Using the adult manga industry as both a backdrop and a catalyst, Takaguchi Satosumi whips out a tale called Pink. This is the story of a highschooler named Usaki who has dreams of becoming a mangaka, Benio, an experienced manga script writer who wants the kid to draw for his new adult series, and all the people who help or hinder them along the way. Even though Usaki–called Usagi by Benio–has drawing skills far beyond his years and an imagination to match, as the story that Benio is penning progresses, Usaki becomes aware of the limits of his imagination. Benio’s world is turned upside-down when Usaki’s eagerness wins out over his embarrassment, allowing him to seek the writer’s help in order to understand those increasingly difficult to grasp concepts. And what better way to get to the bottom of it all than to consult the writer himself? If poor Benio knew, I’m sure he would have told his young charge. Unfortunately, for Benio, his guidance leads the fledgling partnership around unexpected turns and puts both parties in compromising positions–most notably, on all fours and in a variation of a half M.
None of the characters were what they seemed to be and some weren’t even what they thought they were, but they were all great. I don’t usually find the younger, innocent characters adorable, but Usaki-kun was simply so. His earnestness and drama queen streak was an unusual mix but it made everything he did make sense, no matter how silly it was. Benio really gained my sympathy for all states of self-discovery and confusion he kept finding himself in. The selectively clueless Aoki-san and Sonoi-sensei, who was just bizarre (and I loved him for it), where a lot of fun to watch. However, my favorite character, hands down, was Papa Usaki. Takaguchi-sensei is very good at writing dangerously irresistible older men–the kind I dream about (and he was certainly the star of my daydreams for days after).
I wouldn’t call it a love triangle, but more of an interest quadrangle. Until he declared it himself, I wasn’t sure whether Usaki was trying to give or take. Benio and Papa weren’t all that transparent either until later and Sonoi-sensei is still a mystery. Watching these guys maneuver their way through an obstacle course of youthful ignorance, under-aged partners, infidelity and few naughty fingers, was laugh out loud funny and totally worth the time I spent re-reading some chapters back to back.
I’ll end by saying this: the only reason this did not get a 5.0 is because there really should have been more and I am seriously bitter that Takaguchi-sensei left off where she did. The translator was kind enough to inform the readers that there were two DJs released that featured Benio and Papa, but that they were out of print. Like the translator, I too hope that the bunko format will be released with the two DJs so that I can enjoy these guys once again. I loved this story.
[EDIT 09.24.11] Albeit, late, I’m updating this to report that I was able to read the the two DJs mentioned above and even though I enjoyed them, the score will remain.