Oddly Victorian with a few rather disturbing scenes.
What They Say:
Bewitched by a spell that makes him popular to individuals of the same sex (!!!) and leads him to chase his enchanter—the moon spirit Ixto—the chagrined Ryuka persecutes himself for being unable to make his body do what he wants it to! Instead, his convoluted romance with Ixto rollicks to the next level! The two play at being lovers to obtain a treasure that just might help them break the curse that further complicates the relationship between Aldin and Ral, whose master-servant love is already troubled by the pair’s difference in status! How far will the merry band of misfits have to go to make sure that love prevails?!
Writer and Artist: Hyouta Fujiyama
Translator: Tomo Kimura
Lettering: Keiran O’Leary
Tale of the Waning Moon vacillates between a rather boring, oddly Victorian in spirit love story to a rather disturbing look at body issues and prostitution. The parts that were boring were tough to get through, and the parts that were disturbing couldn’t pass quickly enough. While it’s true that I’m not a yaoi yao fan, I don’t really think that matters in this case as Fujiyama could have easily switched the genders of one or more of the protagonists and the underlying issues would still exist.
The majority of this volume is taken up by the drama between Aldin and Ral. Aldin comes from a wealthy family, but he’s in love with Ral, a lowly stableboy. To avoid his family’s disapproval, Aldin and Ral turn to a witch for a magic spell. However, her spell came with a price: Ral was turned into a horse and the memory of their love was erased from their minds. If they could rediscover each other and use Aldin’s family heirloom, the breath of the fire dragon, to destroy her wand, then their love will be protected. In order to acquire the breath of the dragon, Aldin’s older brother enlists the aid of Ryuka and Ixto. They set up an elaborate plot where they present themselves to Aldin’s parents as two star-crossed lovers unable to be together because of magic. They can break the curse with the aid of the breath of the fire dragon. Ryuka and Ixto succeed and help Aldin and Ral, but in the process Ixto breaks one a cardinal rule of the universe and is imprisoned on the moon. Before that happens he enlists the aid of a sorceress and asks her to give Ryuka a choice: break the curse that makes him irresistible to men right now, or travel to the moon to free Ixto. Ryuka chooses the latter.
Aldin and Ral’s relationship feels very Victorian to me—with the obvious exception of all the magic, of course. I’m not the biggest fan of those type of stories as I tend to get too frustrated at the societal strictures imposed on the characters, and in general I don’t find them terribly entertaining, so the majority of this volume fell flat to me. There were, however, two spots that really stood out, but not in a good way.
The first occurred after Ryuka and Ixto leave Aldin and Ral. Ixto has said before that he wanted to make sure that Ryuka was “properly grateful” to him for his part in the matter, and he forces Ryuka to have sex with him. It’s a rather disturbing scene as Ryuka clearly says no at the beginning, but Ixto forces him to go through it anyway. Clouding the issue is that Ryuka appears to enjoy it after it starts and he obviously displays feelings for Ixto later on when he decides to forgo breaking the curse in favor of traveling to the moon to free Ixto. It’s a scene oddly reminiscient of many James Bond movies where anytime a woman says “no” she actually means “yes.” The fact that this is a homosexual encounter changes nothing. Even if Ryuka enjoys it, the situation is far too close to rape for my taste.
Rape comes up again later as Ryuka and the Coon the moon cat travel through a city looking for the sorceress. They come across an old beggar being harassed by a gang of street thugs. He tries to intervene and the leader of the gang tells him, “If you do the lot of us, we’ll let the old man go.” Ryuka is reluctant, but Coon willingly offers his service because “This is the first time anyone’s wanted me so much.” The thugs tie them up and make many violent sexual threats on them that they would have made good on if not for the timely intervention of the sorceress.
What makes these scenes so disturbing aside from the obvious that they are both about rape, is how human bodies and sexual favors are used as currency. Ixto takes his pleasure from Ryuka as payment for helping out with Aldin and Ral—despite the fact that he needed the breath of the fire dragon also. It could be that this was a flimsy excuse to con Ryuka into the sack, but there’s a definite feeling that Ixto has made advances on Ryuka before and was rebuked. This is forcing Ryuka into sex and the power dynamics alone make this rape even if Ryuka enjoyed it.
The potential for rape alone makes the second scene disturbing, but it’s highlighted by Coon’s attitude. Coon clearly confuses sex with love and wraps his sense of self with being desired sexually. While it’s healthy to want to be desired, his complete misreading of the situation speaks volumes about a low self-esteem and even possibly abuse in his past. At the very least it alludes to a complete misunderstanding on his part of what is healthy sex.
There really isn’t much that I recommend for this volume. The basic story is rather bloodless and boring and the scenes of potential and quasi-rape were difficult to read. Tale of the Waning Moon is poor storytelling wrapped in disturbing subtexts. Not recommended.
Age Rating: 18+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 25th, 2013