November 22, 2015
Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2009 – 19+ volumes
Okay, I’m consuming these last few pretty fast. I’m going to be bummed when I run out. Kind of. I mean, not a lot happens in this volume. There’s not even a really great emotional scene. But somehow, I am pretty addicted to Usagi and Misaki.
Misaki and Usagi take a trip to a hot spring in mid-January, after Usagi sorts out some family inheritance stuff. Part of this story is that Usagi’s father is sort-of harassing Misaki. I think he’s supposed to be somewhat nefarious, but I can’t bring myself to dislike him. He has an ardent love of wooden bear carving, and goes out of his way to be nice to Misaki. Even his talks where he kind of warns Misaki away from Akihiko tend to be pretty good-natured and not really threatening. He’s threatening in that he makes Misaki doubt whether he’s right for Akihiko, and most of the conflict in this chapter is about that. But he’s really only guilty of being a snob. He doesn’t even mind that Misaki is Akihiko’s male lover, and he does seem quite fond of him. His only objection seems to be that Misaki isn’t from a wealthy family, and that “marrying into” a family like the Usamis might be too difficult for Misaki, based on Fuyuhiko’s own personal experience. Honestly, since he is a dad who blows his nose on $100 bills, so to speak, I don’t really mind that he’s a snob. Akihiko confronts him, but not even in an antagonistic way. He just tells him that he appreciates his fatherly concern, but that he’s going to keep living with Misaki.
I just really like the guy, what can I say. So far, he’s the least creepy and annoying of the Usami clan, Akihiko included. Well, apparently that’s because he wasn’t raised as an Usami.
I liked the second Romantica story a bit better. Misaki goes to Usagi’s publisher and runs into a handful of people there, including elder brother Haruhiko Usami. There’s an awkward scene where Misaki turns him down firmly, and it goes much better than it usually does. Isaka is a major player in this chapter, and I’m… still not sure about this guy. But he uses Misaki to encourage a popular mangaka to finish his chapter, and I loved that Usami got horribly jealous over Misaki’s ardent love for that manga. Also, that Misaki’s reason for reading that manga instead of Usami’s books was that manga had pictures and was easier to read.
Also also, I loved that Nakamura used Usagi’s Junai Romantica series to announce the anime for Junjo Romantica, and that Misaki was horribly offended. It was a cute detail.
There’s a cute, very short Valentine’s Day Egoist chapter, where Nowaki wants chocolate just because it would be a gift from Hiro. Hiro has to hide in the bathroom out of embarrassment when he gives it to Nowaki.
I think I’m going to inhale the last two volumes of this series and regret it terribly. I may have to watch the anime. I’ve heard the sex is toned way down… so if the rape scenes are gone from the early stories, and if the other awkward borderline non-con parts are gone, I might really like the anime. I vowed never to watch BL anime again, but this may be an exception.
November 15, 2015
Shiuko Kano – DMP/801 Media – 2007 – 1 volume
This is from the depths of my read-but-not-reviewed pile. I’ve been fiending for good BL one-shots lately. This was not it, unfortunately, though I did like that it contained adult couples.
Affair contains four short stories. The first is about two young men who met on their high school baseball team, but haven’t seen each other in several years. One is a surly playboy, formerly a star pitcher who had a shot at being a professional player until he got a girl pregnant and quit school. The other is a fairly average guy. The playboy begins to mooch off the average guy when they meet on the street one day, though everything the playboy does is pretty aggravating. He steals food, he doesn’t appear to contribute anything, and he seems to constantly make Mr. Average feel terrible. They aren’t even really a couple, as Playboy is still seeing a number of women. Mr. Average and Playboy had some trysts in high school, but ultimately Playboy had more of them. He also didn’t really take practice or anything else about baseball seriously, and admits in the present he likes Mr. Average because he looks after Playboy like a mother. Eventually this all works out, of course, and there’s reasons for what Playboy does (?) but this relationship wasn’t very functional, and I didn’t enjoy it. The only amusing twist was that Mr. Average is the seme in the end.
The next story had a similarly abusive couple, and an incestuous one to boot. The Spoiled Son of a mob boss treats his half-brother terribly. Noble Son does everything for him, including self-mutilation, to save the spoiled son from terrible retribution at the hands of a rival family. Spoiled Son also, inexplicably, asks Noble Son for sexual favors, and seems to enjoy analyzing the performance, rather than actually getting off on it. Spoiled Son begins sleeping around with some sleazeballs to get back at Noble Son and others in the family, which causes this big story about Noble Son and Spoiled Son to come out that humbles Spoiled Son and makes Noble Son look even more noble. I didn’t like this one at all. Once again, the characters weren’t likable, the relationship was dysfunctional, and… you know, incest.
The third story was better, though shorter. A man with all the luck in the world accidentally wins at company mahjong, which gets him fired. The man who asked him to play covers for him and begs the punishment in his place, but Mr. Lucky says he can pay him back by letting him crash at his place while he finds another job. Mr. Lucky treats self-proclaimed Mr. Unlucky very well. There’s more mahjong, they hook up, it’s all very cute. Most importantly, they are decent people that treat each other well.
