Have I mentioned how much I love Fumi Yoshinaga? Because I love Fumi Yoshinaga. I was kind of surprised a few more of her titles didn’t get announced this summer for licensing, since I think we’ll get the last one available in English in October or so. I was particularly surprised no one had picked up Ooku, which was either nominated for or won a Tezuka prize.

Ichigenme is a pornfest in the same way that Gerard and Jacques is, but is sensitive to character emotions in the same way, too. For instance, one of the running themes is that one of the two in the main pair likes to say “I love you” during sex, but the other one usually doesn’t respond with anything other than abusive dirty talk. He agonizes about this in comical ways through several of the stories, and there is a satisfying resolution later on in the volume that doesn’t break character for the other guy.

The “I love you” character’s brother is actually featured prominently, and he gets in a relationship with one of the other professors at the school. That pair is actually a bit more prominent than the main characters from the last volume, but the story does a satisfying job of balancing the two. The new pair’s problem is that they have a lot of sex, but you’re not sure if they’re… together, precisely.

If I had one complaint, it is that last volume had more of a plot, and I thought I was going to get a continuation here, but really it was short stories about the characters in the vein of Flower of Life or Lovers in the Night. She still does a wonderful job on the stories, and the characters are great in a way that only she can manage, so it’s really not too big a complaint.

Lots of sex, though. Lots of sex.

More Yoshinaga from her soon-to-be-plentiful selection in English.  How did this one rate in with the others?  Well, it’s real BL, so it gets automatically grouped in with Gerard and Jacques.  It’s not quite as hardcore, but there are about three sex scenes.  It doesn’t break any of my rules, so it’s cool there too.  I think I liked Gerard and Jacques better simply because I liked the characters more, but the characters are still really strong in this series too, and it’s interesting to see the friendship between the two main characters grow.

Once again, character development is where Yoshinaga is king.  There are several secondary characters who sort of push the story from one point to another throughout the volume, and while I liked the main characters a lot, there were a handful of secondary characters who had their own little dramas periodically, and it was satisfying to see the stuck-up slackers who badmouthed everyone throughout get theirs at the end of the volume.  We see the main character… well, he doesn’t come out of the closet, but he gradually gets more used to having relationships.

The main character did it for me more than the secondary one.  He’s the character whose relationships we see the most, and we see what he thinks of various… opportunities he gets throughout the school year.

There are several moments of comedy gold.  The first comes at the very beginning of the story when the secondary character strips naked and plunges his penis into someone’s beer.  The second occurs  when one of the big gossips asks the main character out at the end of the volume.  He tells her that he could never sleep with a woman (which is not a spoiler, because this is a BL manga), and in a moment that comes straight from my high school, she says something along the lines of “I… have to tell people, okay?”  and then runs off.  It was priceless.

The last sex scene made me cry, too.  That was a sentence I never thought I would utter, but Yoshinaga made me do it.  She’s THAT good.