JAPAN’S FIRST GAY ATHLETE COMES OUT!
Yamaguchi never expected to read THAT headline in Gay Japan News, but he about fainted when he scrolled down to the photograph. There–volleyball on his hip, naked from his Seijoh shorts upward and eyes pleading for readers to devour him–was the familiar face of Oikawa Tooru.
Oikawa? Gay? OUT?
Suitable for fandom blind readers? Yes
Reviewed by: Tafferling
OUT! was the first story I found on /r/FanFiction, and it was also my debut as a fandom blind reader.
It wasn’t finished back then, and I had no idea what to expect, because what could you possibly do with highschool volley ball that would hold my attention?
A lot, apparently.
Somehow (and I am still thinking there’s black magic involved), Haru wrote one of the most heart warming, gut wrenching, giggles inducing, edge-of-the-seat-oh-god pieces I’ve ever read.
The characters live and breathe on the pages, and I didn’t need to know anything about them, because every single one stood out as an individual once they opened their mouths. It features an original character, and he blends in with the cast as if he’d been there from the start (far as I am concerned, he was– and I think that makes me one of the lucky ones). Two chapters after he’d been mentioned for the first time, and I fell absolutely in love with him.
All through the fic, starting with Yamaguchi’s flighty and anxious introduction, to his world being knocked out from under him, and then painstakingly slowly put back together, the pacing remains sublime. There are clear, wide reaching arcs, but each chapter stands easily on its own, making it easily enjoyed in bite sized portions. If you can keep yourself from reading on, anyway. Which you might not be able to, because if there’s one thing OUT! does exceptionally well, then that’s sinking it’s teeth into your emotions and dragging you along whether you want it to or not.
I’ve experienced Yamaguchi’s coming of age story with a constant, involuntary squeeze to my chest and gut. Whether it’s the down to earth tone of it, the every-day-bullshittery that he has to go through, or the larger than life moments it all amounts to. By the end, it all felt like it mattered. Like Yamaguchi mattered. Taiga mattered. And I couldn’t have been happier that I got to follow them through a monumental part of their lives.
But emotion isn’t all that OUT! has to offer. It’s also got this eery habit of bringing music alive, and I swear that the only explanation for this has got to be afromentioned black magic. How else is it getting me hear the notes in my head?
It’s also got tension. And I don’t just mean the tension between two young men at the cusps of growing up. That’s there too of course. It’s lovely. I loved it. I don’t mind having more of it. No. I mean the volleyball matches. Those bloody things come with the same high stakes pressure as a season finale of the Walking Dead. You want to skip to the end just to spare yourself the agony, but you can’t, because it hurts so damn good.
So, should you read it?
Hell, yeah. Do.
It’ll patch you up if you’re feeling down. And when you’re done, maybe you’ll have found yourself happier than when you’d started. It certainly had that effect on me.
Review examples from Ao3:
It took me two days to finish this, but wow, where do I even start. As much as I love stories that are all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes I need red something that hurts. Taiga was an absolute delight. Yamaguchi, I loved everything about him here- he was so realistic, so human. Thank you for such a wonderful story.
Let’s make it simple: best chapter so far. That went deep. It was intense, but not over-dramatic. Oikawa’s tale was simple but that’s exactly what makes it so sorrowful. It’s something so simple and yet it causes so much pain. And Iwa-chan surely is a poor boy. If society doesn’t always accept you, that’s ok. But if your own family doesn’t accept the way you are, the way you’re Born, that causes endless pain and … I don’t know what else.
So your son/your daughter is gay… so? What’s the matter? Where’s the problem?
“If Iwa can’t be happy because of how the world works, then I’ll change how the world works.” Oikawa Tooru
That left me almost speechless. It’s wonderful to have someone on your side who’s willing to be “public’s target” just to make someone else feel better. I do think that Oikawa is very brave – they way you portray him at least^^ (But he surely is brave in the manga/anime as well).