Sunday, December 28, 2008

Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 1 by Tomo Takabayashi and Temari Matsumoto review

Kyo Kara MAOH! vol. 1

Author/Artist: Tomo Takabayashi/Temari Matsumoto

Publisher: TOKYOPOP

Rating: T – ages 13 and up

Genre: Shojo, Shonen Ai, Comedy, Drama, Action, Fantasy

Grade: A+

While trying to save a former classmate, Ken Murata (remember this name it will come up again later), from some bullies, Yuri Shibuya seems to be the first person to be flushed down the toilet. The bullies were going to give him a swirly but he ended up being sucked into the toilet. When Yuri finally comes to he seems to have been transported to some strange location. He thinks that he's been dumped by the bullies at some theme park, he's being punk'd, or he's dreaming. But he's in for the biggest surprise of his life. After being pelted with rocks and yelled at in some language he doesn't understand when a big, buff macho, dude comes to his rescue (at least we think so). This man grabs his head and soon Yuri is able to understand everyone and what he hears is a bit disturbing. They seem to be talking about him but he's really quite confused and the macho guy is a bit intimidating. But a Knight in Shining Armor comes riding in on horseback. With the help of this mystery man Yuri seems to be saved, but there is one thing that he's confused about. They keep referring to him as "Your Highness."

Yuri's adventures keep coming. He's picked up by a flying skeleton and then taken to a small cottage where he's met by an extremely beautiful man. These two characters are Conrart Weller (who is referred to as Conrad) and Gunter von Kleist. The macho guy is Adalbert von Grantz. Of course Yuri is as confused as ever but his fate is about to be revealed. It turns out that Yuri is to be the next king of Shinmakoku. You see he is a Mazoku, also known as a demon, and he has been called to this land because there is trouble brewing and they need the help of their king. This is all a bit of a surprise to Yuri because he's been raised as a human and knows nothing about his being a demon king. It seems that more adventures await Yuri in the near future, like having to wear string bikini underwear to getting engaged to another man and even being challenged to a duel. Oy!

The reason I picked up Kyo Kara MAOH! is because of Temari Matsumoto and no other reason. I know that sounds kind of dumb but I love her artwork. Matsumoto-sensei is known for her BL releases and I thought that Kyo Kara MAOH! would have some BL in it (BL – boys love). This is a shojo title but there are some small BL moments. This manga is based on a series of novels of the same name and the novels even spawned an anime series (which is also a lot of fun). The cover is beautiful and shows off Matsumoto-sensei's amazing talent. The colors are muted and are very soft and classic looking. The cover has a matte finish and the first couple of pages are in color. Absolutely beautiful. The art wouldn't be as fantastic without a great story and Kyo Kara MAOH! is just that. It combines the perfect amount of action, drama, and comedy. It keeps you guessing all while making you laugh.

Each character has such a unique personality. Conrad is strong willed and caring. Wolfram (Yuri's "Fiancée") is spoiled and kind of annoying. Gwendal (The oldest of the three brothers) is stern and stonefaced. Celi is quite forceful and a bit annoying (she's the former monarch). And then there's Gunter. Gunter seems to behave in extreme ways. He loves Yuri and want's to devote his life to him but he also has his moments where he loses all composure and falls victim to nosebleeds. With this hilarious and fun story combined with Matsumoto-sensei's amazing ability to tell a story with her art makes for a perfect beginning to a very wild ride!

Read Kyo Kara MAOH! especially if you enjoy the anime. I personally prefer the manga over the anime, but that’s just the book lover in me. You won't be disappointed!

***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Anima by Dany & Dany review


Author/Artist: Dany & Dany

Publisher: Yaoi Press

Rating: N/R (but parental advisory warning is placed on the cover)

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: B+

Danya Arnisev is the hottest ballet dancer on the scene right now. He has charmed audiences with his nearly perfect performances. He has studied under the great Nicolaj Zaharov who was quite talented in his own right. Pulitzer Prize winner Patrick Owens and his android Ed witnessed Danya's most recent performance. It seems that Patrick has a crush on Danya. But Zaharov keeps Danya on a short leash for fear of Danya's secret from coming out. He even has the assistance of the Mafia to keep things around Danya calm.

Because of a chance encounter Patrick and Danya meet. Danya is immediately charmed by Patrick because of his care for his android Ed. The two end up spending some time in a virtual reality room playing a game and end up having virtual sex. Once finished with the game Patrick wants to have some actual sex but Danya leaves in a panic. It's all due to his secret. It turns out that Danya is an android who was loaded with a program called Anima. The Anima program makes it possible for androids to feel human emotions and behave more humanlike.

There's another problem though and it's in the form of Patrick's expose style of journalism. His Pulitzer Prize was won because of a story he wrote about people using androids on sports teams, in competitive events, etc. With the unfair advantage in competition androids were banned because of Patrick's expose. Patrick is now working on an article about the Mafia and he's now got his eye on Zaharov. Will Danya be able to be with Patrick or will Zaharov put a stop to it?

Anima is Dany & Dany's most recent release through Yaoi Press. It lives up to Dany & Dany's most recent standards. The story is tight and interesting and the characters are both beautiful and fascinating. Danya is beautiful and you can see why Patrick is so taken by him. Patrick is kind and understanding when it comes to Danya's secret but takes his work very seriously. Ed even plays an integral part of the story. I know didn't mention him much in the synopsis above but he is an important player in the plot. Zaharov has a great villain quality to him and you hope that someone takes him down. The tension that exists in the story makes it that much more interesting.

The art is stunning, like I expected. I have to say it was kind of refreshing to see that Patrick had shorter hair. Many of Dany & Dany's characters have longer hair. The story takes place in the future, but it has a very retro look to it. The costuming to the cars has that old fashioned feel to it but it's also has a timeless feel as well. I've noticed that seems to be the trend with portraying the future, look at the cartoon My Life as a Teenage Robot (but it's kind of hard to compare Dany & Dany to a Nicktoon.) The lush backgrounds and beautiful costumes continue the greatness and beauty that you expect from Dany & Dany. It's their art that attracted me to their titles and the combination of art and story is what keeps me reading their works.

Yaoi Press' quality of printing is definitely top notch. The paper is a brilliant white which help the images leap off the page. It is also higher quality and heavier, but not stiff. The cover is scored near the binding so you don't get the ugly crease and it keeps things looking neat. I am so thankful that Yaoi Press brought the work of this amazing team to our shores instead the work being kept hidden in Italy!

This is another quality release and I recommend Anima. Even though there isn't an age rating I feel that it is for an audience for those 18 and above. But if you find the idea of a human and an android disturbing you may want to pick up a different Dany & Dany title, but the robots don't look like how you imagine robots to look. Those are my only warnings but I really enjoyed this title and I hope you do too!

***Review Copy purchased through Everything Yaoi***

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Red Blinds the Foolish by est em review

Red Blinds the Foolish

Author/Artist: est em

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: B-

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

Rafita Alonso is the hottest star in bullfighting. He's well known, young, fearless, and wears a red costume. He's the talk of the bullfighting world. He soon falls in love with the young butcher who rends the bulls he kills, Mauro. Mauro has a scar on his back in the exact location where matadors stab their bulls to kill them. Also Mauro is color blind, just like a bull. Soon Rafita starts having nightmares where instead of a bull charging at him he's staring down his lover. Because of these nightmares his bullfighting is suffering and for the first time in his life he's scared to step into the stadium.

Red Blinds the Foolish also contains a few stories like a brief tale about Mauro's past, a story about two lovers one of which has a shoe fetish (and he has to be the one who makes the shoes), a tale about a soccer fan and a guard at the soccer stadium, and the story of a writer who works for an older novelist who is writing a story about a ballet dancer (it turns out that the younger writer is seeing a ballet dancer).

