Author: Yoshinaga Fumi
I usually don’t review licensed manga because I feel there are enough reviews out there and I would rather devote my energy to reviewing novels or manga that hardly reach the Western audience. HOWEVER, there are two reasons why I’m reviewing this book. First, there is a CD version coming out and second, I saw an extremely negative review of this manga on Anime News Network that frankly quite shocked me. As for the story, since it’s already licensed, I don’t plan on summarizing the manga in great depth.
Just before the start of the French Revolution, a commoner named Gerard pays a visit to a high-class brothel, where he sleeps with, and then buys the freedom of Jacques, a young noble sold into prostitution. Jacques looks down on commoners and Gerard has his reasons for hating the nobility, but they’re thrown together once again when Jacques ends up being hired as Gerard’s new houseboy. Jacques’ determination to make his own way in the world, and Gerard’s surprising, quirky shows of kindness slowly bring the two together into a romance for the ages!
Rather than a coherent story that runs from start to finish in one straight line, Gerard & Jacques is told in the form of a loosely bound collection of episodes, almost as if like from memory. This is a style Yoshinaga sensei used quite frequently at the time when she published this manga in 2000. In the first story, we saw Gerard Anglade (CV: Morikawa Toshiyuki), a rich commoner who accumulated a lot of wealth through writing pornographic novels. He liked to sleep with little boys and that night, the owner of the high-class brothel informed him of a newcomer. The new kid in the brothel came from a noble family but his father was indebt and he was sold off to pay the debts. He got large green eyes and beautiful dark hair and his name was Count Jacques Philippe du Saint Jacques (CV: Yusa Kouji). Gerard was interested but when he tried to touch Jacques, the latter rebelled and called him a filthy man because he was playing with little boys. Jacques was born with noble blood and naturally he would not know anything about the “real world”. However, Gerard seemed to harbor hatred against nobles and the way Jacques acted completely pissed him off. As a result, he actually got angry and forced his way through Jacques’ first night. When it’s over, Gerard decided to free Jacques from the brothel by paying off his debt because he would like to see how this noble who knew nothing about the real world could survive outside without people giving him food and shelter. Jacques had pride too and to protect his pride, he tried hard to find work after parting from Gerard. Incidentally, Gerard’s servant just left a month ago and the person who came for the place was Jacques! Call it fate but that’s how Gerard and Jacques started living together under the same roof. Although Jacques was not very skilful, he tried his best to complete all the tasks given to him and soon he became accustomed to his new life as a servant. At the same time, Gerard turned out to be quite a good employer as he allowed his servants to have cakes or desserts which were usually only available to nobles. Also, he allowed his servants, mainly Jacques, to enter his library to read his books. Jacques got interested in many books, including some of the philosophical works. Three years soon elapsed and Jacques also grew up a bit. One day, he brought a letter to Gerard while the latter was playing with little boys at the brothel where he was first sold. Gerard did not seem to care much about the letter but he left a very interesting remark – that the letter was to inform him his wife passed away, and that spared him from killing her should he find her. Jacques did not understand the meaning of those words at the time. However, he would soon understand them in the future.
One day, Jacques’ mother sent her servant to bring Jacques to her party. Jacques’ mother remarried another noble and that noble wanted to adapt Jacques. Or more accurately, that noble looked exactly like Jacques and finally Jacques understood why his gentle and loving father suddenly became cold to him as he grew older and engaged himself in gambling that ultimately led to his family’s downfall. He WAS THE CAUSE. Then Gerard comforted him, hugged him but passed away from heavy drinking. Gerard also had a tragic past. He fell in love with a noble woman Natalie (my pronunciation maybe inaccurate as I try to guess the actual name) and wanted to marry her despite he was just a poor peasant. Since he gave an interesting reason for marrying her “that he loved her”, she agreed and got married to him. However, Natalie was not a good wife. She continued to sleep with other men (with Gerard’s permission) and she even lied to Gerard that her child died soon after birth when she simply left the child in a remote village. Nine years later, Gerard found out about the poor girl, about the fact that she was the daughter of Natalie and her lover Amarick (CV: Inoue Kazuhiko). He confronted Natalie but in a panic, the latter injured his eye and left a horrible scar on his face. Gerard then drove his wife away and went to pay the poor girl a visit before she died two weeks later. Since then, Gerard hated nobles, including the Jacques he first met. However, as Jacques tried hard to adjust into the life of a peasant, at some point, Gerard was also touched, and this is the crucial turning point of the whole story as well as the relationship between Jacques and Gerard.
