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Manga / A Cruel God Reigns

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Jeremy and Ian.

A Cruel God Reigns (Zankoku na Kami ga Shihai Suru) is a josei Boy's Love manga by Moto Hagio, which ran in Petit Flower from 1993 to 2001.

Jeremy is a sensitive teenager who is happy for his mother when she remarries. However, the sweet-talking man who is his new stepfather turns out to be a serpent in disguise ó heís a sadist and a pedophile, and it isnít long before he makes Jeremy his target. After months of horrific, systematic abuse, Jeremyís mind becomes unstable and his thoughts turn vicious. He decides to murder his stepfather in order to get rid of him ó but the plan goes awry.

Shocked and wracked by guilt, Jeremy reacts in a way that seems strange to the average onlooker. His brittle and bizarre behavior isnít just that of a grieving son. This is when Ian, the free-spirited son of Jeremyís stepfather, begins to suspect Jeremy of murder. He finds several clues that tie Jeremy to the crime, but in unearthing them, Ian also discovers the fact that Jeremy was abused.

What should Ian do with his evidence? Caught in a moral dilemma ó between punishing a criminal and atoning for his fatherís sins ó Ian begins to be haunted by lust for Jeremy. Is it lust, or is it love? Ian wonders whether he shares his fatherís proclivities, and despite his best efforts, he is drawn into a passionate and painful relationship with Jeremy.

In seventeen intense volumes, A Cruel God Reigns traces both Jeremyís and Ianís journeys towards redemption. The story-telling is rich and unique, and the art is breathtaking. In 1997 Hagio was awarded the Osamu Tezuka Culture Excellence Award for A Cruel God Reigns. To this day, A Cruel God Reigns remains one of the most powerful BL epics ever written.

Tropes for this Manga include:

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  • Abusive Parents: Greg, and less obviously, Sandra.
  • Adults Are Useless: All of the adults except for Lindon and Dr. Orson.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Ian, Jeremy, and probably Jeremy's roommate William. Lindon asks Ian about it and receives a mixed answer.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Sandra is, in a word, unstable, but despite her drastic emotional swings, her only explicitly-stated problems are physical; at most, her family seems to consider her a bit fragile.
  • Ambiguous Ending
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • What actually made the car crash? We may never know for sure.
    • Was Sandra really aware of what was going on between Greg and Jeremy, or was she just in total denial of the thought of him being with a man? Jeremy certainly seems to think it's the former, but as Lindon points out, her diary (and the letter that told her) never mentions the name of the man Jeremy was with at the hotel.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Ian has several instances of this after bringing Jeremy back to England. They usually occur after Jeremy has done drugs or prostituted himself, although sometimes they are in reaction to Jeremy's flippant behavior toward both and his original problems.
    Ian: "You were beat until you passed out! Don't act as if it happened to someone else!"
  • Anything but That!: This is Jeremy's response to the laundry rope line that Greg uses to tie him up. In his defense, that is the rope with which Greg's first wife Lilya used to hang herself.
    Jeremy : Anything but that rope! You strangled Lilya with that rope!
  • Blood from the Mouth: Ian coughs/throws up quite a bit of blood from stomach ulcers after a long stint of stress over his relationship with Jeremy and Jeremy's emotional state.
  • Broken Bird: All of the girls, and Jeremy. Vivi gets her heart broken when Jeremy tells her he slept with a man Sandra's first husband dies, her next boyfriend abandons her, Greg cancels their engagement, she has a miscarriage, and she suspects Greg is abusing Jeremy. Valentine smothered her baby during a nervous breakdown, resulting in her Dumbstruck status. Nadia's heart is broken when Ian cheats on her with Jeremy and then breaks up with her, and of course Jeremy, whose case is the point of the whole series.
  • Broken Pedestal: Greg for Ian. You feel really bad for the poor guy when he finds out what his father was doing to his stepbrother. Especially considering this revelation leads to Ian's massive My God, What Have I Done? moment.
    • Sandra for Jeremy when he finds out that she knew the whole time. Big time.
  • Bungled Suicide: Jeremy tries to throw himself into a lake after finding out his mother knew he was being raped by his stepfather. Jeremy also has two failed suicide attempts after returning to Boston while he is living with his aunt.
