Like most of my favorite BL manga, Metro starts with a pervert on the train, and the story evolves as the chapters progress. Metro is about two people with voids in their lives; one is aimless with PTSD, and the other is oppressed by his emotionally co-dependent mother.
If you’re the sort that avoids age gaps, keep in mind that Mizuki is 19, though you wouldn’t know it by the way he’s drawn. He’s in his third year of high school because sickness kept him out for a year. He’s sex-averse (thanks to his unstable mother) and so touch-starved that when Shinobu molests him over his clothes, it marks a dramatic shift in his life. Their story begins when Shinobu crosses the line and actually touches Mizuki’s skin.
Shinobu loses his senses that day and asks if Mizuki wants to get off the train and meet; he sees the error of his ways and quickly exits before Mizuki can turn around with an answer.
After catching some friends watching porn in class, Mizuki is a bit traumatized. Again, his mother really put the bing on him. He doesn’t even own a smartphone because she believes those things are a gateway to bad stuff. Mizuki spots his molester getting on the train (Shinobu’s hand carries a nasty scar on it), and he accosts him. At a hotel afterward, Mizuki uses his music player and records Shinobi admitting to molesting him. He doesn’t want money or to call the police; he wants Shinobu to teach him about sex.
The scene that follows is highly erotic, and the nipple play is why I kept reading. Shinobu gifts him a smartphone so that they can arrange meetings, and Mizuki hides it from his mother. We also learn that his mother literally pencils out his schedule for him by the hour, so he must lie about taking advanced classes in the afternoons just to meet with Shinobu.
Unfortunately, their hook-up goes off the rails when Shinobu orders him into the shower and uses an enema on him, thinking that the next step should be anal. Mizuki isn’t ready for that, physically pushing him away and out of the bathroom. Shinobu apologizes and backs off, ending their session for the day.
At their next meeting, Shinobu takes it slower, asking Mizuki to devise a safe word for when he really wants him to stop. I Give Up is what is agreed upon, but Mizuki doesn’t use it during this interlude. Shinobu reminds him that the only thing filthy about sex is the physical act itself.
After getting him off and prepping him, Shinobu penetrates him, and Mizuki loves it. He even lets Shinobu nut in his face.
At home that night, Mizuki feels less stressed, and looking at himself in the mirror, he’s not ashamed of what he sees. He’s starting to like himself, leading to more bouts of independence; he gets a temp job handing out fliers on the street while his mother works overtime at her office.
We learn more about Shinobu and the counseling he’s getting for a psychosomatic condition affecting his sense of taste. He keeps a room locked in his house and claims he’s lost the keys, so the door cannot be opened. Over time, his trysts with Mizuki change him, and after a week without seeing him, he’s bummed out. When he and Mizuki meet again, Shinobu licks his back during sex (drawn well and very hot) and can taste the sweat. The post-coital excitement fades when a storm begins outside.
Mizuki wakes to find Shinobu having a PTSD episode due to the storm outside; he holds the man until he’s through it.
Later that week, Mizuki initiates a non-sexual date while his mother is overnight out of town. Shinobu learns Mizuki is 19 (not as young as he thought), and he isn’t comfortable with Mizuki’s interest. He suffers another panic attack during their date after hearing some live piano music on the street. He goes back to Mizuki’s home and becomes sexually aggressive.
Mizuki protests – his mother’s house is the last place they should have sex! He uses the safe word, I Give Up, for the first time when the phone starts ringing; Mizuki knows his mother will go ballistic if he doesn’t answer. Shinobu hears for the first time how oppressive Mizuki’s mother is, and his emotional conflict over what to do about it leads to an angry reaction.
Mizuki doesn’t hear from Shinobu, and it’s killing him. Sleeping with the man’s coat (he still has it from their first encounter at the hotel), he finds a set of keys to the locked room and charges out of the house–with his mother demanding to know where the hell he’s going. Next, we seek Shinobu on the train platform, head hung low. Mizuki shows up and knocks him down (not sure if he thought Shin was going to kill himself?) He tells Shinobu that he found the keys but didn’t find him in the apartment.
They talk about Shinobu’s accident and his former music career. His return to normalcy with Mizuki plagues him due to his guilt over having survived a car accident that cost him his lover and his life. Mizuki confesses his love and doesn’t want Shinobu to kill himself.
It’s a nice ending – with Mizuki telling his mother that he’ll stay with her, but he needs to set his own schedule and have his own life. Shinobu wants him to move in with him. Yet, Mizuki wishes for independence on his own terms and is unwilling to jump from one kept environment to another.
It’s a great one-shot, and I recommend it for the sex, uncomplicated angst, and youthful seme. The age gap isn’t that great here, despite how Mizuki is drawn, and the cover looks far more ominous than the story it tells.
Metro by Hongo Chika
- Futekiya (English)
- Print edition (Japanese)
- Hongo Chika (Pixiv) (Twitter)