Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kiss All the Boys vol. 2 by Shiuko Kano review

Kiss All the Boys vol. 2

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – Ages 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama

Grade: A+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

Tetsuo Atarashi is in need of some people skills. We learned that in the first volume, but this fact is hit home in this volume. Michiro Enomoto has finally confessed, after years and years of friendship. Thinking that Tetsuo was asleep, those three words slipped from his lips. We know that Tetsuo was actually awake. Michiro likes to blame Keiichi Momoyama for forcing his hand to confess, but it was bound to come out eventually. Tetsuo is one who is unforgiving, uncaring, and a creep all around. He leaves Michiro’s after an argument. Tetsuo decides that he needs a little payback for the betrayal he feels; so, instead of going home he goes to Momoyama’s. Tetsuo pretty much gets out of others what he wants and then moves on. This is what he does to poor Momoyama. He sleeps with him out of spite for Michiro and doesn’t think of Momoyama’s feelings.

Tetsuo approaches Michiro to tell him that he’s quitting due to his writers block. Michiro informs Tetsuo that he’s gotten another job at another company so he’ll no longer be Tetsuo’s editor. Tetsuo decides to continue at his current magazine, but as a final goodbye lets Michiro know that the night that Michiro came onto him he ended up sleeping with Momoyama.

Mr. Jerk, I mean Tetsuo, runs into Tamaki, Haruka’s flame. By this point, Tetsuo has pretty much realized that he’s a creep and tries to convince Tamaki of that fact. While talking with Tamaki, Momoyama approaches Tetsuo. He’s looking forward to a night of hot, sweaty passion, but Tetsuo cuts him down and stomps all over Momoyama’s hopes. Tetsuo is hoping that Tamaki will see that he’s just a first-class prick. Tetsuo can’t deal with his own situations, what makes him think that he is someone Tamaki can rely on.

Haruka wants to get to the bottom of why Uncle Michi is no longer working with Tetsuo. After seducing (sort of) Tetsuo’s new editor he finds out that Michiro’s unrequited feelings are for his father. The man that Haruka has always looked up to and admired was in love with his father? Haruka is well aware of how big a jerk Tetsuo is, and he can’t seem to figure out why Uncle Michi feels that way about his father. But Haruka is more upset with the fact that Uncle Michi didn’t confide in him.

There are winds of change in Kiss All the Boys vol. 2 leading to the explosive climax (I assume it’ll be explosive) in volume three.

Shiuko Kano-sama continues to amaze me with her beautiful art, rugged manly-men, and gripping storytelling. This volume has just heaped on more intensity and it is going to take all self-control I possess to be patient for the third volume (which doesn’t come out until October). I have truly been drawn into this story and I can’t get enough. I’ve read these two volumes numerous times, and I’m pretty sure that I’m going to read them over and over again into the future.

I have to say that Michiro’s hair gets an upgrade from the crazy spiky do that he has. It’s nice to see that Tetsuo is starting to realize that what goes around comes around, and I’m pretty sure we’ll see more of that in the next volume. Haruka is unrelenting in his pursuing of Tamaki, who is starting to become a little more interested in sex. But it seems that Tamaki might be interested in someone who isn’t Haruka. That fact has me a little worried because in this volume you see who that someone might be. Couplings are starting to be a little more visible but it’s still anyone’s guess. I was hoping for a Tetsuo/Momoyama pairing, but from this point in the story it looks pretty unlikely.

Thanks to the fact that Deux Press has licensed several Shiuko Kano-sama’s they have quickly become one of my favorite yaoi publishers. They may not have dust jackets or full color front pages, but what they do have is a quality product. The printing materials are of a higher quality and their translations are done well because the stories move smoothly without any awkwardness. They translate the sound effects and asides and keep the original characters intact, but it is done in a way that doesn’t make the panels look messy. Deux Press allows the manga do the talking, not the bells and whistles.

Be sure to catch my review of Kiss All the Boys vol. 1. I definitely recommend this series to all yaoi fans and Shiuko Kano-sama fans. You are in for a great read full of humor and beautiful art.

Ruff Love by Tamaki Kirishima review

Ruff Love

Author/Artist: Tamaki Kirishima

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – Ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Comedy, Romance, Supernatural

Grade: A

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

Taketora Kanbayashi is an author of historical fiction. Sadly, he’s not very good. So, to make ends meet he works part-time in his uncle’s bar. Taketora is known for being extremely handsome, but kind of boring. Little did Taketora know that his world was about to be flipped upside down by his grandfather’s reincarnated pet dog, Shiba. When Shiba passed away, he wished to be able to return to Takeyuki, Taketora’s grandfather, and repay his kindness. Taketora’s grandfather had passed away twenty years before. Shiba was a little too late. Taketora then made the decision to allow this cute, but clumsy half-human, half-dog stay with him and take care of him. Yes, Shiba is mostly human but still has dog ears, a tail, and large canine teeth.

