Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Man's Best Friend by Kazusha Takashima review

Man's Best Friend

Author/Artist: Kazusha Takashima

Publisher: BLU

Rating: M - 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Supernatural

Grade: D+

Ukyo, on his way home from school, rescues a black dog. He names him Kuro (black in Japanese). When Kuro gets excited he turns into a human, he keeps the ears and the tail though. Ukyo doesn't know what to do because Kuro seems to love him in more than just the pet owner way. He enjoys the sex but has issues with the fact that Kuro is male and a dog. The next story in this compilation of three is a typical yaoi storyline. Two childhood friends get separated, many years later reconnect, fall in love, deal with the issues of both being guys. Not real original is it. The last story is about a boy who rescues a goldfish from a festival. He takes the goldfish home with him. In the middle of the night the goldfish turns into a human and the only way the fish/boy can repay his savior is through sleeping with him. It's a little (no a lot) creepy.

I couldn't decide whether I wanted to check this manga out. I had been impressed with what BLU had come out with so far (at least the books I had read.) I came across several reviews that just raved about how wonderful this book was. I decided since it seemed to please many readers I would probably enjoy it as well. I was mistaken. The whole idea of sleeping with your dog kind of creeped me out. I know when Ukyo and Kuro had sex, Kuro was in human form, but the idea was still freaky. The final story of the goldfish showing the boy his thanks by sleeping with him was creepy as well. The fish/boy looked more like a flat chested girl with a male reproductive organ. The middle story was really the only one that was half way decent, but it was so predictable that my short attention span couldn't really handle it. In my opinion the only redeeming quality was the fun and sexy cover. Too bad, but BLU has other really good titles to check out.

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Love is Like a Hurricane vol. 2 by Tokiya Shimasaki review

Love is Like a Hurricane vol. 2

Author/Artist: Tokiya Shimazaki

Publisher: 801 Media, Inc.

Rating: Ages 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance, School Life

Grade: B

*** Review Originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.com/buzz/. Check it out! ***

In "Love is Like a Hurricane 2" it is common knowledge to the student body that Azuma and Mizuki are an item. It also seems that their relationship is accepted by everyone as well. The only one who is unsure of the whole setup is Mizuki. He is really uncomfortable at how quickly this relationship is moving. Azuma is moving at warp speed! But love is not easy, even in the world of yaoi!

They meet the first hurdle when an old classmate of Mizuki's shows up out of nowhere. "Tiny," as he is called, announces in front of Azuma, as well as the rest of the student body, that they made a promise to one another a long time ago. Mizuki doesn't remember, but Azuma takes it to heart and feels the pangs of jealousy. This is the first time Mizuki realizes that he may actually have feelings for Azuma as well.

Summer vacation quickly approaches and Azuma wants to take a trip somewhere. He usually goes somewhere, but generally travels by himself. This time around he wants Mizuki to join him. Mizuki, as it is expected, is a little on the apprehensive side. He knows what awaits him if he goes. Azuma convinces him to go and they head to Azuma's private villa. Are Mizuki's fears going to come to pass?

Akira and Izumi have quite the connundrum on their hands. Not only are they lovers, but they're stepbrothers as well. While they are at home with other family members, they have to behave like proper brothers. Izumi tries to live as normally as possible, but when you are shagging your brother, that can cause trouble. Like when you aren't getting along. Izumi wants to ace his upcoming exams, but is constantly being fondled by Akira. So to deal with the stress he places a bet. The two lovers/brothers have to lay low until exams are over. Will they have the willpower that it takes, or will Izumi give in to his lustful desires?

I have really enjoyed the "Love is Like a Hurricane" series so far. It is quickly becoming a guilty pleasure! Tokiya Shimazaki-sensei definitely has the "cute" uke thing down. If you like mindless fluff with lots o' sex, then this is the series for you. Initially I thought the the whole stepbrother situation between Izumi and Akira was going to bother me, but it's not nearly as bad as I thought. I've read worse things (like twin brothers being sexually attracted to each other [which did actually bother me.]) I still have books three and four to read and book five hasn't even come out yet. I'm quite anxious to see what happens next.

I mention this every time but when you get manga from 801 Media you get what you pay for. At $15.95 a pop you get a book with a full color dust jacket, excellent translation, top quality printing, and the 801-chan four panel comic. I'm a broken record but 801 Media productions are worth the price you pay!

