Breath 5

Chifumi Ochi – Yaoi Generation – 2010 – 5 volumes

I have a few final volumes to talk about today, actually. None are quite as significant as Pet Shop of Horrors, but short and sweet series have their own nice endings, right?

As much as I was getting into this with every volume, I rather disliked the finale. It felt like it was simply going through the motions of a resolution, especially between Arata and Yanagi. Of course Ten goes crazy when he finds out, of course there’s an ugly confrontation between Arata, Ten, and Yanagi, of course things get physical… the only thing that threw me off a little was that everyone didn’t suddenly go insane and forgive Ten for what he’d done, which does sometimes happen after these ugly scenes. Not so here. I also don’t like this kind of violent conclusion in shorter BL since most of the ending stuff is hand-holding and sobbing about how much they love each other, without a whole lot of romance. The “I love yous” after trauma are a less satisfying way to end a story about two people getting together, at least in my opinion.

Absent: make-up sex between Yanagi and Arata. Isn’t that usually essential in any BL series? I was shocked by its absence. So was Arata. Even the follow-up story that dealt with the loose end of Ten between Yanagi and Arata didn’t have make-up sex.

The best story in the volume was the one that dealt with Ten. While I think he’s a creep, and I don’t really feel the need to sympathize with him after what he did, I liked the way he was dealt with. He got a clean slate, someone who could deal with him on his terms, and a bit of a support after what he’d been through. There is sex in Ten’s story, but unfortunately, since the relationship between Ten and the doctor he hooks up with is a little awkward until the very end, it’s nothing I could really enjoy.

I liked the series overall, and I liked the characters well enough. I could see things headed to a violent resolution for sure, from pretty much a mile off when it came to Ten. But the ending fizzled a little for me. I still think it was a good choice as one of the first series from Yaoi Generation, though. Their production and translation were very good, and I’m looking forward to more series from them.


Breath 4

Chifumi Ochi – Yaoi Generation – 2009 – 5 volumes

This has turned into a lovely delicate story with a seriously sinister villain working in the background to really mess things up. I like the darkness hiding behind all the emotional stuff, and I also am glad that Ten’s evil is driven more by a possessiveness rather than a real desire… well, for twincest, because that would creep me out. But the fact Ten’s been manipulating Arata since they were young is a wonderful intro to the depraved depths that it seems Ten is about to drop into. The end of this volume was really… messed up, but in a violence way rather than a sexual way.

I loved the way both Yanagi and Arata were mired in their own bad habits (Yanagi in partying, Arata in abusing his health), and both were trying to compensate for the absence of the other in different ways. This is a pretty common plot device, but it was handled so well here, and drawn out enough and with other things going on that it really resonated with the characters, and made their reunion that much more lovely.

I also loved that Arata had started to turn against Ten prior to Yanagi’s confession. It was probably because he was horrified that Ten and Yanagi might be going out, but that he was getting the bad vibe early on made the fact that he swallowed Yanagi’s explanation easier to take story-wise. As much as he clearly loved Yanagi, who are you going to believe, your twin brother that you still live with as an adult, or the guy who used to force you into having sex with him as a punishment?

While I still wish this hadn’t started with so much non-con, I really love what’s going on right now, and it’s turned into a lovely romance series. I’m sure there won’t be any surprises in the conclusion (other than perhaps a knife fight between Ten and Yanagi), but I’m still pretty excited to finish it off.


Breath 3

Chifumi Ochi – Yaoi Generation – 2009 – 5 volumes

Now, I am completely and totally addicted to this series. The romance between the characters is great, the reluctance and love on both sides of the relationship in this volume is well-done, and there’s a slew of entertaining drama to complicate things. It’s got all the right pieces, and they’re working together well.

But there was this nagging thought in the back of my head the whole time I was reading this volume: As despicable as the things that Yanagi did to Arata in the early volumes were, it takes some real doing to make someone more evil than him. But there is Ten in this volume, and he doesn’t like that another man is taking away his brother. Thankfully, there’s nothing sexual in their relationship, Ten is just very possessive, but he’s incredibly twisted and evil, too. Nothing physical or violent, just really rough mind games stuff.

