The idea of yaoi — “boy love” romances aimed at a young girl audience — is one that raises more than a few Western eyebrows. But the manga sub-genre is a successful one in its native Japan, and, judging by the success of titles like Sanami Matoh’s Fake, has developed an audience in this country, too. Yaoi has become popular enough that American manga publisher Tokyopop even developed a line focused on this stuff, Blu Manga, of which Hinaka Takanaga’s Liberty Liberty! is one of the latest examples.
Got to admit I’m a relative newbie when it comes to yaoi. Read the first volume of Fake many moons ago, but never followed up on it, so I’m coming to this material fairly fresh. Liberty Liberty centers on a young boy named Itaru Yaichi, who we meet post-bender, lying on a pile of trash bags with little memory of how he got there. (“This tangy yet bitter odor,” he thinks, "could it be my own barf?”) Would-be writer Itaru has fled the city of Tokyo for Osaka and is broke and homeless, but he soon is rescued by Kouki, a handsome ponytailed TV cameraman who has staked out the alleyway where Itaru has drunkenly collapsed. Thinking the hungover boy is a celebrity stalker, he tries to take his picture, only to have Itaru grab and smash his camera.
Despite this costly act, Kouki takes in the homeless runaway, introducing him to the rest of the crew at Himawara Cable, a ragtag indy TV station. These, predictably, turn out to an oddball bunch, none more than the flamboyant Karumi, the station’s cross-dressing “female” anchor. As Itaru finds a place for himself in this group and discovers himself growing more attracted to Kouki, we learn that the cameraman and anchorwoman share some history. Do they still have a thing for each other? Is Kouki jealous over Karumi’s current relationship with Kyobashi, the moneyman funding the station? It wouldn’t be a romance if you didn’t have such questions hovering in the air.