Sorry guys, I totally lost the track of time and am fervently typing as of now to complete the review. There’s no way I’d pass my Friday BL day, it’s too precious for me (I whisper soon after I boast about how I love all my children equally).
Takahashi Hidebu is an artist I met through Yuki and Matsu, their English market debut on Futekiya. It was a very interesting work, both visually and narration-wise, and I had no choice but to put them under my radar. After the positive reactions, I saw one or two people I’m following tweeting “If you liked this, wait until you read Stigmata,” and they got me curious! There’s no need to explain how ecstatic I felt when we got Stigmata in English, I guess. Let’s find out how crazy I went over it, on a scale of 1 to bat shit.
Before I dive in, this is a crime/murder mystery BL, so there’s blood, mentions of rape/stalking, and depictions of murder regarding the cases the Investigation Team is busy with. But it’s related to the cases only and not related to the relationship itself. Just to let you know ~
Title: Stigmata -Love Bites-
Artist & Author: Takahashi Hidebu
Status: Complete, 2 volumes.
Where to read: You can read the first chapter for free on Futekiya.
Kuroiwa Hiroto is an inspector at The Metropolitan Police Department’s Special Investigation Unit. He’s well-known, respected, and competent in his field, and his unit was assigned an eccentric subordinate, Asako Minami. Asako’s unusual “condition” is kept a secret among the investigation units and while it can’t be used as direct evidence, it’s a big help to steer the investigation toward the right path.
Asako came under the spotlight when he was a police box officer and he suddenly collapsed, bleeding profusely. When medically examined, it was found out that he had the same wounds at the very exact places as someone who was stabbed there some time ago. Turns out, when Asako is at a place where an unresolved murder case happened, he reacts to it and goes through what the victim has gone through, all the bruises or wounds appearing on his body and staying “connected” to the victim until the case is solved. One day Asako is summoned to a crime scene again, but when the victim he ’embodies’ turns out to be Kuroiwa’s ex-wife, things prove to get complicated from there on out.
Where do I even start… Maybe from the scale? I went bat-shit crazy from how good Stigmata -Love Bites- turned out to be. A part of me is inclined to think that Takahashi Hidebu‘s works won’t be as popular because the character designs aren’t your usual good-looking, Adonis-bodied semi-gods. Especially the characters here look like their references were from the 90’s crime shows. I’d say their bodies are drawn more realistically than ideally. Including Yuki and Matsu, you see bodies that are plump, that are lean, that are saggy in some parts, or boney in others. This was one aspect that made me love the artist ten times more. I’m personally mesmerized by how expressive Takahashi Hidebu‘s style is, but I can understand how it might not appeal to a more general audience.
Then, there’s how Asako’s condition is used to carry both the crime/investigative part of the story and the personal and intimate side to it brilliantly. Asako’s confusion with the warmth ex-wife Mari Agata felt towards Kuroiwa and his own infatuation with his superior, his blurred consciousness that mixes in with Mari’s that even started to take hold of his dreams, and Kuroiwa’s memories with Mari along with past regrets all end up painting a beautiful, compelling picture full of emotions and depth.
It hasn’t been long since Stigmata hit Futekiya’s library but I think I’ve reread it 3 times already. It was that good. I mean how could I not, when it has the profoundness, intrigue, and eloquence I’m looking for in a BL? If this isn’t enough to persuade you, I’m going to have to resort to my secret weapon as a last resort. Summoning the beautiful covers of Stigmata for that last bit of push!
To be honest, I’ve run out of smart-sounding words to describe Stigmata. I’ll just leave it at by saying that this title is for people who are looking for something different in their BL, who are interested in reading a supernatural theme that is cleverly used to tie up the past and the present, the old and the new, and manage to portray a heartwarming story of two people who keep others at a distance for different reasons, slowly open up to each other.
Sorry for the late post and I hope you enjoyed today’s review. Hopefully, I managed to convey my excitement and convince you to give Takahashi Hidebu a chance. As always, comments and suggestions on what to review are more than welcome, the call for guest posts for my first impressions is still valid, and see you next week with more stuff to talk about!
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