Yellow 2 (omnibus ed.)

September 3, 2011

Makoto Tateno – June – 2010 – 4 volumes
this is an omnibus containing vols 3-4

Yellow episode 2 #3 just came out, and in that spirit, I thought I should finish off the first series. I liked the first omnibus well enough. It was a nice mix of action and romance, and that’s more or less what I’m looking for when I pick up a book like this.

Yellow’s a little better than the average book, though. The characters are fleshed out a little more, and Taki’s constant rejection of Goh only serves to heighten the romance. And it truly is 50/50 on action and romance. There are better love stories, and there are better crime-themed stories, but rarely are the two mixed as well as they are in Yellow.

Having said that, I didn’t enjoy this omnibus as much as the last. It’s all about Taki’s past, but the plot keeps getting increasingly improbable throughout the volume. You see, Taki’s parents are an internationally-wanted assassin duo. This is pretty bizarre, and the fact that they are apparently Golgo 13 makes it even harder to believe. But Taki left them the night he found out and they forced him to commit a terrible act.

But they re-enter Taki’s life, and he can’t even admit his past to Goh. Once they crack the first murder the duo performs, the assassins turn their guns on Goh until Taki agrees to move back in with them.

This is where it starts to get ridiculous. Taki doesn’t tell Goh what’s going on, even as he basically accepts Goh as his lover. Even in confinement, he’s able to slip Goh enough hints to thwart the duo’s next attempt. And in one of the lamest rescues ever, Goh has sex with Taki until the assassins blow the door off the room. I finally threw the book down when one of the key traumas in the plot is undone. It was ridiculous. The ending was too happy and too picture-perfect. And it started getting a little too formulaic towards the end… the romance between Taki and Goh became less believable the closer they got, which is a shame.

A couple of the one-shot chapters at the end of the book got it right, though. It was disappointing to see how well those were written in contrast to the ending of the main series.

Still, it wasn’t without its good moments. I liked it less as the volume wore on, but the romance between Taki and Goh is still pretty solid, and that was mainly what I was interested in.

There’s also an interesting plot point in that one of the assassins is a male-to-female transsexual. He fell in love with Taki after the duo took him in, and this man’s advances was another factor that made Taki flee (and it’s implied that it made Taki hate homosexuals as well). Getting rejected because he was a man broke his heart, so he got a sex change and put some time between his old self and Taki before re-appearing as a woman. It’s an interesting plot twist, but not much is done with this character, unfortunately. I feel bad for him.

Unfortunately, this was also one of the borderline NOT OKAY points of the book. The man’s age is left ambiguous, and his old self is mostly faceless, so he only looks a few years older than Taki. But the fact remains that he was a functioning assassin the entire time he was raising Taki, and Taki considers him a “parent,” though not in the biological sense, of course. Make of that what you will.

In the end, Yellow is a solid read, and definitely one of the better BL books out there. But I was disappointed with the second half, addictive as the first half was. That’s not to say it’s irredeemable, but still. If you’re a BL fan, the first omnibus is definitely worth picking up, but keep in mind that the ending is a little weak.

Yellow 2 1

May 5, 2010

Makoto Tateno – June/DMP – 2009 – 2+ volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column at the Manga Recon, so you can check it out over there.

Good stuff.  On that note, I’m dying for the second Yellow omnibus.  I really need to read more Makoto Tateno.

Yellow Omnibus 1

January 2, 2010

Makoto Tateno – June – 2009 – 4 volumes
this is an omnibus edition that collects the series into 2 volumes

This is exactly what I wanted when I read Fake.  I’m not sure why I like this series so much better, but it may be because it ditches almost all the humor, and is much more… I don’t know, there isn’t narration on one side or the other, so it seems like Taki is doing a good job of resisting Goh’s advances, and the gun pulling business seems pretty serious.  And yeah, it’s just much less goofy, and I like that more in my romance series.

I’m surprised I liked this as much as I did.  I seem to go less for the action-oriented BL titles, with a few exceptions, and I usually dislike series that follow an episodic format like this.  But Yellow was pretty great.  I liked pretty much everything about it, from the way it doesn’t overblow the main drug snatching missions, to Goh and Taki’s perfectly matched teamwork, their entertaining banter, and, again, the way the characters aren’t just hopping into bed with one another.  There are a lot of nice things working in this series.  I do wish there was a little bit more of an overarching plot, aside from the obvious use of the character’s pasts, but I’m pretty entertained by everything else the series has to offer so far.

The missions are very fun.  Taki and Goh usually wind up in sticky situations, and what usually seems like a previous steamy encounter, or rejection on Goh’s side, turns out to be the two communicating in their near-telepathic way in order to solve whatever mess they foresaw themselves getting into.  It’s a pretty fun formula, and there’s just enough triumphs and close shaves to make everything very exciting.

There are some forehead-slapping moments, though.  The way that Taki focuses on female mistresses and Goh on male seems to limit their early missions to bisexual drug lords, though that is shown not to be a standard formula later, and either Goh or Taki will do the seduction depending on gender.  I’m not sure what would happen if they ever ran into a straight man, but whatever.

I do like the emphasis on “I love you, but I don’t want to have sex with you” between Taki and Goh.  This is a theme that’s brought up early on, and Taki pretty much sticks to this through the entire omnibus volume here.  There’s even a short story with the same situation that makes the two reflect on that even more.  It’s nice, and definitely a breath of fresh air from the standard yaoi series.

I’ve read other books by Makoto Tateno and liked them okay, but I think Yellow is my favorite so far.  I’m sad I’ll have to wait for March for the followup omnibus volume, but it’ll be great when I can read the new sequel right after.