It is important to remember that Gerard and Jacques have a huge gap in age…he is probably as old as Jacques’ father. When he confessed to Jacques, the latter also felt the power of those words – that Gerard loved him beyond his father and his mother. Since then, whenever he saw Gerard he would EXPLODE (so cute) and he also tried to keep a distance. He would also masturbate but that was forbidden by religion (or so he believed) but he could not resist it. Eventually, the two finally came closer and could sleep with each other again. It was at this time when the French Revolution broke out and Gerard was betrayed by a man who was supposed to be executed in a few days. The man actually told the authorities that Gerard was hiding a boy with noble blood in his household. Gerard knew the authorities had issues with the novels he was writing but he could not risk Jacques being sent to the gullotine. So, the two tried to escape from Paris. Gerard was disguised as a middle aged woman (laugh) and Jacques as her brother. The two ran away but was cornered eventually when they arrived at the forest. That’s where the best confession came from Gerard
When the authories came, the couple was surprised to hear that in just three days, the warrant to pursue to them was lifted as the extreme revolutionists lost power and were themselves executed. Gerard then went to visit his wife’s grave and before heading back to join Jacques at home.
I stayed away from Yoshinaga Fumi because her work “Sore wo iittara oshimaiyo” did not click with me at all. I did not like her artstyle or the way she relate the story. I have no plans of reading this manga at all until it’s announced that this will be made into a BLCD (Intercommunications). Apparently, finding the raw is nearly impossible at this moment since Biblos went bankrupt and don’t ask me how :D. If you want, purchase the licensed version or visit used Japanese bookstores :). Then, I saw the extremely horrible review on ANN and I was like huh? Such a horrible story is going to be made into a BLCD, has Intercommunications lost its mind? This made me want to read the manga even more and when I finally read it, while I can’t outrightly say the review on ANN is BULLSHIT, I can’t quite agree with the reviewer either.
I can understand the beginning of the story is a bit awkward but it’s not “rape”. Rape implies a criminal act but if you are a prostitute (whether it be out of self-will or not), the customer is not committing a “crime” unless prostitution itself is illegal and based on the historical setting, it’s not. Frankly speaking, how many prostitute wants to sell his or her body if it’s up to his/her own will? Also, the reviewer mentioned an inconsistency in the character’s personality. I know in the first scene Gerard seemed to be a very cruel man and this cruelty would contradict with the latter generosity he exhibited to his servants. HOWEVER, he was ANGRY at the moment because Jacques’ attitude reminded him of his wife and her noble lovers and how they treated their own child. That fury made him lose control and that’s why he treated Jacques with contempt…enough to want to see him rot on the streets rather than living a comfortable life in a high-class brothel.
The reviewer also mentioned it strange that Jacques was in pretty good shape when he arrived at Gerard’s place. It’s also reasonable becaue (a) only a month or a little more elapsed between their first meeting and their meeting again; (b) Even when Jacques got his freedom, in such a short time, even if he slept on the streets and was poorly fed, it wouldn’t take a huge toll. Besides, given his beauty, he might be able to get temporary work (especially when he had pride and did not seem to give up easily). The limitations of the manga should also be taken into consideration (maybe the novel would go more indepth as to what happened during the period). The reviewer also said Jacques’ personality was very inconsistent and changed in about 10 pages. I personally don’t feel it’s so inconsistent. If she had read Yoshinaga sensei’s another work called “Kare wa hanazono de yume wo miru”, then she would notice that Jacques was not a typical senseless, selfish noble. Even among nobles, he was one who read quite widely and was fairly intelligent and reasonable. In fact, when Gerard first scolded him about not realizing how fortunate himself was to be able to sell his body on such a large bed when some other kids had to endure this in rooms smaller than the lavatory, Jacques immediately quieted down. In short, his personality was consistent with the later development and his initial reaction was merely from shock and not realizing what was happening to him. Once he grapsed the situation, he was the usual Jacques.<br><br>Finally, she mentioned about the character’s costume designs lacking in details… I couldn’t disagree more because I think Yoshinaga sensei actually used different costumes to match the occasion and paid attention to the details more than a lot of authors who attempted writing about this period. I must apologize if my review of the manga seemed more like a response to the review on ANN. Back to my PERSONAL OPINION. In terms of the plot, I must say the story started just abruptly as it ended and when it was all over, I was like ??? what a cheesy ending to an otherwise more dramatic story. In short, I was expecting something more dramatic, something that would invite tears but the mood of the story was more tipped toward the side of comedy than serious drama. If you like comedy, maybe it’s more interesting than to see an end with the two meeting their ends on the gullotine. However, I totally feel drama can spice up the story. Nevertheless, the confession in the forest (as I quoted in the main summary) really caught me and for that as well as some touching dialogue throughout, I added another star to the plot.