As a story Red Blinds the Foolish is a beautiful, profound, and poignant story. The contrast between Rafita and Mauro make for great storytelling and this is the first bullfighting manga that I've read. In many places around the net and on the back of the book est em-sensei's art is praised. In one aspect it is good. Sensei uses the stark difference between black-and-white to her advantage and it works well with the storytelling. There is very little use of gray tones and where they are used it is sparingly but with good result. Sensei isn't afraid to use older men with wrinkles as characters nor does she shy away from drawing chest hair, leg hair, etc. And Rafita's matador costume is beautiful. The men are definitely more realistically portrayed in est em-sensei's work. The other aspect of sensei's art style is it's not really that great. It is definitely unique and goes well with the story, but I just have a hard time with it. There was one thing I really enjoyed though, and that would be sensei's Afterword. She told all about her research trip to Spain and her experiences at various bullfights. The best part is how she illustrated herself and her traveling companion. She used an R2D2 lookalike and her companion is a C3PO twin. It cracked me up to no end!

I have to give mad props to Deux Press for taking a huge risk on a title like Red Blinds the Foolish. Even though I may not be a huge fan of sensei's art the storytelling is very strong and is of a subject that is not generally covered in manga. Generally you get the usual fare from American publishers (you know schoolboys, salarymen, etc.) but Deux Press decided to take on est em, which she has a higher class feel to her stories. She uses characters from around the globe and from different, more artistic type jobs. I have to admit that it is a nice change of pace. One thing I have noticed is that with the est em titles the books have a different look. Instead of the usual hot pink font on the spine they replaced it with a deep red font.

I recommend this title on its storytelling alone. The art adds a little but the story is masterfully told. If you were to choose between est em-sensei's two works, the other being Seduce Me After the Show, I would definitely recommend Red Blinds the Foolish. Try it out for something totally new and truly unique.

EDIT: 01/06/2009 - I decided to change the grade from C+ to B- because the story is really quite good and unique and I can overlook the at least a little.

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

Friday, December 26, 2008

License Limbo! Sounds like Fun!

I had wanted to do some end of year lists and stuff. When I came across EdChav's MangaCast's post about the license limbo I couldn't help but create a wish list of my own. To read the original post click here. One thing I want to mention is he brings up the fate of manhwa and UDON has one of my favorite titles on their list, Magical JxR. I love this manhwa series and to see it on this list saddens me greatly. To show your love for titles be sure to go out there and purchase those titles so the publisher knows that they can be rewarded by continuing a series.

There are many titles out there that are held by publishers that I really want to be published. These titles are all yaoi titles because the TokyoPop and VIZ titles that I read aren't on this list. This is my most wanted list and I love how Ed suggested appropriate publishers, so I'll follow his lead and name publishers as well!
  • Embracing Love – Youka Nitta (currently with BeBeautiful) – 801 Media
  • Finder Series – Ayano Yamane (currently with BeBeautiful) – Kitty Media (as long as it looks like The Crimson Spell [quality surprised me greatly] and not like the Seiryo books [great smutty title, poor production quality – whew, sorry about the diatribe])
  • Playboy Blues – Shiuko Kano (of course anything by her I want published in English, oh and it's currently with BeBeautiful) – Deux Press
  • Sound of My Voice – Youka Nitta (currently with BeBeautiful) – Deux Press or BLU
  • Yebisu Celebrities – Shinri Fuwa (currently with BeBeautiful) – Deux Press
  • Virgin Soil – Haruka Minami (not on MangaCast's list, but currently with BeBeautiful) – 801 Media
  • Sex Friend – Koreaki Kamuro (currently with Broccoli/Boysenberry) – Deux Press
  • Invoke – Kiriko Higashizato (currently with DramaQueen) – 801 Media
  • Mandayuu and Me – Shushushu Sakurai (currently with DramaQueen) – Kitty Media (again The Crimson Spell quality)
  • Missing Road – Shushushu Sakurai (currently with DramaQueen) – Kitty Media
  • Naked Jewels Corp – Shushushu Sakurai (currently with DramaQueen) – Kitty Media
  • Not/Love – Kano Miyamoto (currently with DramaQueen) – Deux Press
  • OMEN – Makoto Tateno (currently with DramaQueen) – Juné
  • Reverse? – Kazuhiko Mishima (currently with DramaQueen) – Juné
  • Tyrant Falls in Love – Hinako Takanaga (currently with DramaQueen) – BLU

There you have it. Kris' wish list for titles in limbo!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Object of Desire by Tomoko Noguchi review

Object of Desire

Author/Artist: Tomoko Noguchi

Publisher: Luv Luv Press

Rating: M – ages 18 and above

Genre: Josei, Drama, Romance, School Life

Grade: D

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

Object of Desire by Tomoko Noguchi is an anthology of sexy stories from Aurora's own Luv Luv josei line.

We have stories like the title story. Kako is tired of dealing with guys who want to date her just to sleep with her and not be with "her." She wishes that guys would be up front and be direct in what they want. She's taken aback when Mizoguchi gets to the point and asks her to sleep with him just once. In Lovey-Dovey we deal with an obsessive stalker type girl and her cheating boyfriend. Oil & Water and With Lemon are about Shizuka and Kimura. Shizuka is an intelligent girl who has a crush on a fellow classmate, Kimura. Shizuka is kind of a tough chick and all of the guys treat her as one of their own, with the exception of Kimura. He teases her and treats her differently than the other guys and Shizuka likes that. Maid for Love is about a clumsy girl who works in a maid café and her salaryman boyfriend. The final story Summer Prince is about a girl who falls for the womanizing foreign exchange student who is staying with them.

Luv Luv has been churning out some good titles lately, like Pretty Poison, Sounds of Love, and Make Love and Peace. But they missed the mark with Object of Desire. All of the men in each of the one-shots turned out to be a cheating jerk with the air of loser hovering around them. The title story of Object of Desire and the Shizuka/Kimura stories of Oil & Water and With Lemon were tolerable and somewhat enjoyable but the rest of them are really quite forgettable and I found the last story of Summer Prince to be the most disturbing of them all. They're only in high school and she's already obsessed with having sex regardless of who it's with. There was also a lot of self-loving going on. You wouldn't think I'd be all that surprised by reading a manga where pleasuring ones self is present, I read a whole lotta yaoi, but with this featuring women touching themselves I was a bit surprised. I know that sounds really weird but I'm just not used to it like I am with reading yaoi self-satisfaction panels.

Not only were the stories lackluster but the art was not at all pleasing to the eye. I love it when a manga-ka has a unique style if it looks good, but this manga is really disappointing. The nipples on the characters don't look like normal ones. They honestly look like Playtex baby bottle nipples that we used to feed my niece when she was a baby. Every once in a while you might catch a panel of two that really showed what potential Noguchi-sensei has but most of it is really not at all attractive. The cover is beautiful but the rest, not so much.

If you like stories about girls in some possibly unhealthy relationships with loser guys pick Object of Desire up. But I don't really recommend it. Wait until January's Luv Luv release Make More Love and Peace.

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

Black Sun vol. 1 by Uki Ogasawara review

Black Sun vol. 1

Author/Artist: Uki Ogasawara

Publisher: 801 Media

Rating: M – 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Historical

Grade: D

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

Gerun Fortress – home to 200 Monastic Knights is on the verge of falling to the enemy, 20,000 Middle Eastern soldiers under General Jamal Jan. To save the lives of his men Prince Leonard de Limbourg offers himself to Jamal as a prisoner of war to spare the lives of his men. Jamal takes him up on the offer but forces himself on Leonard and rapes him in front of all his men as punishment. As they travel from Gerun Fortress back to the capital city Jamal uses this opportunity to continue forcing himself on Leonard and pounding him into oblivion.

