One thing that sets yaoi apart from other genres is the relative brevity of its works. Barring a few popular exceptions, most series don’t run for very long. As such, its common for creators to release several smaller works together in collected volumes. I’ve reviewed many such books from Juné Manga before, and they recently released another such volume: Every Morning at 8 by Yuri Takayoshi. The collection features five short stories about men entering relationships with other men despite all manner of strange circumstances. Is it good?
The most interesting story in the collection is probably “My Visions Betray Me.” It stars Nomura and Sato, a pair of co-workers who are mutually attracted to each other but afraid of revealing their feelings. To make matters more complicated, Nomura has precognitive abilities, but there’s a catch: it’s the opposite of what he sees in his visions that comes to pass. As such, when he envisions a negative interaction between himself and Sato, he’s excited about what should come next. There’s a major delay though, and the rest of the story follows the pair as they navigate the lingering awkwardness between them. Their dialogue reads believably, and there’s just enough of a supernatural twist to keep things fresh and unique while still letting the characters’ anxieties propel the story forward.
Other highlights include “Behind Closed Doors” and “Their Situation.” The former stars a pair of office workers, one of whom is the top salesman in their department. The mystery is that he’s very shy and bad at interpersonal communication, so how’s he succeeding in such an inherently social position? If you like stories involving characters with drastically different sides to themselves, then you’ll have fun here. “Their Situation”, meanwhile, stars a pair who couldn’t be more different from each other. Tabetetsu is a womanizer who’s never had any trouble getting women to date him but when he falls for Yuki, another man, things get much more difficult. It’s a simple and sweet high school romance story and perhaps the volume’s most lighthearted.
Unfortunately, there’s one major con that’s consistent across pretty much all the stories: short page-counts and lack of satisfying development. Each manga included has a premise that’s at least solid, and the characters are well-written across the board. The variety in plots helps prevent the pieces from blurring together, too. Unfortunately, many of the stories seem to end just as they’re really getting going. “Trouble Train”, for instance, ends shortly after its protagonists confess their feelings to each other, so we barely get to see them as an actual couple. “Dr. Aoyama, Perverted Therapist”, meanwhile, tries to fit in a full love triangle, but there just isn’t enough time to flesh all the characters out effectively.
The collection’s artwork is similarly solid but not outstanding. The volume’s sketchier portions are among its best thanks to their airy, emotive feel. There are also some great patterns and textures throughout, and the color pages look lovely. Unfortunately the renderings of characters’ faces can get strange at times, and there are also scenes where it’s hard to discern what’s happening from panel to panel. Serviceable though most of the art is, it’s not especially memorable or unique.
Overall, Every Morning at 8 is an enjoyable read. There’s a nice variety to the stories and they all have interesting enough premises. The art is also more of a plus than a detriment. Unfortunately, the manga often feel like they’re cut short just as they’re really getting going. As a result none of them get enough development to be truly stellar instead of just promising.