So, I just discovered that Konya mo Nemurenai is pretty hard to review because I love it so much. My plot summary is no doubt as long as it is because I was stalling on writing what I actually think about it. I genuinely believe its value as a BL manga is self-evident, needing no comment... or at least I thought that until I went to Baka-Manga Updates and saw people even slightly criticizing it!!!! So let’s get to it:
Without a doubt, the best part of this manga for me is Endo. I love how roasty and cavalier he is about everything and anything. I find his discomfort and disgust with romantic and cliché shit deeply relatable, even as I commiserate with Hiriki for his lover not being openly passionate and romantic. I feel like Endo acts like I would were I ever in a committed relationship--I’d probably be a little too mean and roasty with my partner and show my affection covertly through acts of silent loyalty and dedication.
The fact that their reunion in the demon realm (see above) is my favorite part of this manga really tells you all you need to know about me and what I’m into re: heartfelt moments. I would rather call my partner gross for crying all over me than be all like “I missed you! Thanks for saving me!”
Endo is also the very rare short seme, so we need to savor every last moment we have with him. I don’t understand people who don’t like shorter semes in the same way I don’t understand straight women who aren’t into shorter male partners. Like, if you’re taller than the dude you’re seeing, you can pretend to be some hot Amazonian lady stealing away some normie dude to Themiscyra... HELLO. THAT’S HOT. Endo is still hella masculine and aggressive, so the juxtaposition of his traditional masculinity and his smaller frame is super fucking erotic to me. HOW CAN PEOPLE NOT SEE THIS?????
It is sad to me that Endo isn’t a genuine Short King, but I’ll take what I can get. I feel like Cody and Noel would probably get a kick out of a story in which certain characters can change their height and dick size at will, too.
We can’t forget Hiriki while we’re showing character appreciation. He’s such a fucking sweetheart and really comes into his own over the course of the manga. Even though I clearly relate to and have some attraction for characters that are kinda unaffectionate, I do still love characters that are more idealistic and honest in how they show their love. Of course, I can’t help but relate to any character that has little to no experience with romantic relationships, even if their innocent energy is something I never really had myself.
Hiriki probably reminds a lot of us of our first year in college, striving to make changes in our lives and to our personalities that we felt we couldn’t escape before leaving home. I admire the fact that he remains quintessentially himself--nervous and a little weepy--even when engaged in some serious acts of bravery. For someone as shy and submissive as Hiriki, he sure doesn’t have a problem telling his supernaturally powerful bf what the fuck is up, too, which makes him endlessly cool to me! Their bickering is something that will never stop giving me heart eyes.
Strangely, it’s a rare BL manga that focuses on characters that are actually homosexual; more often, we’re treated to the “I’m not gay, but you’re special” trope (i.e. heteroflexible tendencies), which sometimes works but more often makes my eyes roll so far into the back of my head that I start astral projecting. So, hats off to Hiriki and Gorou for being gay! Not sure about Verde, but we also have Endo, who is “exclusively top bisexual,” in the words of Gorou.
(I’m just going to take the time really quick to acknowledge that in the many, many cases that BL authors are heterosexual women, any LGBT+ representation in BL will be their imaginations of LGBTQ+ people and their experiences. For this reason, BL media can rightfully stirs the ire of the LGBTQ+ community, especially in the case of inaccuracies or negative portrayals.)
It’s an even rarer BL manga that doesn’t use their gay characters as a chance to squeeze in some tragedy porn. I would argue that Hiriki is unhappy with the fact that he felt the need to silently admire the boys he liked in the past, but he feels more isolated by his shyness than his sexuality. Instead of internalizing any homophobic messages from the world around him, he rightfully believes it’s possible to have a loving relationship with another man.
I definitely think that gay characters with past trauma related to abuse, bullying, and physical violence are legitimate and representative of the lived experience of some members of the LGBTQ+ community, but I think those traumas are too frequently mishandled as plot points in BL manga and are probably best avoided for that reason.
I saw some comments out there that a lot of the chapters felt like filler, but if my long ass plot summary has told you anything, there’s a good deal that happens in this story. I will admit the pacing can seem a bit off at times and some chapters would probably work better combined or cut off at different points, but I think the length is just fine and I never feel myself losing interest even after multiple re-reads.
This story is sweet, funny, and all-around just a good time. Even if unintentional, I love the Avatar-esque bending element of demon powers. More generally, the worldbuilding and lore of the demon world is one of the strongest points of this manga; it stands out amongst other supernatural BL for its uniqueness by far. Just trust me here, okay guys?
I’m ending this one on a bit of a half-assed note and not really talking about Gorou and Verde this time around since I’ll be reviewing Kimi to Kore kara [Here on Out with You] at a later date. I will say in advance that I totally get why people might prefer the sequel, since the over-the-top in love “silly couple” Gorou and Verde might be fundamentally more appealing to those not into emotionally unexpressive lovers.
I will say, though, that it’s a lot easier to love Kimi to Kore kara in the same way it’s easy to love fanfiction. Konya mo Nemurenai lays down all the plot and backstory so that you can enjoy more fluff and sex in the sequel. And if there is one complaint that I have about Konya it’s that Endo and Hiriki only fuck once in all three volumes. For comparison, Shio and Miya fuck once in Merry Checker, but that’s only a single volume story.
If Kimi to Kore kara wasn’t already out when I finished this first part, I might have had to take up drawing just to create more sex scenes for myself. Bottom line: I understand if some of you got blue balls from this one.
Anyway, bye for now. Read this manga and love it or get my foot up your ass! 🥰