Author: Fuyuno Jinko
Illustrator: Nara Chiharu
Format: Novel, Blcd
The drama CD version will be released in December 2006 and as usual, I write a preview of the story for those who’re interested in the drama CD. This is the first book that sets off a series oosely linked by the Wellness Mart company. Yusa Nao (CV: Morikawa Hikaru) had been very successful so far – both with his career and with his love life. Just five years after graduating from university, he already became a candidate for the executive position in the third largest supermarket chain in Japan – Daieidou. He was also planning to marry his girlfriend Yuri when a sudden change in his company’s policy threw him from the peak of his career to the valley. At the same time, his girlfriend also split up with him after about his failure at work. Yusa was so shocked and desperate he quit his job, took all the money he got and went to gamble at Les Vegas. At the roulette, he met a very handsome Japanese American by the name Joshua (CV: Horiuchi Kenyuu). As Yusa kept on winning and attracted some attention with his abnormal amount of good luck, Joshua said he would challenge Yusa to five rounds. Yusa accepted the challenge and had four straight victories. Before the fifth round, Joshua ran out of money so he used his watch (which was worth around 500,000 dollars) as bet. In return, he wondered if Yusa would bet his own body to match his bid. Yusa was so desperate he thought “the hell with it” and agreed. He never expected himself to lose but he did! As a result, Joshua took him to a hotel. At first he thought the agreement was just “one night” but Joshua said the agreement did not include an expiry date! Yusa regretted but it was too late. Joshua said if Yusa could satisfy him in bed, he would win the second game. After about 20 pages of H (I’m not joking) on a bed filled with hundred-dollar bills (I wonder how they’re going to clean the bills afterward ) and another 14 pages of H in the shower, Yusa admitted defeat because he reached orgasm before Joshua. However, Joshua thought it was closer to a draw because he was satisfied with the smut too. Joshua then surprised Yusa by calling his full name. Joshua went on to explain that he was really the COO of one of the top supermarket chains in the States – Wellness Mart. They wanted to enter the Japanese market and to do so, they tried to get Daieidou as their local partner. Of course, Yusa was the one handling the deal and they were close to jackpot when Daieidou suddenly dropped Wellness Mart and became partners with the European chain Chanti instead. The former COO at Wellness Mart quit because the project fell apart and Joshua took over. Joshua said if Yusa would like to get freedom, he would have to help Wellness Mart enter Japan as initially planned. If he failed, then he would be under Joshua’s control forever. Yusa said he needed time to review the data and assess his own situation before making the decision on whether or not to take up the challenge. Joshua agreed to give him a week and as evidence of the existence of the challengeï¼ŒJoshua gave Yusa his 500,000-dollar watch.
Yusa came back to Japan and immediately was greeted by Joshua’s subordinate Kataoka (CV: Sugita Tomokazu), another Japanese American. With height over 190cm, Yusa recognized Kataoka immediately, just as Joshua predicted he would. Kataoka drove Yusa back to his own apartment so he could collect his data files and belongings and promised to come fetch him again the next morning to escort him to the office. When Yusa got home, he found an envelope with a key and a brief “Good bye” from Yuri. He thought he might have a chance to repair the relationship but it seemed it was really over. When he laid down in bed, he remembered the time he had in Les Vegas with Joshua and began to xxx alone. The next morning, Kataoka came drove him to the office as promised but when they arrived, Yusa was very surprised at how deteriorated the office was. Since it was only a small office (with 3 workers aside from himself), it seemed Wellness had no reason to invest more than necessary. After 15 minutes of silence (seemingly being ignored), Yusa finally introduced himself and then the two staff (not Kataoka) broke out in laughter. The first blonde guy introduced himself as Jay (CV: Hatano Wataru) and he pointed at the Chinese looking guy who was still laughing and introduced him as Tien (he would not appear in the drama CD). After working for five days with these men, Yusa found it quite pleasant to debate and discuss with his potential colleagues. He also started to pick up the confidence that was shattered by his previous failure at Daieidou. Then, he got a call from his good friend at Daieidou – Uesugi (CV: Yusa Kouji). Uesugi asked