Hinako Takanaga – DMP/June – 2012 – 8 volumes
I had a serious crisis on my hands when this arrived. I knew that the last two volumes of this series were one storyline, and I should just wait until December/January for volume 8 and read both at once. But on the other hand, I love this series to pieces, and what’s the fun in not sitting on a cliffhanger?
There’s some serious drama in this volume. There always is, of course, but it gets turned up to 10 here. Souichi keeps flat-out denying Morinaga, but he is softening up towards him, and seems to be on a road towards accepting their relationship for what it is. Then Morinaga’s old flame Masaki shows up. Things happen. Bad things. Souichi gets very jealous, though nobody tells him this to his face, and Morinaga messes up and gets caught in a lie by Souichi with Masaki. The volume ends with the two of them split apart, Masaki running after Morinaga, and nothing at all in a good place.
On one hand, the humor and spice are gone from this volume, and those are the things I like best in this series. On the other hand, Souichi is still getting to be himself, and that’s never a bad thing. Plus, seriously, this is building up to some massive payoff in the last volume. I still can’t wrap my brain around how all this will go down, so I am dying to read it.
And that’s all I’ve got to say. I think I’ll save the commentary for next time, when I can see what happens to all this. In the meantime, I am both thrilled I got to read a new volume of this and devastated I only got half the story. If you haven’t tried it yet, and you’re into BL, it’s good stuff. Forgive it the first volume, or read Challengers first, but otherwise it’s great. It’s hard not to like personalities as strong as Morinaga and Souichi.
Hinako Takanaga – DMP/June – 2012 – 8 volumes
So, yeah. Still one of my favorites. I literally can’t get enough of this series. Every new volume gets read immediately, and then I start over and read the whole series again. It just hits all the right buttons for me.
After the last volume, which was all about the physical relationship between Morinaga and Souichi, this one goes back to their living arrangement and romantic life. We also get to meet Souichii’s father, who proves that being a crazy scientist is in the Tatsumi genes. He’s really awesome, but his arrival means that Morinaga has to deal with the possibility that the Tatsumi house will be rebuilt and they will no longer be living together. And also, that Souichi may not care.
There’s lots of Morinaga getting depressed, since Souichi handles his return to Japan badly and Morinaga realizes that Souichi wasn’t looking forward to their reunion as much as he was. Plus, there’s the housing situation, and Morinaga is unsure about where Souichi considers his home and how he feels about living together. But there’s lots of comedy, too. With the elder Tatsumi’s return to Japan, Tomoe returns home, and he brings Kurokawa with him. And Kurokawa doesn’t feel safe around Souichi unless Isogai is with him, so there’s the delightful return of Isogai’s torment. There’s the problem of sleeping arrangements, jealousy, anger, and everything else that goes with having Tomoe, Kurokawa, Souichi, Morinaga, and Isogai under the same roof. The humor is one of the best things about this series, and I’m so happy we still get scenes like that.
There’s plenty of emotional stuff, too, since it’s still a series about the difficult relationship between Souichi and Morinaga. Morinaga tries to get Souichi to see his feelings throughout the volume, and we get lots of cute little half-admissions from Souichi. I don’t know if that’s any sort of progress, but I enjoyed them all the same. The end of the volume was another crowd pleaser, if you can consider me the crowd. I loved it.
I’m really excited, since the next two volumes make up the final storyline of the series. I can’t wait to read it! I almost want to wait and read both at once, but volume 8 isn’t scheduled until December, and I don’t think I can’t wait that long. It’s good. It’s really good. The right mix of romance, humor, characters with great personality, and… you know. Everything. It’s exactly what I want, and every volume makes me so happy.
Hinako Takanaga – June – 2012 – 8 volumes
You knew I was all over this. I just can’t get enough. I’m sorry.
Though Souichi and Morinaga are now living together, Morinaga realizes that he’s gotten no action over the past couple months. After a failed attempt to take advantage while Souichi is drunk, Souichi announces that he will be flying to Canada for a 2-month research trip. Morinaga is devastated. Souichi seems indifferent, until he gets there and… well, context would have you believe he misses Morinaga. Morinaga finds a chance to head to Seattle for a seminar, and he manages to meet up with Souichi in Vancouver. Souichi seems more than a little bothered by Morinaga’s visit. Bothered in a different way than usual, though.