Shiba’s intentions are pure, but he’s very clumsy. Taketora usually ends up cleaning up after Shiba and his clumsiness. Shiba may not be too much help around the house, but he seems to have worked miracles in influencing Taketora’s writing. The longer that Shiba stays, Taketora finds himself emotionally opening up. It seems he’s fallen in love with Shiba. It turns out that Shiba has fallen in love with Taketora too. Their happiness is cut short by the entrance of a large black dog.

A second dog-man enters the picture. His name is Akatsuki. Akatsuki has the ability to switch between a dog and a man. It seems he’s taken a liking to Shiba. Of course, Taketora will have none of that. But Akatsuki sticks around anyway. He’s endlessly grouchy and always hungry. He also doesn’t trust humans. Thus ends Taketora’s peace and quiet with Shiba. Clouds form on the horizon for Taketora, Shiba, and Akatsuki. Check out Ruff Love to find out!

I haven’t been too impressed by human x part-human, part-animal pairings. I had read a story earlier in the year that was somewhat similar to this story and found it really quite disturbing. Whether it was because I was still a newbie in yaoi genre, or it was the fact that the idea of sleeping with your pet creeped me out, big time. I’m not a fan of the idea of bestiality. Yet I found myself drawn into this story. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Shiba remains human-ish throughout the entire story. I was introduced to Tamaki Kirishima-sensei and her work through The President’s Time, her first work translated into English. Another reason why I may have liked this one so much is I really related to Taketora. I know exactly how it feels to live alone without experiencing deep love for someone. I honestly found myself tearing up and actually crying at a section of the story (and doing the same thing in subsequent readings). I know I’m really weird. I also really like Kirishima-sensei’s art. You look at it and immediately know that she created it. She has some of the most adorable chibi renderings in the world of manga as well.

This is a Deux Press release. I did catch a few spots where the manga bubbles were a bit messy. You could see where the original lines of Japanese were removed but weren’t cleaned up properly. Other than that, the rest of the book is up to Deux’s high quality standards. Out of all of the works released by Deux Press (or I should say the works of theirs that I’ve read), this one is by far their most explicit. The art is very, very, very detailed in the sex scenes, with very little censoring. If you can’t handle very realistic looking reproductive organs or are new to reading yaoi, you may want to stay away. Other than that, I highly recommend this work. It is a very quick read, but it’s also an emotional read. You’ll laugh and cry. I know I did!

Heavenly Body by Takashi Kanzaki review

Heavenly Body

Author/Artist: Takashi Kanzaki

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Comedy, Romance, Supernatural, Fantasy

Grade: B-

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

We are treated to three stories in Heavenly Body. Heavenly Body is the main story that takes up about half the book. Then we have two shorter one-shots: A Ballad for You, and Beloved.

Heavenly Body – Hazumi lives at home with two foreign exchange students: Luke and Ray. Luke has an interesting way of waking Hazumi. Luke takes care of Hazumi’s morning wood. It seems Luke is a sex fiend. Ray on the other hand is very sweet and considerate. He hasn’t tried anything funny and seems to really care for Hazumi. Little did Hazumi know that Luke is an angel and Ray is a demon. There is a war going on in Heaven. They’re fighting over the earth.
It turns out that Hazumi has been chosen to be the earth’s representative. Depending on whom he chooses will be the ones who will have dominion over the earth. Poor Hazumi! It is going to be hard for him to decide if their actions are sincere or if they are behaving in such a way at to win for their side. Yet, Luke and Ray have fallen in love with Hazumi and are willing to throw everything aside for Hazumi. Oy! What will Hazumi do?

In A Ballad for You we are introduced to a boys dorm. Kiyoto Ihara is the president of the dorm. He also happens to be dating Aya Tono, the much lusted after uke. There are many that want to hook up with this sweet beauty, but Ihara does everything he can to keep creeps away from his precious Tono. Their relationship happens to be a bit twisted. Tono seems to be a bit of a sadist. Even though Ihara is the seme, Tono is the one in control. Their relationship is very twisted and things aren’t going well. Ihara wonders how many men Tono has seduced and finds that maybe things would be better for the two of them if they broke up. Will things work out the way Ihara wants?