The last couple is in college, and one is the driving instructor for the other (I don’t know how this works in Japan). They hook up after complications. I didn’t like it quite as well as the mahjong story, but it was cute.
Hmm… there are a few other Shiuko Kano books in English. I tried the first volume of Punch Up! and it wasn’t my thing. Apparently Play Boy Blues is good, but it was published by the long-dead Be Beautiful. I also seriously considered Kiss All the Boys by Deux some time ago, but I think there was an age thing that creeped me out a little. But… they sound good, and I’d probably try her again (maybe the rest of Punch Up!?). I always like older couples, but this just wasn’t for me.
November 10, 2015
Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2009 – 19+ volumes
Okay, Junjo Romantica. You win. I like Akihiko and Misaki. A LOT. These stories keep getting better and better. Rather than being comedy-centric and about how Misaki does not want but stays around anyway and Akihiko does want, now the relationship between the two keeps getting deeper. Even Misaki talks about how much he loves Akihiko. Aww.
Here, we meet Usagi’s cousin Kaoruko. For some reason, Usagi’s father has arranged a marriage between her and Haruhiko, and neither wants much to do with it. Misaki winds up encouraging both of them to pursue their dreams rather than listen to what people tell them to do. It’s kind of sweet, and even Haruhiko is less creepy than usual.
There’s also a fantastic scene where Kaoruko walks in on Usagi going down on Misaki and doesn’t bat an eye. Nor does Usagi. His stoicism is fantastic in scenes like that.
The first chapter is mostly a cute Christmas Eve chapter, where plans don’t work out but Misaki and Usagi are good to each other. So sweet.
There’s also a brief Junjo Minimum chapter (a cute summer camp scene between Akihiko and Kamijo when they were young) and a brief Terrorist chapter. I still don’t like those two.
Three volumes left until I reach the end of the Blu supply! I’ll be sad to finish it!
November 8, 2015
Maki Murakami – Tokyopop – 2005 – 12 volumes
I need to finish this series up. It’s still very charming, and has its funny moments, but I’m basically done with it. The honeymoon is over. It even tried to win me back this time by letting Yuki (!!!) get a little sappy, and the story went back to Shuichi writing lyrics, which is how the two of them met.
…Actually, that’s almost all I have to say about this volume. Ryuichi and Shuichi have a clandestine restroom encounter that results in Shuichi writing lyrics for 10 singles in something like 5 weeks. He is horribly depressed by this, because it’s how he met Yuki – Yuki trashed his lyrics and stole his confidence to the point that Shuichi became obsessed with him.
As it turns out, Shuichi’s confidence is still gone, so after some false starts, the other members of Bad Luck decide that the problem himself, award-winning writer Eiri Yuki, can write their lyrics for them. There’s a huge positive response… until Shuichi decides that he’s the only person who’s not growing and changing, and that writing the lyrics will be a good first step for him.
Uncharacteristically, Yuki agrees to write the lyrics, and gets extremely upset when Shuichi decides to do it himself (his methods of revenge for this are pretty funny, I’m glad Gravitation can still make me laugh). He’s not sure why this is… unless he actually does like Shuichi and wants to be involved.
I don’t know… none of it really grabbed me? I liked everything that was going on, but not even the romance between Shuichi and Yuki felt right here. Perhaps Yuki has been spoiled by many chapters worth of strange, cold feelings, or maybe this isn’t genuine, I don’t know. Shuichi writing lyrics wasn’t as funny as it should have been. The last song has yet to come out, so I’m waiting for the lyrics to that song to be the plot point for the last story arc.
That, or the weird harassment subplot at the end of the story. For some reason, three people decide to carry out a plan to make it seem like Sakuma’s fans are sending death threats to Shuichi. I’m not sure why, or where that’s going, either. Maybe they are really upset that he writes bad lyrics.
October 25, 2015
Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2009 – 19+ volumes
THIS VOLUME WAS THE BEST. We did get to meet Usagi’s dad! We only see him for a brief scene. He was everything I could have hoped for. Though neither Usagi brother seems kindly disposed toward him. He sends Misaki a big, eccentric present, so I was immediately smitten with him. I’m sure he’ll turn into a huge jerk next time around, but for now, I’ll enjoy him.
Usagi starts clamming up around Misaki again, and Misaki finally gets fed up and asks him why. But in the course of asking, he realizes… that Usagi doesn’t really know how Misaki feels. Misaki figures he doesn’t have to say anything, but after it was pointed out last volume, they both seem uncomfortably aware that Usagi is the only one pursuing a relationship. So Misaki has to do something about that. He does it twice. The look of expectation on Usagi’s face in the first chapter is the best.
The second time around, though, actually led to a legitimately steamy scene. I hate the sex scenes in this series because one of the partners is always shouting to stop, but not in this one. Finally.