Once they arrive to the palace and even though Leonard is a prisoner, Jamal seems to treat Leonard as though they were lovers. Leonard won't have any of that and wants to humiliate Jamal in front of his own men. To no avail, Jamal doesn't seem to be embarrassed while being paraded down the hall completely naked and with a hard-on. As time passes, however, it seems that the more time Leonard spends with Jamal he falls in love (Stockholm Syndrome anyone?). Trouble seems to be waiting for Leonard and Jamal in the form of the former commander at Gerun, and the Sultan of the Kingdom that they are in (there isn't any mention a city).

Black Sun is quite the porny manga. If you like extreme detail in everything this might be something you would enjoy. The story (or lack thereof) leaves much to be desired. I found the raping a little hard to swallow (fangirls, get your minds out of the gutter). I know that this is a common plot point – the whole falling for your tormentor, but I still have a very hard time with it. The story consists of embarrassment, rape, torment, and sex and very little else. I realize that the Crusades were a black mark in history and this could be a really great setting for an amazing story, but it seems that Ogasawara-sensei failed to grasp it. The only thing I truly enjoyed was the extra story called "My Elegant Day." It's a brief story told from the point of view of a black panther that lives in the palace. It was quite humorous.

The art on the other hand is truly amazing. The characters are all gorgeous even the old Sultan. Everything was drawn with exquisite detail both background, costumes, everything. When I mean everything is drawn in detail I mean EVERYTHING! There is little censoring of the images so don't be shocked in detailed penises. Not much shocks me anymore, but I did find myself taken aback by the in your face nature of it.

This is 801 Media's first dust jacketless release. It is still beautiful but by removing the dust jacket where are they going to put the 801-chan comic? Even though there isn't a dust jacket the price is still $15.95. I now feel like the price is a bit of a gyp, but I guess because they take big risks when it comes to licensing I'll overlook it, for now. If the quality continues I won't have a problem. But if they allow the quality to fall and continue to charge the higher price I'll have a few choice words to say about it.

I can't say I recommend this title. Even though the art is beyond fantastic the story really drags it down. You make the decision if you want to read this title but you can't blame me if you don't like it, I warned you!

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Dark Dreams: A Dany & Dany Artbook by Dany & Dany review

Dark Dreams: A Dany & Dany Artbook
Author/Artist: Dany & Dany
Publisher: Yaoi Press
Rating: N/R (but is has a parental advisory notice on the cover)
Genre: Yaoi, Artbook
Grade: B-
I am a sucker for artbooks. When it comes to my favorite artists and series I make sure that if there is an artbook available I have to get it. I was introduced to Dany & Dany through Initially I had no desire to read any Yaoi Press titles (no offense to huge fans of Yaoi Press, that's just how I felt) because none of the story lines really appealed to me. That was the case until I read the synopsis for The Lily and the Rose (I have posted a review so feel free to check it out). I decided to check it out and was pleasantly surprised. I'm still not a huge Yaoi Press fan but thanks to their partnership with NETCOMICS I'm more willing to give them a fair shake because I don't have to break the bank on a title that I probably would only read once.
After reading The Lily and the Rose I wanted to witness more of Dany & Dany's works. While perusing the titles available at Yaoi Club I stumbled upon Dark Dreams: A Dany & Dany Artbook. I guess that I should give a little background on who Dany & Dany are. They are an Italian duo that creates absolutely stunning manga. All of the titles featured in Dark Dreams have been licensed for English publication. Also all but one of the titles are yaoi titles. But what else would you expect from a company called Yaoi Press.
The book is 64 pages long, which you can expect artbooks to be smaller, and printed in black and white. I would have given this a higher grade were the pages in color. Dany & Dany have lush backgrounds, exceptionally detailed costumes, and are beautiful to gaze upon. Both the men and women are gorgeous with flowing hair, toned bodies, and faces that show all emotions. This work would have been well served by being rendered in full color. That way you could truly experience the magnificence that is Dany & Dany.
I recommend this to fans of Dany & Dany and those who might be somewhat interested in the art styles of other comic artists who focus on yaoi even though they may not be Japanese. Yaoi Press brings to light many of these GloBL (that's what they call it) artists. If you are interested, feel free to stop by, they have a deal with Yaoi Press to showcase their titles. Or you can stop by Yaoi Press' website ( and check out their other offerings.
***Review Copy purchased through Yaoi Club***

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Lily and the Rose by Dany & Dany review

The Lily and the Rose
Author/Artist: Dany & Dany
Publisher: Yaoi Press
Rating: N/R (there was no rating provided from the publisher but there is a parental advisory label on the cover)
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, Historical
Grade: A
To be honest this is my first Yaoi Press title that I actually wanted to purchase for my own collection. I first read The Lily and the Rose at NETCOMICS but a chunk of the story was missing online (it was at the end too!) and I really wanted to put together the story so the ending made sense. Once I had the book in my hot little hands the ending made much more sense than what I read online.
During their childhood Alain and Christophe were close friends and enjoyed spending time together. Christophe wanted to be a priest like his mentor Father Colbert and Alain had only one thing in mind, to seek revenge for his mother's murder. Because of a youthful discretion Alain left the home where they were living and the two lost contact with one another.
Many years later Christophe has become a priest like he wanted. A corrupt cardinal wants to keep Christophe for himself but Christophe is aware of the price he would have to pay if he chose that path. Since Christophe is a virtuous and humble man he wants to live a simple life teaching the word of God. He's assigned to teach a young Comte. This same young Comte's mother is involved with a young Marquis. We learn that this young Marquis de Saint-Denis is actually Alain and he is still searching for clues to help him locate the man who murdered his mother. The Comtesse de Sevigny offers to give him the final piece of the puzzle but for a price. Alain must cause disgrace to the new priest that is coming to teach her son. Her friend wants the priest all to himself. I'm pretty sure that you've figured out that the priest is Christophe, the corrupt cardinal is the Comtesse's acquaintance, and that Alain is going to have to disgrace his first love.
Alain is looking forward to humiliating Christophe because of the humiliation of their past youthful discretion. He continues to play the part of the Marquis and convinces Christophe he isn't his friend from the past. But because of his attempt at seduction he accidentally reveals a pattern of moles on his chest that gives him away. Shocked by this new development Christophe doesn't know what to do. He wants to continue serving God but has temptation placed in his way. Plus, there is trouble brewing in Paris. Will Christophe choose God or Alain? What do these two have to face to be together?
Like I said at the beginning I hadn't planned on purchasing this title but with missing pages I decided to pick it up. The books are priced reasonably (compared to other yaoi titles) so I purchased it. I was very glad I bought it. Other Yaoi Press titles I haven't been too terribly impressed with but The Lily and the Rose really stood out and is one of my favorite titles of all time. Dany & Dany create some of the most beautiful men. They have large expressive eyes, perfectly toned bodies, and gorgeous flowing hair. It's definitely a fantasyland of pretty boys. The story was definitely tighter than the other two Dany & Dany titles (Wishing for the Moon and .I.d.o.l., I haven't read their newest title Anima). The story is addictive and you can't put it down, and Dany & Dany's art help the story move along. With lush and detailed backgrounds to beautiful costumes it definitely feels like a story that takes place at the beginning of the French Revolution. I love stories that are written during this time period (like The Scarlet Pimpernel). This title was a nice change from the Japanese titles that I've been swamped with.
The book is beautiful both inside and out. Yaoi Press did a wonderful job in printing this title. It's very interesting and gorgeous to look at.
***Review Copy purchased at Borders***

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Star Project Chiro vol. 4 by Baek Hye-Kyoung review

Star Project Chiro vol. 4

Author/Artist: Baek Hye-Kyoung

Publisher: UDON Entertainment

Rating: Teen – ages 13 and up

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama

Grade: A-

When we last left Chiro, she was headed towards the stage and Chan-Kyung Woo (if interested you can check out my reviews of vol. 1, vol. 2, and vol. 3). He didn't recognize her and gave Nan Lee the brush off. Of course she was crushed but she had another opportunity see him at Ami's New Years party (Ami is Nan's almost stepmother, you'll have to read vol. 3 for the whole story). While at the party the lights went out at midnight and Chiro/Eun-Yo covered Chan-Kyung's eyes and gave him a New Years smooch. To everyone's surprise a photographer snuck into the party and snapped a picture of Chiro kissing Chan-Kyung.

