The Dragging Sound or Hikizuru Oto BL Manga by Harada

The Dragging Sound by Harada


DATE: 2015

GENRE: Yaoi: Psychological, Drama, Adult

PUBLISHER: Citron Comics (originally: Libre Shuppan) 

The Dragging Sound is a 2015 manga by Harada, part of the doujinshi circles Paraiso and Wa, who was introduced to BL manga in middle school and made his first doujinshi in 2011. That means that no children are allowed and you better be ready to lay awake at night pondering why you subject yourself to such things. But don’t worry too much, this one-shot is only 43 pages; a little comedy binging and you should survive. After all, even if this psychological thriller has the typical art-style and theme of unhealthy relationships that Harada is known for, this is not like his prior work “Nii-chan” (Big Brother).

Published by Citron Comics, The Dragging Sound is a story about exactly that: a dragging sound. To be specific, the sound of a limp leg, dragging two men into a toxic relationship. The story centres around Shunichirou, the owner of said leg – and whose name has the character run in it; because Harada is a riot. In a bid to get a rise out of Yuuma, his ‘partner’ – or object of obsession, as I prefer to call it – Shun goes out with acquaintances. Not seeing any calls from Shun to signal Yuuma that his classes have finished and to take him home worries Yuuma. He does the logical thing: has a fit, tracks Shun down, finds him, has another fit. Harada then goes on to explain the trauma that made them the way they are.

Shun, the creep that he is.

Though we do get a pretty rational explanation for all the crazy in the story, it does seem very one-sided. Shun monologues like a pro but seeing him manipulate everyone around him leaves me no confidence in his rendering of the facts. A hell of an unreliable narrator, if I have ever seen one.

Despite Shun’s incredibility, I find the piece rather honest. As many of Harada’s works, this manga owns its twisted-ness. There will be no pretending that constant supervision, pressure in the bedroom or emotional manipulation are anything but. 

The way the theme of harmful relationships is portrayed is also intriguing. You might not notice it upon the first reading, but if you go back a second time, a new meaning to the very shading of the background gives a new sense to many scenes. As Shun rationalizes Yuuma’s fixation in his partner, his wrecked leg bleeds onto the ground and into the background of the panel below. This trauma that they survived, that they are surviving, becomes a backdrop in many of the scenes. A constant reminder of what happened, how Yuuma failed Shun and why he must now make amends, to his own detriment. As if Harada couldn’t trust us to realise this, she made Shun’s – or more specifically – his leg’s shadow pitch black. As if to say, even if you cannot hear this dragging sound, you will see its stark trail.

Equally pivotal to the story, are Yuuma’s and Shun’s facial expressions. Where Shun is usually impassive, and Yuuma generally content, these are masks that fall at the apex of emotion to reveal their twisted true natures. If you have encountered other Harada manga or doujinshi, this isn’t new to you. Neither will knowing who is the most damaged between the two; the hair colour is a dead giveaway.

The story is also easy to follow whether it is in terms of panelling, text length and text bubbles, or plot; even with the lack of chronological order. It is a pity, then, to see that the story was not developed as thoroughly as it could have. Now, I understand that this is but a one-shot, but I think the premise of this manga is interesting enough to have its own volume. I would have loved to see where their relationship goes because something has to break in this already broken relationship. Either Shun’s secret won’t remain as such or Yuuma’s unconditional love will be tested and come out wanting or something. It is simply an unsustainable relationship. Even their families remain in the far background when they both experience a huge impact in their lives since Yuuma appears to work with his mother and Shun’s mother was last seen alive. This makes The Dragging Sound but a snapshot in their lives. 

Baby Yuuma

Under-development aside, there is little fault that I would find in The Dragging Sound. It’s an interesting, though short, read. This is sure to appeal to those who like dark romances or psychological horrors. Oddly enough, there was no comedy in this manga, so if you thought you might get a few laughs from Harada’s own brand of dirty, yet dark humour, pocket your money and keep walking.