Konoe, a high school student, is confused about his sexuality. He meets Hikaru in the sleazy gay district, and sleeps with him. They begin to play at being lovers, but Konoe's heart belongs to Atori, his friend and classmate. Can Konoe come to terms with his sexuality and reveal his feelings to Atori, and where do Hikaru's true feelings lie?
Every day characters, every day events, rendered masterfully. Rules is more than just a Boys' Love title, it is a true to life story about coming to terms with sexual identity and orientation. Nothing in this manga is gratuitous and the romantic theme is fully developed through character interaction. It is in this domain that Rules excels, it captures all the awkwardness and warmth of love as it actual is in real life instead of relying on conventions. Dialogue flows or stalls according to the mood and some wordless scenes carry even more emotional rapport. Rules juggles love triangles in a believable way that is very telling of the confusion that conflicting interests give rise to. To do this it opts for shifting point of view so that the reader ends up with a well rounded perspective. Without shying away from the harsh reality of prejudice it does not obsess over it either. It all boils down to the characters: very real down to their design that is realistic albeit pretty. There is angst but it is believable and the sex scenes are an integral part of the whole. Rules is proof positive that there is more to the genre than tired clichés. Through a series of related works the universe of Rules develops naturally and blurs the lines between fiction and reality by presenting every character with an opportunity to shine in a main role. A true gem in every sense of the word.
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