As soon as the picture gets into the hands of Dr. Go you'd think that Chiro was saved but Nan freaks out and punishes her by tying her up. The dude is a serious mental case. In another turn of events it looks like Nan is being forced through some nefarious characters (including Dr. Go) to pay a huge debt and that is why he needed Chiro. Meanwhile Chan-Kyung is trying to deal with his feelings of anger towards Eun-Yo. It looks like to me that he's going through the seven stages of loss and is at the anger stage. Very interesting, I can't wait for the next volumes!

I have been drawn into this series in a big way. With the economy the way it is and all of the downsizing going on in various publishing houses I'm worried about things being published through UDON's Korean Manhwa division. The fifth volume of Star Project Chiro and the fourth volume of Magical JxR were supposed to be published already but are still not available. When you visit their website and look at all of their upcoming releases it seems that the releases for next year are for Street Fighter. I don't want to see my two manhwa series stopped in the middle!

Initially I didn't think I was going to like Star Project Chiro because Eun-Yo is quite the spoiled brat, prima donna type. But I noticed the longer I read on you love her like you love Jane Austen's Emma. You're probably thinking that I'm nuts comparing Eun-Yo to a classic literature character like Emma but hear me out. Emma has to have everything her way and because of who she is she has the social standing to expect it. She's spoiled and pampered by those around her and even if you find her annoying, she still wins you over. She's the heroine that you love to hate to love. Eun-Yo is the same way for me. You love to hate her but you hate to love her. It's complicated! But I still love the series and I'm dying to find out what is going to happen next. I love Chan-Kyung and I hope that things will work out in his favor. Nan Lee is of course the perfect villain and I love hating him regardless of how handsomely he's drawn.

I really recommend this series. The art and the story are fantastic and I've loved every minute of it. Let's hope that UDON plans to continue printing this series so I can continue to sing its praises.

***Review Copy purchased through***

Friday, December 19, 2008


It's time to celebrate things here at Manic About Manga! Why, you ask? Well, Manic About Manga is now it's own domain name at It's still hosted at but I'm now independent. OK, so I'm probably the only one who is excited, but don't rain on my parade, it's already snowed way more than needed!

breath vol. 1 by Chifumi Ochi review

breath vol. 1

Author/Artist: Chifumi Ochi

Publisher: Yaoi Generation

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama

Grade: B

One evening while hanging out in his favorite gay bar Yanagi meets the man of his dreams. The man is simply gorgeous and is totally wasted so he doesn't resist any of Yanagi's come ons. The two hit a love hotel for a night of hot, sweaty, fluid-filled, passionate sex. It turns out that the mystery man is ultra sensitive and is still a virgin, which turns Yanagi on even more. When morning comes and sobriety has set in the sexy mystery man seems to be someone completely different than the sexy man from the night before. This man is disgusted with what happened and books out of the room before Yanagi was even dressed, leaving behind his jacket.

Yanagi is pretty torked at this point and tries to distract himself. The man who stood him up the night he met our mystery man has some free time and wants to spend it with Yanagi. A revelation is in store for Yanagi while he is at Ten's (his friend) house. It seems that Ten (aka Takashi) has a twin brother, Arata. Shock and surprise all around when we meet Arata. It's the mystery man from the other night! Arata sees the events of the other night completely different. He'd had a crappy day at work and afterwards he had to listen to his coworkers complain and bash him (he was headed to the loo). To drown his sorrows he hit the nearest bar and drank until he couldn't remember. He first started coming to his senses during the passionate lovemaking session but it wasn't until it was all over that he finally realized what he'd done, and of course we know he flipped out. You see, Ten is cool and confident and everyone loves him and Arata can't help but compare himself to his brother (boy, can I relate or what!). Arata is the complete opposite he's quiet, shy, and really quite the introvert.

Yanagi seizes this opportunity. As a way to get near Arata he uses the jacket that Arata left behind to gain entry into Arata and Ten's apartment. He then decides to blackmail Arata into a sexual relationship, but will it continue in this fashion?

This title is Yaoi Generation's debut release. They announced themselves at this year's YaoiCon in San Francisco. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for sending this review copy to me, I'm honored to work with them! breath is going to be an interesting story, I can tell. It is a series of five volumes so the intensity has just started. Honestly I have no idea how this story is going to pan out. I am one who enjoys a happily ever after and I really hope that will be the case. But since we are still at the beginning I am anxiously awaiting the next volume. Each character is very interesting. Yanagi seems to be a cold-hearted snake but he seems to possess some sort of conscience. Arata is your typical shy guy but you can't help but wonder, is he developing feelings for Yanagi? This is a very angst filled manga. It doesn’t start out as a blackmailing, forcing someone to sleep with you story, but it does develop into that. I just wanted to make you all aware of that.

I found myself sucked into the story immediately thanks to Chifumi Ochi-sensei's art. You may be already familiar with Ochi-sensei's work thanks to NETCOMICS. They published her Honey Senior, Darling Junior series. Her art is detailed and beautiful, clean and uncluttered. It is very pleasing to the eye. Not only is it beautiful in the artwork but the publishing is genius. All you other yaoi publishers on the scene better watch out because this is one high quality release. In looking at it, it is very similar to what you would get from Broccoli/Boysenberry Books. It's a bit smaller that your typical manga but it features a stunning full color front page, heavy brilliant white paper which causes the images to just leap off the page, and ink that doesn’t rub off onto your hands. Since Boysenberry is going out of business Yaoi Gen is going to fill that spot nicely. Banzai, Banzai, Banzai! The price point for one of their releases is $12.99, which falls into the typical price for a yaoi title. With the quality that you get it is well worth it.

I'm looking forward to working with Yaoi Generation in the future. If all of their releases from here on out are going to be like this first one, I can't help but be excited for their future!

***Review Copy provided by Yaoi Generation***

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Have Yourself a Bishonen or Two!

'Tis the season of curling up with a nice, warm blanket, a mug of hot chocolate, and a couple of BL titles to lose yourself in. Here are some more BL for Beginners titles!

Alcohol, Shirt, and Kiss - This is one of my all time favorite BL titles. Naruse's girlfriend just dumped him. To drown his sorrows his fellow police officer, Kita, takes him drinking. After waking up in Kita's apartment three days in a row in various states of undress Naruse is thoroughly. The third night Naruse is completely naked, in Kita's bed, and no memory of the night before. Did they sleep together? This is a fun story. It's a cop story like Fake, but much more fuzzy. Yuko Kuwabara-sensei's art is very clean and beautiful. You get very passionate kissing and when they do finally consummate their relationship the art and situation is handled delicately. It's not shocking in any way. Like I said at the beginning this in one of my favorite titles. I love it so much I have the English version and two copies in Japanese (one is the original BIBLOS release and the other is the LIBRE release with a different cover image.) I know pretty pathetic.

