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by Rebecca Silverman,

I Hear the Sunspot: Four Seasons

GN 1

I Hear the Sunspot: Four Seasons GN 1

Graduation is drawing near, and that means that Kohei has to start seriously looking for a job, no easy feat when he doesn't want to end up as someone's diversity statistic. Taichi's job continues to go well, and he's offered the chance to mentor a new coworker, although there are a few issues that come along with that that he's unaware of. As the two young men move forward in life, their relationship helps them to stay strong – even if Taichi isn't always super comfortable with physical intimacy, they have plenty of room to learn how to love and respect each other in better ways.

I Hear the Sunspot: Four Seasons is translated by Stephan Kohler.


It is always worth waiting for a new entry in Yuki Fumino's I Hear the Sunspot BL series. Four Seasons is the latest subseries in the overall tale of Kohei and Taichi, and it continues to move time forward while dealing with the slow-growing nature of their relationship. Picking up during Kohei's senior year in college, it begins to prepare the young men for their next steps in life, which in Kohei's case is finding a job.

It's interesting to compare this with Taichi's progress because on the surface it looks like Kohei is moving forward in time while Taichi is standing still. While that's not at all the case, Kohei has a lot more to deal with on the surface in this volume, because Taichi has been working full-time for three years, since he dropped out of college. It's important to note that neither of them feels like one or the other has done things the “right” way; Kohei's got certifications and will have a degree, but that never comes across as him feeling superior to Taichi, while Taichi never indicates that he feels inferior to his boyfriend. There's a focus on doing what's right for each of them as individuals, and their relationship follows that pattern as well, showing how they progress in their own lives while still forming a cohesive unit. Taichi may be ahead of the game in work, but Kohei's emotional intelligence makes him the more comfortable partner, and they balance each other out well.

Part of Kohei's job hunt is focused on his desire not to just be a diversity hire offered a job because he fills the “disabled employee” requirement for the company. That's part of why he rejects Taichi's suggestion that he come to work for Sig-n; he doesn't want to live his life with his disability at the forefront of who he is. A flashback reminds us that this was a long, hard road for him, and the plot digs into a bit with the arrival on the scene of Ena, Kohei's high school girlfriend. Ena, just now learning sign language, still has a crush on Kohei and feels guilty about not probing deeper into why he went radio silent after his illness. Not understanding that Kohei and Taichi are dating, she attempts to get closer to Kohei when she bumps into the guys. It isn't difficult to see that her feelings for him are born of her guilt rather than her actually carrying a torch for him for years, something Taichi helps her to realize. It's an important moment because it passes along the message that disabled people don't exist for your guilt or self-soothing; they're just people, living their own lives. Admittedly, that feels obvious to a lot of us, but the prevalence of “inspiration porn” style media makes it important that Ena has this revelation. That Kohei is dating another man isn't a factor at all.

Ena also leads into another interesting plot point when she asks Kohei to pose as her boyfriend in order to scare off another guy. This is something that we've seen in countless romance manga as a way to manufacture tension in a couple, and Fumino takes the dramatic step of having Kohei refuse. He acknowledges that Ena is in a difficult position – she's being stalked – but he feels that it would be as good as cheating on Taichi and tells her to go to the police instead. He's conflicted about his choice because she is in a potentially dangerous situation, but his decision to prioritize his boyfriend over his ex-girlfriend stands out. And he is right; going to the police is a better way to handle a dangerous situation than trying to fool the criminal, as later events in the volume show. This storyline also deals with mild victim-blaming, which Taichi firmly refuses to countenance.

The romance continues to be a slow burn. In large part this is because Taichi still isn't comfortable with physical manifestations of affection; he loves Kohei and absolutely gets worried about his past relationship with Ena (especially when he remembers Kohei specifically saying that he's never “done this with a guy”), but he's also not really ready to take the next step. Kohei is respectful of this, although he'd clearly like to do more, even if it's just more kissing, and watching them try to work with what they're both comfortable with is a particularly strong element of the story. It could be frustrating if you're not into glacial pacing, but I think that ultimately it will be a strength of the series rather than a fault.

I Hear the Sunspot: Four Seasons moves Kohei and Taichi further along in their lives. It's clear that their relationship is a major support for them rather than the end-all-and-be-all of their lives, and that works well. It's a grounded romance, and hopefully, we won't have too long to wait before we get the next installment of their story.

Overall : A-
Story : A-
Art : B

+ Continues to be thoughtful and charming as the guys move forward with their lives and romance. Ena adds some good details to the story.
Can be difficult to tell characters apart, very slow burn with the romance.

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Yuki Fumino
Licensed by: One Peace Books

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