Review: Boku to Issho, by Minoru Furuya

“Whether you’re an idiot who’s watching or an idiot who’s dancing, if you’re really an idiot, you might as well dance.”

Throughout my reading of Minoru Furuya’s Saltiness, Ciguatera, Himizu, and Wanitokagegisu (the links go to my reviews of those titles), this author became my third favorite mangaka after Inio Asano (mainly because of Oyasumi Punpun and Solanin; unfortunately the guy seems to have lost his drive since) and Shūzō Oshimi.

Furuya’s stuff tends to be similar: character-driven tales of outcasts forced to deal with bad luck and troublesome compulsions. Plenty of weird sexual stuff. Although the characters endure harrowing experiences that would have traumatized most people to the extent of ruining their lives, Furuya’s characters get used to trauma. However, the commitments between the characters tend to be equally temporary. His stories rarely include neat resolutions: unless the character in question dies, the issues that person had been struggling with throughout the story are likely to continue beyond the conclusion. The author also has a fantastic sense of the absurdity of life, so his plot points and character interactions are often unpredictable and hilarious.

This manga series I’m reviewing was made in the late nineties. A different beast to his later works, Boku to Issho is an extremely caricaturesque comedy slice-of-life. While the extreme behaviors of the characters put me off initially, as well as the author’s talent to depict ugly faces, Furuya ended up turning the caricaturesque nature of this story into an art form. It became one of the funniest series I’ve read in a long time.

The story follows two brothers (about fifteen and twelve respectively) in awful circumstances: their mother just died, and their violent stepfather booted them out. They find themselves homeless, penniless, with no talents that they can put to use. The big brother acts as a father figure to his younger sibling, but he’s lazy and delusional: although he believes that he’ll become a pro baseball player the moment he applies himself to it, he’s mainly focused in protecting his ego from the damage that testing his delusions in the real world would cause.

They quickly meet one of the other main characters of this tale: a glue-huffing orphan who makes a living by theft and petty grifting.

Later on they also get together with a pretty boy runaway teen. After the glue-huffing guy steals a cellphone, they start selling their services as gigolos. Their naïveté quickly clashes with the real world when one of their first customers turns out to be a young woman with a penchant for toy-assisted domination.

Most of the characters we meet struggle at least with their self-esteem, but often with poverty, and in some cases with compulsions and fetishes. They are rarely sure of their place in life and where they’ll be in a few years.

As mentioned, I’ve been exposed to plenty of Furuya’s works, so I already expected this story to “just end”. The author attempts some circularity, which mostly serves as the thematic point that not much in our lives gets resolved, and we’re left to figure out how to keep going.

Another winner by Minoru Furuya, as far as I’m concerned.

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