The final one-shot, and my personal favorite out of the three, is Beloved. Hibiki Saibara is a high school student. He earns money by prostituting himself out. The client he sees most often is Toshifumi Amagi. To keep things as professional as he can, neither one knows the other’s name. While they’re getting it on Amagi continually calls Saibara "Masafumi." The deal they worked out is every time Amagi calls out "Masafumi" Saibara gets an additional amount of money. As time goes by Saibara and Amagi continue to meet, but it seems Saibara is falling in love with his client. Every time he hears the name "Masafumi" uttered by Amagi, Saibara can’t seem to get a little jealous. Who is this mysterious "Masafumi" and will Saibara be able to catch his man?

This was an enjoyable volume released by Deux Press. Even though the book is dedicated to the story Heavenly Body, my favorite story is Beloved. It is head and shoulders above the rest. This was also my first book of Takashi Kanzaki-sensei’s that I’ve read. The art is nicely detailed and I enjoyed it, but some of the pages were really busy and distracted from the story. Kanzaki-sensei has more books either already out, or in the pipeline to be released. I look forward to checking out these stories as well. The story of Heavenly Body was an interesting premise. I’ve read stories where angels or demons get involved with humans, but the heavenly war was a new one for me. A Ballad for You was an interesting one. The character that you would assume would be the sadist would be the seme. You are in for a surprise. It’s the uke who is a bit of a masochistic sadist. The thing that disturbed me is that the uke, Tono, looked super young. I’m not really into these types of stories, so when it was over I was very glad. But, you are rewarded greatly by sticking with it. You are given the gift of Beloved. This one-shot has clearly shot up to the top of my list of favorite stories. I was honestly moved to tears. It really is an amazing story. I do recommend you check this out for a cute, quick read. Good job Deux Press!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Author's Pet by Deathco Cotorino review

Author’s Pet

Author/Artist: Deathco Cotorino

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and Above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Anthology

Grade: B+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

Author’s Pet is Deathco Cotorino’s first manga. It is a book of one-shots.

Author’s Pet refers to the one-shots I’ll Have You Make Up for This!, I’ll Have You Change Your Job!, and We’re Closed for Today! They are the main story. Yuuta Oohashi woke up late one day and was going to be late for school. Who knew that this day would change his life? While rushing through the train station, he accidentally knocks Tsubaki Nishijima down the stairs, injuring him. It turns out that Tsubaki is an author. Because both of his arms are broken, Tsubaki insists that Yuuta take responsibility and uses Yuuta as his hands. Little did Yuuta know that Tsubaki decided to write a romance novel. What will Yuuta do when he finds himself being turned on by Tsubaki’s words?

The next one-shot is To Keep a Cat and You Have to Pet Us in Order. Naruse is studying Veterinary medicine. He adopts stray cats. One day while following a cat he stumbles upon Mutsuki. It seems that someone beat Mutsuki up and left him for dead. Since Mutsuki is injured and has no where to go, the normally unsociable Naruse allows him to stay with him until he’s well again. But Mutsuki doesn’t behave like the rest of Naruse’s cats.

The Helplessly Romantic Type is the tale of Saki. He works in his father’s auto repair shop. He’s learning a lot as an apprentice, but his main reason for wanting to work there is Sasaragawa. Sasaragawa is a top manager at the shop and an old family friend. Will Sasaragawa ever be able to see Saki as someone other than the president’s son?

Love Battle in the Dorms is the typical love triangle. Youhei Kikuchi lives in a run down apartment building. His room is sandwiched between his sempai and his kohai. The two neighbors vie for the attention of their handsome fellow classmate all while making the other jealous. Can Youhei choose between these two adorable guys?

In Open 24 Hours we meet Sakamoto. Sakamoto is a clerk at a local convenience store. There is one customer who comes in on a regular basis who buys only sweets and is rather grumpy. Sakamoto being the caring young man invites himself over to Shirokawa’s (the grumpy man) home to fix him dinner. He’s worried that all Shirokawa eats are cakes and sweets. Man, I wish I could get away with that. It turns out that they are both attracted to one another. Will their relationship be able to get off the ground?

The last one-shot What Should I Do? is also the shortest. Sanai is the morality officer. All I can think of is he is like a hall monitor from hell. He has a thing for Kawatani, just your everyday normal student. Sanai is also a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Poor Kawatani, he doesn’t seem to stand a chance.

