Review: Gerard and Jacques Vol.01 & 02 by Fumi Yoshinaga

Blurb: The heroes of this story meet in a rather unlikely place – a brothel. Gerard, after deflowering the young aristocrat-turned-prostitute Jacques, pays to free him from his profession and spares him a life of selling his body to survive. Jacques shows up at Gerard’s door soon after, willing to work to repay his debt, not knowing that he would soon be tangled up in a web of romance with his new master.

Set in the years around the French Revolution, Gerard and Jacques is a story we’ve all seen before – Jacques is a young man sold into prostitution for whatever reason and comes across Gerard, a man who takes him away from all this (not before raping him, though; this is yaoi after all). “Unlikely” isn’t exactly a word I’d have used either, I’ve read so many books where brothels are involved.

Gerard wants to humiliate Jacques, to make him realise that he might as well be a whore, because he’s of no use—as an ex-aristocrat—for anything else. The boy surprises him by working hard around the house.

Jacques had my admiration for battling on with his chores, until it transpired that he’d learned to shoe horses after just being shown once. Hmmm. I’m not looking for a huge amount of realism in yaoi novels but this really annoyed me. I’m forced to admit that there are aspects of manga that I really don’t like, such as the cartoony faces of surprise like this—I know there’s probably a huge tradition behind this, and it’s what the readers like and expect, but as a grown adult who has jumped from childhood comics to graphic novels with an interim of many decades, I can’t acclimatise to it, and it pulls me from the more realistic drawings that the rest of the novel is drawn in.

I also don’t like the words to describe the actions. If the pictures are drawn well enough, and they are, I don’t need the words “JERK UP!” or “STARTLE!”to describe action.

There’s no real story here, though, in volume one. It’s a little plot, interspersed with backstory, mainly relating to Gerard who was married once.

I’m not enamoured of the homosexual image either – as expected Jacques, being the uke, is unwilling and resentful of his new master. He finds the advances distasteful but in secret he feels a sexual attraction growing – this is expected in the genre, I suppose. However as Gerard’s backstory emerges we find that he was pretty much hetero, but was “lured into m/f/m” by his “evil wife.” When the other man makes advances to Gerard on his own, Gerard rejects these advances calling them filthy.

The sex scenes are a little more explicit than I’ve seen in other yaoi-almost accurate cocks and such like.

There were interesting sections—discussions of politics, literature and philosophy – and I’d have liked a bit more politics and a bit more plot but then that’s probably just me.

Volume 02 was marginally more interesting, but rather repetitive and dull in parts, whole pages of just the same expression, or so it seemed to me, and the plot jumped all over the place which made it very confusing.

I did like the drawing in the main (apart from the aforementioned funny faces) the period clothes were beautifully done, although I’m no expert, and there were touches of humour that really made me smile but all in all the whole angst angst he raped me no no no no oh maybe angst maybe i love him angst angst thing just wasn’t for me. I just think I’m not a natural yaoi reader, I’m afraid.

Buy from publisher

5 Responses

  1. I bought my copies of Gerard et Jacques only because it’s historical. I also got a copy of Lovers in the Night (or something to that effect), which is another historical yaoi title from the same mangaka. Hated that one.

    My mistake was forgetting that yaoi is fantasy, period. I’ve been spoiled by textual gay fiction, but I think I’ve also drifted from my roots.

  2. I can’t get into yaoi. I’ve tried, but my mind set is just not geared for it.

  3. I think the problem with Vol 2 is that the pages are bound in the wrong order. I recall being really frustrated by this when I read it.

  4. Naturally – I am a yaoi fan … so I can’t help but cringe at this review because I personally think Gerard and Jaques is absolutely wonderful and one of the better titles out there. But as a manga fan I don’t have a problem with all the things you mentioned such as the characters going “super deformed” and the various yaoi cliches.

    I am not going to be one of those annoying yaoi fans who demand that yaoi should only be reviewed by … well… yaoi fans because that attitude annoys me more than words can express but it is fair to say that you either dig the genre or you absolutely DON’T which is sadly – what I think I see here.

    It is a niche within a niche within a niche genre and it tends to draw in a lot of “wank” from outside both from manga fans and gay fiction fans and I am hoping to high heaven this will not actually happen here because I think yaoi fans are really tired of this.

    Note I am not defending the genre – all your points are super valid… only they are probably the reasons why most yaoi fans love the books (and even worse may I add) … which illustrate how if you are not into it – no matter how much you try – it will never appeal…

    I think I mentioned in my own list of “historical” yaoi how much it is about the fetishism and it utilizes every anachronism in the book and then milk it some more with a plethora of cliches that would make any refined sould cringe… I am not refine though… I just embrace my trash with a rediculous yet ferocious level of love ^^;;

  5. 0__0 I loved G&J – but I do empathize with you as a non-BL fan; it’s like asking someone who’s into western comics like the Runaways to see the awesome nuances of Japanese comics like Full Metal Alchemist. Sure, both feature youth in fantastical and drama situations– but the style is completely different.

    Things like motions –> *stare* in Japanese comics, look silly when translated– when in their original state, it’s calligraphic and doesn’t seem anywhere near as silly nor does it pull your eye away.

    As for the “I’m not enamoured of the homosexual image either ” well, and I hate to say this but… it’s not really about teh-gayz. That sounds like such a massive cop-out for unrealistic relationship dynamics and I guess it really is when you think about, but when reading some yaoi, you’re not supposed to think too much on it. It has it’s marketable formula just like the secret recipe is Coca Cola – and only rare title manage to break the mold and actually ‘get real’.

    Like Lamasu, I embrace the trash–and this is one of the better written ones. I guess one could rec G&J as a book for yaoi fans who have a fetish for historic setting, instead of a gay-historical fan who loves romance?

    *Sadly– even though Class Comics Angelface is set in an historic time period, you may not like that one either– it’s all about the porn, somewhat unrealistic, but dripping with historic lovliness.

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