Champagne no Toiki

Standard
Author: Yakou Hana
Illustrator: Kou Ryou
Format: Novel
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Story

Yagami Shinichi is a successful CEO of the corporation his father created before his younger brother Yagami Takayuki committed suicide ten years ago. Although his brother was adopted, he treated him as if he were his own brother. That terrible day, he was preparing to go to France to further his studies. His brother, who was a crybaby, begged him not to go. Shinichi tried to calm the 14 year-old down but the latter seemed to be very upset at his brother departure. Shortly after, Takayuki committed suicide by setting fire in his favorite place – the greenhouse. Not long after, unable to bear the loss of his son, his father also committed suicide. Ten years later, at the prestigious French Restaurant which he owned, he met a young man – Setogawa Eiji, who looked exactly like an older version of his brother. The only difference was the personality. Unlike the weak and pessimistic Takayuki, the waiter who shared the same features as his brother, was strong and cheerful. Yagami became interested in Eiji because of the close resemblance to his brother. However, as he got to know Eiji better, he got attracted to the optimistic and lively personality of Eiji. He invited him to dinners and got closer and closer to Eiji to the extent he fell in love with Eiji. What he did not realize was that Eiji was the key to his brother and father’s death ten years ago.

Shinichi’s father was a peadophile and could only be turned on by young children. He adopted Takayuki from the orphanage when the latter was still 7 just to have sex with him. Since Takayuki was SO YOUNG, there was nothing he could do but to succumb to Shinichi’s father ridiculous demands. Although he was young, Takayuki “knew” what Shinichi’s father was doing to him was something “dirty”. Hence, the Yagami to him was a dangerous place and the only safe haven in that awful place was Shinichi. He always held on close to his brother because he was the only one who truly cared and loved him. When he knew Shinichi was going to France and he would be left behind with Shinichi’s father, he was desperate. Luckily, at the time, the police Setogawa uncovered Shinichi’s father’s crime and his engagement in illegal smuggling of young children. Shinichi’s father promised Setogawa he would committ suicide to repay for his crimes. Instead, he would not want the world to know he was a child molester. Setogawa then burned a corpse he got from the morgue in the greenhouse and pretended that was Takayuki. He then adopted Takayuki as his son and that’s how Takayuki became Eiji.

At the same time, soon after Shinichi’s father’s suicide, his wife realized (from the pictures left over) that her husband was a peadophile. That’s why he could not make love to her as a normal man. She hated the kids who stole her husband away from her. So, she took the pictures and used them to blackmail the victims in the pictures. Shinichi knew NOTHING of this until Eiji came to his house and pretended to read for his mother who was turning blind. Eiji wanted to get and destroy all those pictures so no one would have to suffer any longer. After Shinichi learned the truth, his relationship with Eiji was also over because Eiji did not want to remember anything that’s related to Yagami. He did not want to relive in those awful days. They separated but Shinichi could not forget about Eiji. Yet, he dared not investigate Eiji’s whereabouts because he did not want to hurt Eiji any further. If only separation would bring happiness to Eiji, he would endure his pain. Ironically, Eiji could not forget Shinichi either. One year later, they met by chance at a party and this time, nothing could stop Shinichi from holding onto Eiji. He lost Takayuki once eleven years ago, he lost him again a year ago, but this time, even if Eiji runs to the end of Earth, he would chase after him.

Review
Yakou Hana is the ONLY author whom I collect EVERY SINGLE BOOK because she has such a unique style of creating a mysterious mood in her stories. Rather than boy’s love, it feels more like an ordinary mystery or thriller. Compared to her works elsewhere, this book is definitely different – both in writing style as well as in characterization. She is famous for the use of monologues and description but in this story, it is dialogue centered with relatively little monologue. Also, in most of her previous stories, the seme loves the uke very deeply, sometimes to the extent you wonder if the uke also love the seme. However in this story, it’s clear BOTH the uke and seme love each other very deeply. Although I like the fact that the seme love the uke VERY MUCH, I also like this balanced relationship. The only problem I find is that her ending is too abrupt. Probably because she spent so much time on the case, the happy end seems a bit unnatural. I think it would be better had she left the ending more open and not force a happy end onto the couple. With regard to the plot, I am really shocked at how the story turned out. I was anticipating a more “conspiracy” oriented direction, like someone was trying to steal the company from Shinichi as he was so successful with his business. Who would have guessed it would be a theme so dark. However, I like this theme because it was beyond my expectations. However, I hope she would exploit the “darkness” of the theme more deeply and make the couple suffer more and more (Nanya is hentai). The illustration is by Kou Ryou sensei. It’s my first time seeing her illustration and the coloring is beautiful. However, I find her facial emotions not “deep” enough and the overall mood is abit too “sweet”. If only the illustrations were a bit melancholic and “darker”, I would have loved the story more. This reminds me of Asou Kai sensei’s artwork in Tsuki wo daite. That type of art would fit this story better…I believe.

Eiji is certainly an interesting character and I really like his poisonous tounge, especially when he first met Shinichi. Although Shinichi invited him to dinner and said during dinner, they were not in a boss-and-employer relationship, still, you wouldn’t go and simply ask if Shinichi WERE GAY and so DIRECTLY (laughs). As the story unfold, Eiji seemed to loose the optimism in the beginning (which is a pity) but then while his optimistic personality is part of him, so is his weak and gentle personality. That again is probably what makes it impossible for Shinichi to fall in love with another person ever again (dies).

As usual, I can’t help but only love Yakou sensei’s seme. Shinichi is no exception. Although I have sympathy for Eiji, I can’t forgive him either for hurting Shinichi???. I know he had no choice but still, Shinichi was the only one who KNEW NOTHING except to love his brother – Takayuki and then Eiji. Shinichi is nice to separate Eiji from Takayuki. Although the two look alike, Eiji is not Takayuki. Takayuki perished in the fire ten years ago and to Shinichi, Eiji was not a substitute. He liked Eiji as Eiji, not as a replacement of Takayuki. More accurately, had Eiji been like Takayuki completely, he might not have fallen in love with Eiji. From that aspect, maybe Shinichi is the “true” victim of this whole story ???.

I never mentioned Keisuke throughout the review but he is actually a very important character in the novel. He is the younger brother of Shinichi’s father as well as the only one who knew “everything”. At first, I thought he was the villain who maybe using Eiji to grab the company from Shinichi but I was completely wrong???. Sorry Keisuke san.

Bottomline
As usual, Yakou sensei’s novels are like Pringles: “Once you pop, you can’t stop”. As you turn every page, you just want to keep on reading until you find out the truth. I definitely would hope this would turn into a drama CD and there is a possibility as it’s Chara Collection this time that’s publishing it.

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