Shungiku Nakamura – SuBLime – 2015 – 9+ volumes

So, let’s see if I’ve got my Junjo Romantica lineage straight.

There’s the main Junjo Romantica series, which is 19+ volumes, and includes Junjo Romantica, Junjo Egoist, Junjo Terrorist, and Junjo Minimum.

There’s a one-volume spin-off manga called Junjo Mistake.

There’s World’s Greatest First Love, which is 9+ volumes and includes “Cases of” Ritsu Onodera, Kou Yukina, and Shouta Kisa (separate chapters for the latter two?  They are the same couple, I think).

There’s a 6+ volume World’s Greatest First Love novel series for Takafumi Yokozawa.

There’s a World’s Greatest First Love novel series for Chiaki Yoshino, which is 4+ volumes long.

There’s… apparently, a compiled Junjo Minimist manga.

There’s three volumes of an Egoist novel series, 8+ volumes of a Romantica novel series (these two might technically be novelizations of what Usagi is working on).

And that might be it, aside from the drama CDs and various adaptations?

That’s a lot of stuff.

Anyway, here’s hoping we can see the main series soon.  I have hope, despite its length, since apparently the last couple Tokyopop volumes wound up on the New York Times Bestseller list, and as I said, the early volumes got 6+ reprints.  I suppose it depends how well The World’s Greatest First Love does.  Then I can start hoping for the novels, which are far less likely to happen.

Anyway anyway, I’m talking about the second volume of The World’s Greatest First Love, which is still just Ritsu Onodera.  I liked it much better this time.  Each volume only has two chapters, the end of which tells us how long it will be before Ritsu falls in love with Masamune.  He’s got a long way to go, considering the sex they have here.

Masamune does seem to be rather smitten with Ritsu, but Yokozawa fills us on on what may have happened.  Ritsu has blocked out his relationship with Masamune, so he doesn’t remember the details.  Yokozawa tells him to stay away, as he’s the guy that threw Masamune to the curb, had a fiancee he was cheating on with Masamune, and later, went back to dating women.  Yokozawa says that Ritsu’s heartlessness really set Masamune back, and made a complete mess of him.  Ritsu doesn’t remember any of this.  I’m not sure what to believe here.  Masamune would know best, and his vote is for banging Ritsu.

Yokozawa (edit: when I wrote this months ago I kept calling him Yoshizawa, my apologies if that’s actually his name) is a little annoying.  He’s one of those characters who’s not really dating the love interest, but wishes he was, and won’t let others near him.  He’s constantly giving Ritsu grief, despite the fact that Ritsu adamantly refuses to have anything to do with Masamune.

Mmm… sometimes, Nakamura’s art bothers me.  She’s got the big hands thing going on, which is more pronounced in Junjo Romantica.  She also has a tendency to make even her ukes tiny, hilariously disproportionate to the huge semes.   And sometimes, there are small things that bother me.  Here, there’s a fantastic dramatic kissing scene, but the way the mouths are lined up isn’t quite right.  I couldn’t figure out if Ritsu was biting Masamune’s neck, and in the next panel, a weird part of their faces is kinda smashed together.  But I’m horribly addicted to her stories, and her art works most of the time.  I like it much better here than in Junjo Romantica, but I’m not sure how far along that series was when this started coming out, so she may have improved a lot since then.

Let’s see, what else… Isaka appears as a CEO-type guy in this volume, and seems to be comically laid-back.  At one point, he realizes Ritsu is the son of the owner of Onodera publishing, and is in a similar scion position to him.  He yells down a crowded hallway “from one coattail rider to another, good luck!”  Ritsu is mortified.

And there are a ton of other Ritsu and Masamune scenes here.  Ritsu is slowly getting better at his job, and when Masamune is not yelling at him, he’s giving good advice and trying to get into his pants.  And when Ritsu isn’t thinking about work (there’s much less of that in this volume), he’s thinking about Masamune.  The romance is great, except for the fact we know Ritsu isn’t going to give in until the deadline at the end of the chapters lapses.  The wait is terrible.  And now I know that other characters are going to start sneaking into the volumes, too.

