Junjo Romantica 10

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.

Junjo Romantica 9

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!

Junjo Romantica 8

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.

Junjo Romantica 7

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.

Junjo Romantica 6

October 4, 2015

Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2008 – 18+ volumes

Hmm… most of this volume was Romantica, but it was kind of a downer volume.  Usagi’s work supervisors tell Misaki he probably isn’t good for Usagi, and that Usagi isn’t the best judge of that.  So Misaki’s fairly depressed, but then, inexplicably, Usagi’s asshole older brother Haruhiko starts making a play for Misaki after meeting him once and basically blowing him off.  At one point, Haruhiko kidnaps him and locks him in a room.

Generally, I hate rough, abusive stuff like that, especially when it’s played off as no big thing like it is here.  And on one hand, Haruhiko is delightfully eccentric in the same way Usagi is, and I liked the contrast between eccentric successful businessman and eccentric shut-in.  But on the other hand, Haruhiko is actively off-putting and unkind to the characters, which is harder for me to swallow.

That’s kind of disappointing, because I was looking forward to Usagi’s brother.  Oh well.

The last chapter here is a Terrorist chapter, which is even worse about rough stuff than Romantica.  So far, I really hate reading this story.  On one hand, Shinobu did ardently pursue Miyagi.  Which is a bit easier for me to take.  But after Miyagi assents to their relationship, Shinobu pulls away, and Miyagi tends to force him into romantic situations.  I get that Shinobu is supposed to be shy and not like outright romance, but Hiro and Nowaki are like that too, and their relationship works much better.  Come to think of it, Misaki and Usagi are like that too, but in both those couples, it’s obvious (at least, after awhile) that Misaki and Hiro do like their partners.  But with Terrorist being told from Miyagi’s POV, we have no idea how Shinobu feels.  With the huge age difference, and with the plot frequently turning towards Shinobu going to Australia to escape Miyagi… I mean, what am I supposed to think?

Sigh.  There was one cute Hiro/Nowaki story here, but with the Terrorist story ending on a cliffhanger, I suspect the next volume will be weighted towards the Terrorists.  Hopefully the Romantica story will be a bit more positive next time.

Junjo Romantica 5

September 20, 2015

Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2008 – 18+ volumes

Man, I just can’t seem to get off the fence with this series.  On one hand, I am growing to like the main Junjo Romantica couple more.  I… don’t even know that I like the characters more (?) but I do like reading the story.  And I do like the Egoist couple.

But I really did not like the Terrorist couple, whose introduction takes up most of this volume.  Teacher/Student, big age gap, some noncon that was kinda framed as not in the context of the story… mmm.  Yeah.  I’m sure the story will eventually wear me down on the shock of all that (I didn’t like Romantica and Egoist that much at first either), but… Terrorist is a hard sell.

And the other thing keeping me on the fence is now there’s more-or-less three series running in one.  So I want more Romantica, but it has to share space with the other two.  Same with Egoist.  Perhaps this is a good format for BL, though.  None of them really have an overarching plot (except for Terrorist, which is still a new couple, I guess), so the day-to-day stories may read well together, ultimately.

But I think the mix of all that is what’s keeping me from loving this.  I’m sorry, Junjo Romantica.

In terms of the story for the Romantica couple, I do love what’s going on now.  We learn about Usami’s brother (who is also Usami, but Haruhiko Usami), and I like the story that accompanies him.  The teaser for the next volume implies that he’s going to put the moves on Misaki, which I can’t quite wrap my head around right now.

Anyway.  I do have all the English volumes of this, so I’m going to keep reading regardless of whether or not I’m on the fence.  So I’ll let you know how it goes.

Junjo Romantica 4

August 30, 2015

Shungiku Nakamura – Blu – 2007 – 18+ volumes

I dunno… on one hand, I’m ridiculously addicted.  On the other hand… I still don’t think there’s a whole lot of romance in here.

As weird as it is, I still think the Egoist story is my favorite.  In this volume, we get the second half of the story about Hiro’s past.  He pushes the older man away, and winds up going over to see Usami after Usami calls him on the day Misaki’s brother gets a girlfriend.  Hiro can’t come to terms with the fact Usami will never love him, and refuses to entertain the thought of dating someone else.  The older man is a little forceful for my taste (everyone in this series is, which is one of the reasons I’m still on the fence), but he gives somewhat good advice, and seems like a decent guy save for the forcefulness.  Which is… kinda rare in this series?  The story ends with Hiro thinking about what it is to be happy, and it’s sweet.

The second Egoist story is told from Nowaki’s perspective.  He’s not sure that Hiro’s all that into him.  Hiro’s just not that romantic, and doesn’t seem all that into the “couple” stuff that Nowaki fantasizes about (there’s a great page with Nowaki fantasizing a lot of couple-y stuff, and with a completely straight face, dismissing it all).  He loses it when he realizes there’s a handful of people that call Hiro by his first name, without an honorific, and the story concludes with Hiro doing his best to stammer out a mushy admission of how much he likes Nowaki.  ADORABLE.  Also, there’s sex.

The only thing was that I was a little lost as to when this was supposed to take place.  Nowaki still has his job at the flower shop, and talks about the two of them living together despite their difficulty connecting, so I thought it took place before he went to America… but then he goes from there to his internship at the hospital?  I guess I didn’t realize that medical interns could hold down a second job?

Anyway.  Even the Romantica story was kinda great this time around.  Misaki begins to wonder if he should read Usagi’s books, and winds up reading the BL.  In the full story, Usagi wins a prestigious literary award (for his real books), and when Misaki doesn’t know he won the award, and has no idea what book it even was, and has never read Usagi’s books… he realizes he doesn’t know anything about Usagi.  He tries to ask, which touches Usagi deeply, and actually did make for a really cute story.  And next time, I’m promised Usagi’s brother.  I’m excited about that.

Also next time is a new couple, though I’m not reeeeally looking forward to it.  I think the character we know was the rape-y teacher that Hiro works with, who I’m not a big fan of for obvious reasons.