The second story was adorable. Misaki takes Usagi on a regular college student date, because he’s having trouble writing one for his current novel. Usagi finds the family restaurant/aquarium/shopping lineup boring, but goes anyway, because Misaki obviously made up the list of activities with him in mind. The big, cute scene happens in a Ferris Wheel car. Aww. I love manga.
There’s also an Egoist chapter. Nowaki is out of character, to the point that Hiro is completely shocked. Hiro thinks Nowaki might be breaking up with him, because… all the signs are there. And they never see each other any more.
Hiro is also completely adorable in this chapter. I really do like this couple. I like both the Romantica and Egoist stories a lot now, so that’s good. I still have four volumes left of them to read.
October 19, 2015
Maki Murakami – Tokyopop – 2005 – 12 volumes
I’m dragging my feet with reading these last few volumes. It didn’t help that the author notes on the first page said “Personally, I think this volume is the most uninteresting so far, but hopefully you readers were fooled into buying it. … I can’t even think of ideas to fill this dead space here anymore.” Not exactly a vote of confidence. I’ve also read 10 volumes of this series, and the humor is so bizarre that I can’t tell if she’s joking there or not.
I thought this volume was a little better than the past couple. Shuichi is back in Japan, and Rage continues to insinuate herself into his life, even scoring a (self-proclaimed, later official) position as Bad Luck’s manager. He still has ups and downs with Yuki, too. At the beginning of the volume, he’s hot to get Yuki to say he loves him, but he’s basically useless at work after Yuki tells him that he can never love anyone but the dead Yuki Kitazawa. So there’s a lot of back and forth about that, and a scheme to get Yuki to forget Kitazawa.
Musical competition starts up again towards the end of the volume, which comes after another character points out that the only gigs Bad Luck ever do are bad TV shows that aren’t music-themed.
I was happy to see a bit of Hiro again, but admittedly, the relationship between Yuki and Shuichi is still pretty messed up, and that’s never fun to slog through. It was also hard to understand where all the characters are going (there’s a huge shuffle at N-G, and a lot of the side characters are elsewhere now). But next volume might be better between Yuki and Shuichi, and we might also get to see more competition between Bad Luck and Nittle Grasper. This series isn’t great at drama, because it’s heart is in slapstick. So it’ll be nice if we see more of that next time.
October 17, 2015
Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2008 – 19+ volumes
I just tried to explain my love-hate relationship with this series to my roommate. He didn’t understand, so I may fail here as well. Something in me hates reading volumes of this series, but I’m always so pumped when I finish one.
It took me awhile to pick this one up, and part of my dread was that I knew it was going to be a Junjo Terrorist-centric volume. I hate the Terrorist couple. Here, Shinobu is completely ignoring and blowing off Miyagi. Miyagi is shaken, then decides to basically stalk Shinobu until he talks to/yells at him. Turns out, Shinobu gave him the big brush-off because he found a photo of Miyagi’s old flame, and decided that he was jealous and didn’t want to talk to Miyagi again, because he may like that dead woman (someone who’s been dead for 15+ years) more. It might also help to know that there’s a 17-year age difference between Shinobu and Miyagi, and Shinobu is just graduating high school. Shinobu is also the younger brother of Miyagi’s ex-wife, and the grandson of his boss at the university.
Yeah, it’s all kinds of creepy. Shinobu is also constantly mis-understanding Miyagi, so a lot of the plots of these stories are Shinobu screaming at Miyagi, or not talking to him over something stupid. The only way to really save this pair, in my eyes, is to do a time skip like we saw in Junjo Egoist. If we could pick up again after Shinobu graduates college, that might make me feel less like torching the book.
Shinobu’s also kind of an asshole, which admittedly, in the third story, works really well for him. We’ve at least moved forward to him in college now, which is better. And he’s not going to the same college Miyagi teaches at, which also helps. If he was less temperamental (which is sort of the point of the Terrorists stories), it might be more fun to read. I like the spoiled rich guy angle, and I don’t get enough of that from Usagi.
So Terrorists were most of the volume, with another long Romantica story for the last third or so. The Romantica story was really good. Misaki’s friend at school and Usagi keep rubbing each other the wrong way, and Misaki finally has to take a stand and tell Usagi to stay out of his damn business. Usagi’s worried that the friend is trying to pick up Misaki in a predatory way… which it turns out he’s not, and I kind of liked the twist. The friend actually blurts out some ugly things about the pair (Usagi forcing Misaki into the relationship, the fact Misaki never says anything nice to or about Usagi), and the pair leave him. But Usagi, at least, seems to be in a more serious state of mind, and Misaki blurted out something mildly affectionate (although nothing close to a confession), so I’m hoping we get more Romantica next volume.
There’s also, like, a 6-page Egoist story. I like those two a lot, and there’s a teaser for a potentially juicy sounding story, so I’m all about that. Here’s hoping it’s just these two stories next time around.