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review 2018-02-11 22:38
A Love Song for the Miserable (one-shot manga) by Yukimura, translated by Sachiko Sato
A Love Song for the Miserable (Yaoi) - Yukimura

All Asada wants is to transfer to his company's Events Planning Division and hopefully start implementing some of his ideas to make their events better and more exciting. However, his request for a transfer is turned down. On the plus side, his horrible day at work leads to him meeting Nao, the son of the owner of a cake shop. Nao convinces Asada to be his taste tester, and the two men become friends.

Unfortunately, their relationship sours when Nao tells Asada that he plans to go to France to study to be a patissier. Asada reacts badly, and he and Nao don't meet or even speak to each other again until three years later, when Asada finally achieves his goal of joining the Events Planning Division and must get a new patissier to participate in the division's upcoming sweets fair. The patissier he's been assigned to negotiate with is Nao.

This was an impulse buy. It was on sale and at least one review of it stated that it was sweet and didn't have much in the way of sex scenes. I crossed my fingers and hoped that meant it was genuinely sweet and didn't include rape-y moments. The last time I took a similar chance I ended up with Tatsumi Kaiya's Hot Steamy Glasses, which didn't fit my definition of "sweet" and included a main character who considered resorting to rape because he was feeling sexually frustrated.

Thankfully, A Love Song for the Miserable was genuinely good. Yukimura paid a fair amount of attention to the nonsexual aspects of Nao and Asada's relationship. As far as rape-y aspects went, there was one instance when it looked like things were going faster than Asada could handle, but then Nao backed off.

The volume was primarily devoted to Asada gradually realizing the true nature of his feelings for Nao (for most of those three years he told himself he loved Nao like a brother) and then worrying that someone would notice how he felt. He was afraid that Nao would either react negatively if he knew or at the very least unambiguously reject him.

It wasn't until fairly late in the volume that Asada realized there was another element in play in his feelings for Nao: envy. From Asada's perspective, Nao had found his path in life and had then managed to move forward, whereas very little had changed in Asada's own life.

I really liked watching how things worked out between Asada and Nao. It's too bad the volume wasn't a bit longer - it would have been nice to see a little more of Asada and Nao after they became an official couple, and the whole issue of Asada's career concerns didn't seem to truly be resolved (okay, so he's happy with his job now, but why?). A couple shorts, one showing Asada and Nao a few years down the line and one with Nao's boss and her husband, would have also been lovely. That said, I really enjoyed this and could see myself rereading it in the future. Sadly, I don't think any of Yukimura's other works have officially been translated into English. I'd love to read more.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-10-22 01:54
Hot Steamy Glasses (manga) by Tatsumi Kaiya, translated by Sachiko Sato
Hot Steamy Glasses (Yaoi) - Tatsumi Kaiya

Hot Steamy Glasses features two stories, although the second one is extremely short, more of an extra than anything. Most of the volume is devoted to the story of Takeo and Fumi. Takeo is the president of a successful I.T. company. He’s been in love with his friend Fumi for the past 17 years. He lives in hope that, despite being heterosexual, Fumi will one day agree to live with him and go on a date with him. Fumi’s younger brother, Shogo, is doubtful of this but does want something to change: either for Fumi to finally give Takeo a chance or for Takeo to move on and fall in love with someone who isn’t quite so mean to him.

Takeo’s an otaku, specifically one who’s into moe characters (romanized here as “moeh”), and Fumi isn’t shy about expressing his annoyance and disgust. Still, Takeo persists and does what he can to appeal to Fumi and make him happy.

I picked this one up after reading a review that described it as sweet and said that it contained surprisingly little sex. I hoped that this meant it’d be non-rapey.

Although Hot Steamy Glasses had quite a few amusing conversations and lines, it didn’t turn out to be the sweet and fun romance I’d hoped for. The first chapter was written from the perspective of Shogo, Fumi’s younger brother, and I was immediately convinced that the real romance would be between Takeo and Shogo. Shogo would finally convince Takeo to stop chasing after his brother, who’d repeatedly told Takeo that he wasn’t interested and who, to top it off, was also a bit of a jerk. Shogo would give Takeo a shoulder to cry on, and gradually the two of them would fall in love. That story would have been so much better than what actually happened.

The first half of the volume was okay, even after I realized, to my dismay, that Fumi really was the person the author planned to pair Takeo off with. The chapter where Fumi got sick had some nice funny moments, and I particularly liked Reiko, the secretary Takeo sent to take care of Fumi after he had to go back to work.

The volume took a sudden turn for the worse when Fumi finally agreed to be Takeo’s boyfriend. For one thing, Fumi’s change of heart came practically out of nowhere. He’d spent 17 years telling Takeo “no,” and here he was, changing his mind because of a few comments from Shogo and because Takeo reeeally loved him. Never mind that he’d repeatedly said he wasn’t gay and that Takeo had shown some tendencies towards controlling behavior, asking Fumi to quit his job and move in with him so that he could take care of him. Fumi’s response to Takeo telling him to quit his job was one of the few times I cheered for Fumi.

For another, there was the issue of sex. It strained my suspension of disbelief that Fumi had more of a problem with the lack of sex in their relationship than with the idea of having sex with a man for the first time. Again, he’d spent his entire life up to this point believing himself to be heterosexual, and there were no prior signs that he was interested in Takeo or other men. Even so, the only thing that bugged him was that his and Takeo’s relationship wasn’t much different after they officially became boyfriends than it was before. They didn’t really go out on dates, they didn’t kiss, and they didn’t have sex.

