The S series is a very, very special series to me. I'm not 100% sure if it's the first BL novel I ever read, but I have a strong conviction it is. It was recommended to me back when I used to hang out on an anime forum a really long time ago, and I loved it. Since then I re-read it a few times, not sure how many, and recently I had this urge to read it again. I thought I'd also finally write a review for it since, for some reason, it never occurred to me to do that before.
Well, now you know I'm always going to be biased about this series.
S is such a perfect example of what was popular at the time it was published. During that time I had already read quite a few yakuza mangas, it was everywhere, and I was quite a fan of the plot. I still kind of am. S is also a perfect example of the writing style at the time and the most common themes.
Thinking of the plot in this novel, I liked how well put together everything was. Looking it up, it's safe to say that none of it is actually real, but Saki Aida took great inspiration from reality and worked everything into the S universe flawlessly. Thanks to this, the novel has a sense of realism that pulls you in easily.
I liked the two main characters a lot, Shiiba with his sense of revenge, his sense of duty, and his stubbornness, and Munechika with his calmness and his way of being authoritative and commanding without being pushy. I also liked the care that was put into the characters' relationships, especially Shiiba's, with the other characters. We get a real sense of who everyone is and what their role is, no one is overlooked. At the same time I have to point out a flaw in all this where Shiiba was 30 years old at the start of the novel, and 28 years old later in the novel. But given everything else, I can ignore that.
Shiiba and Munechika make such a nice pair. I can't really explain how much I like them together. They are both strong willed men who are drawn to each other. A lot of things can go wrong there, but it can also be so very good. Having read the series before I know what's laying ahead, but I am so excited to rediscovering them.
The illustrations made by Chiharu Nara are so nice too, I like them a lot. And before I forget, I can't not mention that the series as a whole has a few memorable situations, one of them being in this first book regarding a certain Beretta/Magnum exchange.
No matter how I look at it, S is a great novel. It is beautifully written, it shows that a lot of planning went into it, the characters are developed nicely and naturally, and it feels very real.