if he could go meet him at a bar at 7 that evening. He did not want to meet Uesugi but there were many questions in his mind that needed answers, such as why Uesugi did not tell him of Daieidou’s plans to team up with Chanti before? Or why would Uesugi be promoted to his current position for his success with the Chanti partnership. When Yusa met Uesugi, he got all his answers. What really happened was that his girlfriend actually started dating Uesugi after Yusa introduced the two a year ago. In order to help Uesugi, Yuri asked Yusa a lot of questions about the plans with Wellness Mart in bed. She also peeped into Yusa’s scheduler and informed Uesugi of Yusa’s moves. Uesugi had always envied Yusa and wanted to beat him. Using Yuri, he managed to get rid of Yusa by telling the Board of Directors at Daieidou that Wellness Mart was not aiming at a partnership with Daieidou but a complete takeover. The Board believed him and that’s why they chose Chanti instead. He invited Yusa that evening to the bar simply to tell him how he earned his victory over Yusa (both at work and in private) as he was going to marry Yuri next month. He even invited Yusa to their marriage! Yusa was completely crushed by the betrayal of the man whom he thought of as his best friend and the woman he loved enough to plan a future with. That night, Joshua came to Japan to meet him but he did not want to meet Joshua and said he was completely useless. Joshua was extremely annoyed by Yusa’s self-humiliating comments and slapped him in the face. He insisted that he would not hear any decision from Yusa until the end of the one-week agreement.
The next day, Yusa went to work as usual and everyone was surprised by his swollen face and reddened eyes (from crying). After work, Kataoka invited him to a restaurant and told him why Joshua wanted him to work for Wellness Mart. Joshua always praised Yusa’s ability when the partnership plan was onging and was looking forward to working with him. However, the plan failed in the last moment and Joshua thought Yusa betrayed him. When he heard Yusa went to Les Vegas, he went to meet him and since he knew Yusa was also a victim, he offered Yusa the chance so both of them could take vengeance on Daieidou. He used his own family wealth as gurantee to exchange for time to get another shot at the Japanese market. His goal was to enter the Japanese market as planned and to completely elimitnate Daieidou. When Yusa realized that Joshua was not “playing a game” as he claimed but really gambling his career and wealth on the project, he changed his mind. He tried his best to calculate all the data and found a way for Wellness Mart to enter Japan. In the beginning, Wellness Mart wanted to use Daieidou as a stepping stone so they could launch their own supermarket from scratch. However, that would mean incurring a lot of fixed costs and would increase the risks. Yusa recommended buying out smaller supermarkets instead and beat Daieidou not with size but with quantity. If they had enough stores (even smaller) across the country to raise the awareness of the Wellness Mart brand, they would be able to expand more easily in the future. Joshua was very satisfied with Yusa’s suggestion as it was beyond his expectations (Yusa even included a list of potential supermarkets they could buy). So, he gave Yusa his freedom as promised and even offered to write recommendations for Yusa should he decide to work for other forms. However, Yusa chose -at his own free will- to work for Joshua and Wellness Mart.
Joshua then brought Yusa to their next betting arena – THE BED.
Since “Rien no Kikoushi” I stayed away from Fuyuno sensei’s works but then Nara’s artwork was too much a temptation for me and so I gave this series a try. To my delight, the novel is very enjoyable even though the time she devoted to the H scenes is a bit too much. Just description of the H scenes alone probably take up one quarter of the novel ^^;;, leaving very limited spaces for description of the actual strategy against Daieidou. Still, I think that’s understandable because this is boy’s love and girls are more interested in the smex than in the figures and business plans. In terms of the writing style, I don’t like Fuyuno too much because she tends to repeat the same descriptives and adjectives all the time and I hate it when the uke makes a lot of vowel sounds ^_^;; (personal preference). Besides Joshua x Yusa, Tien and Jay also seem to get their own side stories. Tien’s story is about Wellness Mart trying to get into Hong Kong’s market while Jay’s story hasn’t been published yet. I prefer Tien’s series because I like the uke in that series more but I am worried Fifth Avenue may not dramatize that because they excluded Tien in this drama CD (cry).