    • Sandra, Marjorie, and Valentine also have a few each.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Ian does this a couple times, although it is long after Greg has died.
    Ian: Have you never cried for longing? Why did you do such a thing to Jeremy? Lilia, whom you loved, Lilia, who hanged herself in front of you- How could you laugh while she killed herself?
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Jeremy encounters this a lot. He can't tell his step-brother Ian about Greg's abuse after Ian tells him that he vows to make their new family a happy one. He can't tell his mother Sandra about it out of fear that she will be Driven to Suicide. He tries to tell William about it via metaphoric stories, but William doesn't get it. All in all, Poor Communication Kills. Literally.
    • Subverted slightly after Ian breaks Jeremy out of his Dumbstruck state.
  • The Casanova: Ian. He gets around with pretty much all the girls, and eventually Jeremy. He is also a classic example of Even the Guys Want Him.
  • Catch Your Death of Cold: Jeremy immediately catches a cold after he attempts to throw himself in the lake during a freezing rain but is pulled out by Ian. The trope is lampshaded by Lindon, who says he's more worried about Jeremy catching a cold than he is about water in his lungs or the possibility of an irregular heartbeat.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Nadia's cat, Octavian.
  • Censor Shadow: The manga pans away and when it does show anything, it is blanked out.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Marjorie, Eric, and sometimes Jeremy.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Pascal usually ends up being this for Marjorie, although the job also often falls upon Nadia.
  • Conflict Ball: Jeremy tends to do this often to Ian, picking fights with him for seemingly no reason and attempting to seduce him, but considering Jeremy's Sanity Slippage, it makes sense.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Ian goes through a period of conflict where he has to decide whose honor he wants to save- the good memory of his father or his step-brother's innocence in his reasoning for Vehicular Sabotage.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable:
    • Ian helps Jeremy breathe and exchanges liquid medicine via mouth-to-mouth after tries to drown himself.
    • Subverted when Marjorie tries to drown herself in the bathtub and Lorenzo has to give her CPR. It is also not reliable because she ends up in a coma.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover:
    • A minor example, but some Japanese cultural issues seep into the story, despite the characters and settings being American or British.
    • Early in the manga, Cass claims he needs to prostitute himself in order to pay the cost of school and books, even though American high schools would be free.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: Ian keeps the photos Greg took after abusing Jeremy in case anyone found out Jeremy messed with the brakes on Greg's car. When Jeremy accidentally finds them he doesn't react well, shouting that he will kill himself if anyone else finds out what was done to him.
  • Cry into Chest: Jeremy sobs into Ian's chest during many Freak Out moments.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Most of the main characters. If they don't have one, they are well on their way to getting one.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Jeremy's dead father seemed like a pretty cool, incredibly sweet guy. If he hadn't died Jeremy would have been saved a lot of grief.
  • Defiled Forever: Jeremy INSISTS that his body is rotting and that he gives off a bad smell as a result of the sexual abuse. In a slight inversion of the trope, it is Ian who tries to convince him otherwise.
    Jeremy: It hurts to talk about my rotten smell with the person I like.
    Ian: You don't smell strange. You don't smell rotten, Jeremy.
    Jeremy: Did I make you dirty?
  • Depraved Bisexual: Lorenzo, but he proves himself to not always be that bad.
    • Greg. In addition to what he does to Jeremy, Greg has also practiced his type of sadism on several prostitutes, as well as his sister-in-law Natasha, AND tried to rape the new maid, Sharon, when she attempted to blackmail him.
  • Deprogramming: The main plot of the second half of the series. Ian tries (often in vain) to help Jeremy to recover from the trauma of sexual abuse received from their father/step-father. Using group counseling, several vacations, housing and schooling changes, trying to convince him he cares about him, Intimate Psychotherapy, and showing Jeremy those Embarrassing Old Photos, Ian attempts to help him feel emotions as he did before the abuse.
  • Deus Angst Machina
  • Did They or Didn't They?: The issue of whether Lilya really cheated or not is never fully resolved.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Jeremy to Greg.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Jeremy uses this several times against Ian. He also uses the "I don't need love" and "I don't deserve love" versions.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jeremy throws himself into the lake in Lynn Forest after finding out that his mother knew that he was being raped by Greg, but did nothing. He also attempts to asphyxiate himself with a gas oven after returning to Boston to live with his Aunt Karen.
