Atsuko Yusen’s “Deko-Boko Sugar Days,” gives a refreshing (not quite revolutionary) take on typical Yaoi narratives.
The story starts out with the usual misunderstanding. In his youth, our main character Yuujirou Matsukaze, mistakenly misgenders a helpless “feminine” boy that is stuck in a nearby gutter on the way home. Feeling the strong need to protect this “girl” Matsukaze develops his first ever crush—at least until he finds out that the child’s name is Rui Hanamine, and therefore is a boy.
Fast forward 10 years later to sophomore year in high school; Hanamine has only grown cuter (through the eyes of Matsukaze) and taller standing at the height of an even 6’foot nothing while Matsukaze, still standing at a short 5’4, harbors a double-edged resentment towards his former damsel in distress.
Matsukaze spends his time guzzling down milk cartons (in hopes to grow as tell as Hanamine) and contemplating the underlying cause of his repressed emotions. On the other hand, Hanamine’s character gets off a little too easily. He’s naturally more communicative —and annoyingly—more apologetic as he mostly spends his time spiraling over his own confused emotions about his childhood friend before simply deciding he does like Matsukaze stigma be damned.
In bringing the two friend’s together Yusen does introduce a lot of the familiar Yaoi plot devices like: “girl who confesses to sexually confused boy in hopes it will make his choice clearer,” and “hot guy who is aware he likes men and is ready to scoop up neglected boy from potential unrequited love.” However, these tropes do not stay for long and are subverted humorously to the benefit of both main characters. This is not a story of overt crushing fears and societal stigma that is often seen in most Yaoi and Boys Love titles. It is a wholesome story about how through their environment, charming obliviousness, and strong dedication to their friendship that love is able to sustain and bloom.
“Deko-Boko Sugar Days” is very much like a sweet and airy puff pastry through it’s depiction of the boy’s romance with each other. If you’re looking for something dense and heavy, you won’t find that here. My only gripe with this one-shot manga is the lack of depth between the two characters, Hanamine’s character is a little too subservient to the tougher Matsukaze, but Yusen does try to even their dynamic a bit towards the end.
Perhaps think something like Ausmiko Nakamura’s popular series “Classmates” (Doukyusei), though Deko-Boko does teeter on the edge of mature content in the span of its short six chapter run.