***Review Copy provided by 801 Media***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Love is Like a Hurricane vol. 1 by Tokiya Shimazaki review

Love is Like a Hurricane vol. 1

Author/Artist: Tokiya Shimazaki

Publisher: 801 Media, Inc.

Rating: Ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance, School Life

Grade: B+

Mizuki, on his way to school, is molested on the train. Expecting to find some middle-aged pervert, he turns around to find Azuma, the student body president. Wanting to speak his mind, Mizuki approaches Azuma only to be assaulted once again. Unable to think straight, when he gets called to the student council room he finds himself being drawn in by Azuma's skill. Next thing he knows, Mizuki is in a relationship with Azuma. What will happen to this couple? Only time will tell! This volume also contains stories involving three other couples: step-brothers moving beyond brotherly love, an overly confident seme, and childhood friends with mistaken gender identity.

This is quite the dirty, little guilty pleasure. Having never been to Japan I've never dealt with anyone grabbing a fist of my flesh (never had to deal with here either, come to think of it.) The premise of the story is quite clever. Having the story set in a boys only school is not new to the yaoi genre, neither is the whole student body president picking on other classmates. But this is still an enjoyable piece trash! I have to say Tokiya Shimazaki-sensei has done an incredible job. The art is clean and very detailed (insert blush here.) Azuma is the ultimate seme, in my opinion (he can molest me on a train any time, too bad I'm a chick!) Her ukes are tiny, wide-eyed, and adorable. You just want to snuggle them. The fabulous folks at 801 Media have done a wonderful job. Their production value is top-notch. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series!

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Friday, April 18, 2008

I'll Be Your Slave by Miki Araya review

I'll Be Your Slave

Author/Artist: Miki Araya

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M - For ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Comedy, Romance

Grade: D+

Tadayoshi Moriya is a top-notch businessman with one slight problem, he needs to find the perfect model for a huge ad campaign. Unable to find the the model through professional agencies, he stumbles upon Itsuki Ohno, the model he's been searching high and low for. After Ohno and his friends stop at the local Mickey Dee's Moriya-san grovels on hands and knees for Ohno to be his model. Ohno doesn't seem to be too enthused about it. Moriya won't take no for an answer and offers to do anything he can to help out. When I say anything, I mean ANYTHING! Moriya waits on Ohno hand and foot. No expense is spared to keep Ohno pleased. Soon Moriya finds himself falling for the young muse. Once the ad campaign is released Ohno is a huge star, Moriya is a hero to his underlings, and the competition is quite steamed. The vice president of the competing company vows revenge on Moriya, in whose shadow he's been living under for many years, and plans on stealing Ohno for his own. Miyahigashi, the competitor, lures Ohno away from Moriya's company (with Moriya's blessing) with a large sum of cash, but what Moriya hadn't planned on was Miyahigashi luring him away from his bed. Once Moriya catches Ohno in bed with Miyahigashi, he realizes that he's fallen in love with Ohno. What will Moriya do? He decides to profess his love to his muse and vows that he will never leave Ohno and will continue waiting on him hand and foot, since he seems to enjoy it.

There is also a short one-shot The Barbaric Prince. It's about a young boy, Kunitomo, who loves to rescue street cats. He meets and befriends shy boy Fujimaru. Fujimaru is always very sweet with Kunitomo, but he has a violent side. Fujimaru also has grown into a very handsome young man with a fan club full of college girls. But for some reason he only spends his time with Kunitomo.

Initially I was very excited to find this on the shelf at my local Borders. I've been wanting to check it out for a while now but hadn't been able to locate it. Now that I've read it, I'm really kind of disappointed. The story is a unique idea but Moriya is way to over the top. Ohno hardly says a word and only seems to be there to be the gorgeous uke. There wasn't much character development and it was really hard to get into the story. Frankly, you could care less what happens. The art isn't bad but it doesn't really jump out either. However I did enjoy The Barbaric Prince, I wish there was more of that story than the main I'll Be Your Slave. I was immediately drawn into their characters. It too is a unique idea, but pulled off much better. That's the only reason it didn't receive a failing grade Juné's production quality is always amazing with the larger size and the dust jackets. Unfortunately, that's all this manga has going for it.

