summaries are generally taken from scanlators, publishers, or mangaupdates; only rarely written or edited by myself.
without further ado:( small cover images included; no sexual situations )
i am a wreck. i thought my heart was gonna break. what a fantastic roller-coaster. it's complex, honest, tough, stubborn, witty, boyish, aggressive, silly, unpredictable, erotic, deeply emotional, and completely original. i don't cry easily, but i'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face, and i can't stop. was this really just 3 volumes? these people became my friends. i sat in that abandoned building with them, and i bled with them. i don't want to leave. i might just read it again right away. or go to sleep in the hopes i'll dream about it.
on a scale of 1 to 10 this is an 11. this is a story that is everything i read BL for and find so very rarely. i will buy several copies and give them to my friends, even the ones who don't usually read BL. and i'll write my first ever fan letter to a mangaka.
Kiss All the Boys
bliss (2 ch; dropped)
i'd saved this one for a long time because kano is one of my favourite BL authors, and her stories are never just pointlessly smutty; they always have plot and great characterisation. i didn't want to inhale everything by her all at once -- a (bad?) tendency i have when i find a good author.
atarashi tetsuo is a single, 32 year old mangaka of (hetero) erotica. 15 years ago he fathered a son (haruka), but he hardly knows him and doesn't really care. suddenly his ex gets a job opportunity in france and dumps haruka on him. adjusting to his new life with his estranged son who is openly gay isn't easy for him. not only does he have to come to terms with his son's sexuality, he also has his own sexual probems, namely impotence, which is affecting his work (i guess without sufficient fantasising he can't write good porn, *snrk*).
to make the plot more complex, we also have 3 other people: enomoto michiro, who is tetsuo's editor -- and also the brother of his ex, and on good terms with haruka who views him as a father figure. and haruka has an unrequited crush on a classmate, tamaki. and momoyama kiichi, whom tetsuo meets in a porn cinema where he has an ... interesting experience.
one reason i read certain genre fiction at specific times is that it is in certain ways predictable -- romance has a happy ending, yaoi is smutty, etc. and while i don't at all mind unpredictability in fiction in general, and even like it when an author screws with my expectations, in genre fiction i don't like unpredictability when it messes with the main rules. i read genre fiction in certain moods because i want that predictability, that delivery of the happy ending against all odds, and/or of hot sex.
kano screws with those expectations, and it's totally unexpected because i've read almost all of her work, and while it varies in degrees of thoughtfulness, it never before didn't deliver on what i want from my BL smut. but here it does. ( beware, i am seriously gonna spoil this manga )
the problem is of course that BL is a ghetto genre; authors are locked into it the moment their manga is about romance/love/sex between men because nobody else but genre publishers will touch it. BL authors who experiment are still published by the same people who publish the regular BL stuff, and it's not possible to tell when something follows genre rules and when it falls outside of them, unless an author is already well-known for doing it. i would have liked this manga a lot more if i had known that kano was gonna screw with me, but coming at it straight from all her other work this felt like a slap with a dead fish.
somebody who doesn't have the same expectations might like this a lot better; the reviews it got are mostly positive. somebody who likes less smut and/or less graphic smut and usually avoids kano might want to try it (though there is still some, but it's not as graphic either). this isn't a bad manga; it's just not for me.
(as always, you can ask me for a copy to check it out if you are on my subscription list.)
i've mostly been hermitting, and been keeping myself busy with reading; i'm back into mysteries (mostly oldies like ngaio marsh and andre garve), and i've also dusted off my BL manga collection. which means i am studying japanese again, yay. i missed that, but it became too hard to concentrate.
found out that some japanese publishers now write cease and desist letters to scanlation groups, some of whom have apparently slunk off into their own gated communities with demands about not sharing their scans outside -- which i don't get. i mean, they're not all THAT gated (3000 of your closest friends!), so they're not actually safe from "spies", and demanding limited distribution on the internet never ever works. me, i'd change my name, sever all connection with past sites, and distribute randomly through a variety of channels, letting those who're attentive enough to grab the scans do the rest of the distribution.
and japanese publishers kid themselves if they think those letters actually halt, or even diminish scanlation for more than a few weeks. there is a solid fan base, there is ongoing demand, they are not filling it (english licenses are few, only of already-famous mangaka, often years behind the original, and mostly inferior quality, plus people from countries where BL is censored or forbidden often rely on scanlations), ergo there will always be people who jump to fill that demand, and the net makes it so much easier now to cooperate across large distances, and yet to remain anonymous if needed. and i keep thinking that they're not losing anything much from english scanlation, but are possibly even gaining customers -- i bought no manga at all before i found out about scanlation; now i do, heck: i started buying japanese originals before i could read any japanese, just to hold those little treasures in my own hands, and to support the mangaka i really like. without scanlation i wouldn't know about 70% of the mangaka out there, and i certainly wouldn't know about up-and-coming ones who most need the support, because they are first published in the japanese "phone book" magazines which are hard to get here (though i am getting to the point where i will probably buy those from japan, even though the shipping costs are formidable). i am by far not unique; lots of other BL fanciers do the same thing.