    • Sandra has two of these episodes.
    • Valentine mentions to Jeremy that she attempted suicide twice.
    • Lilya hung herself at Greg's urging.
    • Marjorie attempts to drown herself in the bathtub when Pascal beats Jeremy in a drug induced rage.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Jeremy falls into this. He buys drugs (they appear to be LSD) from his classmate Pansy to help alleviate the pain from being beaten by his stepfather. Later on in the series, Jeremy is driven to heroin use to help him cope with the flashbacks he experiences and with the guilt from accidentally killing Sandra.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Ian flips out on Jeremy either because he thinks he has been buying/taking drugs or Jeremy actually has been taking drugs, though in both cases Ian reacts perhaps a little too extremely.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: Applies when Jeremy accompanies Pansy to a party.
  • Dumb Struck: Valentine and Jeremy until Ian snaps him out of it.
  • The Dutiful Son: Jeremy endures abuse from his step-father so that his mother can be happy in her new marriage. In fact, if he hadn't done that, Sandra and Greg would not have gotten married in the first place. His role of being The Dutiful Son is what causes Jeremy's Trauma Conga Line and Deus Angst Machina.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: The photos Greg took after beating Jeremy. These are Jeremy's Berserk Button.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: This is often played for laughs with Ian, and is played straight for Jeremy several times.
  • Expy: Sandra is one of Marie from The Heart of Thomas; they share flighty personalities and quasi-romantic relationships with their sons, and both (Heart of Thomas spoilers) burn to death in a car crash.
  • False Innocence Trick: Greg does this ALL THE TIME to poor Jeremy and to a lesser degree Sandra.
  • Fan Disservice: This series is full of it. Almost anything involving sex is either rape, torture, or a result of (usually Jeremy's) Freak Outs. And then of course every time you see Jeremy's back, it is covered in scars.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Ian tells Jeremy that in order to be punished for sabotaging Greg's car he must live with his guilt. The night before Jeremy attempted to drown himself in the lake but was pulled out by Ian after confessing that he killed Greg because he was abusing him.
    Ian: If you have these photos, with a good lawyer you can be declared innocent under reasons of legitimate self defense. It's in the American trial records.
    Jeremy: You-you said since I confessed to you about what happened to me- If someone else finds out I will kill myself! I will never let that happen!
  • Fille Fatale: Jeremy is one of the rare "real life" examples in fiction. As a psychological reaction to the abuse, Jeremy begins to develop a fetish for drinking Ian's blood and forces himself on William while trying to tell him what is going on. In the present day half of the story, Jeremy constantly makes advances toward Ian to punish him for not believing or helping him when he first confessed that he was being raped by their father. He trades sex for things like drugs from his older classmate Pansy or comfort when he is extremely upset. Although he is on the older side at 16, Jeremy's flirtations are uncomfortable to read and are far more adult than they should be.
  • Flower Motifs: Flowers and other foliage are used for a variety of purposes; When Jeremy dreams of his mother Sandra, she is usually in a field of flowers until Jeremy finds out she knew he was being abused by her new husband. When Jeremy is being sexually abused, the scenes in which it happens often switch to Jeremy being ensnared in vines and trees, as well as the thorns and flowers growing out of him (usually his head). Later on in the series, Ian compares Jeremy's mental state to being trapped and lost in a forest, unable to reach wide fields and flower gardens.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Ian falls for Jeremy, and seems to love him in a deeper way than anyone else he's been with over the course of the series, but not only is he his stepbrother, but he also killed his father and albeit accidentally, his stepmother.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Greg and Sandra get engaged after only knowing each other for about two weeks. They get married soon afterwards.
  • Freak Out: Jeremy has almost too many of these to keep track of.
  • A Friend in Need: William is this for Jeremy. He continues to be Jeremy's friend even when Jeremy tells him strange stories about why he is bleeding, acts bizarrely, and makes moves on him. He is the first one to notice Jeremy's strange behavior, have suspicions about what is really going on with him, and actively try to help him. William is also the one who convinces Jeremy to come back to school, help him change his negative views on love, and is the first to openly accept that Jeremy is gay, or at least Ambiguously Bi and not chastise Jeremy when he confessed to working as a Hooker with a Heart of Gold.