Kyo Kara MAOH! - On a normal day Yuri confronts some bullies that are picking on a fellow classmate. The classmate escapes but Yuri doesn't. The bullies decide to give him a swirly (you know where they force your head in a toilet bowl and flush) but somehow he gets sucked into an alternate world where he is the King of the Mazoku, a demon race. He's in an unfamiliar land surrounded by beauty everywhere. This is a fairly new series being published through TokyoPop. It's written by Tomo Takabayashi and illustrated by Temari Matsumoto. Matsumoto-sensei is a notable BL artist whose work is beautiful. There are slight BL vibes in this manga but nothing overpowering. No kissing, touching, just vibes. There is only one volume out now, the second volume comes out at the end of the year, and there will be more coming out in the future. In Japan there are currently 6 volumes out and it is ongoing.

I hope that you will enjoy these two titles. I have a few more that I want to highlight and I need to dig through my piles and piles and piles of manga that I have to find more great titles for beginners!

Time Stranger Kyoko vol. 1 by Arina Tanmura review

Time Stranger Kyoko vol. 1

Author/Artist: Arina Tanemura

Publisher: VIZ Media

Rating: T+ - 16 and above

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Grade: A

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

In the 30th century Earth has become one harmonious place to live. Kyoko Suomi is the princess of Earth, but she craves anonymity. She attends a normal high school and has normal friends who all think that she's a normal high school student. Kyoko is supposed to be presented to the people of Earth as the princess on her 16th birthday. Of course Kyoko has no desire to be princess. She has a twin sister who is just as capable but there is one slight problem holding back Ui (Kyoko's twin). It seems that Ui is trapped in time and the only way she can be saved is with the help of Kyoko. The king offers Kyoko her freedom if she can find twelve sacred stones and twelve telepaths. Once the task is done Ui can wake and take her place on the throne.
It sounds easy enough right? Wrong! Due to unforeseen circumstances Kyoko is outed as the princess. It also turns out that she possesses one of the stones that are needed to free Ui. It turns out that with the help of Cane-chon (the cane and stone that control time) Kyoko can travel through time to locate the other eleven telepaths and stones. Through Kyoko's travels she meets interesting people and is able to help out her two bodyguards that are the only surviving members of the Dragon Tribe. Will Kyoko be able to find the rest of the telepaths and stones to free Ui from her slumber? You'll have to check out Time Stranger Kyoko.

Time Stranger Kyoko is a three volume shojo manga series released through VIZ Media. It's a wild ride from the beginning. As a first volume it does a great job of introducing us to the many characters that Kyoko meets and interacts with. Kyoko has a strong sense of justice and will do what she can to help those in need. Her two bodyguards, Sakataki and Hizuki, are the surviving princes from the Dragon Tribe that was wiped out by the Demon Tribe. The King takes in these two young men and the two men vow to protect Kyoko with their whole being. Sakataki is kind of a stiff young man whereas his older brother Hizuki is much more laid back. Kyoko has many friends at school and as soon as her classmates find out her secret they vow to continue treating her the way they did before they found out that she was a princess. But for me the best character out of the whole series is Witzig. He's a member of the Snake Tribe but spends his time looting, pillaging, and kidnapping Kyoko at every turn. He's always in the middle of things and even travels along with Kyoko into the past. He rides around on a snake with the name of Snake-chama and has a second-in-command named Ginga. He travels with a gang called the Destroyers and these men will follow Witzig anywhere. There is a plethora of characters that I haven't even introduced but play a part in the story.

Arina Tanemura-sensei's art fall into the typical shojo style, you know big eyes, slight figures, small mouths, etc. The panels are filled with flowery screen tones and you have a ribbon and lacy explosion on just about every page. Yet it is tastefully done and doesn't seem to be as gaudy as other shojo manga I've read. The manga is around the same size as a typical paperback. The paper seems to be a higher quality and I didn't notice too many problems with ink rubbing off onto my fingers. The story is intriguing, cute, funny, and is pretty interesting. One thing I've found is I enjoy titles that keep me on my toes and Time Stranger Kyoko is one of those titles. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!

If you like fantasy, magical type stories this is a fun title to pick up and read. It will keep you riveted to your seat and you can't move until you've reached the end.

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sugar Princess vol. 1 by Hisaya Nakajo review

Sugar Princess vol. 1

Author/Artist: Hisaya Nakajo

Publisher: VIZ Media

Rating: A – All Ages

Genre: Shojo, Drama, Comedy, Sports

Grade: A

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

Every once in a while you come across a book that really endearing. For me Sugar Princess is one of those stories.

One day Maya Kurinoki decided to take her little brother to the local ice skating rink. Her little brother had never been ice-skating before so to give him a little confidence she decides to try a double axel. To Maya's surprise she landed the jump, sort of. It so happens that the local ice skating coach witnesses Maya's miraculous jump and scouts her. She was a bit suspicious but shows up at the rink anyway. The coach was indeed serious about being a coach and wanting her to skate. He is looking for a partner for one of his skaters. Shun Kano was a pairs skater at one time but recently he's been a soloist. Of course Shun is a very handsome high school student.

Shun is totally against skating pairs again so the coach decides on his own that Shun will be the one who'll teach Maya the basics. After a few embarrassing moments Maya starts her training, but without a coach because Shun refuses to teach her anything. Luckily some of the other novice skaters at the rink take Maya under their wing and teach her the things that they are also learning. Maya is in for a few surprises. It turns out that Shun attends the high school that is attached to the middle school that Maya goes to. The other surprise is she is able to convince Shun to finally teach her (she wore him down with her enthusiasm and determination). But there are a few storm clouds on the horizon. The owner of the rink falls ill and his son wants to close it because it's not profitable. The other storm is in the form of Reina. She's another skater at the rink and she seems to have a thing for Shun and wants to be his partner. What will Maya do about Reina and what will she be able to do to help save the beloved rink?

The reason why I found this manga to be so endearing is because Maya looks like a cousin of mine and I have a niece who is a figure skater. Combine the two into one character and I couldn't help but fall in love with the story. The characters are well developed and Maya's enthusiasm and innocence helps draw you in. Shun's initial coldness begins to thaw and you do learn why he no longer skates pairs. This is a really fun read. The series consists of two volumes, which are both available. When I finished this volume I immediately wanted to read the second one to find out if they were able to save the rink. I had to wait to read the sequel but it was well worth it. The art is beautiful. Each character is rendered beautifully. You can easily tell them apart, the clothing is beautifully detailed and there are various outfits instead of the usual two or three that some artists have the tendency to do, and the skating scenes are detailed and it really feels like you are watching figure skating. Did I mention it's beautiful?

VIZ made a great choice in bringing a title like Sugar Princess to our shores. It has an all ages rating and I will stand by that. Kids and adults alike can enjoy this title!

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

Clear Skies! vol. 2 by Akira Sugano and Etsumi Ninomiya review

Clear Skies! vol. 2

Author/Artist: Akira Sugano/Etsumi Ninomiya

Publisher: Juné

Rating: YA – for ages 16 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Grade: B

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

The Obinata household is still a boisterous den of testosterone. Taiga feels that his grip on the family is beginning to loosen. It seems that Shuu has charmed his way into the hearts of the Obinata family men (if you are curious feel free to read my review of volume one or the novel). Since Taiga and Shuu have known each other since high school their relationship has yet to come to light. It turns out that Taiga fell in love with Shuu but he didn't feel that the feelings would be returned so the two painfully parted ways. Of course with the nosy relatives this past was eavesdropped on (Taiga and Shuu were having a loud argument in the family home with notoriously thin walls).

