Total Eclipse of the Eternal Heart

By Syundei. Released in Japan as “Gesshoku Kitan” by Akaneshinsha, serialized in the magazine Opera. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Amber Tamosaitis. Adapted by Lora Gray.

I was quite happy to read another manga by this author, Go for It, Nakamura-kun!, and so I decided to pick this up, figuring it would have more entertainingly mild BL and wacky retro-style humor that reminded me of Rumiko Takahashi. In a way, I was right, this did remind me of Rumiko Takahashi. But it’s along the lines of Mermaid Saga rather than Ranma 1/2. Total Eclipse of the Eternal Heart is another done-in-one series from Syundei that ran in Opera, but there the similarities to Nakamura end. This is a brutal horror story, filled with murder, revenge, reincarnations, and reincarnated revenge. It’s very much a mood piece, and while I did end up enjoying it I’d say it doesn’t quite reach the same audience as Nakamura did. It’s also a lot more explicit than Nakamura was – here be blowjobs, and there’s some non-consensual sex sprinkled throughout. That said, if you like dark BL and suspense/horror, this is definitely worth picking up.

Hoshino is a young man at an all-boys’ school with a crush on his classmate and a recurring dream where he’s killed by an older man. His crush, Yamada, comes on a bit too strong, and is a lot more comfortable being gay than Hoshino seems to be. Things get a bit more complicated when, after suddenly getting kissed in the park after school, a blond boy shows up and brutally murders Yamada. Horrified, Hoshino calls the police… only the body is gone. Now he’s in trouble with the cops. What makes things worse is that the next day Hoshino sees the blond on the street… and the blond has no memory of anything that happened the previous day. What exactly is going on with Yamada? Is he really dead? Is he also connected to Tani, another classmate in their school? Or the writer that Yamada lives with… and sleeps with? And what does this have to do with Hiroshi’s dreams of getting killed in the past?

This is a riveting read, and I really enjoyed the story, but I’m not certain that I’d call it fun. There’s no consensual sex here – even the kiss Yamada gives to Hoshino is forced on him – and Yamada is a twisted villain… well, sort of a villain. As I also said, there’s a lot of brutal murders here, of various kinds, from stabbings to drownings, and the book, while it doesn’t revel in the violence, does not back away from it either. The best reason to get the book is the creeping sense of doom and suspense that goes along with turning the pages. The mystery, being somewhat supernatural in tone, isn’t much of one, but the mood is great, and there’s a twist at the very end that I really loved, one that only works with the logic of everything that came before – or rather, a lack of logic that comes with this type of story.

This isn’t for everyone, but if you like your BL with a side of suspense and don’t mind the violence – sexual or otherwise – it’s a good read.