Monday, November 30, 2009

Princess Princess Plus by Mikiyo Tsuda review

Princess Princess Plus
Author/Artist: Mikiyo Tsuda

Publisher: Doki Doki

Rating: YA – ages 16 and up

Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Gender Bender, School Life

Grade: B

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

There is a somewhat strange tradition at the all-boys Fujimori Academy. Instead of having a more traditional style of mascot (you know something along the lines of Jaguars, Cougars, Spartans, Bees, etc.) they have the Princesses. A few of the prettiest boys are chosen to dress in drag and cheer on the various clubs on campus. Mikiyo Tsuda introduced us to the Princesses in her series Princess Princess and continues the concept in Princess Princess Plus.

Kiriya Matsuoka and Tomoe Izumi have been chosen to be this year’s Princesses. Both decide to take on the job but for various reasons. Being a Princess has a few perks but is also very hard work and the two new princesses will have to go through a crash course to learn the ins and outs of the job. And their new drill sergeants are none other than last year’s princesses Tohru Kouno, Yuujirou Shihoudani, and Mikoto Yutaka. Becoming a princess is hard work but Matsuoka and Izumi take it all in stride and work very hard together. But things change very quickly when Izumi invites himself over to Matsuoka’s house. Matsuoka and his siblings lost their parents when they were young and they live in a small apartment. Izumi on the other hand was born into a very rich family and wants for nothing, except a true friend. Izumi assumes that because he and Matsuoka are now princesses together the two should become close friends. But when Izumi tries to get to know Matsuoka better, his plan backfires and soon Matsuoka comes to despise Izumi. Things get so bad that even the previous princesses notice that something is wrong. Will Izumi and Matsuoka be able to set aside their differences and become friends, or will pride continue to get in the way?

Princess Princess Plus is one of the first books released by Digital Manga Publishing’s Doki Doki line. Doki Doki is a partnership with the Japanese publisher Shinshokan (in Japan Shinshokan publishes the manga magazines of Wings, a shojo mag, and Dear +, a boys love magazine). This line seems to focus on shojo and boys love titles aimed mainly at a young adult level (Juné and 801 Media titles are geared toward adult readers). For their first book Princess Princess Plus isn’t too bad of a choice.

Mikiyo Tsuda has created an entire universe that these characters inhabit. There are a couple of spin-offs that feature the Princess Princess characters (The Day of Revolution, Family Complex, and of course Princess Princess). The original Princess Princess series was published by DMP and contains five books (if you are interested in reading Ginger Mayerson’s review of this title click here). In the original series the story focuses mainly on the job of being a princess and stars Kouno, Shihoudani, and Yutaka. In Princess Princess Plus the princess responsibilities take a back seat to the personal story between Izumi and Matsuoka. Matsuoka has a huge complex because he lost his parents when he was young and his older brother works as a host to make ends meet. Izumi, on the other hand, is the only child born into a very wealthy family. Because of this wealth he is generally taken advantage of by his friends but he yearns to find a friend who will see him for him and not for the money his parents have. The point of this story is to watch the friendship between Matsuoka and Izumi blossom.

With this being one of Doki Doki’s first titles I was looking forward to how they were going to look production-wise. The books are the same size as 801 Media titles (sister company to Doki Doki) but have about the same quality and price point as a Juné title. Another nice feature is that instead of using a bar on the bottom of the book to brand it they used a nifty scroll pattern with the Doki Doki logo in the corner. One thing I did wonder about was how they were going to handle the under the cover comic. Mikiyo Tsuda is famous for throwing in a gag comic underneath the dust jacket. With this title there is no jacket but luckily it is printed at the end of the book.

Overall I did enjoy this title because the story focused on the interpersonal relationships between the characters whereas the original series seemed to be focused mainly on the princesses’ duties and costumes that they wore. The personal stories seemed to be secondary. It is assumed that you’ve already read the first five volumes of the original series so they figure that you know the basics of the story (like why they have princesses as mascots as opposed to anything else). This can be read as a stand alone title but it does make more sense if you’ve read the first series. It is also a one-shot because Tsuda-sensei mentions in her ending comments that she’s done all she can with it and it has been a very fulfilling project for her. This is one that Tsuda-sensei fans won’t want to miss. I will however make the comment that you may want to avoid this title if you don’t have a thing for cross-dressing in your manga. It can get tiring after a while. While I’m not a rabid Tsuda-sensei fan I found this to be a fun title that is a great distraction from everyday life!

