Review: Dash!

Dash! – ダッシュ!
Natsume Isaku. 2006. Ookura Shuppan. Juné.
GENRE (S): Comedy, Drama, School Life, Yaoi
JPN: Volume 1 (C) | USA: Volume 1 (C) , Kindle (C), Rent it (C)

Akimoto entered the judo club because he was a huge fan of Saitoh. But all that was waiting for him was a daily life being an errand boy. Things liven up when Akimoto finds out that Saitoh has a deep, deep secret?! Don’t miss this charming volume of pure love between a cute boy and an ideal man, and of a devilish cousin’s anguish at the mercy of a beauty.

Review: This manga is composed by two sweet stories, one with the main title and other called Cheeky. Incidentally, they are related by a common feeling; these boys are doing their best to look strong and cheerful on the outside, while they are actually waiting for someone to look closely and notice their inner suffering, someone who can truly understand them.

The first story is called Dash, one where the admiration becomes desire. Akimoto has entered the judo club in his new high school because he was totally enthralled by Saitou’s performance in a contest. He dreamed to see the amazing moves and daring attitude again and wanted to become someone as good as his admired sempai. You could say Akimoto has a thing for Saitou, in fact, that’s what everyone says seeing how he has become Saitou’s errand boy.  However, that “thing” is not a romantic feeling at all. Well,  at least until Akimoto has to ponder about sempai graduating, along with several other details related to the genius judoka’s lazy attitude.

Dash manages to combine comedy, a bit of drama and sports into a totally sweet but serious story. We can see how just like evolves into love when Akimoto becomes aware of all the different sides, even the weak ones, of his admired sempai. He is trying really hard to win Saitou’s heart, without realizing why, and before he can truly think about it, Saitou is starting to get affected by his unrelenting attention. What made me love this story? that happy and shounen-like feeling that
smoothly changes towards serious and sexually tense at the best moments without becoming something really heavy and dramatic. Definitely a nice flow of actions thanks to the well planned words and visuals.

The characters are another special point of this story, they act like their age, and how refreshing is that! They are silly, they joke a lot and they are a mess sometimes. Akimoto is so full of purpose, always straightforward, a little slow, but always endearing. Saitou is the one who wins for me, he is cheeky, sarcastic, cheerful and full of himself. It was predictable but delightful to see him become as flustered as angry, a bottom with the upper hand!!!

Cheeky is a totally different story, that somehow feels really similar to the previous one. Ohyama has reunited with his cousin Yoshirou from whom he harbors really sweet memories as a child. As Yoshirou comes to spend some time at his house, Ohyama is rapidly realizing that the cute kid became a devil; he is not only a perverted man-eater but, also, the kind of person who disregards the whole thing as if it were a game. Ohyama is worried, annoyed and utterly confused at Yoshirou’s approachs. Turns out that he can’t leave the kid alone even when he wanted to, even less when he realizes that Yoshiou’s support in his loneliness was a promise that he made him as a child…

This love story is a bit complicated. I mean, they are cousins and one is a perverted brat that even takes money in exchange of sex! Yoshirou has been feeling lost and Ohyama has become his only salvation, whatever the implications might be. Although this was a mostly funny one, what I can remember the most is the melancholic feeling you get when you realize the true nature of Yoshirou, really well played in my opinion. In spite of that, I am satisfied with the ending, what was supposed to be an erotic scene it suddenly turned into an hilarious one. And it seems that  Yoshirou is not only talk; he has a nice weapon of cuteness plus experience.

As I said above, the characters are pretty similar most of the times. Somehow Ohyama felt a bit flat here, maybe because Yoshirou is so amusing and interesting; besides the story is mostly a vision of him through Ohyama’s eyes. He is really not ashamed of anything. I have to give extra points to this one for the bottom being the attacker. That’s not something you see around often.

Isaku Natsume’s art is really likable, pretty fitting for the story; almost a shounen type of art. Big eyes and messy hair, along with really nice smiles. The boys become really cute when they blush and the awkwardness in them is endearing; it’s a really clean and sweet style. Besides that, there are not very explicit scenes here, it’s almost shounen-ai except for certain parts that almost cross the border, focusing more in the humorous nature of being young.

Dash! would make a nice transition from shounen to boys love. It is a refreshing story, with a really distinct style in the genre, a light read with just a bit of drama and lots of hilarious moments. I’d say this is definitely a must read if you are looking for something that is different and makes you feel happy while reading it.

My rating: 3.5/5

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