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Crushing Love by Ritsu Natsumizu review

Crushing Love
Author/Artist: Ritsu Natsumizu

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M - 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Romance

Grade: B

Keiichiro Kuroda's ex-lover approaches him looking for a loan. Kuroda is handsome and rich, but can't understand why his ex, who dumped him, approached him. So Kuroda comes up with a proposition. He leaves a bag filled with five million yen on a park bench. The money has the note "Please Use Freely" attatched to it. If the cash gets returned to the police within three days Kuroda will make the loan. If the money disappears he can turn his former lover, who broke his heart, away. Almost immediately someone happens upon the money. Kaoru Otowa is that man. It turns out that Otowa is in need of the exact amount in that bag to pay a debt. Otowa approaches Kuroda to ask for train fare. Kuroda sees the opportunity to see his ex-lover's plan go down in flames. He accompanies Otowa to Kyoto to settle the debt. Little did he know that he was going to fall for Otowa, especially when he vowed never to fall in love again. Also included in this manga is a story about the son of a rich man and the son of a servant come together, and two stories about school boys.

This was an enjoyable piece of work, especially the main story. I did have to read it twice to really get the gist of the story, but I think that it's because I'm a bit of a numbskull. The first two stories are related, we meet one of the characters in Crushing Love which then he stars in his own volume. The only draw back is some of the characters faces are bit pointy. Other than that the art is fantastic. Natsumizu-sensei has a great style and a great sense of humor. My favorite part of this work was the Afterword. Too bad not all mangaka end their manga this way! I love the way that Juné publishes. The high quality paper and larger size make it an enjoyable read.

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Monday, April 7, 2008

Alcohol, Shirt, and Kiss by Yuko Kuwabara review

Alcohol, Shirt, and Kiss
Author/Artist: Yuko Kuwabara

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M - 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance

Grade: A+

Yuukichi Naruse's girlfriend has just broken up with him. To help him deal with his break-up, fellow police officer Riku Kita takes him drinking. Unable to remeber what happened to him the night before, we wakes up in Kita-san's bed three mornings in a row. On the last morning he wakes in Kita-san's bed, he happens to be naked. Since he can't remeber what happened to him due to the alcohol he'd imbibed the night before, Kita has Naruse believing that they had a night of passionate love making. As the story progresses so does Naruse and Kita's relationship. Will Naruse ever find out what happened the night he can't remember?

This is a fantastic piece of work by Yuko Kuwabara-sensei. Our two leading men are terribly handsome and the tension between them is definetly present. The art is marvelous, fantastic, and detailed. The story moves rather quickly and is easily followed. I know I gave it the highest grade and the two criticisms that I have are really quite trivial. There was one error at the end of the chapter "Oden, Jealousy, and One Winter Day." My other qualm is I'm not a huge fan of the short one-shot Moon Kiss at the end. But I loved this manga so much I'm able to overlook the bad. Since this is a Juné/DMP publication, you can guarantee that the presentation is second to none. It is larger sized and comes with the dust jacket (manga from Japan have the dust jackets on all of the publications.) They use higher quality inks and paper and are excellent volumes to collect. I recommend this manga to anyone who enjoys humorous stories, handsome men, and beautiful art. Now, if you are looking for something a little bit harder core, this tome might not be for you.
***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Pet on Duty by Nase Yamato review

Pet on Duty

Author/Artist: Nase Yamato

Publisher: Boysenberry

Rating: M - 18 and over

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance

Grade: A+

Mizuki Tomura decided to go straight to work after high school instead of attending college. Six months after getting his job, the company he works for goes bankrupt. Instead of going home, Mizuki contacts his brother Koichi for help. It is decided that Mizuki will move into Koichi's dorm. There's one catch. Mizuki will have to live there in secret, like a pet. Toru Kudou is one of Koichi Tomura's roommates in the company dorm and is a bit abrasive. Mizuki is immediately drawn to this mysterious roommate. Mizuki continues to live with his brother, while doing chores (cleaning, laundry, etc.). The longer Mizuki stays the deeper he falls in love with Kudou, in turn Kudou softens his hard exterior and becomes attached to Mizuki as well. What will become of our couple Mizuki and Kudou?

This is an excellent read. The art is absolutely amazing. Nase Yamato-sensei's drawing is gorgeously detailed. The story is humorous, Mizuki is adorable, Kudou is handsome, and the zany cast of characters are hilarious. The presentation and translation are fantastic. They translated the sound effects, which help to keep the story rich. Also they kept some of the translated sound effects in the original characters as well. In some places the honoriffics were kept which helped keep the story grounded. I love it when the cultural aspects of a manga are kept for those who are learning about Japanese culture. I loved this manga so much, I read it at least once a week! I highly recommend it and I look forward to more translated works from Yamato-sensei.
***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bond(z) by Toko Kawai review


Author/Artist: Toko Kawai

Publisher: 801 Media

Rating: M - 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, Anthology

Grade: A-

This is a collection of four, one-shot stories by Toko Kawai-sensei.
Bonds: This is the first of the four. After a night of hitting the booze, Keita and Tomo end up sleeping with each other. Not only are these two guys good friends but they also have girlfriends, who are also friends. Here starts our story. They enjoy each others "company" so much that they begin a torrid affair. Twist and turns abound!