to me scanlation and general book sharing over the net is no different from libraries and used bookstores; it allows me a preview before buying my own, and it's more convenient; not tied to store hours, inventory, or location, which means i read more and across a wider range of authors. good writers have nothing to worry about from that; i find more of them, and buy more of their works than i used to; my spending on new ebooks has really gone up quite considerably, while my spending on print books has gone down, and i buy few used books anymore -- the latter used to be the vast majority of my book budget, and it's not like authors and publishers benefitted much from that.
i grant that mediocre and bad writers might be losing out; at least in my case. i no longer buy as many random authors on impulse as i used to, and i don't buy crappy books i've read. then again, i also give mediocre authors more of a chance now -- i used to not buy ever again if i didn't like my first purchase. nowadays i read further works because it costs me nothing, and that additional exposure might just change my opinion and put the author back on my "buy" list. i'm really curious how that shakes out; maybe i'll keep better track of it for a year to see whether my impressions are correct, and how much that comes to in monetary terms.
ah, enough rantage -- i need to go buy a hard drive enclosure so i can clone my mac boot disk in order to move to a new machine. my first SATA drive (not even eSATA) -- wow, am i ever behind the curve in computer hardware now. need more POWER, *arrrrr*!
|thanks to the grocery store, there are flowers! i thought this combination particularly striking.|
low productivity today, but i rearranged my LJ pictures, since i now have a full year of dailies. if you care to look at the lot by month, here is all of 2008. [defunct as my LJ is gone; will eventually end up on smugmug.]
latest anime completed: okane ga nai. it's BL, so if that offends or bores, skip the rest of this entry.
this is the story of gentle, kind-hearted college student ayase, who is auctioned off on the underground sex slave market in order to pay the debt of his unscrupulous cousin. the highest bidder is kanou, a loan shark with a nasty temper who is utterly smitten with ayase.
and to show his abiding love in good ole yaoi manner, kanou takes ayase home and rapes him. because nothing says loving like forcing somebody who's already scared out of his mind to have sex. then we have hijinks of misunderstandings and ayase being abducted, and kanou coming to his rescue, and trying (unsuccessfully) to not scare him the rest of the time. and since it's yaoi, ayase naturally comes to love his rapist over time, because how can you possibly resist a man who loves you so much that he can't control himself? i swear, when watching this sort of dreck, and knowing how many fans adore it, i think japan is stuck in the 50s.
i haven't kept up with the manga, because i abhor girly, crying uke who are more yasashii (gentle, caring, sacrificing, submissive) than the average anime girl. i realize what the concept of yasashii is trying to get at, and i can even occasionally buy it (such as in the novel answer by sakiya haruhi). but here ayase is just too much of a doormat for me.
the art is really bad in the OVA, no comparison to the manga, the animation is lazy, and the sex (what there is to see) is not erotic. on the other hand, the voice talent is superb, and fukuyama jun is perfect for ayase because he does squealy uke so well (which is why i don't buy drama CDs with fukujun in a leading role; he's a great actor, but i can't stand his voice when he does sex). kosugi juurota plays kanou, and does him very well. supporting are okiayu ryoutarou as well as hatano wataru, and tobita nobuo has my favourite role, that of the tranny. this anime needs more tranny.
buy the drama CDs instead, they're much better (ishida akira plays ayase).
watched ikoku irokoi romantan today. ranmaru, a yakuza clan heir got married on a cruise ship, but he neither loves his new wife, nor does she love him. they argue a lot, and he ends up getting drunk and spending the night with albert valentino, the sexy captain of the ship, who has a thing not just for everything japanese, but especially for ranmaru in his traditional clothes, which al finds beyond sensuous. ranmaru gets into trouble at every opportunity, especially with a rival yakuza, and al always comes to the rescue.
the story is very lightweight in its manga version, and the anime makes it even lighter with the usual problem of BL OVAs which have to rush through their material to get away with the fewest episodes. the plot is preposterous, and i don't feel the love between the two here at all (while in the manga there was at least a little time for it to develop). but the translation to anime hasn't hurt yamano ayane's art much, the boys are pretty, and the voice talent is good (suwabe junichi and itou kentarou with okiayu ryoutaro as support). the sex is ... well, as much sex as we get in BL anime, which is to say, more implied than shown, but at least they don't fade to black like in gravitation, and it's mildly erotic.
eye candy to kill an hour, only worth buying for BL anime completists IMO.