For another point of view be sure to check out I-hsiu Lin’s review.

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

Il Gatto Sul G vol. 1 by Tooko Miyagi

Il Gatto Sul G vol. 1

Author/Artist: Tooko Miyagi

Publisher: Juné

Rating: YA – ages 16 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: A

Atsushi Ikeda is the quintessential nice guy. He rescues stray cats and helps clear the streets by picking up stray furniture on the way to the dump. One day on the way home he finds a high school student in front of his apartment. The young man’s hand is injured quite badly so Atsushi brings him in, treats his injury and even feeds him. He can’t seem to get any information from the young man, but because Atsushi is the caring soul that he is he wants to help this kid out any way he can. He soon learns that the guy he helped out is none other than famous violinist Riya Narukawa. Atsushi finds himself worrying about Riya and so he takes it upon himself to take him under his wing. But the more he sees of Riya the more he learns about how troubled Riya is. It seems that Riya suffers from multiple personalities.

Riya seems to be timid and shy but his other personality is much bolder. Atsushi met the less timid personality first. Atsushi gives Riya a spare key to his apartment and tells him that he can come over anytime and use it as a refuge. The two start to get to know one another but it seems that the timid personality doesn’t remember what happens when the bold personality is in charge. It’s the beginning of a complicated relationship with many twists and turns ahead.

Anytime you combine yaoi and a musical storyline you are definitely going to get my attention. Il Gatto Sul G is a three volume series by Tooko Miyagi. I’m not too familiar with Miyagi-sensei so this was really a first for me. The only thing of sensei’s I’ve ever checked out is the Juné light novel A Promise of Romance, she was the illustrator. Since this is the first volume we’re just setting up the story and introducing the characters. In this one it’s a bit more complicated because we have the black (bold) personality being attracted to Atsushi and the white (timid) personality is attracted to his sempai (we’re introduced to him in this volume but his part is minor). I find myself drawn to this story not only because it has a musical story to it but anytime you have characters that deal with mental illness in any way, shape, or form is going to pique my interest. Mental illness is a tough thing to deal with and when you present it in an interesting way you can bring attention to a much stigmatized issue.

This is a beautiful release. It has a matte dust jacket which gives it a very sophisticated look. The paper is brilliant white but is rather flexible and makes it a pleasant read. The translation is smooth and I don’t recall any editing mistakes. It is a very nice presentation and is Juné at its best.

Be prepared for a heart wrenching, emotional, rollercoaster ride. But it is definitely worthy of your time!

***Review Copy purchased through***

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Clan of the Nakagamis: The Devil Cometh (vol. 2) by Homerun Ken review

Clan of the Nakagamis: The Devil Cometh (vol. 2)

Author/Artist: Homerun Ken

Publisher: Juné

Rating: YA – 16 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance

Grade: B

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

Everyone says that their family is crazy (believe me I’ve used that excuse a time or two) but in the case of the Nakagamis, they are truly crazy. You have a family obsessed with the middle son Tokio, an older son who is a cross-dressing shojo artist, and a younger brother who is somewhat gullible when it comes to his older brother. But the siblings are just the tip of the iceberg. The mom and dad are eternally youthful and look much younger than their children and the grandfather is the youngest looking one out of the bunch, if you didn’t know any better you’d think he was around the age of ten or so. If you’re interested in checking out reviews for the first volume you can read mine or a great male perspective by Tom Good.

Things seem to going OK with Haruka Iijima and Tokio Nakagami but they aren’t moving fast enough for Iijima thanks to the butting in of the rest of the Nakagami clan. But an ominous wind blows in the son of the head of the family and president of the Nakagami Group, Hibari Nakagami. It seems weird to the rest of the family that Hibari just shows up out of the blue to collect Grandfather Mitsuru (the ten-year-old looking grandpa). But instead of leaving with Grandfather he seems to have taken Tokio’s heart with him leaving Iijima, and the rest of the family worried. Only they’re worried about different things, Iijima feels that Hibari is taking his beloved sensei away from him, and the Nakagami clan figure that Hibari is using the fact that Tokio once had a thing for him to take advantage of him and his youthful appearance. Will Iijima and the rest of the Nakagamis be able to rescue Tokio before anything horrible will happen to him?