Since it's summer the neighborhoods are bustling with festivals and the neighborhood that the Obinata family lives in is no different. During the festival many secrets come out. We learn the story between Yuuta and Shuu and how they came to be adoptive son/father. Yuuta also learns that Mayumi, the youngest of the bunch, seems to have the most level head and seems to be on top of things going on between Taiga and Shuu. Taiga is struggling with his past with Shuu and the fact that his first (and only) love is married to his sister. But trouble seems to be in the cards for the mish-mash family living in the Obinata house and this secret could tear everything apart.

I found myself anxiously awaiting this second volume because I really enjoyed the first volume. The second volume, however, is much more somber than the first. We get into the nitty gritty details of Shuu and Taiga's past and the fact that these two failed miserably when it came to communicating their feelings. But we are dealing with men here, and if I know one thing men don't seem to have innate communication skills (but have no fear these skills can be learned, I'm not trying to men bash, I promise.) This is a great series to start out with if you are interested in wading out into the world of BL (boys love). There are a few kissing scenes but that’s it. If you are looking for something more hardcore you'll have to look elsewhere. The story over all is very sweet, cotton candy, and fluff. Sometimes fluffy stories fill a void from time to time. The characters are great especially Mayumi and Yuuta. In my opinion they are two of the most interesting. I think I like Mayumi because I can relate to him, me being the youngest child in my family as well. I could see a lot of myself in him. Yuuta was also interesting because of his past. You can't help but feel for him and be glad that he met Shuu when he did.

Overall I really enjoyed this series and I recommend it highly, especially for BL newbies! I think that when you read this manga series along with the novel you get a clear picture of the world created by Etsumi Ninomiya-sensei and Akira Sugano-sensei. It's an enjoyable world indeed! I know that in Japan there are more stories that have been written (and in the English translation of the artists notes these stories are hinted at) that deal with other members of the Obinata clan. I hope that one day we'll be able to read these in English along with Clear Skies!

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

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Dawn of Love by Kazuho Hirokawa review

The Dawn of Love

Author/Artist: Kazuho Hirokawa

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Grade: A

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

Masahiro Matsunaga is quite the man. He's confident in his homosexuality, has many friends, and doesn't hurt for partners. He's currently a student in law school. In one of his classes a guy by the name of Takane Takekawa seems to have captured his attention. Masahiro makes up his mind to try and convince Takane to sleep with him, just once. Takane agrees to it immediately, he enjoys sex after all. After their heated night of sweaty passion Masahiro discovers that he can't let Takane go. Takane offers himself as a sex friend to Masahiro but nothing more. They continue sleeping with one another but Masahiro wants more. He tries to convince Takane to focus on him solely. It seems that Masahiro has fallen in love with Takane.

Once Masahiro has convinced Takane to see him exclusively now begins the hard part of breaking things off with all of his other sex friends. One in particular is going to be hard. Tadanori. These two have a strange relationship, but Takane does care about him. Tadanori is a busy older man and Takane has always had to fit in to Tadanori's schedule. Takane has some trouble getting a hold of him to break things off so he just leaves him a message. Tadanori calls back during a sweaty sex session while Takane was ready to climax. Afterwards Tadanori suggests that the three of them get together to discuss their relationships. It looks like Tadanori isn't going to go quietly.

When I first picked up this book I wasn't terribly impressed by the cover artwork but once I peeled off the shrink-wrap I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the art in this story. The style is unique, just the way I like it. The eyes were so expressive that sometimes you would forget that you were looking at a two dimensional image. Kazuho Hirokawa-sensei used jewelry, piercings, and fashionable clothing on all of the characters, which is a nice change from the generic looks that you can get with other manga-ka. I loved it, everything, the clothes, the hair, the story, everything!

The story is a bit melodramatic but it was fun in a cracky sort of way. You can't help but admire Masahiro for his arrogance and self-confidence. He knows that he can be the man to make Takane fall in love. They are pretty hot and heavy between the sheets and he knows that they belong together regardless of what Takane thinks initially. He will use any tactic necessary to get his point across, even using the withholding of sex tactic. Takane on the other hand is quiet yet sexy and has no trouble with finding partners. He is very passionate in bed and really loves sex. You'd think that he's a borderline sex addict. This was a very enjoyable read it had humor, great art, romance, and a touch of drama. Sometimes I like to read manga that is on the lighter side. The Dawn of Love definitely falls into this category. Read it, I think you'll enjoy it!

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

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More BL Than You Can Shake a Stick at!

It is a very cold day here along the Wasatch Front, what better than dig out some more starter BL manga?

Antique Bakery – This is a story about four men in a bakery called Antique. Ono is the only openly gay character and he has the ability to sway the hearts of even the straightest man, with the exception of his high school crush. It just happens that his boss at Antique is the former high school crush. This is a fun slice of life title with some very, very light shonen ai action. It's really hard to pin this title down as a boys love title, but there you go. This was the first Fumi Yoshinaga-sensei title I read. I'm not big on her art style, (which if you've been reading any of my reviews of her work you'll already know that) but I loved the story so much that I couldn't help it. There are four volumes in this series and Digital Manga Publishing publishes it.

Gorgeous Carat – Ray is an infamous thief in Paris known as Noir. Florian is an aristocratic young man sold to Ray to pay for Florian's family's debt. These two men travel through France looking for a priceless family jewel with a rumored curse to Morocco to search for the treasure of the Knights Templar all while being chased by thugs and the law. This is drawn with You Higuri-sensei's signature stunning style. The boys love action is hinted at and there are a few moments when you know that there are things going on but it is all handled very tastefully, as one would expect from Higuri-sensei. The series consists of four volumes published by BLU plus another volume entitled Gorgeous Carat Galaxy published by Juné. In the new year BLU will be publishing another volume called Gorgeous Carat L'esperanza.

Totally Captivated – This is the first Korean manhwa on my list. Ewon has quite the conundrum on his hands. He's a naturally affectionate young man and ended up cheating on his boyfriend. As a punishment Jiho (Ewon's ex-boyfriend) convinces his new man to hire him (but without pay). The new man happens to be the head of Saehan Credit Union's Gangnam Office (technically this is a loan shark business with ties to the mob). Mookyul is gorgeous and gay and Ewon is stunned by his beauty. These two may have a past link but who knows. Ewon is adorable and Mookyul is gorgeous but rough. He has the tendency to be rough and possessive. What lies in store for these two gorgeous creatures. This story was one of my first introductions into the world of manhwa, thanks to Amazon's 4-for-3 deal. The sex isn't graphic, but there is quite a bit there. It's handled well, though. Sometimes it is a bit violent (both the sex and the story, but we are dealing with the mob here) but it does serve a purpose in the larger story. The language is also a bit rough, if you take issue with foul language proceed with caution. This is a six volume series that has been serialized through NETCOMICS. The first five volumes have been published in book form (I'm still waiting for my fifth volume) and the sixth is currently available online (at least as far as Hajin Yoo has it written and illustrated). The fans over at NETCOMICS are rabid about this title (I'm also pretty passionate about this series as well).

