Otaku USA Magazine
Manga Review: I Hear the Sunspot

manga sunspotKohei and Taichi are opposites, and that’s part of what draws them together. Taichi is a loudmouth who has trouble keeping down a job, but his heart is always in the right place. Kohei is aloof and mysterious and mostly keeps to himself. Taichi grew up in poverty, from a split family, and Kohei began to lose his hearing at a young age after a bad fever.

The two start to hang out when Taichi needs a job and learns that he can work as a volunteer for schoolmate Kohei by writing down class notes. This is necessary because Kohei can’t always hear what is being said at any given time. It’s not a paid job, but Kohei supplies Taichi with delicious food as a thank-you. As the two young men hang out, Taichi notices more and more how Kohei is treated differently for being partially deaf. Some people mock him and claim Kohei is looking for sympathy.

But more often the cruelty comes from people who mean to be kind — people who are patronizing to Kohei, who treat him as helpless, who go out of their way to talk about his disability as if this makes them saints, while Kohei finds such talk aggravating. Girls try to latch onto Kohei, not only because he’s handsome, but because they’ve romanticized his situation. One girl even wants him after reading a romantic book about a deaf man, and she basically wants to use Kohei to recreate the book for herself, saying, “I love how the main character does all she can for the helpless man.” Yuki Fumino’s I Hear the Sunspot manga also makes the point of how often the conversations Kohei can’t hear aren’t worth hearing, either, because people concentrate on so many vacuous issues.

As Taichi and Kohei draw closer, the boys’ love element comes out, though it’s never explicit. Rather than showing the two boys become erotically involved, like a lot of BL, it shows them coming together in their spirits, which feels much more profound. At first it just feels like a manga about friendship, not BL, but then you say, “Oh, okay, there it is.” But when it arrives it’s so sweet and fits with everything else that has happened so far. The whole manga is pensive and endearing, lovingly told and intense in its simplicity. It’s sold 100,000 copies so far, and a Japanese live-action movie based on this title has already been made. It’s recommended for more than fans of BL, as this is a story of universal appeal.

Story & Art: Yuki Fumino
Publisher: One Peace Books

Danica Davidson’s book Manga Art For Beginners is out now. With more than 200 pages and hundreds of drawings, it takes a thorough look on each step for drawing your favorite manga character types, including ninjas, butlers, chibi, bishonen, schoolgirls and schoolboys.