Shungiku Nakamura – SuBLime – 2015 – 9+ volumes

This is a spin-off of Junjou Romantica (I wrote up a long anecdote about it, and shoved it down to the bottom of the review), though I believe requires no previous knowledge of that story or the characters in it.  I think the only link may be that Ritsu was Usami’s editor at some point edit: not as far as I’ve read in JR.  He switched companies, and now works on the (all male) editorial team of the shoujo manga magazine Emerald.  He knows nothing about manga, and hates romance in particular due to being spurned by a high school crush.

The Emerald editorial department is a wild place.  We get to hear a lot about manga production from the editorial side, which is awesome.  It’s like Bakuman in that way.  You may even catch the slightest whiff of misogyny from the all-male editorial staff, if you wish (that might also be a BL thing, I can’t tell right now).  But Bakuman is from the creator perspective.  This is about the editors.  What happens when a creator misses their deadlines?  How many fingers does the editor-in-chief have to break to keep the printer open long enough to submit a late work?  What might an editor change in a work, and why?  There’s lots of fun stuff in here, though it’s incidental to the story, unlike Bakuman, where it is the story.

Ritsu Onodera is learning the ropes of this brave new world.  He transferred over from his father’s company, trying to shake cries of nepotism.  He requested the literature department, but wound up in shoujo manga instead.  He’s never read manga, and a bad relationship soured his views on romance.  His boss Masamune Takano, the editor-in-chief of the magazine, is also rude and obnoxious.

Most of the story is about how he hates his job, but is too stubborn to quit, and is slowly learning the ropes and interacting with the sundry bizarre personalities at the new publisher.

But because this is a BL story, Masamune is an old boyfriend from high school, and they broke up on bad terms.  Neither realizes this until later in the book.  Masamune is determined to have him back, and to get Ritsu to fall back in love with him.  Ritsu thinks otherwise.

Annoyingly, the first volume isn’t nearly enough story.  I should have waited for several volumes to come out and read it in one go.  It’s going to be torture to wait for more of this, even with an every-other-month schedule.  You got me, SuBLime.

I keep seeing a lot of negative feedback from people that hate SuBLime cover designs.  I don’t know why!  I think these are purists that like the original covers/logos… but man.  They must be looking at different books than me.  The logo design for this book mimics the Japanese logo, which uses a fancy pink-outlined typeface, and looks like it may have come from the 90s.  Most BL books look like this.  The SuBLime house design is way better.

———-

I saw a lot of hype surrounding this title, but realized later it was a spin-off of Junjou Romantica.  Crap!  I never read that!  Well, it’s odd that SuBLime would release a spin-off and not the original series, right?  I looked up Junjou Romantica, and noticed it was 18+ volumes long.  That’s probably an insane length for an imprint like SuBLime, and truthfully, most publishers who aren’t Viz (though I realize SuBLime is owned by them, I speculate it works on different rules).  Crimson Spell made the New York Times best-seller list, but I’m willing to bet most books don’t make enough money to keep an 18 volume series afloat, the same way Pokemon and Naruto probably keep something like Case Closed coming out.

On the other hand… I looked up Junjou Romantica to see if it was expensive to acquire second-hand.  Right Stuf actually carries the entire series new, and also releases the anime.  I suspect they or Tokyopop are still able to reprint the volumes already published in English, because there’s no way there’s still that much unsold new stock sitting around for a series as popular as Junjou Romantica.  Especially if an anime came out, and especially since the early volumes were released… almost ten (!!!) years ago?  No way.  So that might be another wrinkle.

Long story short, I bought all twelve volumes of Junjou Romantica that Blu published in English.  I literally cannot wait for that to come in the mail.  edit:  They did, and it was glorious.  I would re-buy it from SuBLime in a heartbeat, though.