Silver Diamond – Rakan seems to be a typical high school student. He's good looking, smart, polite, etc. Yet something mysterious has been going on. There seems to be a portal to a different world that happens to be located in his garden. His grandfather had told a bizarre story that that was how he found Rakan and his mom, but Rakan figures that is a fib that he was told as a child. Until two mysterious strangers with magical powers show up in his garden claiming that he is also a magical creature that can heal their world. I initially had no intention of reading this but when I held the actual book in my hand I changed my mind (I know that probably makes no sense, but that's how I roll). The boys love aspect to this is very subtle and it is handled really well. This is a series that is currently being published by TokyoPop. It also has a T rating so you know that you can expect that things are going to be toned down considerably. There are currently two volumes released with the third coming out at the end of the year. According to the series is actually up to volume 16 and it is still ongoing. Who knows what is in store for us?

Clear Skies – Taiga Obinata is an editor for a sci-fi magazine. To help make the magazine successful he brought along an acquaintance from high school to write for them. Shuu Asuou is a talented writer. Things seem to be going well at the Obinata household until Shuu and some mysterious yakuza-looking guy show up on the doorstep. It turns out that Shima Obinata (the oldest and only girl in the household) married Shuu and he will now be living with them. But things don't go easily seeing how it seems that Taiga had feelings for Shuu back in high school. What's a guy to do when the man he's loved since high school is now married to his sister, or is he? It's based on a BL novel by the same name. This two-volume set from Juné is a great beginners set. The art is well done and all you get is kissing. This is a really sweet story and when you read this you can see why fangirls are drawn into the genre.

I know that some of the descriptions are somewhat muddled but I'm buried in manga at the moment and was unable to read through these titles again for a refresher. But have no fear I stand by my opinions. I'm still compiling my list and will continue this segment (I'm having fun going back and checking out titles that I've forgotten how wonderful manga can be without the hot, sweaty, fluid-filled images!) Check back again and if you have any suggestions don't hesitate to share those titles with me, I'm always looking for great titles!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't Say Any More, Darling by Fumi Yoshinaga review

Don't Say Any More, Darling

Author/Artist: Fumi Yoshinaga

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Anthology

Grade: D-

I know that I've said in the past that I'm not a huge fan of Fumi Yoshinaga-sensei but I continue to read her work because of her storytelling prowess. If I had started reading her works with Don't Say Any More, Darling I would have stopped there. It is an anthology of one shot stories.

Don't Say Any More, Darling – Tadashi is a starving lyricist. The only thing keeping Tadashi alive is Kouhei, his best friend since high school. As soon as Kouhei's parents start getting on his case in regards to marriage he starts to question his relationship with his gay best friend.

My Eternal Sweetheart – Arthur has a disease that won't allow him to have contact with the outside world. His brother creates androids to take care of him. Arthur is a teenager and is curious about sex. He asks for a sex android, a male one. It turns out that Arthur is gay.

Fairyland – Kaoru has been bullied for a long time and just wishes that the bullying to stop. Soon, everyone turns to sand.

One May Day – An older gentleman gets married for a second time to a woman he met in a small restaurant.

Pianist – A young man wanted to be a world class pianist. Now that he's older he's unfulfilled in life and wants to throw it all away.

This was a very disappointing anthology. Normally with Yoshinaga-sensei I am riveted to the spot because of her amazing ability to craft a beautiful story. In this case, however, I kept reading hoping that it would get better. It didn't. I know that there are many of her fans out there that will probably want to put my head on a chopping block, but I stand by my opinion. Her art has never floored me (I like her chibi renderings though). The stories lacked substance and weren't all that interesting. Don't Say Any More, Darling would have been better if it were longer, but sensei chose to craft it as a short story. I have no problem with slice of life stories and Yoshinaga-sensei can make them very interesting but in this case she failed.

In some weird twist of events the only reason I didn't give this a failing grade is the art. Weird, I know. If you like Yoshinaga-sensei you might enjoy this volume, but if you are like me and only enjoy her storytelling abilities, steer clear.

***Review Copy purchased through Yaoi Club***

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom vol. 1 by Kazunari Kakei review

Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom vol. 1

Author/Artist: Kazunari Kakei

Publisher: VIZ Media

Rating: T+ - 16 and up

Genre: Shonen, Comedy, Action, Supernatural

Grade: A

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

Nora is one unruly demon and the Dark Liege of the underworld thinks that it's time to send him to the human world for an "education." In order to make this work the Dark Liege had to seal Nora's powers and have him enter a pact with a human. The human chosen is middle school student Kazuma Magari. Magari is a star student, top athlete, and Student Council President, but he's bored. When presented with this opportunity to enter into this agreement, he accepts.

It seems that there is a faction of demons on the loose in the human world and the Dark Liege sends one of her most powerful soldiers to hunt them down. She's sent the Hound of Hades, Cerberus, also known as Nora. Nora's powers are now bound to Magari and only he can give permission to Nora on when these powers can be used. These two guys do not get along but when needed they work together well. Can these two get along long enough to rid the human world of rogue demons working against the Dark Liege?

Nora: The Last Chronicle of Devildom is released through VIZ Media's Shonen Jump Advanced line. This line is aimed at older teen and young adult males. One thing I learned at Anime Banzai is that girls enjoy shonen titles just as much as guys do. In the case of Nora, I can agree with all those girls that I talked to. I found myself pulled into the story almost immediately and was riveted until the end which, of course, I was sad when I finished. Luckily this is a series so I can continue reading about this crazy power play between Nora and Magari. The one thing that kind of surprised me was the fact that the Dark Liege is in fact a woman. I always assumed that the boss in Hell was male and in the case of this story, I just figured he was gay (that's probably because I read way too much yaoi). This is definitely an action title and is aimed at a mainly male audience, but if you are female you don't have to be frightened off. Not only was there action and fighting but there was also a large amount of humor involved. I seriously laughed so hard and so loud! This is really a great title and I am looking forward to the future volumes.

Not only is it a great read, but it's also a great addition to any manga collection. The paper is of a higher quality and is scored along the binding so you don't get that ugly crease. It's very flexible and is the traditional size for paperback manga. You get a nice book for a great deal, at $7.99 you won't hear me arguing about feeling cheated! Great job VIZ, this is one manga that I'm glad I stepped out of my normal boys love, yaoi, and shojo zone to read this title.

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

Captive Hearts vol. 1 by Matsuri Hino review

Captive Hearts vol. 1

Author/Artist: Matsuri Hino

Publisher: VIZ Media

Rating: T – ages 13 and up

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama, Romance

Grade: B

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

The Kuroishi family has been serving the Kogami family for generations, thanks to a curse placed on the Kuroishis by the Kogami family's guardian dragon. The current Kogami family left Japan and was living in China for a time, but they disappeared. No one knew what happened and the worst was accepted (you know, they were dead). The will was unsealed and the fortune was left to the family butler and his son, Megumi.

Megumi has been living in the lap of luxury when disaster strikes (well, disaster in a way). The only daughter, Suzuka Kogami, has been found and has been brought back to Japan. The last time Megumi saw Suzuka was when he was still a young lad and she was a baby. Because Megumi hasn't been around any Kogami family member so he hasn't built up a resistance to the curse. So who knows when he'll be hit by his urge to serve Suzuka. Megumi and Suzuka seem to have stronger feelings for one another but are Megumi's feelings because of the servant curse?

Captive Hearts is a shojo title from front to back. The art and panels are laid out in such a way that you can tell that this is a girly manga. You have flowers, lace, ribbons, bubbles, etc. adorning every page; it is a little busy. It's like an antique store exploded and left ribbons, lace doilies, and other knick-knacks all over the pages. But that seems to be typical in shojo manga. Despite the busy background I was captivated by the story (no pun intended). I laughed out loud at Megumi's antics. One minute he's a normal dude and the next he's a doting butler. Suzuka is a sweet hardworking character, not a rich girl by any means. I am looking forward for the next volumes. I recommend this title for those who like sweet stories and happy endings (I figure that the series will have a happy ending).

