Sick starts off with Sudou feeling confident and happy in his social status, as he’s rich and popular on campus. However, he finds himself teasing and bullying the other student in his science course, with their opening scene together being Sudou tripping Kishi to the ground and smirking. Something about Kishi makes Sudou want to torment him, to the point that he invites him out to group drinks, then corners him alone in the bathroom and starts kissing and groping him. Sudou’s friend points out several times that it seems like he wants to have sex with Kishi, but Sudou is the most oblivious man alive and keeps being confused by his own continuous sexual assaults of another man. Somehow this situation ends up with them dating and being very cute together, despite half the book being taken up by Sudou groping Kishi and making him cry. The author posits that Sudou makes Kishi feel protected and takes him out of his shell, while Sudou finds Kishi adorable and he reminds him of his one romantic failure in grade school, so this is some sort of fix for that experience.
I did like the arc of their relationship, but I felt like it had such a rough start that I could never get fully on board with it. Sudou was so aggressively rude and Kishi was so passive and scared that his switch by the end to being more confident and adult felt a bit abrupt. I was also confused by their ages — I think they’re supposed to be in college, but Kishi is in a white coat in the science lab doing his thesis and extra work for his professor, so it seemed like they were actually in graduate school. Maybe this amount of work is normal for undergraduate students in the sciences?
The art is nice, with a very thin clean line that I enjoyed. The sex scenes are well drawn albeit on the verge of rape (at one point Sudou literally asks “Mind if I rape you?” and then claims it’s a joke). It feels like two books that got mashed together, with the second half being the story of a cute college relationship and the first half being someone’s school nightmare. Overall I felt iffy about this one although this kind of boundary crossing being portrayed as romantic is something you see a lot in this genre. It’s not that I mind books with dark themes (see my reading history), more that the story presenting assault as affection isn’t something I can get on board with.
Warnings for: sexual assault, bullying