  • Functional Addict: Jeremy and Cass.

  • Gayngst: Jeremy and Ian both go through a bit of this, although a lot of their cases could be chalked up to other reasons. To start off with, Jeremy and Ian are both Ambiguously Bi, or have each fallen for each other. Jeremy, who seems to be going through Rape and Switch anyway often refers to himself as the "male prostitute of Lynn Forest" and later agonizes over developing a fascination with Ian. Ian, on the other hand, is trying to figure out whether he is in love with Jeremy or if he is like his father and only lusts after his stepbrother, coupled with the fact that Jeremy is the first boy he's ever been seriously interested in having a long term relationship with.
  • Generation Xerox: Jeremy looks EXACTLY like his dead father. And they share the same name. And it is creepily hinted at in just a couple of panels that Jeremy's mother Sandra asked him to call her by her first name when he was a child to replace her husband. It doesn't help that she then appears to kiss him on the lips.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: William does this to Jeremy after Jeremy goes Laughing Mad when he is moved to another dorm for kissing William.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Happens to Jeremy after he finds Sandra's diary and reads that she knew he was being abused.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Jeremy begins to realize he loves Ian just as Nadia is fiercely trying to get Ian back.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Jeremy and Ian, and the two fall under the symbolic line. Jeremy has very curly, shorter, black hair while Ian has blonde, stick-straight, long hair. Jeremy, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, prostitution and drug addiction is the darker of the two. Ian, who is free spirited and has trouble accepting the fact that his father abused his stepbrother, is the lighter of the pair. The two also fall under the One Head Taller rule.
  • Hates Being Touched: Jeremy
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Ian worries that if he acts on his anger at Jeremy in addition to falling in love with him, he will end up like his Archnemesis Dad.
  • The Hedonist: Greg. He is convinced that what he is doing to Jeremy is fine, because "love is about taking what you want." Yeah...
  • Heroic BSoD: Jeremy has a few different episodes of this. First is after Greg beats him for the first time and then later he borders on it in and out after he recounts to Ian all the times he was abused.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Jeremy and Ian do this to themselves a LOT.
  • Hidden Depths: Cass deserves a special mention.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Cass, the Clara sisters, Daisy, and later on Jeremy.
  • Hope Is Scary: Jeremy fears recovering and feels that he should live out his life in punishment. Lindon is the one to point this out to Ian, using this to explain why Jeremy became a prostitute.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Jeremy considers himself to be Defiled Forever because of his stepfather and as a result his time as a teenage prostitute, so he constantly tries to push Ian to get back together with Nadia, although Ian refuses to buy into this.
  • Incest Subtext: This is played with throughout the series with Jeremy and his mother Sandra. Although mostly Played for Laughs in the thoughts of the other characters, there were a few quick hints that suggest serious subtext-a few panels that creepily seem to show Sandra kissing a very young Jeremy on the lips after telling him to call her by her first name after the death of his father, and thoughts from Jeremy along these lines:
    Jeremy: I loved Sandra. She was my best friend. No. She was my lover.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Jeremy and Ian seem to fall into this.
  • Imaginary Enemy: Jeremy and Ian both see Greg, long after his death. For Jeremy, this is especially true, and he is often physically affected by Greg's "presence."
  • I'm Not Hungry: As result of Greg's abuse, Jeremy hardly eats anything, even when he is at boarding school during the week. Every time the family is eating a meal or he is seen eating with his roommates at school they comment that he needs to eat more, or asks if he's sick because he's picking at what little food he has on his plate. When not brought up directly, the reader is reminded by how sickly skinny Jeremy appears as the story goes on.
    Ian: Has he always been this thin? Here and there... Thin body, as if he'd fall apart. The bedside lamp seems to shine through, as if he'd disappear.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Ian recounts to Jeremy when he ran off with a mob boss's wife.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Ian does this to Jeremy when he actively tries to make their new step-family a happy one. What he doesn't know is that his father is abusing Jeremy.
    Ian: The plan is to make this a loving household of Lynn Forest, aiming to create a peaceful family.
