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warning: boys love|yaoi|gay|man x man manga. do not read review if that sort of thing offends. art samples might include sexual situations; if so, there will be an extra warning.

volume 1 cover

title [J]:
title [E]:
licensed by:  

Kiss All the Boys
3 (complete)
bliss (2 ch; dropped)
deux press

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.

oh, she still delivers happy endings. but NOT of the pairings that she first spends time to get me invested in. and i am grumpy about it. i don't CARE about these endings. worse; i don't even buy them all. sure, i can see how haruka's first crush might not work out; i can even see how it might happen that his crush tamaki falls in love with tetsuo instead. heck, i can even swallow how newly gay tetsuo might be tempted by that pure, innocent first love of a cute teenager, and he is just a selfish enough arse to forget all about his son when tamaki throws himself at him. but the final resolution doesn't work for me.

because to tie it all up with happy endings, kano takes the net away under my suspension of disbelief. michiro has been secretly in love with tetsuo for 15 years, and when he finally confesses it, tetsuo panics and react badly, and as a result michiro resigns from his job as editor. major upheaval and crisis. but a few days after the big blowout, everything is copacetic, people are pals with each other again, and michiro gets involved with momoyama of all people. and haruka gets together with tetsuo's new editor about whom we know nothing, and about whom i don't care (even though he wears glasses and is seriously weak to haruka's insolence). i could buy him as a revenge fuck of sorts, but not as anything more so quickly. and michiro's quick recovery from a love he's carried with him for this long is totally unbelievable. it doesn't help that i didn't like momoyama from the start; he is just the sort of perky, energetic, clueless guy who gets on my nerves.

i would have been much happier if there were 3 more volumes during which we might see the new relationships grow, and see people come to terms with betrayal and loss. as it is, i feel cheated on every front -- what could be a thoughtful treatment of how love can go wrong but life goes on and you'll have other chances at happiness feels pat in this case when the happy endings come out of the blue, and with people about whom i don't care. it feels almost as if kano changed the story in the middle just to make it unpredictable; it just doesn't feel "true" to me.

even the sex isn't that great here! damn it. kano usually does fantastic sex; the best -- seriously. but no, not here.

the art is fine; not quite as good as later works, but still very distinctively kano, with interesting perspectives.

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.)


piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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