Jacques is my favorite type of uke – strong headed, hardworking, has pride but not illogical or extremely selfish, and READS (laugh). I hate uke who doesn’t use his brains (with the exception of Fuyuki Papa because that man feeds on SPERMS *v*). Although Jacques slightly matured in 3 years, his personality and behavior practically remained unchanged, which I like. Yoshinaga sensei actually took time to show how Jacques finally realized his own feelings toward Gerard: from not being particularly jealous when seeing Gerard sleeping with another boy to willing to die with him. It’s a very interesting transition and probably the novel version would give more death and fill in the blanks the manga version was missing. A very touching scene to show how wonderful Jacques’ personality was (and also one of my favorite scenes in the manga) was the shot where he was sleeping in the library with books beneath him and a scarred hand from work. It was the proof that he was not just a selfish good-for-nothing obouchama who descended from nobility, but a fighter who would try his best to adapt to his surroundings.
Like Jacques, Gerard is also a very lovable character because he’s not a “good man” and he’s not pretending he is. In fact, he’s a rather “horrible” man who fed on humans’ darkest erotic fantasies and who would not feel guilty sleeping with young boys. What I find shocking was the fact that he was also a REVERSIBLE !! While with Amarick he was UKE and only SEME with little boys… I suppose he picked little boys because he could only be seme to people younger than him ^_^;; At any rate, Gerard onced used to be very innocent and cute too. Unfortunately, his ugly wife and her filthy lover tainted his innocent heart and left him with hatred toward nobles. Rather than Gerard saving Jacques (which was financially the case initially, in reality as the conclusion suggested, this whole story was about how Jacques rescued Gerard from his guilt and hatred toward his wife, her lover, and himself.
I have no comment on Natalie because she’s just ONE SICK WOMAN. I am so glad my mother is the extreme opposite of her and if French Aristocrats at that time were mostly as contaminated as her, I could understand why they were the first to start the revolution. Her behaviors were simply disgusting and it still puzzled me as to how Gerard could stick with her for so long. I’m so glad Gerard met Jacques because at least he found a soulmate worthy of his innocent heart.
Amarick is the S in this manga (laughs). He’s the ultimate SEME and the one who trained Gerard to become a “skilled technician”. Without Amarick, there wouldn’t be the Gerard today and his porn novels would not sell either. To be frank, I think Amarick loved Gerard way more than he loved Natalie (naturally because Gerard was a lot more attractive). He wanted to hurt Gerard because he could not get Gerard. All the time, he was jelaous of Natalie because she had Gerard and once again when Gerard was saying the name “Jacques” in bed, he lost hope because he was always the one in defeat. Had Amarick got Gerard years ago, maybe he would have been a much happier man.
If you can’t tolerate male-female 3P, I suggest staying away from this manga. Otherwise, I think this is a manga that can warm the heart and has the right balance of comedy and angst. It’s not suited for those who like a lot of angst and dark themes because the backbone of this story is really still a comedy. However, it’s got its share of touching moments and I suppose that was the magic needed for me to give it a five star overall. I would love to hear people’s opinions about this manga so please comment if you can.