So yes, this volume features a lot more of Ten, Arata’s twin. Ten is much more of a social butterfly, and I think it’s interesting how he gets his connections to work for him here, but mostly I was blown away by his elaborate retaliation against Yanagi. He goes about it slowly, making it seem like a pick-up at first, then some sex Yanagi doesn’t really want, culminating in a perfect setup and a slow reveal of everything Ten knows. And he’s not even particularly… angry about it. He just does what he needs to in order to keep Yanagi away. Evil, evil stuff.

The growth of Arata in this volume was also interesting. He’s got the “realizing his feelings” thing going on early in the volume, but aside from that, his conflicted emotions over Yanagi make him seem more alive at work, and his coworkers begin to open up to him and he’s a little less of a soulless robot. Better still was his reaction to Ten’s best-laid plans. Arata was rather mature about that whole situation, and I loved that he took a practical approach to the problem. This is wasted in the end, but even so, I loved that he was the type of character that could handle that, he didn’t really seem to be.

There’s also a visitation from Yanagi’s old lover, who seems just about as evil and callous as Ten. I could do without him.

There’s a lot of patching up to do next time around, and I’m sure more drama and evil from Ten, but it all makes for some pretty good and very addicting reading. Not super spectacular, but still pretty good, especially for a multi-volume BL series.


Breath 2

Chifumi Ochi – Yaoi Generation – 2009 – 5 volumes

While I thought the first volume was only okay, the second volume really hooked me.  The biggest problem I had with the first was the strange and slow-moving story, but that begins to work well here as the characters slowly and awkwardly begin to get a feel for one another, and their relationship stops being so creepy and starts turning itself around.

Not much is said about the change, or really between the two characters at all, but the meetings stop being so forced and slightly more passion creeps into their encounters.  Neither one understands the change at this point, but the mushy stuff will probably be in another volume or two.  Probably after the coming storm, meaning that Arata’s twin brother Ten has found out about his recent extracurricular activities and is going to do something sinister to get his favorite “pet” back.  “Pet” in this context meaning that Ten is the only one that likes to be close to Arata… not that there’s anything sexual going on.  Thank God.

There’s not too much else to say about it.  Lots of character development this time around, and it made for some great reading.  Looks like there’ll probably be more plot as things are shaken up next time, and I’m really looking forward to it.


Breath 1

Chifumi Ochi – Yaoi Generation – 2008 – 5 volumes

I can’t help but be excited when picking up a book from a new publisher.  Regardless of what that book is, there’s something awesome about anticipating what the reading experience will be like.  There’s never that much difference, unless we’re talking about, say, Vertical or Drawn & Quarterly, but it’s still very exciting.

Yaoi Generation does publish a nice book.  The paper stock is high quality, so the book is a little thinner than usual.  There’s also a color page at the beginning.  The nice paper makes the lines look very sharp.  Sometimes the screentones look a little fuzzy, but it seems more like an issue with the original since the lines look good.  And the translation seemed fine to me, I noticed no real issues.

The story itself, on the other hand, is kinda… eh.  Not really my type of story.  It’s a master/slave premise that starts out okay, with both parties enjoying really intense-looking sex, but then it goes into non-con territory for the rest of the book, which is never something I like reading.  The other problem is that the non-con happens again and again and again.  Aside from the premise that a one-night stand that acted like a jerk turned out to be the main character’s friend’s brother [edit: woah, that "friend" makes all the difference in the world there, sorry for the error], the rest of the book is spent with the main character blackmailing the brother into having sex over and over again against his will.

This is probably one of the most sex-heavy yaoi books I’ve seen, rivaled by… mmm, maybe the Finder Series.  It’s also got a little more definition to the neither parts than they usually do.  While the genitals are still more-or-less vague (they’re outlined, but not given too much definition), the anus is drawn in pretty frequently, and the main character has a lot of fun with it.  There are also panels with no background that… sort of illustrate what the fingers are doing in the anus, which is something I’ve never seen before.  So… yeah.  There’s an FYI for you.

It’s five volumes long, and it can’t keep that pace up with the sex forever, so I assume either the plot or characters will become more concrete next volume.  I don’t feel that strongly about either quitting or continuing, but I probably will pick up at least one more volume just to support the new publisher.


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