The many problems I had with Kanokon gave me no shortage of potential topics to talk about today. The nature of fanservice, the morality of shotacon, the rise of monster girl romance stories, all of them interesting discussions were it not for the fact that they’d demand I spend anymore time thinking about Kanokon. I am just very ready to move on from this series, so let’s talk about something entirely different.
Go For It, Nakamura is a single-volume manga by BL author Syundei. The plot centers around Okuto Nakamura, a teenage boy who happens to be gay and has a crush on his classmate Aiki Hirose. The problem is that Hirose is popular and sociable, whereas Nakamura is a friendless outcast among his peers. Not because of his sexuality, but because he’s just kind of a quiet weirdo who also sometimes comes of as weirdly intimidating.
Each chapter deals with one of Nakamura’s attempts to get closer to Hirose and the various ways in which those plans go awry, though not always with cataclysmic results. It’s a wholesome and comedic story, which benefits from its two strong leads. Nakamura is likable kid who is maybe a bit too obsessive about his passions, but genuinely goodhearted and earnestly in love with Hirose. He looks a bit like a gloomy punk, which is unfortunate because he’s really just very shy and anxious. Moments where he seems threatening or rude are really just him saying/doing something stupid because he’s panicking.
Hirose avoids falling for easy BL tropes as well and comes of as a fun, decently-believable teenage guy. He likes to hang out with friends and goof off, he’s friendly and well-liked, but a little too easily strung along by what others want and often still prone to acting childish.
Go For It, Nakamura manages to tell a fun story about these two with a remarkable amount of growth, in spite of only being a single volume long. The storytelling and characters are well-done and I commend Syundei for writing a BL story that is centered on character development rather than actual passion. Safe for a slightly-ecchi, imagined scenario, there is no erotica in this book. It’s more concerned with Nakamura making his first steps towards making a friend than it is with him somehow speedrunning his way into the relationship of his dreams within the span of a 188 pages.
It’s a healthy scope for the story and a breath of fresh air compared to the many yaoi manga out there that mainly serve to facilitate near-identical sexual relationships. I could easily enjoy more slice-of-life stories starring Nakamura and Hirose. In fact, the absence of these is perhaps my greatest complaint. The manga is left with some loose ends, like a female classmate who wrongly comes to believe that Nakamura has a crush on her or the protagonist’s respective sisters that are introduced and then don’t actually do anything.
A sequel manga was started in 2017, but went on hiatus and seemingly never returned, nor was it licensed for a Western release. I hope this changes because Syundei’s writing and art are perfect for people like me, who enjoy stories about gay characters, but don’t really care for the usual, erotic stories that line the shelves in the tiniest corner of the bookshop.