Yaoi Review: Time Lag

Time Lag
Story: Shinobu Gothoh
Art: Hotaru Odagiri
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN13: 9781569709214
ISBN10: 1569709211

Review by I-hsiu Lin

Two confessions and two rejections…but he doesn’t want to give up.

Satoru is in love with the star athlete of the school, Shirou. For the last two years, he would confess his feelings and be rejected. Though they were childhood friends, they don’t seem to be friends any longer. Seiichi has always comforted Satoru and encourage him to move on…but he couldn’t. As a photographer and a boy in love, his eyes are only on Shirou.

Supportive, calm Seiichi is editor in chief of the school newspaper where Satoru is photographer. Who Seiichi loves is obvious to everyone, except to Satoru. There are misunderstandings that take three years to unravel…but when Shirou and Satoru finally understand the past, will it be that easy to talk to each other?

Time Lag is a school love romance between guys, but the plot is not so simple or predictable. There is a mixture of misunderstandings and Seiichi is thrown into the loop. (Or perhaps it’s better to say that he puts himself there on purpose.) The title of the story really refers to a letter that arrives three years later…but to say too much would give away the heart of the story. The pull of the story itself isn’t about the three characters realizing their feelings for each other, but more about them trying to reach for each other despite the circumstances.

Shinobu Gotou has a seamless way of pulling diverging storylines together. Something that is hardly seen in these types of manga is seeing the viewpoint or thoughts of another character besides the main one. The point of view changes a few times to Shirou so that we may see what he really thinks. Knowing his intimate thoughts really pulled the story together and made it flow. Also, the story has a mix of humor that seems to poke fun at the ensuing romance. My favorite comedic scenes are when the other students are around Shirou. The irony is that out of the three characters, Shirou is the most serious one. Yet, the scenes with him and the other students are the funniest. “Go to the club room! See pictures of yourself!” (Paraphrasing.) Those moments are usually followed by a serious scene which draws out the feelings even more in contrast.

I also love the characteristics and personalities of the three main guys, especially Seiichi. Even though Seiichi may be considered ‘the third wheel,’ he is as much part of the main cast and core of the story. To the very end, he has a strong presence in the story (and I don’t mean just the scenes when he is interrupting ‘private moments’.) His tenacity and humor is something that really brings out the happy ending.

To complement Gotou’s wonderful storytelling is Hotaru Odgiri’s brillant drawings. I fell in love with her art in Only the Ring Finger Knows and Invisible Boy, both manga also published by Juné. The quality of her work never falters. The characters are beautifully drawn and the focus is always upon their faces. I love the expression in their eyes and long hands where most of the detailing is placed.

Two things that I wish they clarified in the story concern the events at the beginning. The moment that Shirou and Seiichi are seen together talking, I wonder what they were discussing. Although Seiichi later explains that he was interviewing Shirou for the newspaper, I can’t help but wonder if their conversation alluded to Satoru. The second question is that I wonder if the unfavorable results of Shirou’s competition was because he was preoccupied. Perhaps he was thinking of Satoru? Alas, those questions will be left unanswered, although they’re not really questions but just speculations on my part.

For those that wondering about the rating and sexual content of the manga, there are no ‘bedroom scenes’ in the story. Well, that is partially untrue since two characters do end up in a bedroom together, but nothing really happens. However, the ending promises future encounters of the sexual kind since two of them are hoping to move in together. I guess we can leave that to our imaginations.

An engaging story with beautiful boys. Time Lag has unique plot twists and humor that livens up the story. The drama pulls on your heartstrings a bit but also makes you smile. Pick this manga up for the romance, laughter and the sweetness that only Gotou and Odagiri can create.

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