Keiko Kinoshita – DMP / Digital Manga Guild – 2012 – 2 volumes

I won’t lie, I read this a few times. I loved both of the Yuri-sensei books. The second volume here isn’t quite as good as the first, but it’s still ridiculously addictive, and a good follow-up to Yuri-Sensei Is In a Good Mood Today as Well. I wish there were printed volumes of both.

The premise here goes over some well-traveled BL tropes: Muguruma (an editor for a literature magazine) takes on another writer, and of course he is a ridiculous flirt that tries to split up Muguruma and Yuri. There’s also a potential marriage for Yuri, a meddlesome wealthy mother, and some wavering from Muguruma. Are the rumors about Yuri true? Is he a notorious playboy that’s only using him as a temporary diversion?

Sakura, Muguruma’s other author, was more-or-less what made this volume feel slightly off compared to the last. He’s so over-the-top. Compared to the slow character building that went on in the first volume, it’s a bit jarring to have him move in so fast here. He also definitely turns the mood upside-down. I didn’t dislike him, and I still thought this was an awesome volume of manga, but his presence definitely changed the mood.

As for the plot devices the characters run through… I was a little disappointed that they followed such tried-and-true BL drama, but on the other hand, I liked the characters so much that I wound up enjoying the stories. Watching Yuri get jealous over Sakura, who he is also good friends with, never got boring, and Sakura was so different from the other two that it was fun watching them react to him. I don’t mean to criticize it too much, because it was still very good. These two volumes were up with my absolute favorite DMP releases. If you’re looking for something good to read on eManga, and enjoy slow character-centric stories that take their time with the romance, these are the books for you.

Keiko Kinoshita – DMP / Digital Manga Guild – 2012 – 2 volumes

I’ve been waiting impatiently for the Yuri-sensei books to become available on eManga. They were finally posted last week. The wait was totally worth it. I like Keiko Kinoshita more and more with every book I read by her, and I think the Yuri-sensei books are my favorite yet.

The plot is more or less unremarkable. The couple is a popular writer and his editor. Yuri-sensei enjoys bullying the gullible Muguruma, who has to do what he says (mostly tracking down exotic sweets) in order to placate his eccentric writer sensibilities. This develops about how you think it would, with Yuri growing an obvious fond edge to his bullying, and Muguruma not quite picking up on it until Yuri spells it out for him. Things get awkward, and then better. It’s got the same stuff as a usual BL one-shot, but because it’s Kinoshita, it’s just better.

One of the things I liked best about this book, actually, was the setting and time period. I actually thought, all the way to the end of this volume, that this was a Taisho-era Japan setting, from the 1910s or 20s, but it’s post-war. Either way, I really dug Muguruma’s suit and Yuri’s yutaka, and the home-y setting in general.

Aside from that, Kinoshita’s great at character development. Even the bully-ish Yuri is likable in this book, and isn’t terribly forceful about pushing his feelings on Muguruma. It’s obvious that the affection runs both ways, though Muguruma isn’t quite sure what to do with himself when he realizes he’s fallen in love with the great Yuri-sensei. Kinoshita is good at nailing quiet moments between her characters, the subtleties that make the falling-in-love experience just a little more fun than it normally would be in your garden variety BL book. My favorite chapter, for instance, is one where Muguruma is pushed into asking Yuri-sensei for a rehash of a popular horror story that he did for another publisher, and tries to bring it up in a roundabout way by lying about liking ghost stories. Knowing he’s lying, Yuri invites him to stay the night so that they can tell ghost stories together. This doesn’t go where you think it does, and Yuri tells a strange story about a haunted house nearby. It’s more about Muguruma’s lies, Yuri seeing through them and bullying him until he confesses, and the two growing closer because of it, rather than any attempt at a bed scene.

Anyway, because of the slow and careful character and relationship development, it’s also true that Muguruma and Yuri make a cute couple, and my girly sensibilities were well-satisfied by this book. It simply does everything right, and is exactly what I love to read when I pick up a BL book. It’s a shame there’s no print edition available, I would re-buy it in a second.