“Don’t think about what’s normal and what’s weird. All that matter is how we feel.”
– Sakaki Arata
A Strobe in the Darkness is a light-hearted BL romance written by Hayakawa Nojiko that tells the story of two childhood friends, Sakaki Arata and Miyamoto Shoutarou, who fall in love with one another. It is one of those manga that carefully touches upon the topics of homosexuality and the fears one holds when one falls in love with their own gender.
The story is sweet, cute and emotionally engaging. It is not heavily inclined to drama but there is this sensitive touch of subtlety that adds to the depth of the story. Each chapter is well written showing the dilemmas regarding their relationship (from confession to being in the relationship) that the main characters have to face in a very realistic and cute manner.
You see, the story is as cliché as it can get but when it is executed well, it can become more precious. Hayakawa Nojiko simply amazed me with this one. Every work that I have read from her so far is very well written and well executed. In fact, Kurayami ni Strobe manages to enter my Top five BL manga of all times.
What made this more special though is its characters. For me, the characters are the primary factor that can affect me when I am reading BL manga. The plot simply follows. It is a romance manga after all so the characters need to be as engaging, interesting and realistic as they can be. Arata and Shoutarou manages to become just like that.
I really love how Nojiko established Arata’s character. He has always liked his childhood friend, Shoutarou, for a very long time but he decided to bottle up all of his feelings with the fear of what other people might think. He is not just protecting himself but also Shoutarou.
“To be very careful is one of the steps that should be strictly followed. Do not expose it to any light. If it comes to contact with the faintest of light, all of the pictures you have taken would be ruined.”
This one is something Arata’s father told him when he was young about developing a film. It pretty much established what Arata believes that he had to do regarding his feelings. With the fear of ruining everything, he locks himself up in the darkness.
Even after they have confessed with one another, he is still bugged by the thought of what other people might think about them. He is trapped with the “this is not normal, therefore it is not right” mindset. It was even reinforced when one of their friends avoided them after discovering their relationship.
“Isn’t the most important thing here is how you and Miyamoto feel for each other?”
Good thing they have a friend (Hase) who showed some sense to him. After that, everything went quite well on his side.
Now, if Arata is very careful in showing his feelings to his lover to the point that he is being dishonest about it, Shoutarou, on the other hand, is very straightforward in displaying his affection to Arata. Saying “I love you” even to the public (at school) and etc.
I am really enamoured by his character. He is super cute and doesn’t care about what others might think. He knows that what he feels is what really important. I’ve seen some characters with the same personality but unlike them, he is not the least bit annoying. His every action shows that he really loves Arata.
The two have a really good chemistry and they balance out one another. I’d love to read more from them.
The side characters, Sawa and Hase, also got some chapters of their own in the manga but I’m not going to talk about it now. All I can say is, they’re also very interesting characters and the story between them is just as sweet as the first couple.
I think the art is one of the biggest factors for the cuteness of the story. I really love her style. It is well incorporated with symbols and the use of backgrounds is well thought of. The character designs are also something to brag about her work. Their faces are so expressive especially their eyes. You can say just by their look alone what they feel in every scene.
Also, those faces that the character makes (during comedic scenes) are really cute and funny. I feel that her drawings are effortless but still so beautiful. The sketches, the simplicity… everything.
This is a really great manga. I had so much fun reading and re-reading the sweetness of the story. Since this is a shounen-ai, there’s no explicit scenes shown which can disappoint some yaoi fans. But I think what’s more important here is that, the story is told with great care and the relationship feels true.
I’d definitely recommend this to all of my readers, whether you’re old or new fan of this genre. You will definitely like this one!
I really love this manga! The characters are totally cute, and as you said the plot is classic BL but their reactions and way it’s handled takes it a level up.
Not quite top 5 but it’s definitely among my top 10. Top 5 would be Ubawareru Koto Marugoto Zenbu, Seven Days, Konbini-kun, No. 6, Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu. It’s really nice to see a blog with BL stuff, I haven’t seen many but I haven’t been on here that long 🙂
Since we’re already on the topic, my Top 5 would be: Hana No Mizo Shiru, Seven Days, Kurayami ni Strobe, Junketsu Drop and Konbini-kun. I also really love No.6, hence my name, but I haven’t read the whole manga to put it up here on the list (I’m currently reading the novel). Anyway, I’m going to write a different post about my favorites.
I haven’t read the first and the last one on your list so I might as well check those out.
I wanted to add some variety on my anime blog so “why not write about BL” since I’m a fudanshi as well. HAHA
Thanks for the comment! Hope to see you around 😉
Yes! Those other 3 definitely make my top 10, seems like we have similar taste. As to No. 6, since it’s been licensed in English, you’re not going to able to read the whole manga unless you buy it. But there are always the light novels, I’m reading them too.
You really should check those other two. Ubawareru has the most beautiful art, and the chracters are quite original as well(I think I can say that, I’ve got a good couple of years of BL experience to go on) but it’s a little harder than the other ones I mentioned; the sequel’s great as well and both are completed. They’re manga that I’ve gone and re-read quite a few times, I was rereading the sequel last night actually. Sorenari is a great story with great art and it’s also kinda off-beat and not one of those high school romances(which I actually don’t like too much).
I’m glad you did add variety, now I can discuss BL with someone, so no need to thank me 🙂 My blog started off as a review blog actually since I’ve read a lot of manga and I thought I could do something with it but when I got down to writing it, I felt like I didn’t know what to write and thought no one would read it, so now I’ve got an art blog, a photo blog, and a more serious opinion blog but no review blog that I intended.
I like your blog so I think I’ll stick around.
Actually I found the Chinese scans recently and I’m planning of checking them out once I’m done with the novel. Gotta love the manga since the art makes me drool. NEZUMI x SHION FOREVER! ❤
And oh… I'm downloading those two now! I'll read them one of these days.
Anyway, I'm glad that you like my blog! However, I won't be writing any BL related soon (I think). But I'm happy to find someone whom I can discuss these kind of stuff.
No way! Link me? But take your time, I have to finish the 9 volumes(yay!) of novel too. TOTALLLY! NEZUMI x SHION RULES. It’s so understated but so real and SO NOT CLICHE-ahhh I can’t even contain my love for this pairing!!! XD
Haha, take your time reading and savouring them 😉
It’s ok if you don’t write about BL lol, it’s your blog, but yes it’s nice to discuss with someone else-I think a grand total of 1 person IRL knows I read BL ^^
You can check it out here. How I wish I can read it! FML!
They’re my eternal ship! I’ll love them forever. I mean, I agree, they’re relationship feels so authentic… feels so real! If only I could write as good as this one about this ship then I will!
Anyway, do you have a twitter account? We can discuss more stuffs there! 🙂
Thanks! Haha I can’t read Chinese, but something’s better than nothing and I intend to learn. I’m working on Korean, Japanese and Sanskrit ATM so I’ll leave Chinese for now 😀
Yes-no other pairing will ever come as close for me. ‘Nuff said. I love YokozawaxKirishima as well though, they’re really cute together but maybe that’s because I see something of their pairing in the original book I’m writing.
I don’t have twitter, I really should get one though, so many people to follow. I do have Instagram, kik and FB though.
I got twitter now, just thought I’d say. My account is chinnitheace,
I started reading this manga after reading your post, and it is really cute!
Oh… I’m glad I was able to encourage you to pick this up! 🙂
I like the 19 days manga, really , really good. You have to skip to 54 I think although to actually read the story.
I am reading that as well! Though I am not that far yet :’)