Title: 明治従属タングステン 上・下 (Meiji Era Master and Servant Tungsten Vols 1 & 2)
Author: Tatsumoto Mio
Release Date: July 16, 2021
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten (Fleur Comics)
This is another manga which appeared on the free manga website Comic Fleur (and also on Pixiv) but once again I missed reading a big part of it so I purchased the manga when it was released. It’s two volumes long so the story is not rushed and it is carefully played out. As the title suggests, the story takes place in the Meiji-era. Jujoku means master and servant. Tungsten is (as written in Wikipedia) “a rare metal found naturally on Earth almost exclusively as compounds with other elements….Tungsten occurs in many alloys, which have numerous applications, including incandescent light bulb filaments, X-ray tubes, electrodes in gas tungsten arc welding, superalloys, and radiation shielding.” In the case of this story, it refers to its use in incandescent light bulbs that are powered by hydro electricity.
The story is about the relationship between Saeki Ryouji and Edward. Twenty-seven year old Ryouji is a hydro electricity technician and goes around to towns assisting with the building of generating plants. Two years ago, at one of these sites, he met Edward who had long hair covering his eyes and a beard. The town folks mentioned that he was mentally handicapped and couldn’t really speak but does what he is told. Ryouji then discovers that he is actually a foreigner who could not communicate in Japanese and couldn’t move efficiently due to his bad eyesight. He was separated from his parents in Japan when he was around 10 years old and had wandered around for five years. Over the next two years he gained knowledge and grasped the language and became a faithful servant and assistant to Ryouji. The two travel together to various sites. At the beginning of the manga they arrive at their current location for the latest assignment.
Although Ryouji is a skilled technician and highly dedicated to his work, he does run into obstacles at times. And when he does Ed provides his assistance and the two end up making things run smoothly. They are a good team together. And Ryouji is calm and thinks deeply about the situations he is in that it makes him a good leader of projects. Edward is very attached to Ryouji and his purposes in life is to stay with him, to take good care of him and to be of assistance to him. He does everything in his effort to support Ryouji in any way he can. Ed is a “wanko” where he is faithful like a dog to his master. Yet things start to change with the appearance of Nakahara Kaoru. When Ryouji was younger and before going overseas to study, he was taken in by the Nakahara household as a houseboy and student. Ryouji was having an affair with Nakahara but his wife found out and locked him up in a dark cellar while Nakahara was away. Due to this Ryouji is afraid of the dark. And although years had passed he was not able to get Nakahara out of his heart and struggled with it. With Nakahara coming into the picture, Ed’s feelings further develop from the desire to stay with Ryouji to affection and love. At one point Ryouji tells Ed that his feelings are similar to a baby bird becoming attached to the first person it sees. In Ed’s case he had lost his childhood memory and it was Ryouji who pulled him out of his everyday meaningless life full of confusion. But Ed wants to prove that he is worthy of staying by Ryouji’s side and at one point asks Ryouji to send him off to an educational institution so he can gain more knowledge. Ryouji soon realizes that although he does not want to get in his way of acquiring knowledge, it is him who wants Ed by his side. Despite all the drama, it is a happy ending and it is Edward who becomes the light to shine through the darkness for Ryouji.
With the manga being set in the Meiji-era, and dealing with evolutionary technology of the time, you think the story would be dead serious and difficult to understand. The manga-ka does an excellent job at explaining things simply, without excluding the important parts. You really don’t need much background knowledge of the era or hydro electricity. With all this, romance is blended in to create an enjoyable BL story. The relationship between Ryouji and Edward is beautifully played out and the more you read the more you can feel Ed’s love towards Ryouji. They have the upmost respect for each other and this keeps their relationship going strong. If you like age gap and younger seme BL’s, try this one out. And the artwork throughout the manga is quite gorgeous that even the cover makes you want to pick up the book. In fact, the covers together depicts a single scene. Since it’s a period drama, it’s nice to see the details put into it, like the mix of Western and Japanese clothing. Lanterns also play an important part in the story since that’s the only means of light people had when dark.
I was quite shocked with one of the outcomes of the story but enjoyed this manga thoroughly. My favourite part is when Ryouji wakes up one morning kind of exhausted after having sex with Ed and Ed blames it on the sumo match with the on-site workers the day before. Naturally, Ryouji makes a strange face and questions it in his mind. One thing that I can’t help questioning is, can a 15 year old grow a full beard like Ed had when Ryouji first met him? And what a great coincidence that the extra glasses that Ryouji was carrying with him just happened to be a fit for Ed’s eyes. Of course I wish there was more to explain what happened to Ed’s parents and how he survived after the accident. However, it was a surprise to find who was behind it and the reason. And don’t forget to read the extra chapter. It is very cute. It shows that the two will live happily and would be able to conquer any difficulties together even with Ed’s deteriorating eyesight.
Cover image from Amazon Japan.