Basically, very little happens in this volume that isn’t sex. I… can’t say I mind
since this is my favorite volume of the series and all. Some of it is, admittedly, a little out of character. There are hints that Souichi misses Morinaga scattered throughout some of the Canada scenes. A conversation with his younger brother Tomoe reveals that Souichi is trying to hide the fact he lives with Morinaga. While he is homophobic, and wouldn’t want Tomoe to think he’s gay, it’s also a case of Souichi wanting to hide his relationship with Morinaga, regardless of meaning. He also mentions he’s not at all lonely in the “apartment by himself” while in conversation with Tomoe, but he certainly does look lonely when he gets back to his Canadian condo later. And, more damning, is an extremely out-of-character… uh, scene with Souichi. And while all this does seem out of character, I like that it gives Morinaga and Souichi something to go forward with, in terms of finding some sort of common, mutually enjoying ground in their relationship. Morinaga is still pretty concerned with finding some sort of middle ground with Souichi, and while volumes like this do make it seem like he (or both of them) are more interested in sex, both are putting a lot of thought into how they treat the other in this volume. Especially Souichi. He gets quite a bit of time to think about how he feels about Morinaga.
And there’s not much commentary I can offer about the later scenes where Morinaga comes to Canada. To say much would be a spoiler, and really, you know where all this is going. It’s great. I don’t know why I love the sex scenes in this series so much. It’s just better here than it is in other books. It just seems to mean a lot more to Morinaga and Souichi. Plus, again, I get a big kick out of watching them bicker, which happens even in bed. For instance, here, Morinaga gets more than a little terrifying when he suspects Souichi of cheating.
There are several extras in this volume. The usual bonus story here is actually an extension of the last sex scene, and Takanaga mentions that it was material that made the chapter too long for the serialized magazine. Another story is a silly one-shot that has all the characters in the series playing in an adaptation of Cinderella. Morinaga gets to be the prince, and I loved his first panel, where he’s sitting bored at a party full of young women in ballgowns and thinks “When will they figure out I’m never going to pick a bride because I’m gay?”
The last story… is a little more troubling. It’s a two-part side story, called “Our Mistakes,” about Morinaga’s brother Kunihiro and his friend/Morinaga’s first lover, Masaki. They meet back up, and… uh, it’s basically an extended rape scene, with Kunihiro as the victim. He tries really hard to reconcile with Masaki after a chance meeting, but Kunihiro gets too drunk waiting for Masaki’s shift to end, so Masaki takes him home. And ties him up. Then sexually abuses him for… uh, days? And then Kunihiro forgives him? And is likely attracted to him? Really? What’s even more disturbing than this is that, apparently, the Challengers/Tyrant series is going to continue with this couple in Takanaga’s next series. That’s a shame, because I hate them both.
But! In the meantime, The Tyrant Falls in Love continues to be my favorite BL series of all time. This is mostly a “physical” volume, but it also appears to be the beginning of Souichi beginning to realize his romantic feelings towards Morinaga. He’s confused, and angry, and apparently resisting every step of the way, but it seems to be happening. I liked that, with all the sex, the commentary this time around was mostly from Souichi’s point of view, something we are not often treated to. I’ve gone on and on about why I love this series from the bottom of my little rotten fangirl heart, so I don’t feel the need to justify admiration for a “physical” volume. But yes. Any fan of the series is going to be more than pleased with this. Just sayin’.
Hinako Takanaga – June – 2011 – 8 volumes
I won’t lie. I’ve been dying to read this for two solid months, ever since I finished volume three during my Challengers/Tyrant marathon. I thought this was slightly less interesting, story-wise, than the other volumes in the series, but the worst volume of Tyrant is still a blissful guilty pleasure for me.
The plot here is very serious, and involves Shuichi crossing the line one day and ranting all-out on the wrong person. Said person winds up being a stalker, and things escalate until Morinaga insists on moving in temporarily with Shuichi and his younger sister. This happens to match perfectly with Morinaga’s apartment building getting “too old” and his being forced to vacate.
The setup in this volume is just a little too convenient. It’s the requisite drama that you need in a series like this that brings the reluctant characters together, coupled with the excuse to get the two of them to live together. Bah.
