How do I love Hyouta Fujiyama? Let me count the ways: I love her for her effortless skill with facial expressions and body language that allows her to pack a years’ worth of relationship history into a single panel; I love her for her well-rounded and convincingly human characters; I love her for her simple plots that grow organically from the way her characters interact; I love her for the way she makes me laugh; I love her for the subtle eroticism that never loses its charge even when it loses all its subtlety; most of all, I love her for creating BL manga that embody everything I love about the genre while neatly avoiding all the things about it that make me want to tear my hair out.
Volume 2 of Ordinary Crush sees Fujiyama returning to Heisei Academy, the all-boy school where rumour has it that 90% of the students are gay or bisexual. Heiji and Nanase are still together, and Nanase is just as much of a ditz as before — and in a moment of carelessness, he outs the two of them to Nanase’s older brother Youichi (who may be familiar from Fujiyama’s later volume Freefall Romance). Youichi is very much not okay with his little brother being in a relationship with a guy, especially Heiji, who rubs him up the wrong way, and Heiji and Nanase have to decide what to do about Youichi’s disapproval. Meanwhile, they are also negotiating the terms of their relationship — namely: which one’s the seme and which one’s the uke? (That this is even a question and not something that they both instinctively know and that the reader can guess just by looking at them is a sign of Fujiyama’s willingness to subvert BL clichés.)
The volume also includes three back-up stories that follow up on the back-up stories in the first volume: “Go Forth And Love, Boy Maiden” continues the saga of Heisei Academy’s school doctor; “Love Changes”, still in Heisei, follows two of the side characters from “Ordinary Crush; and “Automatic Smile: Not-For-Ever” is the sequel to the android story “Automatic Smile”, a careful and sensitive exploration of an unusual relationship.
Every time I get my hands on a Hyouta Fujiyama book, I read it gleefully in one sitting, and Ordinary Crush is no exception. It’s funny, charming, and altogether delightful.