~by Yaya Sakuragi
Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love is the fourth yaoi manga by Yaya Sakuragi to be licensed in English, but only her second series. I have been a fan of Sakuragi's work since reading her one-shot Hey, Sensei?. I like her character designs and enjoy how she gives small twists to the tropes commonly used in the boys love genre. I was thrilled when Sublime, Viz Media's new boys' love imprint, announced that Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love had been licensed. The series is one of Sakuragi's more recent works. The first volume of Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love was originally released in Japan in 2008. Sublime's English-language edition of Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, Volume 1 was published in 2012. I actually wasn't familiar with the series until Sublime had announced its acquisition. But even though I didn't know very much about it, I was still very excited to see more of Sakuragi's work being released in English.
Ryomei has been an important person in Ao's life for years. Ever since Ao was small Ryomei, one of the priests at the local Shinto shrine, has been keeping a protective eye out for the younger man. Ao is now in high school and despite his cutesy looks is fairly capable of taking care of himself, at least when he isn't completely oblivious to what's going on around him. But when Roymei appears in his wet dream, Ao is at a complete loss as to what to do. He's always been fond of Ryomei, but never expected his feelings would evolve into that kind of fondness. Curious, and against the advice of his best friend Shunpei, Ao beings his pursuit of the older man. As for Ryomei, he's left aghast and confused, caught off guard by Ao's sudden advances. The cute little kid he used to look out for has now become a horny, pervy teenager. Roymei never even considered that he would become the object of Ao's desires and affection.
I didn't realize it at first, but Shunpei is actually a character from another of Sakuragi's series, Tea for Two. I was delighted to see him again in Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love. In Tea for Two he was an elementary school student, but in this series he has now grown into a fine young man. I was also delighted with Ao's character. Although initially I wasn't that fond of him or his character design (Sakuragi deliberately set out to create a cute uke, but I much prefer her usual, lanky designs), I came to like Ao very much. He's a bit of an airheaded goofball with a one-track mind who at the same time is easily distracted. Much of the humor in Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love revolves around the fact that Ao's personality is seemingly at odds with what might be expected from his innocent looks. He's a cute character, but he's also the most dirty-minded person in the series.
Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love, Volume 1 is not at all a serious manga, tending more towards a lighthearted goofiness. The interactions between characters, especially when Ao is involved somehow, are highly amusing. The best reactions are reserved for Ryomei; normally he comes across as vaguely disgruntled and seeing him shocked and startled is very entertaining. The cast in Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love is huge, easily the largest I've seen Sakuragi work with. Ao and Ryomei may be the main characters but their friends, neighbors, and extended families all have a important roles in the manga; there is a real sense of community. I'm interested in seeking how Sakuragi will handle and balance the development of all of the characters over the course of the four-volume series. At this point, I wouldn't say Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love is my favorite work by Sakuragi, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first volume and look forward to reading more.