Hide and Seek, Volume 2

Hide and Seek, Volume 2Creator: Yaya Sakuragi
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421558585
Released: March 2014
Original release: 2013

Hide and Seek is a three-volume boys’ love manga series by Yaya Sakuragi. The manga is a direct spinoff of another of Sakuragi’s boys’ love series, Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, which is itself tangentially related to her series Tea for Two. All three series can be read and enjoyed separately from one another, but there are some shared characters and references. Both Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love and Hide and Seek were licensed and released in English by Sublime Manga, the boys’ love imprint associated with Viz Media. (Tea for Two was published by Tokyopop’s Blu Manga imprint back in the day.) Hide and Seek, Volume 2 was originally released in Japan in 2013 while the English-language edition was released in 2014. I began following Sakuragi’s work in translation after encountering her boys’ love one-shot Hey, Sensei?. I’ve continued to enjoy and read her manga, but I find Hide and Seek to be particularly good.

It was supposed to be a simple fling, an uncomplicated relationship to enjoyably pass the time with no expectations that it would develop into something more serious. Except that Shuji, who generally isn’t interested in other men, is falling more and more for the young neighborhood doctor Saji. Though he’s slow to admit that he’s in love, Shuji can’t deny the jealously he experiences when he sees another man kiss Saji. Those feelings intensify when he discovers that the man, Yuki, used to date Saji and due to various unfortunate circumstances is currently staying at the doctors’ home. Saji picks up on some of that jealousy, but he has already resigned himself to a fleeting relationship with Shuji. He would certainly be interested in a more devoted partnership, but he’s been burned so many times in the past that he’s trying no to get his hopes up. And with neither man being completely honest with the other about his feelings, any sort of relationship will be difficult to maintain.

Hide and Seek, Volume 2, page 107While Hide and Seek definitely has its humorous moments, overall it tends to be a much more serious, and to some extent much more realistic, manga than its immediate predecessor Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love ever was. Likewise, Shuji, the main connecting character between the two series, is significantly more developed and complex in Hide and Seek. Although at heart he hasn’t really changed much from who he was in Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, in part due to the tone of Hide and Seek his character has now become convincingly believable instead of being intentionally comedic and shallow. Shuji amused me greatly in Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, but I really like Hide and Seek‘s more nuanced version of him. He is much more considerate and much less self-centered than his outward demeanor would initially lead one to assume (as well a more responsible and mature), and he’s honestly concerned for the well-being of those he cares most about, including Saji.

Overall, the characterization in Hide and Seek is excellent, particularly that of Shuji, but Saji is also a realistically complicated individual. I’ve enjoyed watching their relationship evolve and develop over the course of Hide and Seek and look forward to seeing how things turn out for them in the final volume. Shuji and Saji’s relationship isn’t in danger because they’re incompatible. In fact, the two men are surprisingly well-suited for each other. It’s actually because they care so much for each other and are trying not to force their feelings on, take advantage of, or hurt the other person that their relationship has the potential to dissolve. Although they do misinterpret the meaning and motivations behind some of each others’ words and actions, and make some inaccurate assumptions as a result, Shuji and Saji do communicate with each other, something that is absolutely critical for any relationship to succeed. Granted, they still need to learn to open up to each other a little more if they’re going to make things work in the long-term.

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