Make the Pain Go Away
Shun is the obligate womanizer that we have come to expect of these stories. He believes in keeping things light and easy with women, because serious relationships are a chore. We know the type; to me, it’s one of the most satisfying, since they obviously fall the hardest. There is evidently usually a tragic love story in their past, where their pure love was betrayed, and now they protect themselves by allowing themselves to love again. Fortunately, this is also what the MC of this story has concluded, so they’re on the same page. Or are they?
This time, it’s Shun who fishes the MC from the pool and offers her a job as a housekeeper. Obviously, he, too, will have special jobs for the MC that he won’t disclose upfront. As usual, the MC naïvely concludes that it probably can’t be that bad. Isn’t she cute? Shun also wastes no time putting the moves on the MC. And he is good: the MC has to focus enormously to keep a grip on her rational mind and rebuff his advances. He relents relatively quickly, but stresses that the offer stands, should she reconsider.
The next day he takes her with him to his set, as he is a director. The atmosphere on set is tense; the pivotal love scene in Shun’s current movie has been re-shot several times, and still Shun thinks there’s something missing. Before filming starts, he instructs the MC to observe the male lead, Kento, closely. It turns out, this is the special job Shun had in mind for her: she is here to train Kento, who needs to learn to see the attraction of an older, divorced woman.
24 year old Kento is a two-faced asshole. In public, he is super nice, but once he’s alone with the MC, he’s a hateful git. He informs both Shun and the MC that he really cannot fathom what could possibly be attractive about a “sad, used-up divorcee”. Charming, and also unhelpful for his role, as his love interest in the movie is a woman married to someone else. While the MC is rightfully offended, Shun just laughs and tells him that he has a lot to learn. He instructs the both of them to go ahead with the training. Kento is unimpressed, but agrees in order to please the director. At home, Shun proceeds to demonstrate how the MC is to undertake the task of teaching Kento. Needless to say, he has quite some physical actions in mind. Again, he leaves the MC in all kinds of turmoil.
Things on set do not progress well, but respite is in sight when the Paradiso Four and the MC travel to Cannes for the famous film festival. While Shun is passed out on the couch, Yosuke invites the MC to join them at the bar. There, she learns from Yosuke, that Shun’s movies have changed dramatically over the years. His early movies, particularly the very first one, were pure, idealistic love stories. It wasn’t until later that he shifted his focus on more mature subject matter, like adultery. Those early movies are now nowhere to be found, and Kiyohito and Take have never seen them.
Back in the suite she shares with Shun, the MC then finds him gazing out onto the sea. He is in a wistful, nostalgic mood. That first film of his was shown at Cannes, but only (!!) won the second prize in the student category. The MC is gradually starting to notice that she is developing feelings for Shun, and he yet again starts his seduction game. She is torn; she knows that he has no deeper feelings for her, yet the way he touches her sets her body on fire. Shun notices her conflict. He knows that he could persuade her now, but that’s not what he wants. Yet, as he leaves the room, he promises her that she will be his.
Back in Japan, Kento is furious that the MC ignored his phone calls. They rehearse the pivotal love scene together, where the MC employs some of the techniques she was taught by Shun. She realizes that something is happening in Kento, who seems unnerved. In the evening, as the crew celebrates his birthday, his demeanor around the MC is awkward. Shun, too, notices that something is going on between the two.
The next day, the contentious scene is finally shot to Shun’s satisfaction, and he declares the movie a wrap, to great rejoicing from the crew. In the dressing room, he later comes across the MC and Kento in what might be a compromising position. He tells her to go ahead and date Kento, but admonishes her not to cause a scandal.
The MC has known for a while now that she loves Shun, and also that nothing will come of it. Seeing as he practically sets her free, should she try her luck with Kento? Or should she wait for Shun to make good on the promise he made in France?
Oh, boy, those two are ON FIRE. While the MC declares that she is over love, she is not necessarily over sex, and Shun’s got all the right moves. There is no excessive blushing and coy behavior, and later in the story, she is fully prepared to sleep with him even knowing that he will never love her.
Even without reading his PoV, it is very obvious at which point he falls for her. He has the most glaring, if unspoken, fits of jealousy, that are recognizable to everyone but the MC. Really, they are; just ask Yosuke.
Shun is quite obsessed with divorcees. The thought of “remaking” a woman who once belonged to someone else is a major turn-on for him. And not only is the MC divorced, she was of course also the High School sweetheart of his friend Taki, so he has two men he can erase from her body and mind, or “paint her over with his colors”, as he calls it. Yes, this is very disturbing. What salvages his PoV is his dawning realization that it is, in fact, him, who is in the process of being repainted.
The Love Meter
Now, how’s that for an undecided Love Meter? The ending I got was the Bodies on Fire one, and it delivered. Not only do they talk like adults, there is also not a shrinking violet in sight! When they finally have sex, there is no question how much she wants it, and I really appreciate it. The label “mature” that Voltage Inc. put on this title finally makes sense (in context, of course).
Ah, the sweet surrender of the heart-breaker! There’s nothing quite like it, is there. This is a solid story with likable characters. Kento might fall in love with the MC a bit too quickly, but nobody could be more surprised than himself. The love triangle, if we want to call it that, is a tried and true method of creating the necessary conflict, of course, and while not original, it’s effective. What I appreciate the most, though, is that this time, the MC does not play the role of the shy virgin. While Shun’s passes at her do rattle her composure, that’s understandable because they’re meant to. Both of them decided that they didn’t want or need love in their lives, and that’s what they tell themselves (and each other) for the longest time. As she falls for him, the MC recognizes the tell-tale signs rightaway though, and her hesitation and despair come from this place where she takes Shun’s statements on feelings at face value, because she can’t know that things have changed on his side, as well. And again, it’s just so nice to see people behave like grown-ups! Damn, I never knew that could be such a turn-on.