The second half of the book features a story starring Takamaru (the third son), Hibari, and Kijinojyo (the eldest son and the cross-dresser). Takamaru gets lost on an island famous for its mushrooms and its pirate legend while searching for a legendary mushroom that will save Tokio from a dreaded family disease (which turns out to be just a joke that their father told them). But who knew that while on the island they were going to be roped into the mystery of the pirate treasure.

This series is honestly a hidden gem. There are many hardcore yaoi fans that wouldn’t pick up this book because it has a YA rating. Usually with that rating it means that the sexual content isn’t as prevalent. But if you haven’t read this series you are missing out, big time! It is absolutely hilarious. The story is far-fetched but that’s what makes it fun. There is a scene in the first story where Hibari and Tokio are having dinner but to protect Tokio’s innocence Iijima, Kijinojyo, Takamaru and eventually Gokurakuchota (the father) show up in various types of dress but they’re all wearing different types of neckties because it is a requirement for men (and Kijinojyo is in his cross-dressing mode). I laughed out loud, which I usually don’t do (I choose to just snicker to myself). The storytelling is done well and the story moves rather quickly. It is a quick read but definitely worth you time.

Not only is the story great but I have found that I really like Homerun Ken-sensei’s art style. It is very clean and detailed and the characters actually look Asian (which often times the look is more generic). Everyone is gorgeous and beautifully designed. The art will really blow you away (at least in my opinion). The art and the story work really well together and the characters are well developed.

Since Juné decided to lose the dust jackets they store better and look rather nice on a shelf. I do admit that I miss the dust jackets because on the inner flaps you usually get a blurb written about the author. Without the jacket you don’t get them and I miss those comments, they were always good for a giggle. But, oh well, I think I’ll live. The translation was done smoothly and they did a great job on the clean-up. But Juné usually does a bang up job when it comes to high production value.

I don’t know if there is a third book in the works but in the Afterword sensei makes it seem like the chances that she’ll (I assume it’s a she) continue the series. I really hope so because not only do we have the Tokio x Iijima pairing, but we also have the new couple of Takamaru and Imaizumi, and there is the building sexual tension between Hibari and Kijinojyo. I’ve found myself completely entranced by sensei’s work and hope that more will be brought to the English-speaking market.

If you haven’t checked out Clan of the Nakagamis, you should really pick it up. You can read it as a stand alone story, but I do recommend reading the first volume before you read The Devil Cometh. It makes more sense that way and is way more enjoyable. I do recommend this series and I think you ought to check it out!

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hey, Class President! vol. 1 by Kaori Monchi review

Hey, Class President! vol. 1

Author/Artist: Kaori Monchi

Publisher: 801 Media

Rating: M – 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, School Life

Grade: C

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

For any yaoi reader you know that when you have an all-boys school there is going to be hooking up. In Kaori Monchi-sensei’s Hey, Class President! there is plenty of sex to go around.

Kokusai and Chiga have been in the Judo club together but recently Kokusai has been elected as class president. It seems that the school’s tradition in to elect the most wanted guy. And that guy is Kokusai. Kokusai gets to select his vice president and that lucky soul is Chiga. Chiga doesn’t understand why on earth anyone would want to elect Kokusai as the class president. He’s slow and clueless to things that are going on around him. He’s a stalker and pervert magnet and he’s always being groped by strangers on the train. Now that Chiga is in the picture he keeps creeps at bay. Chiga is a known womanizer and never has a shortage of girlfriends but since he can’t seem leave Kokusai alone he finds himself attracted to Kokusai as well. What will happen to these two?