    Jeremy: Will it
    Ian: We'll make it work Jeremy! And in the end we'll all be happy.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Greg seems to really get off on the fact that before he rapes him, he usually beats Jeremy bloody. When Jeremy tries to not come home from boarding school over the weekends, Greg lashes out and says that since he hasn't come home to be his Sex Slave, he's had to physically restrain himself from hitting Sandra- significant in that this is the first time Greg beats Jeremy. Jeremy also fantasizes about seducing and drinking Ian's blood while watching his boxing match. Later on, Jeremy tells Ian during a moment of Intimate Psychotherapy that he wants Ian to hurt him while he is doing it.
    Jeremy: I'm breaking into pieces! Destroy me more, more! Break me! Kill me!
  • Intimate Psychotherapy: Jeremy and Ian end up having sex when Jeremy is close to an emotional breakdown or is close to becoming comatose.
  • It's All About Me: Greg.
  • I Wished You Were Dead: Jeremy often thinks, and straight up tells, this to Greg.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lorenzo. To the point that he tends to Pascal's appartment while he is hospitalized and holds Jeremy until he falls asleep when he turns up shaking and sobbing at Pascal's place.
  • Just in Time: Ian finds Jeremy not a minute too late when he tries to drown himself in the lake.
  • Karmic Death: Greg is killed from a car accident in the car that he once assaulted Jeremy in while taking him to school.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Lindon has seven cats, and there is always one stretched out on him.
    • Nadia, who has Octavian.
  • Kissing Cousins: William has a fling with his second cousin, and it is implied that Lilia may have cheated on Greg with her second cousin.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Ian when he falls for Nadia, and then later for Jeremy.
  • Laughing Mad: Jeremy after he is moved dorms because he kissed his roommate Willaim. Also happens when the police come to say that Greg's car caught fire.
  • Lecherous Stepparent: Greg. And HOW!
  • Love Hungry: Greg tells Jeremy that he needs to admiration of everyone he meets.
  • Love Hurts: AND HOW.
  • Love Martyr: Although not in a romantic way, Jeremy qualifies as this almost perfectly. He allows himself to be assaulted by his stepfather for months on end, even before Greg and his mother, Sandra, got married. He did all of this because he wants his mother to be happy and fears that if she finds out her lover and dream marriage are ruined by his confession of the the abuse, that she will either hate him, commit suicide, or both.
    Ian: Why is Sandra that important to you?
    Jeremy: Because she's my blood relative, the only one! I love her! It was for her sake!
    Ian: Love? Weren't you just a live sacrifice for her? ...Why do you go to such lengths to make excuses for Sandra? Would you take two or three bullets so that she wouldn't be hurt?
    • Nadia is also a good example of this. She relentless pursues and loves Ian despite the fact that he cheats on her with Jeremy.
  • Loves the Sound of Screaming: Somehow, Greg thinks that Jeremy screaming is a pleasant sound.
  • Madness Mantra: Jeremy repeats "hallelujah" while Greg beats him around Christmas time.
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal: Jeremy fears that Sandra will hate him if she finds out about what Greg is doing to him.
  • The Masochism Tango: Ian and Jeremy do this constantly. Sometimes it is really hard to tell if Jeremy actually consents to having sex with Ian, in addition to Ian sometimes striking Jeremy out of anger. And Jeremy, while eventually admits to liking Ian and realizing he loves him, is almost always cold and callous towards Ian, telling him often outright that he hates him.
  • Mental Health Recovery Arc: Averted especially prominently in the ending. Jeremy is never "cured" of his trauma and it's strongly implied that he will spend the rest of his life battling his demons. He will never be the same person he was before Greg's abuse and he will always have to fight through his trauma if he wants to be have a normal life. However, there is also hope because Jeremy is moving on with his life, slowly picking up the pieces and coming to terms with the way things are. He has picked himself up and is willing to move forward as best he can. This is unfortunately the reality that real-life victims of trauma and abuse have to deal with.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Vivi thinks that Jeremy willing cheated on her.
    • Lilya is mistaken for this by Greg.