And boy did the lack of sex bother him. That’s when the volume got slightly rapey. Fumi decided that the two of them were finally going to have sex, and that was that: “Even if he resists, I’m gonna force him!” Thankfully, Fumi was gone when he got home, or it might have gone from slightly rapey to “this includes rape.”

Or maybe not. Their first sex scene was very sudden, and also initiated by Takeo. There was none of the awkwardness I would have expected, considering. Just BOOM, sex. Even Fumi found himself wondering why Takeo was so skillful and confident considering that he was probably a virgin.

Okay, let’s go back to the “Fumi really wants sex and isn’t getting any” stuff for a bit, so I can talk about something else that bugged me. I’m sure it was completely unintentional on the author’s part, but this part of the volume became a bit acephobic. As Fumi tried to feel his way around how to handle this part of their relationship, his frustrated thoughts included statements like “What is he, still a middle school student…?” and “I’m almost thirty years old! ‘Going together’ = ‘sex’ - I’m sure I’m not mistaken on that point.”

The implication was pretty clear: if Takeo really hadn’t been interested in having sex, Fumi couldn’t have handled it. And then the volume might have included rape instead of, say, the two of them talking through their differing needs and maybe breaking up if they couldn’t figure out a resolution that would work for both of them. The last time I had to deal with crap like this was in a book actually featuring an asexual character. This wasn’t quite as bad as that, but I still really could have done without it.

The volume’s ending was the one thing I’d agree was sweet. It took place several years after the events of the bulk of the story, showing how things were working out for Takeo, Fumi, Shogo, and Reiko. That said, it couldn’t make up for Takeo and Fumi’s shoddily constructed “romance.”

The volume ends with a short unrelated manga, “Young Love Graffiti.” Naomi fell in love with his tutor, Aki, when he was in junior high, but he didn’t realize it at the time and they both went their separate ways. He was excited to reconnect with Aki when they were both invited to the same wedding reception, but their relationship since then hasn’t been nearly as wonderful as Naomi could have wished. Naomi worries that he’s more in love with Aki than Aki is with him.

This story was so forgettable that I had to reread it before writing this review. It accomplished little more than adding to the volume’s page count, and I’ll probably forget it again in a few hours.

All in all, Hot Steamy Glasses wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be, and the artwork didn’t do much to make up for the story’s deficiencies - many of the male characters looked alike, and characters’ expressions could have been better.

Extras:

The volume includes a 2-page manga-style afterword by the author. The afterword was a little funny. Kaiya’s editor noticed that both of the stories contained characters with the same family name, and both of those characters looked kind of similar, so Kaiya came up with a quickie explanation that relied on both of the stories being set in the same world.

 

Rating Note:

 

I struggled with rating this. Parts of my review make this sound like a 1-star read, but I didn't hate it enough for that. I finally settled on 2 stars. Either way, it's going on my "offload to free up shelf space" pile.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2017-01-01 00:00
Honey Darling (Yaoi Manga)
Honey Darling (Yaoi Manga) - Norikazu Akira I enjoyed this. A quaint story about a vet and 2 cats. This may not be for everyone, but I enjoy the back and forth between the characters. Often the little things are overlooked, and this is another one that slides under the radar.

This is one that I happened across in my search. I am glad I gave it a go.
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review 2016-11-07 15:06
水の春 [Mizu no Haru] - Kaname Kurosawa,黒沢 要

Cute, although not as much as I wanted. The summary is misleading, the boys were far from awkward. I liked Sunahara's father's story more, how he falls in love with his editor and all the years they are together. At the beginning it makes the reader think that Sunahara is the lover of his stepdad (thank God it was just made-up!). All cute and clean.

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review 2016-10-12 15:42
One of the best manga I've read so far
Twittering Birds Never Fly vol.1 (Yaoi Manga) - Kou Yoneda

Amazing. This is the real thing.



I wanted to read this series because of a bunch of reasons:

1. The title is poetical and beautiful. It stuck and couldn't forget about it ever since.
2. The covers are suggestive and artsy.
3. Kou Yoneda's style agrees with me.
4. Shady environment: the Japanese mafia.
5. One of the MCs is impotent. The other one is a masochist. I wanted to see how the hell this would be sorted out.

Yes, I kind of expected this to epically explode in my very face, yet it didn't.

So...

Yashiro is yakuza. He's also an teasing irreverent masochist who has been secretly pinning his best (and only) friend from high school.

Doumeki is an ex-con, and an ex-police officer, who intercedes in one of Yashiro's 'scenes'. He's also impotent. Nothing can scratch his imperturbable armor. Or does it?

Yashiro takes him as his bodyguard (although he finds other uses in him) and loves provoking him in all ways he can think of. Sexually mostly, and the non-answer he receives from Doumeki only spurs him on even more.

Strangely enough, there is a compelling atmosphere in this story. The characterization is incredible, and their attachment to each other may be deeper than it seems at first. Even when they are unable to meet in the middle.

Or are they?

*****

Read in Manga Rock.

Volume 5: 23-?
Volume 4: chapters 17-22
Volume 3: chapters 13-16.5
Volume 2: chapters 4-12
Volume 1: chapters 1.1-3.5

 

(spoiler show)



*****

Volumes in the series:

Twittering Birds Never Fly, Vol.1 by Kou Yoneda Twittering Birds Never Fly, Vol.2 by Kou Yoneda 囀る鳥は羽ばたかない 3 Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai 3 by Kou Yoneda 囀る鳥は羽ばたかない(4) 初回限定版小冊子付 (Twittering Birds Never Fly, #4) by ヨネダコウ

Prequels:

漂えど沈まず、されど泣きもせず Tadayoedo Shizumazu Saredo Naki Mo Sezu by Kou Yoneda Don't Stay Gold by Kou Yoneda

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