Good day, readers! All you USA-ers, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and to everyone else I hope November treated you well. Jumping back into the game here after a somewhat hectic holiday I come bringing a review of one of my favorite doijins I own. If you didn’t catch my last doujin review and have no idea what I’m talking about, take a look over here at my short explanation of the art form.
Our story this week comes from one of the larger fandoms on the internet at this time, Himaruya Hidekazu’s Hetalia. Depending on the people you hear from, this is either the most horrible/annoying/EVIIIIL fandom ever or a good one full of wonderful people. Given the mercurial state of all fandoms, I tend to look at it from a person-by-person account, but I digress. If unfamiliar with the series it can be summed up rather easily: personified countries have crazy hijinks during World War 2 (and sometimes other time periods). Given the sensitive nature of this topic, there are times that the show misses its mark and with the release of the dub (and the dumb direction they took it in) these issues have been inflamed by a wide margin. However, these issues are usually dodged in the doujin due to the very nature of the artform. Today we look at Nanka-Izuno-Uenohou (Mumu)’s I Am Yours!.
This story focuses on the Axis powers (Germany, Japan, and North Italy) as Japan tries to mediate Italy’s one complaint about his lover, Germany. In the series it is strongly hinted that Germany has a thing for Italy stemming from his childhood, back when he was the Holy Roman Empire, and having a crush on the much more innocent, adorable Italy. As with my last review, this pairing is exceedingly popular and almost canon to the point it hurts. Drawing from the source material, there is also an abundance of ways this relationship can play out in a realistic manner. So, how does Mumu do?
Surprisingly well! It is a fear of mine that when writing about a pairing that has such a power differential already (Germany is a BAMF, Italy is…a
tomato box fairy) the quickly eroding slippery slope into “stereotypical yaoi” land will always be taken because it’s easy and it works. However, in this case Mumu shows the complexity of not only the characters, but the issues in their relationship as well. Germany is not only a badass, he’s a badass that has problems admitting his feelings out loud because, damn it, they’re embarrassing and Italy should already know. On the reverse side, Italy is not only a silly man that acts in hyperbolic tears, he is also a man who just wants to hear once how much he is treasured by the man he loves and is afraid that he may never hear it. Japan also plays his role as the mediator wonderfully. He is quiet and patient, but not afraid to dish out some stern words when Germany is about to give up all together. The friendship between the three of them is shown so well in such a short amount of pages: it is truly an impressive feat.
As bland as the storyline seems (“I just want him to say he loooooves me!!!”), it really is a lot more interesting when shown through these characters. The story is short so the tension can rise, expressing what really is at stake if Germany cannot admit his own weaknesses—his relationship with not only Italy but Japan too, as well as losing respect for himself. It’s not complex, but the characters make it complex. Or as complex as one can get in 13 pages.
Since I love the story so much, I really want to love the art too. And I do, I just wish there was more. Again we have the background problem: background range from gradients to just plain white save for one panel with an actual wall and hallway. There are also no real objects in the setting either. However, the characters look good for the most part and their expressions are wonderful. I have a feeling that Mumu was trying to bring
attention to the characters and their expressive postures, but in leaving everything else out it creates a void so it almost makes it seem like this is happening in some sort of afterlife scenario. Juxtaposing the comfort of a friend’s house to the emptiness of a wish unfulfilled would have added another interesting layer to this drama sandwich, but I’ll take comfort in knowing that the resolution happens in a situation like that.
I would recommend this doujin simply on how well Mumu gets the characters and expands them into more complete roles. Also, on how they treat the relationship in a respectful, realistic manner rather than relying on the old stand-by stereotypes.