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review 2018-09-10 03:16
Honey So Sweet (manga, vol. 2) by Amu Meguro, translated by Katherine Schilling
Honey So Sweet, Vol. 2 - Amu Meguro

Onise's words at the end of the previous volume cause Nao to wonder whether her feelings for Sou really are romantic. As she puzzles through the concept of romantic feelings and how to recognize them, Onise suddenly brings things to a head. He

kisses her while she's dozing and she wakes up and catches him at it. He's utterly horrified with himself and sure that this will be the end of their friendship, while she experiences an epiphany after the kiss: the one she has romantic feelings for is Onise. She wants to tell him, but how?

(spoiler show)

The volume ends with the introduction of a new character, Ayaha Futami, a classmate of Onise's who takes an interest in him.

I still think the entire "Nao has a crush on her uncle, who has been raising her since she was six" thing was weird and off-putting. And while I appreciated the way she started questioning how to recognize whether her feelings are romantic or not, I thought she figured things out awfully fast considering she'd spent years interpreting her love for her own uncle as romantic love.

I also didn't like the way Nao's epiphany happened.

What Onise did could be considered sexual assault. He kissed her while she was sleeping. From his perspective, Nao thought of him as a friend - no romantic feelings whatsoever. He knew he didn't have her consent for what he'd done, and it was part of why he was so utterly horrified when she woke up, caught him at it, and made him realize the line he'd crossed. I don't consider Onise to be a bad guy, but I wouldn't have blamed Nao if she'd been uncomfortable around him from that point on and kept him at arm's length.

If this had all happened in real life, that's probably what would have happened. However, this is a romance manga, so instead the kiss helped Nao figure out her true feelings. Again, I wish Meguro had figured out some other way to give Nao her epiphany.

(spoiler show)

Meguro included some moments showcasing Nao and Onise's budding friendships with Yashiro and Misaki, although they always referenced Nao and Onise's romance. The moments were cute, but I found myself thinking about the friendship storyline early on in Kimi ni Todoke that explicitly focused on Sawako, Chizuru, and Ayane, with no reference to Sawako's budding romance with Kazehaya. Yashiro supported Nao while she wondered what to do about Onise, and Misaki supported Onise as he decided to pursue Nao more actively. I thought the relationship between Onise and Misaki was slightly better done. It felt like they had a firmer foundation, in large part because Volume 1 had already done some of the work of breaking down Misaki's defenses on-page. Yashiro was a bit friendlier in this volume, but it came more out of the blue than Misaki's transformation.

Once Nao and Onise officially became a couple, I tended to like Meguro's efforts at "sweet" moments more. Onise turns out to be the sort of guy who moves both fast and slow, originally asking Na out "with marriage in mind," but worrying that by holding hands they're moving too fast. And Sou doing the "dad" thing, telling Onise that he'd better appreciate the cookies Nao put so much time into, was nice. I kind of hope Sou gets a romantic storyline at some point (with an adult! You have no idea how much I hate that I have to specify these things).

I'm not sure how I feel about the ending. I hope Futami is the good guy he appears to be and that Onise figures out a way to hang out with this new friend of his without making Nao feel like she's constantly being left out. But I worry that Meguro actually plans to make Futami a secret villain. I suppose I'll find out.

I'm still iffy about this series. Although the art style is cute and there are lots of cute moments, there are lots of aspects that I'm not wild about. I'm hoping the next volume is better.


Author sidebars and a few extra AU (alternate universe) comics in which Meguro depicts Sou as a teacher and all of the series' other characters as small children.


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

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text 2018-08-19 19:28
Manga Classics: Romeo & Juliet!!!
Romeo and Juliet - Crystel S Chan,William Shakespeare

The artwork is so beautiful, I just hate the story with a burning passion. I thought I could make it, since it's in Manga form but I get terrible flashbacks from highschool and nervous twitching in my eye. So dnf!!!

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review 2018-08-07 04:30
Bodysuit Fetish
Bodysuit Fetish - Uni Yamasaki

When Yoji asks the cosplay club if they could create some costumes and model to advertise the video games his club will be selling at a convention, the cost they give for it is not something they can afford. But their main costume designer, Toma, offers to make the costumes for free if Yoji will model for him. Yoji accepts the deal, but the modeling ends up being a bit different from what he expected.


