Greetings! I’ve joined in another BL challenge that Blyme started on Twitter. Challenges are not only fun and I can snoop around to see others’ picks but also serve as a way to freshen up my memory. It’s like one of those moments where you watch seasons after seasons of anime and when someone asks you a recommendation, you blank out and have to go back to your Anilist. I’ve been reading BL for the past 12 years or so but when I try to think of a series I “used to love but not anymore” it feels like I’ve become a fan last week.
One of the prompts this week was to talk about my guilty pleasures. It’s not always the easiest thing to share your hobbies with people you are acquainted with in real life, but I’m not ashamed to be vocal about the things I love when it comes to the communities I’m a member of online. I couldn’t think of anything I’d feel self-conscious about liking, although there was a series I’ve reread countless times and that might be a bit… embarrassing indeed. And I was hit by a slight block with my blog so I said, what better way to shake myself off from the daze than to write about a title that has two of the things I love: men falling in love and blogging.
“Shio” is your average salaryman, and he runs a blog where he talks about his daily experiences, mixing in rants or observations of other people. His blog gets a good amount of traffic and he’s friends with other bloggers, occasionally meeting them in real life as well. Living the dream, if you ask me! It’s another day where he and a couple of other bloggers are holding an IRL meeting, but today, someone new will show up for the first time. It’s Miya-san, whose blog gives off an aura like the person behind it is a high school girl; soothing, cute, and fluffy.
The group speculates that since the author agreed to meet at a bar they should at least be at the legal age of drinking, but little did they expect to find out it’s a man so big that he’s towering over the rest. Soon, it becomes clear that Miya indeed exudes the air that you get from reading his blog. Shio and Miya become friends after the meeting and they occasionally hang out, and Miya wearing his heart on his sleeve kind of speeds up the process.
This series is honestly too darn CUTE. I’ve picked up my copy 6 years ago and I still occasionally give it another read when I’m in need of positivity. Shio is the straightforward, looks-like-he-could-kill-you-but-is-a-cinnamon-roll kind of character. He prefers observing others and doesn’t let out much about what he’s thinking. Contrary to him, Miya is the “panicked gay” of the two. He’s sweet and caring, and you can pretty much read what he’s thinking or feeling on his face. What’s exceptional about this setup, however, instead of using this dynamic to create a will-they-won’t-they situation that drags on for a couple of chapters, prolonged with denials of feelings, Shio’s grounded thought process and desire to be open with Miya is what makes Merry Checker so different from the usual titles we read. I know some people are not fond of the usual tropes I mentioned above, and Merry Checker can be the fresh breath of air you might be looking for.
I find myself thinking about online friends recently and what makes this type of friendship so different from how we interact with people in real life. It’s probably because the order we go at it is reversed. We find people online who are more or less align with our hobbies and interests and then come to the ‘age/name/work/education’ and such, given that you feel comfortable enough to share. Whereas in real life, there’s always the possibility of being misunderstood (or mocked, at times) just for enjoying the things you do. It’s no coincidence that many romance stories rely on the “OMG, you accidentally saw the real me and I saw the real you and now we have to take each other’s secret to the grave (and fall in love in the process)” trope and it works wonders. While it’s not at some darkest secret level in Merry Checker, their meeting still serves as a nice base for their relationship.
We seriously need more Suzuki Tsuta works in English! I don’t know how is Heaven’s Design Team doing in terms of sale numbers (Suzuki Tsuta was one of the two of its authors), there are currently only two of their works translated (can be found here & here). But hopefully, it’ll provide enough interest for publishers to license their other works, especially Merry Checker. I lucked out with furigana in this title, I could read and more or less make sense of the conversation.
Overall, Merry Checker has a special place in my heart and this makes it hard to objectively review the series. But I think you can count on me when I say it’s the cutest thing ever.
Hope you enjoyed another Friday review! It’s a shame I still couldn’t come up with a general format for these or the ones I’ve come up with feel meh at most. But I’ll do my best, and thank you so much once again for tuning in! See you next week ~
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