( most of you don't need to click here : )
thanks to yaoisuki for the heads up and much of this information.
japanese title: どうせ、めろめろ (douse, meromero), english title: melted love;
1 volume 8 chapters (complete), not scanlated. published by kaiousha under GUSH COMICS, licensed in english by DMP, juné imprint, translated by sachiko sato.
english ISBN-10: 156970760X, ISBN-13: 978-1569707609
about the title -- oy. "melted love"? the original title means (literally) either something like "anyhow, madly in love" or "after all, falling down drunk". um, yeah. not a great start, but couldn't it have become at least "melting love"?
but onward. this is the first english BL manga for which i hadn't seen a scanlation or japanese raws first. and it wasn't a terrible buy, even though i am not all that much into short manga. there's quite the range of stories here.
( description and commentary )
( art sample; no sex )
japanese title: 夢の子供
english title: children's dreams
6 volumes (complete), scanlated up to v5 ch5 by essence of purity. not licensed in english, originally published by biblos.
v1: ISBN4-88271-306-3, v2: ISBN4-88271-307-1, v3: ISBN4-88271-561-9, v4: ISBN4-88271-760-3, v5: ISBN4-8352-1109-X, v6: ISBN4-8352-1275-4
|takashima youji is a high school student who lives with his older sister senko. he's got a bit of a "sister complex" towards her (the japanese as per manga wisdom, frequently have such "complexes", a love that goes above and beyond the call of kinship, albeit not quite to the extent of oedipus. well, mostly not to that extent. not here, in any case.). one day senko introduces youji to one of her old university friends, akishima ren. she hopes they will get along, but things don't go as expected; youji notices the warm familiarity between ren and senko, and takes an instant dislike to ren, suspecting that they are lovers and that he wants to marry her. and then senko reveals that she's leaving for NYC to advance her career, and that she intends to leave youji in ren's care. ren is not thrilled, but agrees to the arrangement because it's senko asking him, and senko is important to him -- but youji just about goes through the roof.|
however, he has no choice, and starts living with ren. it doesn't go well; when ren isn't cold and distant, he treats youji like the brat that he is, but worse, even when youji isn't a brat, ren makes light of the things he cares about -- such as his favourite author whose books mean a lot to youji. only when youji tears up and runs off does ren realize that maybe he's gone too far; and when he follows him and they talk, youji breaks down and talks about his sister and what she means to him. since she means a lot to ren as well, they make peace with that in mind, however uneasy.
since youji has decided to make the best of things, he starts watching ren -- who doesn't take very good care of himself, and forgets to eat and sleep properly when he works, and youji decides that he should make himself useful by taking care of the household. then one day he sees ren arguing with a man whose name he later finds out is hirose, a name towards which ren acts with extraordinary coldness when other people mention it. and when cleaning up, youji finds several floppy disks that seem to have something to do with his favourite author. the plot thickens. :)
( commentary; download )
( art samples; no sex )
but this year's golden turkey honours so far go to angel's feather. i know, the year is still young, but it would take an effort of monumentally bad proportions to oust this front runner. it is to weep -- i downloaded it without reading prior reviews just because one of my favorite seiyuus (inoue kazuhiko) is in it , and i could listen to him read the phonebook and be happy. but even he couldn't save this disaster for me, and it's not like he has much screen time. well, if he had had more screen time, i could have just closed my eyes more often to listen to his voice, and forget the crap on the screen, so maybe... no. just... no.
here's why angel's feather sucks: it features your totally generic fantasy kingdom taken over by bad people, ridiculous monsters (a naked bishie-spider? gag me.), loads of dull fan service (never have i seen so many naked chests without feeling the slightest dokidoki), cardboard cutout characters (plucky kendo boy, girlie shota bullied boy, evil creepy headmaster), badly integrated 3D CGI, black and white wings (guess who the good guys are!)(guess who's special, and a member of the ousted royal family!), completely random plot adventures (let's go ghost hunting! were there ghosts? who knew.), music that's way too loud, monster encounters straight from one of any 50 feel-alike RPG's we've already played. i could actually go on, but why?
i guess the two OVAs are meant to promote a video game; nothing else even remotely makes sense. but really, what a total waste of electrons -- the story sucks, and there's no yaoi here at all , there's not even real BL (boys' love) despite a kiss between BFFs and a licky, teasy bit by the bishi-spider (*eww*), because there is absolutely no sexual or romantic tension.
inoue kazuhiko, i weep. why have you forsaken me!
 yes, i have now watched enough anime to recognize some seiyuus (voice actors) without reading the credits, and i have definite favourites: inoue kazuhiko, okiayu ryoutarou, seki tomokazu. mmmh.
 i've mostly been watching smut the last few days. i am finding that RL porn doesn't do anything for me at all anymore. not that it ever did much, but now it's completely without effect. while drawn boy-on-boy can actually be moderately hot. i have no idea why, but my inner gay guy rejoices that we actually do have a wee bit of a sex drive for a change.