It’s always sad to see a successful man falling from heaven to hell (reminds me of the guy with the Harvard Tie in “Trading Places”). However, when the man gets revenge on those who betrayed him, that always makes me feel VERY GOOD. Unfortunately, in this story, we don’t see Uesugi and Yuri being punished (not yet) but I hope they eventually will as these two are real scums. Yusa may be a bit naive and trust people too easily. However, I agree with him that if he loves a woman enough to decide to marry her, he naturally will not doubt her intentions when she asks him about work. You cannot really say you love someone if you cannot even trust that someone. In that sense, when Yusa related the pain inflicted upon him by his girlfriend and best friend, I really felt sorry for him and wanted to murder Uesugi and Yuri if I could jump into the novel. Worse was the fact that Uesugi was not satisfied at just throwing Yusa down but he made sure that Yusa endured a 100% defeat by inviting him to his wedding and asking Yuri to come meet him at the bar when he was talking to Yusa. I really admired Yusa for being able to maintain his calm and not beat the heck out of Uesugi. He politely declined the invitation and even wished the couple the best of luck TVT. Saintly!! Yusa is smart and kind and a good fellow. The only problem is that he is not good at handling crisis. If Joshua did not approach him, he might probably be sleeping in Tokyo’s Underground, poor guy.
I don’t really like Joshua because I don’t understand how he could have fallen in love with Yusa simply because the latter was good at work. Since he is the COO candidate for such a gigantic firm as Wellness Mart in America, he must have met many brilliant people across the globe so there is no reason why he would fall in love with a man he never met before. I can understand him falling in love AFTER their first H because Yusa\’s too good in bed ^_^;; but then if he wasn’t in love in the first place, there was no reason for him to travel all the way to Les Vegas to meet Yusa, and in such a horrible way. Joshua is a typical Horiuchi character, meaning he is fun, seems to take things lightly, but is really a very intelligent and careful (like Wakamiya in “Freezing Eye”). It’s probably his attitude that made Yusa mistook him for treating the project as a game when he was really gambling his own future.
The description of Kataoka is a huge guy outside and an otome (girl) inside!!! Kataoka is such a hetare wanko I really like him very much >///<. When he first met Yusa, he was so nervous he could not speak much. He heard all the wonderful things about Yusa from Joshua and when he communicated with Yusa through faxes and e-mails with regard to the partnership proposal, he admired Yusa even more – to the extent he almost idolized Yusa. When he first drove Yusa from the airport to his mansion, he noticed the tear tracks on Yusa’s face and quietly offered his own handkerchief without saying anything!!! So cute >///<. He was also the one who told Yusa about Joshua (because he knew Joshua slapped Yusa) so that Yusa could forgive Joshua. Nice as he is, Kataoka can be a little “slow” at times, especially when it comes to noticing the relationship between Joshua and Yusa (sweat). Overall, I really like him (and secretly cheered for him and Yusa at one point but then I think Yusa maybe too intelligent for him, haha, whatever that implies, I stopped cheering for him ^_^;;).
Both Tien & Jay had a very tiny role in this novel and since Tien won’t appear in the drama CD, I suspect his dialogues will be taken over by Jay (not reasonable because I feel those words fit Tien way more than Jay but I don’t see any other way out). Jay is the relatively cuter guy and Tien is the smart and intelligent type (with glasses). In his own side story, he’s a lot hotter and manlier than the Tien in this novel but then two years of love-love makes a whole lot of difference I suppose. I won’t go into Tien’s story until I review his novel but I do hope they will dramatize his story too ;__;.
For those who like mind tricks and watching a man overcoming the biggest crisis in his life, I recommend this novel and drama CD. The casting looks good and everyone fits the image I formed from reading the novel. My only complaint is too much H and not enough plot. I believe the story could have been better if Fuyuno had shortened the casino and first H scene (that took up half of the book) and had elaborated on how Yusa found a way to introduce Wellness Mart into Japanese market instead. However, for people who like smut, you may want to leave things the way it is now