    • Sandra thinks that Greg is cheating on her with his secretary because she looks like Jeremy. Subverted in that Greg really was sleeping with Jeremy, although against Jeremy's will.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: In an early chapter, Jeremy insists on washing his own bedding, despite the servants in Lynn Forest being more than willing to do it for him. One of the butlers assumes it is because "boys in puberty keep many secrets". In reality, he's hiding his repeated rape.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Applies to Jeremy after he accidentally kills his mother along with Greg by Vehicular Sabotage in a Make It Look Like an Accident.
    • Ian when he realizes Jeremy really was abused.
    • Can also apply to Ian when Jeremy finds the pictures Greg took of him after abusing him that Ian kept. Jeremy, as expected, reacts negatively and has a Freak Out, which leads to Ian's What Have I Done.
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Greg uses this a LOT to justify his actions, and Ian tries to rationalize what happened to Jeremy with this at first. Heck, even Jeremy almost falls into this thinking because he becomes aroused when Greg assaults him, until Dr. Orson sets him straight. The trope is PAINFULLY deconstructed, however, as we see the psychological (and sometimes physical) consequences that the abuse has on Jeremy.
    Jeremy: That bastard tells me that he loves me. He says that I'm actually in love with him and that my mother is the only thing holding me back. He tells me to be honest with myself. Should I just give in? I despise him, but I can't stop my body and impulses which are responding to his dirty methods! When I think of him coming into my room, I start sweating. After he's finished the headaches appear and I feel like vomiting, but just like he says, will I one day end up desiring him? Do I have no choice to but to let my body rot as it fills his desires?!
    Dr. Orson: "Abby!" That isn't right!
    Greg: Don't you feel it, Jeremy? You love me.
  • One-Gender School: Modeen, Jeremy and Ian's boarding school.
  • One Head Taller: Ian is over 6 ft while Jeremy is somewhere around 5'5"-5'7". Also Ian, while thin, is muscular as he is a boxer. Jeremy is stick thin from not eating much.

  • Parental Obliviousness: Sandra, but this is later subverted when Jeremy finds out she knew the whole time.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Ian repeatedly begs Jeremy not to leave England
    • Sandra and Nadia also pull this.
  • Poor Communication Kills: One of the reasons Jeremy ends up committing the murder is because he can't tell anyone to get any help.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: When Greg discovers that Natasha has witnessed him beating and raping Jeremy, he threatens to destroy the family and begin beating his youngest son instead if Natasha doesn't keep his secret. The threat works and Jeremy is abandoned to his fate.
  • Promotion to Parent: Ian gets this after Greg and Sandra die.
  • Proper Lady: All of the girls except for Marjorie.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Sandra was raised by her maternal grandmother after her mother ran off with her boyfriend.
  • Rape and Revenge: Jeremy eventually gets revenge on Greg by wrecking the breaks on his car. Unfortunately, it also kills his mother and turns his life into a living hell.
  • Rape and Switch: This seems to be the case with Jeremy. At the beginning of the series, he has a girlfriend and has no interest in other men that he shows, but the longer Greg abuses him, the more interested in men (or more specifically, Ian), he becomes, although he does have feelings for Nadia for a short period.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Jeremy. And Ian and Greg comment on it. A lot.
  • Real Men Cook: Ian is shown cooking a variety of things when he and Jeremy are living in London, and they all look pretty well made. Jeremy, on the other hand, is a terrible cook, and burns/over-seasons everything.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jeremy gives these to Ian constantly.
  • Renowned Selective Mentor: Dr. Orson for Jeremy. He is retired and has cancer, but he counsels Jeremy for free anyway.
  • The Resenter: Jeremy toward Sandra.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jeremy.
  • Sarcastic Confession: After he and Ian accidentally kiss and Ian says he must be a virgin, Jeremy spits out that Greg kisses him every week. Ian takes it as a Your Mom style lashing out rather than an attempt to share his trauma.
  • Scars are Forever: Jeremy has scars covering his back from being whipped by Greg. As the series progresses, the scars do not fade and Jeremy refuses to remove his shirt when he is working as a prostitute, changing clothes in front of others, and swimming. He even refuses to let Ian see his back despite the fact that Ian knows that the scars are there.
    • Natasha has similar scars from her affair with Greg.
    • Ian has his "second belly button" from when Madeline, a former girlfriend who was also a mob boss's wife, shot him in the stomach.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Ian refuses to believe Jeremy when he confesses to the murder, but also the abuse.
