This Wonderful Season with You GN

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This Wonderful Season with You is Tokyopop's second release of one of Atsuko Yusen's BL titles, following the adorable Dekoboko Sugar Days with another story about two boys of two very different sizes falling in love. This book isn't quite as sweet as the other (as might reasonably be suspected from the lack of the word “sugar” in the title), but that's not anything approaching a condemnation of the volume. Rather it shows that Yusen can use the same basic device (height difference) to tell a fairly different but still charming story, and that's generally a very good sign.

The main reason why This Wonderful Season with You is a bit less sweet is because one of the two protagonists, Shirataki, is coming into the story with a lot of emotional baggage. Up through middle school, he was a highly talented pitcher, and there was definitely talk of him eventually being able to go pro. Unfortunately, he injured his shoulder seriously enough that he had to quit the sport, and that's left him at loose ends. In fact, that's almost too glib a way to phrase it: it isn't that Shirataki doesn't know what to do with himself without baseball, but more the loss of the sport was one of a series of blows he suffered, and it sounded the death knell for more than one of his dreams. In the time between middle and high school, his parents began to fight more than usual and divorce absolutely came up. Shirataki thought that he might be able to keep his parents together with his success in baseball, because everyone came to watch his games as a family. While marriages can't be fixed by such things – or by anyone who isn't one of the spouses, really – it's a perfectly believable idea for a kid Shirataki's age to have latched on to, and it gives his injury outsize importance in his life. To Shirataki, not being able to play baseball also means not being able to keep his parents together, and it's that which has sent him retreating into himself, not the loss of his status or the promise of a professional sports career.

That this is all slowly played out over the entirety of the volume is undoubtedly one of the story's strengths. Shirataki isn't fully aware of what's going on for him either, and it's his relationship with Enoki that helps to bring everything together for him. Enoki is in some ways the more typical character, the sweet social outcast who doesn't have much in the way of social skills and so sticks to his proscribed group; in this case, the robotics and programming nerds of the Electric Engineering Club. Each of the boys does something different, which is a nice touch – only Enoki is a game designer, while the other two are more interested in robotics or plain old programming. The club functions as a space where they can talk and work on their projects rather than a focused workshop where they're all working on one project, but since there are only three of them, the school is threatening to disband the club. That's what leads to them trying to recruit, and even though Shirataki discovers quickly that he's not keen on any of the stuff they're working on, he agrees to remain a member until they can find someone else.

Enoki is the most thrilled about this, because he's been attracted to Shirataki ever since he helped him with the fliers. Shirataki's not sure what to make of Enoki at first until he gets a profile glance at the other boy and realizes that he's actually very attractive to him when he can see his face behind his glasses. This throws Shirataki off, and without quite understanding why, he begins to seek out Enoki's company a bit more, culminating in him rescuing Enoki when a group of thugs try to steal his laptop. This confirms for Enoki that he likes Shirataki, and Shirataki quickly finds that he's liking Enoki more the more time he spends with him.

While things are fairly predictable as far as the romance trajectory goes, one of the nicest elements of the story is the way that the boys both try to learn about what the other is interested in. Shirataki does eventually come to find the club activities something he wants to participate in, while Enoki agrees to join Shirataki's gym and also finds that he enjoys working out with him. They're committed to getting to know each other and to understand what makes them different and why, and that's an emotionally fulfilling storyline to see, especially since there's no coercion or pressure. (Enoki is more or less swept along at first, but he makes the decision to keep going to the gym on his own.) Enoki is perhaps a bit more aware that he's developing romantic feelings for Shirataki, but the way that the characters on the periphery of the story help them to come together – whether they're keen on them as a couple or not – is another nice piece of the story that doesn't feel like interference.

As with Dekoboko Sugar Days, the book is largely tame on the sexual front until the side stories at the end, and in this case, that works in the emotional narrative's favor. Both boys are working on navigating being in a relationship and figuring out how society's perception of them could change with them being in a same-sex relationship, so if they're still working on holding hands in public, it's probably too early for sex. The sex-based side story does skirt some boundaries around enthusiastic consent, playing with the idea that Shirataki thinks it's important but “can't help himself” to a degree, so readers sensitive to that should be aware.

On the whole, This Wonderful Season with You is a sweet, slightly angsty romance that hits a lot of the right notes. Enoki and Shirataki are both enjoyable protagonists, the story keeps a good pace, and if the art isn't quite as sweet as in Yusen's previous release, it's still nice. If you're looking for a good story about two people finding each other, this is a safe bet.

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