#16 – Red Blinds the Foolish by Est Em

Red Blinds the Foolish by Est Em
Serialized in Mellow Mellow and Gekidan
Published by Ohzora Publishing and Deux Press

There was a time when I used to dream of Spanish fiestas. La Tomatina. Hogueras de San Juan. San Isidro de Madrid. Corrida de toros.

And I did not dream of this because my country, the Philippines, used to be a Spanish colony. My fascination with it lies in the romance of the activity. There was something beautiful and romantic with the order that comes with the chaos of a fiesta. I’ve seen bits and parcels of it in my own local fiesta, but that charm extends just as much with the Spanish ones, particularly with the Corrida de toros. I find the power in controlling the bull fascinating.

It is in this same fascination that I ended up reading more through the pages of Est Em’s Red Blinds the Foolish. While I admit that I did grab it first because it was written by Est Em, I didn’t realize that she will drag me into this romantic world of toreros.

Red Blinds the Foolish is the first story in this collection. It is the story of a torero named Rafita Alonso and his relationship with a matador, Mauro. In many ways, both men deal with the same thing. They’re both involved in killing bulls however one does it in the most artistic dance of sword and cloth while the other deals with cleavers and hooks. Mauro was mesmerized by Rafita’s dance and the man could not stop himself from admiring, eventually, loving the torero. Rafita’s had a long history of killing bulls and finds himself closer to a matador than a torero until he met Mauro.

The story is beautiful as the art is beautiful. It is fast in the way that it is beautifully clipped. The movements of the torero is just as fast as how their romance progresses. A year, a month, a week, or a day could have passed but the intensity of their exchange, the passion shared by the two men were well portrayed in the comic. It’s fascinating how Est Em wrote the story in such a way that you are entranced by the movement of the story in the same way the bull was entranced to the torero. The author understood the beauty of the corrida well and she transformed it to one of the most powerful romances I have ever read.

And then there was football, ballet, and shoes

BL mangas lately have evolved from long winding epic love stories of forbidden love affair to a collection of short passionate stories. Red Blinds the Foolish is accompanied by three interesting tales, both curt yet filled with meaning. I love the extra stories beautifully for different reasons. Tiempo extra looks into seduction, Lumiere looks into admiration, and the Baby, Stamp Your Foot is about growing up. All of them tackle love differently and strangely they are not bound by the conventions of boys love. While it is believed that BL is all about boy bonking, sex is complementary but not necessary in Est Em’s stories. She wonderfully illustrates affection in many ways other than sex. There was warmth in the closeness of two lovers, holding each other, or even just watching each other from afar.

That said, I cannot deny though how I’m enjoying her manly illustrations of men. Est Em is one of the few BL mangaka who stray away from gangly, lean, bishounen machines. While her men aren’t the beastiest of the lot (there’s Takeshi Matsu for that), her man are handsomely masculine enough that I do not feel disgusted when I see hair on their legs.

I finish this manga with a giant smile on my face. I feel joy in seeing have my torero and football fantasies fulfilled and at the same time I’m warmed by the idea that I actually had a story to reflect upon rather than a manga to flip just for the sex. This is one manga whose brand of eroticism is engaging without having to expose itself too much just to attract my attention. This is the kind of porn that I love.

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