This book is just silly, but sexy, fun. Toma wants a model for inspiration, but not how one would expect. He has a clothing fetish and gets turned on touching guy's body's covered in fabric. He uses that to reward himself and inspire creativity. But he's also upfront about what he's doing and asks permission from Yoji before touching him. Toma's pretty good about checking in anytime he wants to try something new to make sure Yoji is fine with it, explicitly telling him early on that he won't do something if Yoji doesn't want him to do it. There is really only one point I can recall where Yoji pushes things and he is immediately apologetic. And part of the issue is mutual misunderstanding on both parts from a lack of communication when it comes to feelings that lead both to get upset because they think they've upset the other. This is where talking helps. It doesn't happen right away, but eventually they get there.


Yoji and Toma's relationship is cute. Obviously it starts off physically, but the two bond over mutual admiration for one another's design skills (fashion for Toma and character for Yoji) and their shared understanding of what it's like to get so focused on designing when inspiration hits that everything else just disappears. And eventually they realize they've developed feelings. Which take even longer to then express. Basically, the two of them do quite a bit together physically before they figure things out emotionally.


The extra story at the end is also a funny one where Yoji tries to surprise Toma by dressing up as his favorite hero who started his whole clothing fetish years ago. Only it's Yoji who ends up being surprised when he finds out just how many roleplaying fantasies Toma has for that hero and the two act out several of them.


Overall, I really love this book. The art is great. The relationship is sexy and charming. And it's just a fun read.

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review 2018-08-06 07:16
Go For It, Nakamura! (one-shot manga) story and art by Syundei, translation by Amber Tamosaitis
Go For It, Nakamura! - SYUNDEI

Go For It, Nakamura! is comedy with gay high school romance elements. I want to emphasize, however, that it isn't a romance. If the series ever gets another volume (maybe it already has, just not in English?), I could see it becoming a romance, but this particular volume is not.

Nakamura is an awkward, introverted, and occasionally uncomfortably intense 16-year old. He adores his pet octopus, Icchan. He has no friends and practises conversations in his head all the time but has difficulty actually having them in real life. He also happens to be gay. He has an enormous crush on his popular and outgoing classmate, Hirose, and his goal is to 1) actually talk to him and 2) become friends with him.

I picked this up on a whim. Happily, this turned out to be a good decision. For the most part, I loved this volume.

I don't handle secondhand embarrassment well and found myself having to take breaks several times while reading this. Nakamura was painfully awkward in ways that, yes, were played for humor but were also often realistic enough that awkward and/or introverted readers could probably find something to relate to. One particular horrible moment Nakamura remembered exactly matched a horrible memory from my own middle school years. Seeing it on-page was a bit horrifying.

I rooted for Nakamura, but I also had issues with him. I disliked how completely focused he was on Hirose. He had zero friends, and yet when his efforts to talk to and impress Hirose led to him meeting and talking to Hirose's friends, he never once considered them to be potential friends. Instead, he viewed anyone who was even vaguely close to Hirose as rivals and possible sources of information about Hirose. He also didn't seem to realize that a lot of the things he was doing to try to get to know Hirose better were kind of creepy, like eavesdropping on Hirose's conversations to find out what sorts of things he liked.

Chapter 2 contained one of my least favorite moments, a single panel in which Nakamura had a sudden tentacle rape fantasy about Hirose. And Chapter 4 was a little weird, introducing a fujoshi artist who developed a crush on Nakamura. I'm still not sure whether she was aware that Nakamura liked Hirose, although I don't see how she could've missed it considering the nature of Nakamura's request.

Aside from those things, however, I really enjoyed this volume. The artwork was well-done and reminded me a lot of Rumiko Takahashi. And the humor usually worked for me, despite my secondhand embarrassment issues. It was focused on Nakamura's awkwardness and his efforts to accomplish something where his secret crush was concerned, but it didn't feel, to me, like Syundei was being overly cruel to Nakamura or making fun of him for being gay. (Be warned, however, that there are a couple instances of homophobia. At one point, for example, Nakamura's teacher laughed at the idea of two boys dating.)

