Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Couple on an Island

Although I generally praise the couple-who-works-through-problems-within-society rather than the-couple-who-retreats-to-an-island, there is something to be said for the couple-that-is-an-island-unto-itself. These couples almost always occur in a society that is so corrupt that turning to each other is the only refuge (the theme of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet).

John Howe's definition of Tauriel and Kili is a good guide here:
The relationship between Tauriel and Kili is like one of those love stories where people think they are falling in love when, in fact, they are actually falling out of love with everything else around them, and the only sympathetic face is someone who they would never choose in any other circumstances...
In manga, this couple is most commonly found in the world of the yakuza.

Twittering Birds Never Fly by Kou
Yoneda has a similar feel to Intense
although it is somewhat more layered.
One of the most remarkable yaoi series in this regard is the Korean mangwa Intense by Kyungha Yi. Jiwoon works for a mob boss; he perceives his life as locked into this one small corner of the world. Soohan does odd-jobs for mobsters but entirely by choice and without investment; he retains his independence. To him, the world is big enough to allow for escape. So why not do it?

The result is . . . intense--the kind of stuff that can lead to tragedy as easily as comedy. It belongs, consequently, to the high romance side of romantic literature. I generally prefer the slice-of-life moments of ordinary people leading ordinary lives but high romance has its place. Well-done high romance can impress--at the same time one thinks, "Wow, not having to worry about much more than feeding my cats is . . . kind of nice."*

*Intense ends with the interesting point that going from high romance to ordinary life might prove as troubling for the characters as for the readers. Sure, Lancelot and Guinevere brought down a kingdom, but could they have managed on a fixed income with chores, pets that need to be walked, and one television remote?