with a copy of My Beautiful Man for review
UTSUKUSHII KARE © 2022 by YUU NAGIRA and MEGUMI KITANO / Tokuma Shoten Publishing, Co., Ltd.

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