If you enjoy sweet funny romantic stories, you'll probably enjoy Captive Hearts. I liked it, you probably will too.

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Say Please by Kano Miyamoto review

Say Please

Author/Artist: Kano Miyamoto

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life

Grade: B+

Sakura had recently broken up with his lover and was in need of a bed companion. He "bought" Ryoichi from a male brothel for the night. Who knew that this would be the beginning of something new for Sakura. After their one-night stand these two continue to see one another and soon Ryoichi moves in with Sakura. There seem to be some troubles on the horizon, however. Ryoichi seems to have fallen in love with Sakura but he doesn't know how Sakura feels about him. Not only that but Sakura seems to have some troubles of his own. He's not too happy with his job, but he's complacent. It's not until Sakura walks in on Ryoichi and a co-worker getting busy that Sakura is able to recognize his feelings.

There is also a short one-shot A Bird at Sea, A Door in the Sky. It’s a story about a young man who has to transfer schools regularly due to a situation in his past. He befriends a gay American author who is living in Japan but will be going back home soon.

Say Please is part of Kano Miyamoto-sensei's Rules universe. How it all fits in I don't really know because I don't follow Miyamoto-sensei as closely as her other fans out there. For me I enjoyed this volume on its own merits. There isn't much in the way of angst or action, but when all you've been reading are angsty stories or one-shot anthologies a slice of life tale like Say Please is just what the doctor ordered. The story is gentle and human driven and the focus is solely on the characters and their issues. It's like peeking in the window of these two captivating people. Ryoichi is fun and flirty whereas Sakura comes across as boring but he's actually a bit on the shy side. He's unhappy in his job and has aspirations beyond. Once he finds that you know that he's going to be much more interesting. Whether the story is carried beyond what we see in Say Please I don't know. Miyamoto-sensei's color art is beautiful. I know that I've said in previous reviews that her covers look like oil paintings, and with this cover my opinion still stands. These covers belong in art galleries not on manga covers.

Deux Press seems to be the only publisher out there willing to give Miyamoto-sensei a chance. In a sea of schoolboys, bishonen salarymen, and the typical yaoi fare Miyamoto-sensei's stories are different and Deux Press has brought some of her work here for us to enjoy. Her stories have a more realistic feel and her men are often gay to begin with. They have a normal everyman look, but they're still good looking.

When this title came out earlier this year it seems that people either liked it or hated it. Yet when I read it I came down on the side of liking it. I wasn't quite as fond of the one-shot included, but the rest of the book is very good and I recommend it.

***Review Copy purchased through Barnes and Noble***

Monday, December 1, 2008

Magical JxR vol. 3 by Lee Sun-Young review

Magical JxR vol. 3

Author/Artist: Lee Sun-Young

Publisher: UDON Entertainment

Rating: Teen – 13 and above

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Grade: A

FINALLY! I was able to get my grubby mitts on a copy of Magical JxR vol. 3. I have been dying to read this title since I finished reading the second volume in June. If you are interested in my reviews of vol. one and vol. two, click on the links. I do need to make a quick amendment. In my review for the first volume I said that this was a four-volume series, but it looks like it is now a five-volume series (thanks to

It looks like somehow the contract between Cho-Ah and her magical freeloaders Aru and Jay is invalid. Cho-Ah is beyond furious but because the class is getting ready to go on a campout there isn't much she can do about them. Jay is miserable and wants to do what he can to explain things to her and Aru wants to patch things up quickly. But a magic school assignment is waiting in the wings. It appears to Cho-Ah and Aru simultaneously. It seems that the drill sergeant owner of the training camp that Cho-Ah's class attends has a son who joined a motorcycle gang. It looks like the assignment is to reunite father and son. Can this happen even though the contract is null and void? Not only does Cho-Ah have the situation with Jay and Aru to deal with but also there might be some feelings brewing between her and Mr. S (we meet Mr. S in the second volume).

I love this series! This particular volume is a bit darker and a bit more serious that the previous two, but it is still humorous nonetheless. Most of the story focuses on the father and son that Cho-Ah, Aru and Jay, help. Things don't end on a cliffhanger like the second volume did. There is also an extra chapter that focuses on Mr. S. You can't help but feel sorry for the two wizards that get assigned to Mr. S. The art is gorgeous and definitely has that shojo feel to it even though it is a manhwa. The detail is truly stunning and I don't know how the artist had the patience to draw it all. Everyone has the most amazing hair possible. I can't wait for the next volume. I can usually figure out how stories are going to end, but in the case of Magical JxR I'm pretty clueless this time around. Does Jay have feelings for Cho-Ah? How will the relationship of Cho-Ah and Mr. S pan out? I have no idea!

According to the information provided at the end, the fourth volume should be out by now. Sadly it hasn't been released yet. I guess I'll have to keep checking the publisher's website for updates. When it comes to awesome books UDON is right up there with DMP. UDON may not use the highest quality of paper but it is still pretty good stuff. They have a larger trim size (the books are about the same size as a tome from DMP) and a full color fold out front page. Nice! With the couple titles of theirs that I've checked out I haven't been disappointed.

I totally recommend this series. It is a great introduction into the world of manhwa. Don't read it just for that reason; it really is a fun read. Prepare to strap yourself down for a wild ride full of magical excitement and Taekwondo kicks!

***Review Copy purchased through***

Just Around the Corner by Toko Kawai review

Just Around the Corner

Author/Artist: Toko Kawai

Publisher: 801 Media

Rating: M – for ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, School Life

Grade: A-

Just Around the Corner is a touching story about two deeply flawed characters, drawn in Toko Kawai's signature style.

Kiriya's relationship with his lover had just ended. He felt like there was nothing left to live for and was going to step into traffic. The guy he had just bumped shoulders with pulled him back to safety. Yuuya was having troubles of his own. He was a world class pianist but because of an accident his left hand was injured and he was no longer able to play. Their mutual pain drew them together. Soon Yuuya and Kiriya started having hot and heavy meetings on weekends. One would think it was fate that brought these two together, but fate can be cruel at times.

Kiriya had been unemployed but because of a friend he was able to get a job as a High School math teacher. Yuuya had lied to Kiriya about his age so when he waltzed into class he was surprised to find his weekend lover at the head of the class, teaching. Kiriya is angry beyond normal healthy levels but things progress nicely. Will fate play another trick, or will things work out between Kiriya and Yuuya?

Toko Kawai-sensei is a truly gifted manga-ka. My only complaint is that all of her characters look alike. But because they are all beautiful I guess I can overlook it. The story is a nice change of pace. I don't mean the whole teacher-dating-student scenario or even the tragedy drawing two people together scenario. What I do mean is the fact that Kawai-sensei took these two common story lines, crammed them together, and created something beautiful and touching. You can't help but fall for Kiriya's grumpy but cute attitude and Yuuya's zest for life. You find yourself rooting for these two and hoping that things will work out.

This is one of 801 Media's more vanilla titles. They do spend a lot of time getting it on but things are handled very tastefully. There are a few times when intimate moments are a bit more detailed and body parts are a bit more defined than what you would find in Juné titles (Juné is a sister company to 801 Media). I found myself captivated by this manga. When I read it the first time around I wasn't sure what I thought of it, yet when I read it for a second time I found myself really liking it and glad that I picked it up. I highly recommend this title. If you are looking to get involved with more graphic yaoi titles, this would be a great title to pick up as a starter manga.

***Review Copy purchased through Yaoi Club***