For a first attempt at a full manga, Deathco Cotorino did a pretty good job. Each one-shot is very light, nothing is at all intense. It’s like the manga form of cotton candy. It is sugary-sweet, light and airy, and gone in an instant. The characters were all very cute. I initially had to take note of the characters names to keep them straight because I found them to look a little similar. But some of my problem might have been due to the fact that I was fighting off a migraine headache and was having a hard time focusing. It’s a good thing that this manga was light and fluffy because anything more intense would have caused more confusion than I needed. Out of all of the one-shots my favorites were the main story and the To Keep a Cat stories. The characters had flaws but were also endearing. Love Battle in the Dorms had me chuckling, and it was a fun story to read. I would love to be sandwiched between two battling hottie neighbors fighting for my love and affection. But sadly, I have to live in my own fantasy world.

This is a Juné release. You can’t go wrong in picking up some of their titles. It is a larger trim size, which is great to read because you don’t have to squint to be able to see what you are reading. There is an adorable dust jacket and the picture on the back cover is a totally cute chibi drawing of Tsubaki and Yuuta. This was a really fun title and it’s not on the terribly explicit side. It has the M rating for some steamy scenes and language, but nothing too bad. If you are looking for something with a lot of substance, this may not be the title for you. But if you want a quick read that is sweet in all the right places, pick up Author’s Pet.

Steal Moon vol. 1 by Makoto Tateno review

Steal Moon vol. 1

Author/Artist: Makoto Tateno

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M - 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Action, Sci-Fi, Romance

Grade: A+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

Nozomi is a top-notch street fighter. He chooses to fight for some spare cash and generally blows his competition out of the water. But all good things must come to an end. He opens his yap and makes a bet that the person he loses to he will become their servant. He didn't really mean it though. A handsome, mysterious stranger suddenly appears and decides to take the bet. Well, you can figure it out from this point. Nozomi loses and the mysterious stranger tries to collect his prize. Nozomi refuses and tries to get away, unsuccessfully. The stranger knocks him out.

When Nozomi awakens, he seems to be sans clothes, and in an unknown room. When he comes to fully some unknown man appears on a large monitor hanging on the wall. The man says his name is Hermes and owner of the website "Digital Angels." It seems that the mysterious stranger sold Nozomi to the owner of "Digital Angels." Hermes tells him that he can earn his freedom back once his particular page gets 5 million hits. Nozomi can't accept that answer. He decides that all he's going to do is eat and sleep. He figures that they'll get so bored with him and they'll get rid of him. Two adorable kids, Soma and Gyokuto come into his room to make sure he's really sleeping. Once Nozomi acknowleges them Hermes comes up on screen to let him know that if he doesn't do anything to draw in traffic a forced event may occur. Once Soma and Gyokuto leave Nozomi decides to take a shower. He's assaulted by two creeps who enter his room and it's evident that this rape is a forced event. There is one thing going against the creeps. Nozomi is a champion street fighter, remember? He takes them down, all the while Hermes and the mysterious stranger watch from another room. Coyote, the mysterious stranger, comes into Nozomi's room right after and let's him know that they will be meeting in Hermes room.

It turns out that "Digital Angels" is a cover. Some computer on the moon is spying on them and they are using "Digital Angels" to occupy the attention of the moon computer. The plan is to use three different earth computers to shut down the moon computer. There is a catch, however. It turns out that there are only three people who can access the computers. Soma and Gyokuto can access two of the three and Nozomi is the missing piece. The computer is in a neighboring town and Coyote will accompany him so they can test the theory that Nozomi is truly the one. It turns out that Coyote admires Nozomi for his fighting skills, but will those feelings grow deeper? And how does Nozomi feel about Coyote? Will they be able to bring the plan of shutting down the moon computer to fruition?

Steal Moon vol. 1 is a 1984 for the new millenium. It is a sci-fi tale that is set in the near future. Makoto Tateno-sama knocks it out of the park, again. She is amazing. I really don't like science fiction type stories, no matter how hard I try. But this Tateno-sama we are talking about. I love her. She is one in a million. I love her work and Steal Moon defintely doesn't dissappoint. This is a tight story with beautiful art. Steal Moon is a two volume series. This first volume leaves it on a major cliff hanger and I so cannot wait for the second volume. There is a prequel series called Blue Sheep Reverie that is also going to be released by Juné, the first volume comes out in December. It stars two side characters that appear in Steal Moon. Juné hasn't disappointed me yet in their production quality. It is the larger trim size with a beautiful dust jacket. Who knew that Nozomi and Coyote were even more gorgeous in full color! Read it, even if you don't like sci-fi!

Yakuza in Love vol. 2 by Shiuko Kano review

Yakuza in Love vol. 2

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Organized Crime

Grade: B+

Aoi Ichimura is still pining for Yuji Sakiya, and it turns out that Sakiya feels the same way. In reading the second volume of this series, we watch Aoi and Sakiya but we spend more time (in my opinion) of Chihiro Karasuma and Junki Ozawa. I’m getting a head of myself.

