BLog: Go For It Again, Nakamura!

BLog reviews recent boys love, yaoi and LGBTQ+ English translation manga.

Go For It Again, Nakamura!
Story and art: Syundei
Translation: Amber Tamosaitis
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: July 5, 2022

Oh, the horror stories I could tell of my high school crushes.

The pining, the elaborate fantasies, the borderline stalking, the tortured confessions, the absolute conviction of how much I was meant to be with someone I’d spoken to about five times. We look back on it now and laugh… because of that old saying about time plus tragedy. Plus counselling. Nakamura Okuta is the patron saint of every cringe, introverted, loser high school disaster gay in puppy dog love.

In the 2017 one-off Go For It, Nakamura!, we are introduced to the titular hero, an awkward, introverted, closeted high school gay boy head-over-heels in love with his classmate, popular, extroverted mega-cutie Hirose Aiki. The only problem is that Hirose barely knew Nakamura exists, so our hapless hero spends his days fantasizing about all the ways he’ll get closer to his crush… from afar.

If you were (or are…) an introverted, emotionally confused, completely hopeless gay boy, you will recognize yourself in Nakamura immediately. Nakamura the first is easily one of my all-time favourite manga, be it his misadventures trying to politely and cooly introduce himself to Hirose going awry, or his ultimate triumph when Nakamura gets the chance to ask Hirose if they can be friends, and Hirose responds, “I thought we were already friends!” So how does the second stack up?

Nakamura #1 was originally serialized in a magazine as a series of shorts, whereas #2 began after the success of the first. Maybe this is what gives the two a different feel. The first collection felt tighter, maybe because the artist didn’t see it going beyond the pages of the magazine? Go For It Again, Nakamura! definitely has a looser, more laid back feel, like the artist was just chasing their bliss. Some of the stories land better than others. In one, Nakamura is conscripted into being a sacrifice to summon Satan by the president of the school’s Occult Horror Research Society–Riverdale could never–before being saved by the school’s resident film director, who’s shooting a documentary-style horror film in the school after hours. If that sounds convoluted… it is, and merely feels like setup for the punchline of the sequence.

The more emotionally effective plots are always what hit better. There’s a fantastic chapter where Nakamura is losing his mind over the fact that Hirose is sitting on the lap of and–GASP!!–holding hands with one of the his male classmates, who seems to be playing up the relationship toward Nakamura. Of course, all is not what it seems. Another favourite is when Hirose starts dating a girl from another class. Nakamura is equally elated that his longtime crush has found lifelong happiness with her, while being utterly heartbroken that it can’t be him.

“Uuuwah… I do want him to be h-happy…” he says, crying into his pillow at home. “But I had no idea when that day finally did come… it would hurt this much…”

Like, actually heartbreaking seeing poor, hopeless Nakamura sobbing into his pillow. Of course, the relationship is fleeting and Hirose ultimately confides in Nakamura that he doesn’t get girls, and that a guy he could really talk about things with might be better than a girl with too many expectations, which tantalizes our hapless high school hero.

Come to think of it, without giving anything away plot-specific details from Go For It Again, Nakamura!, maybe the thing I stumbled over is that there isn’t “the moment.” In Nakamura #1, “the moment” was the aforementioned final scene, when Hirose says that he thought they were friends. If there’s going to be a sequel–Go For It Once Again, Nakamura, maybe?–I’ll be a little more forgiving of that, but there’s not that conclusory moment, just a couple of silly little endings that feel more like an ellipses than a “to be continued,” so the manga doesn’t feel as satisfying; even if they’re a bit closer by the end of it and there’s a couple of great, adorable moments on the way, it just doesn’t feel like their friendship (or relationship?!) is moved forward. Of course, if they ended up together that would very much change the emotional timber of the series… Still, if you show up to see Nakamura being completely hopeless, still plenty of that.

Level of Problematic: Go For It Again, Hot For Teacher!; In #1, Nakamura is confounded by Hirose’s boy-crush on their attractive, cool, smoker teacher, Otogiri. That’s definitely heightened a little bit in #2, especially when Otogiri offers Hirose a ride home after the kid gets dumped, and there’s a farcical conversation where Nakamura overhears them talking and misinterprets a the conversation as about their (nonexistent) sexual relationship. That’s about as bad as it gets, not even any tentacle hornies in this one!

Level of Adorable: Go For It Again, Disaster Gay!; May not have hit all the right notes for me, BUT THIS SERIES IS SO CUTE I COULD DIE. (And obviously the fact that I maybe see myself as Nakamura a little too much…)

Level of Spiciness: Go For It Again, Tentacles!; NO TENTACLES. If you read #1 you’ll know what I mean…

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