At the same time… the requisite drama pays off well in the end. Ridiculously well. I’m a little ashamed at how much I liked the end of this volume. All the same, it was awesome, and I won’t spoil the surprise.
Interestingly, there’s quite a bit of Souichi character development in this volume, too. The plot hinges on him being openly violent to complete strangers, so it wouldn’t be quite right if he didn’t realize the error of his ways by the end of the volume. There’s also some development in how he treats Morinaga, too, as there always is in these volumes. It’s never anything that goes all the way, but it gets shockingly close in this volume. Their moments alone still make me laugh really hard, since Morinaga can give Souichi’s angry rants back just as well as he takes them. Watching the two squabble for pages and pages is my favorite thing, and it’s great that Takanaga can nail the chemistry between the two that well.
Souichi’s “roommates” comment at the end of the volume made me a little sad, but I’ll come back to that later.
Basically, I read a lot of BL, and this is my favorite. It’s got all the good stuff in it, and is just the right mix of really funny and really romantic for me to forgive it the occasional cliche or its huge faux pas of an opening. It’ll take a lot to unseat The Tyrant Falls in Love as my favorite BL series.
Hinako Takanaga – June – 2011 – 8 volumes
After having a stormy conscience over enjoying this series despite the non-con in the first volume, reading Ze 3 put things in perspective for me. That book made me feel truly bad for reading it, whereas here, especially after reading Challengers, there’s definitely an emotional attachment between the characters. Still, that doesn’t excuse it, but… reading a real rape scene is much different.
Anyway! Volume three only made me like this series more. Morinaga goes away through the first half, and Isogai puts in an appearance. Isogai was my second-favorite character from Challengers, and very capable when it comes to judging people. Isogai sees something he shouldn’t have between Souichi and Morinaga (PDA that made even me blush), and with a leer, he decides to use it against Souichi. His blackmail is exquisite. He also gets as much mileage as possible out of it. I laughed all the way through the first half of the book.
Morinaga misunderstands the blackmail (given the way he was “blackmailing” Souichi for the first couple volumes), and after making a big public scene, Souichi angrily reassures him that the only person he wouldn’t beat to death for doing that is Morinaga. Because he hates gays. Morinaga is the exception.
Souichi’s emotional moments are a thing of angry, completely affectionless beauty. They are what they are, though, and it makes Morinaga happy.
Seriously. Every volume of this series is hilarious, romantic in just the right ways, and makes me like both Morinaga and Souichi more and more despite the terrible qualities they both possess. I don’t know how it manages to be so utterly charming and addictive every time, but it’s great stuff.
One of the biggest kicks I get out of this series are the facial expressions on the characters. This is definitely a change from Challengers, where Tomoe basically has one face he makes at all times. Souichi actually only has a few facial expressions, but I love how they suit his character in every situation. Basically, he always looks angry, pissed, or nonplussed, and occasionally surprised. He even manages to scowl all the way through sex, which is a source of amusement to me. Similarly, Morinaga has a couple unusual facial expressions in his repertoire, particularly when Souichi finally does something that makes him angry. His face hovers somewhere between amused and horribly depressed at these points, and usually he’s doing something terrible while making this face.
Another one of the finer points I happened to notice while reading this volume is that… Souichi doesn’t use an honorific with Morinaga’s name. Ever. This is highly unusual, since even the most devoted lovers in BL books usually still call each other by their last names along with the super-polite “-san.” I thought this was a show of closeness on Souichi’s part, but I notice he does this a lot, actually. Kurokawa, from Challengers, is also never addressed with an honorific. Neither is Isogai in this volume. And I don’t think he often uses honorifics with his siblings either, both of whom call him “nii-san.” I don’t think these honorifics are lost in translation, since all the other characters use them all the time. I’m inclined to believe he feels close to Morinaga and his siblings, but I’m baffled about Kurokawa and Isogai. Is he doing it to be rude? Does he just not use them? Is he the only Japanese person ever that finds these honorifics bothersome, for some reason? I notice he occasionally uses them to address other students at the university, but that’s been, like… one time. Maybe he just doesn’t bother for people he needs to be himself in front of?
Anyway. I’m happy I read the volumes when I did, because now I don’t have long to wait for volume four. Again, I’m troubled by its beginnings, but this is probably one of the best romance comics I’ve ever read.
