So, in working on Autumn Harvest: Maiden, I cast my net looking for other smart and sexy stories about romances between an older woman and a younger man. One work I found that I wanted to share is Yoshihara Yuki’s Itadakimasu (scanlation here).
Naeko is a recent divorce in the prime of her life (mid-twenties to early thirties? it’s never made clear) who has a good job at a bridal salon (read matchmaking agency). The only problem is that her immediate supervisor is her ex-husband, Souichi, a philandering jerk who wants to get back together with her (but has no intention of keeping his fly zipped).
Then she meets a beautiful and dashing young man, her junior but very mature, a Japanese mensch in the old-fashioned sense, possessed of honor and dignity.
There’s only one problem. No, wait, make it two. Ouji is even younger than he seems: he’s just finishing High School. Also, he’s Souichi’s little brother.
That setup is sit-com improbable, but the plot picks up from there, and is by turns sweetly romantic, smutty, funny, and introspective. Much of the humor comes out of the introspection: Naeko in particular is self-conscious but also bawdy (Yuki celebrates the idea that women not only have a libido, but can speak about it – a theme that runs though the series’ autobiographical omake comics as well ).
There is a degree to which this is “role reversal”, but it’s role-reversal in a self-aware vein: at her wedding to Souichi, Naeko mistook a younger Ouji for a girl and gave him the boquet, saying “I hope someday you’ll find a nice man and be happy with him.” Ouji has been carrying a torch for her ever since. (Note that this may be a little less gender-queer than it sounds, as Japanese is relatively gender-neutral: a more literal translation might be “find a nice person and be happy together”).
Itadakimasu is a light, fun read, classic bishonen josei with a refreshing perspective on relationships and gender.