We learn in this volume that the current Don and Aoi are actually cousins. This comes as a shock to all involved. Aoi and Sakiya are deepening their relationship, which stirs up Junki Ozawa. He’s in love with his Big Bro (yakuza big bro, not his real brother), but it seems that Chihiro Karasuma only sees Junki as a little brother, in the family sense. Sakiya, who is the Underboss of the organization, is not pleased with the way the family is headed. Instead of dealing in legal ways, the current Don wants to get involved in human trafficking (for sex workers) and hardcore porn. It turns out that Junki has been sleeping with a member of one of the rival factions in the Hanagumi. The Don has some pretty sick ways of dealing with things and is planning on making a snuff film, and it seems that he knows whom he wants to rub out. To try and lure the person he wants, Junki is kidnapped.

If the above paragraph is a little confusing, I apologize. You have to read both Yakuza in Love vol. 1 and vol. 2 to really understand. I would say, in a nutshell, Aoi finds out he’s a relative of the Don, Aoi and Sakiya consummate their relationship, Junki is kidnapped and Karasuma flips out.

The "Yakuza in Love" story is not the only one included in this book. We also have "Liar" which tells the back-story of Karasuma and Junki. Then it’s rounded out by then unrelated story, "Saved." Kohei likes to help those who are in need of it, or not in some cases.

This is a confusing volume. I’m still confused by parts of it. Since I like Kano-sama, I have no problem in reading it a few more times to get the story down. What can I say, it’s beautiful to look at, even though the material is dark and heavy it has its moments where you can laugh. I suggest reading all of them in succession. They don’t take too long to read and things are clearer when read together. Definitely check it out!

Yakuza in Love vol. 1 by Shiuko Kano review

Yakuza in Love vol. 1

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – Ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Organized Crime

Grade: B+

I’m not one who enjoys violence. Most people don’t, but for some reason violence for entertainment is one thing they can overlook. Yakuza in Love by Shiuko Kana-sama is the one exception for me. Who knew that yakuza were so hot? Kano-sama, that’s who!

Aoi Ichimura may look tough. He has a large cross-shaped scar on his cheek. While growing up his grandfather always told him that he’d have a hell of a time finding a legitimate job. He’s now a member of the Hanagumi, or Flower Gang. He’s risen through the ranks rather quickly. But, he’s got a secret. He’s only able to get through his day-to-day dealings by sheer luck and BS. The reason he’s risen so quickly is for saving the life of the Don. When in reality he was pushing the Don out of the way because he didn’t want a baby bird to get stepped on. The Don seems to have taken a liking to Aoi and is constantly sending him gifts. Yes, the Don is gay.

Now that Aoi is somewhat of a big shot, he has been assigned to be the Underboss’ apprentice. Yuji Sakiya has spent the last little while in prison. He is the true epitome of what yakuza should be. Sakiya was also close to the previous Don. Once Aoi met Sakiya, he was smitten. There seems to be a connection between these two men. One of these connections is it turns out that Sakiya’s late wife’s name was Aoi. Because Aoi was told that Sakiya is a big, bad, mofo, he’s prepared for the worst, but he’s willing to lay his life on the line for Sakiya. Since Yakuza in Love is a three-volume series you’ll have to stick with it until the end to find out what becomes of Aoi and Sakiya.

Shiuko Kano-sama is a true genius. She is able to weave a very heavy story with her signature humor and truly gorgeous art. There are no girly looking men in this story. All you get are tattooed, gun toting yakuza. Initially this title held no interest for me. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not one who enjoys violence, entertainment or otherwise. But I reluctantly picked it up because I absolutely love Kano-sama. At the time there weren’t too many Deux Press titles, having been impressed by their licensing choices and their production values I knew that I wouldn’t be too disappointed. With the heavier subject material I had to read through the book several times to get a good grasp on the story and the characters. There are a ton of characters to keep track of. Thankfully at the end of the volume Kano-sama has provided a brief description of each character.

This book was originally published in 1996. You can tell because the hairstyles and fashion is somewhat dated. But the flashy shirts and funky suits is honestly how I see mobsters both here and abroad so it’s still pretty fresh. Having been reading a lot of manga starring schoolboys and salary men, a yakuza story is a nice change. With this being a Deux Press release they let the story and art do the talking. They produce high quality, no frills manga. With their titles they don’t need fancy colored pages and dust jackets (which those would only enhance the already great book.) This is a series to definitely check out. All three books are now available so you don’t have to wait (like I had to)! Read this series, you won’t be disappointed.