The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese by Setona Mizushiro
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It should be noted that, for the longest time, mangaka Setona Mizushiro was my favorite manga artist and writer. I fell in love first when the manga “X-Day, vol. 2” as it had a short one-shot story in the back of the volume that I adored. Since then, I have been attempting to slowly read the rest of her works–though it can be very difficult, as much of it has not been released in America (I can’t read Japanese, though I’m working on it).
Imagine my delight when I came across the English release of Mizushiro’s first yaoi-related manga, “The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese,” and the sequel, “The Carp on the Chopping Block Jumps Twice.” I was so happy that I devoured the first volume immediately.
However, my pleasure and joy was short lived. “The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese” is a disappointment. While the art is beautiful in typical Mizushiro style, the plot is a cringe-fest.
Kyouichi Ootomo’s wife suspects him of cheating on her. Because of this, she hires a detective who specializes in this sort of thing. Unfortunately, the detective, a man named Wataru Imagase, has had an interest in Kyou since they were classmates in college. As it turns out, Imagase is gay, a stalker, and becomes obsessed with Kyou–to the point that he blackmails him and more or less forces him into sex.
Eventually, Kyou’s wife does divorce him, but only because she has fallen in love with someone else and can no longer stay in her marriage. This leaves Kyou alone. He moves into his own apartment, where Imagase tracks him down. They begin to have a sort of relationship, though it is very rocky throughout. Kyou does not know if he is gay, straight, or bisexual; he begins to fall in love with his stalker, but often dreams of him as a woman. They have sexual intercourse regularly, and Kyou also sees various women on the side.
I have a major problem with this plot. First of all–it paints homosexuals in a bad light. I, myself, am gay. I guess I was sort of offended by how Imagase is portrayed. He is a sex-crazed man that stalks the man he supposedly loves and attempts to ‘turn him gay.’ He goes so far as to check Kyou’s phone and email conversations, as well as his search history. It’s disgusting and frightening. Imagase turns possessive in some parts.
Secondly, though I do like the theme of experimenting with sexuality to find one’s true self…It feels like Kyou is not gay. He may have homosexual tendencies, but I feel like he’s not really into male bodies. Personalities, perhaps? There is something between him and Imagase, but I do not feel as though it’s really enough to warrant any sort of healthy relationship. He might be bisexual, of course, which is completely valid as well. It’s just upsetting that he’s been forced into this situation. It’s uncomfortable–that’s how I felt through reading this volume.
Will I read the next volume? Perhaps. I sort of want to see what will happen, but at the same time, I really just want Kyou to wash his hands of his stalker/boyfriend, find someone who will truly love him, and have a healthy relationship instead of this toxic one he is currently in.
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