Situation: Yoh and Akira are childhood friends and neighbors. While in primary school their teacher breaks the news to our two adorable boys that they aren't able to get married because boys are supposed to fall in love with girls and not fall in love with other boys. When we see our boys next they are now in their third year of high school. Akira has come out and has a steady boyfriend in college, but he's still loves Yoh. But Yoh is still haunted by the words of his primary school teacher even though he loves Akira. Will Yoh be able to come to terms with his two conflicting emotions?

Kitan Garden: In Rosis Kingdom dwells a prince, Prince Fiona. He has fallen in love with Daichi. One problem stands in the way. Rosis Kingdom is a beautiful rose blossom, and Daichi is a human who takes care of the rose bush. Every blossoming season Prince Fiona awakens and celebrates his birthday. This time around the Black Pearl, a witch, grants him a wish. His wish is to meet Daichi. He awakens to see the face of his beloved Daichi. What will become of Fiona when the season of roses is over and he must return to his kingdom?

Sakura: Yuuichi Ayatsuji recieves a notice that the grandson of the head of his company will be spending a month living with him so he can see what life is like as a poor person. Ayatsuji is not at all looking forward to this new adventure. When Ren Asahina arrives Ayatsuji doesn't quite know what to do. He gives him some new clothes and a new hairstyle to go with Ren's new situation in life. Soon the awkwardness disappears and they find themselves attracted to one another. But Ren will only be at Ayatsuji's for a month, what are they to do?

This is a great manga. I love Kawai-sensei's art style, especially the way she draws eyes and kids! The only draw back I can see is that many of her characters in many different books all look alike, and this tome is no different. It's still worth checking out and it is worth the price you pay (801-Media is a bit more expensive, $15.95 per book.) Each story is very different and out of the four my favorite was defintely Kitan Garden. Bonds was the most explicit and sexually charged. Situation and Sakura both deal with the taboo of gay relationships and the role of society with them. This is a terrible review, but it's an excellent manga from the fabu Kawai-sensei.

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Manic About Manga's glossary!

I decided to throw this glossary out there to fill you in on how I come to my letter grades and then explanation on some terms that I have come across through my searching and my readers (all 3 of you) might not know!

The Grading System
Much like grades in school I give out letter grades from A+ to F.

A: Three levels of perfection
When a manga, anime, etc. get a grade in the A category it is surely worth your time and money. there are either no flaws, or issues so tiny that I am able to over look them.

B: Quite enjoyable
If a manga gets grades listed above it's worth reading. There are some minor issues that I have found and the lower the grade, the more noticeable the issues are.

C: Average
With this grade level, proceed with a little caution. If you purchase these, my suggestion is buy it used. The issues are more pronounced and be warned.

D: Be wary!
Anything with these grades, realize that you can probably go on with life if you don't partake in the works with these marks. Of course you can read it if you want, but don't come crying to me if you didn't like it!

Realize that if you read anything with this grade you will not be able to get those precious hours of your life that you wasted back!

I hope that my small explanation will help. Now for some terms that you might come across in reading my blog or other blogs that you may not know.

shoujo: manga made for girls
shonen: manga made for boys
seinen: manga made for men
josei: manga made for women
boys' love: manga aimed at the female gender with same-sex male pairings. Can be very graphic or fairly tame.
yaoi: "no climax, no resolution, no meaning" is the main meaning but it is generally used to describe fairly hardcore boys' love manga.
shonen-ai: literally "boys' love" in Japanese. I read somewhere that this term was retired years ago, but I still see it used quite frequently. I use it to describe tame boys' love manga.
kawaii: not the island in Hawaii, but "cute" in Japanese. Used by fangirls regularly.
squee: the noise made by fan girls, it's a squeal.
seme: the "top," the "attacker," the "guy" in guy-on-guy action.
uke: the "bottom," the "receiver," the "girl" in guy-on-guy action.
manga-ka: also mangaka, the artist/author of the manga.
yuri: girl-on-girl style manga.
bara: manga created for gay men by men.