Me and Yaoi? NEVER I never thought I would say this, but All The Time is one of the rare Yaoi manga that has me nodding in acknowledgement. All The Time focuses on the struggling relationship between the workaholic and stern Sanpei and his much more open and easy-going co-worker, Tani. After confessing their attraction to each other, the two begin an experimental relationship which -for my pleasure- has its little difficulties.
Before reading this one-shot, I was expecting a Yaoi filled with superficial characters, sex without true meaning, and no progression of the relationship between the two main characters. In other words, you could say I was being skeptical as usual. Even more than usual since it was a Yaoi, and regardless of my appreciation for the genre, I tend to always find ones that were not cute or worthy of being remembered.
I would like to add that even if the definition of Yaoi (no plot, no meaning, just ~sexy times~) clashes with my opinions above, more and more Yaoi manga are focused on sentimental stories and are less apt towards sexual and unrealistic fantasies. And since I’m a person who enjoys plot just as much as the next blogger, reading a Yaoi manga with a story was like a breath of necessary fresh air.
Sanpei, the uke we follow the most throughout the story, has trouble accepting the fact that he is attracted to Tani since first-of-all, their relationship has progressed incredibly quickly from being friends to lovers, and secondly, since it is the first time he’s ever fallen in love with a man, he worries about how others will see him as a gay person.
Generally in Yaoi, authors do not include the transition from being heterosexual to becoming homosexual, a detail I usually reproach them for ignoring since I find the path towards changing one’s sexual orientation as interesting as it is hard, depending on the characters’ family, social status, and/or friends. We might live in a world where opinions change, but homosexuality is still not completely accepted in our society today, and is not taken lightly, contrary to what Yaoi show. Even if I can’t relate to those who have had homosexual relationships, I believe All The Time was not far from reflecting a real romantic relationship between men.
Staying as close to reality as possible, embarrassment, confusion, and fright were present during intimate moments due to the inexperience of Sanpei, who truly was afraid of rushing and taking the next step with the eager, but understanding Tani. However, with their relationship becoming a long-distance one, Sanpei begins to wonder whether or not his feelings for Tani are genuine and if it’s really a wise idea to be more than friends since he values his friendship with the latter.
Compared to his partner, Tani immediately accepts his homosexuality and even makes the decision of marrying Sanpei — a goal we can find slightly ridiculous, but not surprising judging by his personality and how he takes things more lightly than he’s supposed to be. Because of his character being the opposite’s of Sanpei, trouble is not far away, but not to the point of seriously breaking them up.
The lack of serious troubles is what I believe was the main flaw of the story. I felt like Sanpei was being too passive in his relationship. We see him hesitate, hesitate, and hesitate again on questions that anyone would ask when starting a relationship similar to his own, yet he seems to easily give up and comply to Tani’s wants. Instead of struggling with Tani, all he does is live an internal battle with his thoughts. Even if this is a Yaoi, and even if Sanpei does play the role of the uke (the one who accepts, or the female as you prefer), I would have wished to see more of a challenge in Tani and Sanpei’s way. Especially when they are in a long-distance relationship – a real one isn’t as easy as it looks, and three months away from one another can do more damage than one thinks.
In overall, I found All The Time good. Not great, not bad, but simply good. Its nod concerning the troubles of being homosexual, and Sanpei’s down-to-earth thoughts made this manga really worth reading. For anyone who enjoys reading Yaoi, I recommend you read this if you want a change from the scenery.