The last couple chapters had some surprisingly serious moments, as Nakamura began to lose hope that he'd ever truly connect with Hirose and become his friend. He compared himself to his effortlessly cool teacher, who Hirose certainly idolized and, Nakamura feared, possibly had a crush on, and found himself focusing on all the ways he fell short.

The ending was sweet. I considered it reasonably satisfying, although some readers might not feel the same. Syundei gave Nakamura a bit of happiness but left plenty of room for the story to be continued.

Although the romance fan in me might have liked something more, I think it would have felt rushed and weird - not to mention there'd still be the issue of Nakamura's potentially unhealthy level of focus on Hirose, and what that would mean for any sort of romantic relationship between them. One interesting thing: This may be the only work I've ever read where the closeted main character is still closeted by the end, but not unhappy.

(spoiler show)


A couple full-color pages, character profiles for Nakamura and Hirose, and a 2-page comic-style afterword by the author. In the afterword, Syundei talks a little about each chapter's creation - I wonder if the "tentacle rape" panel would have made it in if Syundei had known the series was going to continue?


Rating Note:


I debated between 4.5 and 5 stars for this. I don't really know that it deserves 5 stars, considering its problems, but I've found myself going back and rereading parts of it several times since I finished it. I decided that's worth bumping my rating up.


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

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-06 04:13
Powder Snow Melancholy Vol. 1+2 (Complete Series)
Powder Snow Melancholy Vol. 1 - Saki Tsukahara

When Kousuke injures his arm while saving Ryouto in a snowboarding incident during a trip, Ryouto feels guilty and helps take care of him. Ryouto typically avoids Kousuke out of jealousy because the girls Ryouto likes always like Kousuke instead, but this interaction reveals a new side to Kousuke that Ryouto's never seen and forces him to reconsider his feelings toward him.


The BL (boys' love) genre is one plagued with consent issues, unfortunately. Starting a new BL manga always has me wondering if I'm going to run into something, and the answer is usually yes. Such is the case here. Kousuke is aggressive, forcing himself on Ryouto early on in the story. He eventually backs off completely once he realizes he's scared Ryouto, only making contact again when Ryouto reaches out. They enter into a trial relationship at Ryouto's request where Kousuke precedes to push boundaries by trying to move things faster than Ryouto wants or by smalls displays of PDA that Ryouto's not ready for yet. But these issues end once Ryouto ends the trial relationship and asks to start a real relationship. It is at that point the story also gets much more enjoyable.


Watching Ryouto and Kousuke navigate their new relationship when a pretty big challenge pops up was fun and it brought a place I love into the mix. Kousuke loves skateboarding and plans to go pro. He gets an opportunity to train at Whistler for a year and the two struggle with how a long distance relationship would work. They both have conflicted feelings about him going and try to ignore the issue at first before it quickly becomes obvious that's not going to work.


Every mention of Whistler was fun for me because I've been on those mountains a number of times, so I actually recognized the places they were talking about. There wasn't a ton of Whistler talk, but it was a nice bonus for me.


There is an issue in the extras which brings the story down for me though. While the story already has the above mentioned consent issues, the extra adds a flashback that makes things much worse. The extra is from Kousuke's point of view and shows how he's been silently pining for Ryouto the past 3 years.

Until he finds Ryouto passed out drunk alone at a party one night and proceeds to make out with and fondle his unconscious body while masturbating. Then he cleans things up and acts like he just found him so he can get Ryouto's friends to help get him home.

(spoiler show)

The whole thing left me feeling gross. Scenes like that are why part of me is always wary while I'm reading any BL manga for the first time. I never know when sexual assault is suddenly going to appear.


Despite that, I enjoyed the series overall. The art was great. And once the couple was together (after the sexual assault and boundary pushing was finished), they were fun to see navigating their relationship. But Powder Snow Melancholy does have consent issues and sexual assault which will, understandably, make it a hard pass for some.

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