    • Sandra also falls into this trope when she refuses to believe that Greg has been raping Jeremy.
  • Self-Harm: Around a year after Sandra and Greg's deaths, Jeremy begins slamming his head and body into walls and door frames when he becomes too distressed or during moments of confusion.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Jeremy intends to kill Greg, but not Sandra.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Jeremy and Ian respectively.
  • Sex for Solace: Jeremy does this so often that he becomes a teenaged prostitute. Even after quitting this, Jeremy still tries to seduce Ian when is extremely upset or having a rough time coping. Lindon is the first to realize that Jeremy's actions are a poor method of coping with his issues.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Happens quite a bit with in the latter half of the story.
  • Shrinking Violet: Valentine
  • STD Immunity: Despite the fact that Jeremy worked as a teenaged prostitute, stating himself that he took on 5 or 6 clients a night, and turned to injecting heroin to avoid having flashbacks of his mother and the abuse he received from his stepfather, no one thinks to get him checked for diseases, and he never gets sick from it, although here it seems to be a Defied Trope: Jeremy also tells Ian that he carried condoms every time he worked.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: Jeremy may have killed Greg and accidentally Sandra, but you feel really, really bad for him.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Eric and Poppy are married with a baby, despite still being teenagers. Of course, Eric technically became a father at 13, since he fathered Valentine's baby, meaning she also fits this trope
  • That Old-Time Prescription: Whenever Jeremy gets upset, usually to the point that he sobs hysterically or throws up, Ian makes him ginger tea with honey to calm him down and ease his nausea.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Jeremy, after he kills Greg via Vehicular Sabotage. He doesn't care so much about that as he does about the fact that Sandra was also in the car. Oops. He spends the second half of the series trying to recover from a massive guilt complex.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Dr. Orson stresses this to Jeremy.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Jeremy displays this very often, every morning after Greg abuses him. As the series progresses, his gaze becomes like this most of the time, especially when he is close to one of his several instances of Heroic BSoD.
  • Tin Man: Jeremy is this with an element of the Stoic Woobie. Jeremy actively denies feeling any towards sex, pain, love, or really any emotional attachment. Luckily though he seems to be on the path to recovery.
  • Trauma Conga Line
  • Traumatic Haircut: Jeremy's hair is partially cut off by some of the other students at an alternative school he attempts to attend while he is working as a prostitute with Cass after returning to Boston. This is particularly traumatizing because the other students cut it off while attempting to sexually assault him, which Jeremy does NOT handle well, considering what caused him to fear being man-handled and its understandable consequences.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: The first six volumes of the manga are actually a flashback to before the accident.
  • Twincest: Eric and Valentine. Eric became dangerously dependent on his twin sister after being molested by their piano teacher as a child. Unable to separate comfort from romance, the two had sex and Valentine had a baby at 13 years old.
  • The Un-Favorite: Matt to Greg.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy... At the very beginning of the series, he is sweet to the point of being ridiculous, but he finally snaps and kills Greg via Vehicular Sabotage. Actually, it is Jeremy's sweetness that causes his Trauma Conga Line in the first place; he refuses to seek help because it would mean ruining his mother's happy marriage. Although he tends to lash out and attempts to seduce people left and right, he isn't evil — but he never really snapped back. Arguably, Jeremy still is a sweet kid — he just has some issues he needs to work through.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: The series has several of these, but they all seem to come from Jeremy. The times off screen usually occur after Greg has abused Jeremy and the times shown in the panels are usually when Jeremy gets really upset when Ian tries to talk to him about his issues. When it's shown, it usually ends up on Ian.
  • Workaholic: Cass, although he has a very specific reason why.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: At the conclusion of the climactic Deprogramming scene, Ian reaffirms this to Jeremy.
    Jeremy (crying): I smell, don't I? I smell like I'm rotting, right?
    Ian: Even though he raped you, and you prostituted yourself, you don't smell rotten. What happened to you was an incident. It doesn't change you into something else.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: This is a literal line from Jeremy when he is standing at Sandra's grave; although Sandra dies in the accident, Greg ironically manages to survive in hospital for some time afterwards before finally succumbing to his injuries while still in a coma after Sandra's funeral had already taken place.