Hinako Takanaga – June – 2011 – 8 volumes
In case you’re reading this at another time, when four reviews of Challengers aren’t on my front page, I’ve recently grown completely obsessed with this series. It’s great. More than great. One of my favorite BL series of all time, I think. I’ve read it over and over again these past five days. This is an almost complete 180 from my opinions of volume 1, and I couldn’t be happier.
My problems with this series were mostly with the non-con, and that’s still an issue. But after reading the beginnings of Souichi and Morinaga’s relationship, and knowing Souichi’s character a little better (he won’t let himself consent, basically), it’s slightly easier to take in-context, though part of me is ashamed to say so. Also, the fact that Souichi is willing to just roll into the lab with Morinaga the next day and act like absolutely nothing happened (much to Morinaga’s chagrin) also does much to alleviate all the complaining he does during sex.
Souichi is the main draw for me here, though. The “tyrant” title is fitting, and he’s a horrible person who cares little for the opinions of others. Morinaga is wonderful for basically being the only person who can tolerate him, and watching him take the time to try and penetrate Souichi’s defenses is quite romantic, in its way. And I appreciate that Souichi holds his own, rather than letting Morinaga be his only sappy weakness. He never stops being a terrible person, really, even to Morinaga, who we know he at least values as his best and closest friend, with no romantic strings attached. Both are extremely entertaining and likable, and that’s why this series so so great. I’d watch them read a newspaper to each other.
In a particularly evil Souichi-ish move, the first story in this volume starts with Morinaga finally bullying Souichi into more sex. Souichi reveals that he had been waiting for Morinaga to break in order to determine just how long he could go without sex. Two months had elapsed, so Souichi determines that he only needs to have sex with Morinaga once every two months.
Well, Morinaga decides that if he can only have sex six times a year, he’s going to make it count. Then the reader gets what they want for awhile, and afterwards, Souichi agrees to gentler sex once a week.
Most of the volume, however, goes into detail about Morinaga’s past. Morinaga has a homophobic family and a bad past with one of his older brother’s best friends. Souichi disagrees with the way his family and brother handled Morinaga’s sexuality. Turns out Morinaga’s brother is getting married, and the past is getting stirred up again since Morinaga’s parents insist on having him at the wedding in order to try and bury the sordid events of the past. Morinaga’s brother shows up in Nagoya to try and convince Morinaga to come himself. Souichi finds him first.
Afterwards, there’s more sex. It seems like these volumes are required to have at least two sex scenes. The sex scenes are good, either because of or in spite of Souichi bitching all the way through, take your pick. The bitching mostly just feels like Souichi’s personality maintaining at this point, though, since he’s free to stop the process or walk away and doesn’t. And Souichi’s personality is a huge part of why I love this series.
Hinako Takanaga – June – 2010 – 6+ volumes
I reviewed this over at Manga Village,
so you can check it out over there.
EDIT: Actually, turns out that the review went down with the old Comics Village site. It was one of the few I had saved on my computer, so I’m going to paste it here under a cut since I’ve recently taken an interest in this series again. A very serious, obsessive interest. Because I love it now. I’m sorry.
There were some good things and some bad things here. I liked the characters a lot, but it makes use of some of my least favorite BL plot devices, which takes what could be an interesting story and makes it work against the characters. But it was good enough that I’m going to keep reading, and I did pick up the 4-volume prequel a few days ago, so there’s that too. I’m hoping the characters are just as good in that prequel as they were in this one.
I had no idea that Hinako Takanaga was so prolific. I’ve missed every single one of her releases in English, and there’s been quite a few. Along with Challengers, I’ve got the Little Butterfly omnibus on preorder too.
EDIT: I really do think reading Challengers is necessary to enjoying this work. The beginnings of what’s going on between Morinaga and Souichi are told in that series, and it is important how infinitely patient Morinaga is with Souichi before he does what he does in the first chapter here (read: a really horrible assault). Also, that Souichi really is an angry, violent, insensitive jerk that everybody except his little sister is afraid of. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a lot easier to forgive Morinaga the awful rape after all the things both Souichi and Morinaga say and do in Challengers. And it’s hard for me to believe that, with a scene like that starting the series off, I grew to absolutely love it as much as I did.