Empty Heart エンプティハート ～偽りの恋だから～ by: 水名瀬雅良Empty Heart by Masara Minase
Rated: MaturePrice: 12.50
Review May Contain Spoilers
Takumi has been secretly in love with Usami ever since he saw the older boy kiss his sleeping brother. Now that he's a high school student, Usami is his art teacher, and he can moon after his beloved during class. When Takumi's brother, Ryuuta, introduces him to Reiko, his fiance, he's concerned how Usami will take the news. Sure enough, Usami goes on a drinking binge after meeting the pretty Reiko, and Takumi offers himself to Usami to help soothe his broken heart. The spitting image of his older brother, Takumi wonders if it's Ryuuta Usami sees when he takes him in his arms, or is it Takumi?
Even though I don't like student/teacher pairings, this one was pretty cute, and most of story did not take place on campus. Takumi has worshipped Usami for years, and when the opportunity presents itself, he doesn't hesitate to become Ryuuta's substitute when he tries to comfort Usami. After witnessing Usami tenderly kiss his sleeping brother, Takumi has been watching him and falling ever more hopelessly in love with him. Even as Usami watches Ryuuta, Takumi has his eye on Usami.
After sleeping with Usami, Takumi's emotions are tearing him apart. Is he content to be a substitute for his brother, and hear Ryuuta's name fall from Usami's lips? At first, he'll take Usami any way he can get him, but as their relationship continues, he begins to fall into a depression. Usually a cheerful guy, everyone notices his subdued behavior and questions him about it. When Usami's college friend, Tomoharu, drops in for an unexpected and extended visit, he sees straight away that the two are crazy in love. He also notices that Takumi is not happy with the current arrangement. His unorthodox attempts to get them together weren't very well thought out, but they did fit with his character. Tomoharu lives on the edge and can't be accused of thinking things through.
Empty Heart doesn't cover any new ground, and the solutions to Takumi's problems aren't solved in any innovative manner. The story is still enjoyable, as both Takumi and Usami are likeable guys, and they bring out the best in each other instead of the worst. Neither is very adept at expressing their emotions, so they have unresolved issues that just float around them, like storm clouds threatening to burst. By avoiding any deep conversations, their relationship kind of stagnates and doesn't deepen or evolve.
The art is clean and crisp, and the lack of background details keeps the story focused on Takumi and Usami. Both Takumi and Ryuuta are portrayed as unbelievably good-looking men, and their character designs are very attractive. Usami is no fashion diva, and he's a little shaggy and unkempt. I really enjoyed Masara Minase's artwork, and I'll be tracking down her other DramaQueen title, Lies and Kisses.
Being a DramaQueen title, Empty Heart is an attractive package. I love the cover illustration, with Usami leaning over a prone Takumi, though Takumi appears older on the cover than in the interior of the book. The dust jacket is smooth and glossy, and makes me want to pick the book up again and again.