With Hey, Class President! I’ve found it hard to explain the plot of the story because I don’t really understand what is going on. Not only do you have the things going on in the school and the dealings with Kokusai and Chiga but you also have other things going on outside of school. There seems to be a stalker making the rounds in Kokusai’s neighborhood and actually has set his sights on Kokusai. Since this is the first of four volumes we won’t find out who the stalker is for a while. One thing I have figured out is Monchi-sensei writes whatever she wants regardless of whether it makes sense or not.

Right now I don’t know if I like the series. The story is kind of all over the place and doesn’t make sense in some places but that might clear up as the series goes on. The art is definitely unique and you can tell immediately that it is Monchi-sensei. The sex is hot and plentiful towards the end (you get a lot more in the second volume.) And I must say that this has one of the longest self loving scenes I have ever read in a manga. Dang!

With this being an 801 Media release you know the smut factor is going to be high and with this one it is definitely smutty. I like 801’s productions values. The books are about the same size as the Japanese originals and they always include a full color cover sheet. One thing I really liked was the font choices. Normally I take it for granted, but when the font is off it really pulls you out of the story. 801 (and DMP in general) always do an amazing job on their translation, cleanup, and design.

Do I recommend this title? Well… it’s still early in the series. Since it doesn’t make much sense to me right now doesn’t mean I’m ready to give it up (besides being obsessive/compulsive like I am once I start something I finish I have to see it through.) So let’s all give this a chance, cool?

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Close the Last Door! vol. 1 by Yugi Yamada

Close the Last Door! vol. 1

Author/Artist: Yugi Yamada

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – ages 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Comedy, Romance

Grade: A+

Atsushi Nagai has got a problem. He has a monster crush on co-worker and kohai Toshihisa Saitou. Not only does he have this crush but he didn’t realize that he had this crush until Saitou told him that he was getting married. Broken hearted at the wedding he decided that he would drown his sorrows at the bar. While getting smashed he met a coworker of the bride’s. It seems that Kenzou Honda had a thing for the bride at one time. After the wedding the two got drunk and fell into each others arms, who knew that all hell was about to break loose.

It seems that Remi, Saitou’s bride, ran off with a co-worker and former lover. She married Saitou in hopes of forgetting her former love. Satiou is now broken hearted and seems to giving off some serious crushing on Nagai pheromones. Nagai has gotten himself into quite the dilemma. He and Honda get together a lot to drink and do more. Saitou is trying to forget his wife and is spending more and more time with Nagai (and Honda since the two spend a lot of time together). This is one bizarre love triangle that is going to take some work to get things resolved.

Yugi Yamada is one mangaka that never fails to disappoint me (see my first Mangaka Musings post). In Close the Last Door vol. 1 we are introduced to this crazy love triangle. There seems to be some serious chemistry between Nagai and Honda and they like to use the excuse of them being drunk as a jumping off point to jump into bed together. Nagai also can’t refuse Saitou but I honestly think that his affection for Saitou is like a pet owner has for a pet. He can’t bear to have someone take Honda away from him but he’s all flustered over Saitou as well. Since this is a first volume who knows what is going to happen! The story moves quickly with twists and turns but isn’t confusing. I love Yamada-sensei’s portrayal of men. They look like men, they behave like men, and show emotion like men (which means they don’t know how to show or deal with them). With these three characters they all have such unique personalities and unique looks makes it easy to differentiate between them.

This is one quality release from Juné. It is an older title so it has the dust jacket, but unlike some of Juné’s older releases the paper is very flexible. I’m so glad that DMP has licensed many of Yugi Yamada-sensei’s titles and I hope that we can see more. The sequel was held up due to the Biblos bankruptcy and because for some reason sensei doesn’t sell very well here in the States (which is bizarre because wherever you turn people are constantly slathering on the praise for her work.) I can’t wait for the second volume to come out which we won’t see until the end of 2010 (boo!)

I highly recommend this title for the sheer awesomeness that is Close the Last Door vol. 1. It is amazing in art, and sensei’s ability to tell a great story that will hook you from the moment that you crack open the book. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!

***Review Copy purchased through Akadot Retail***

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Love/Knot by Hiroko Ishimaru review


Author/Artist: Hiroko Ishimaru

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Suspense, Romance

Grade: D+

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

By day Keigo Someha works as a somewhat unsuccessful private investigator. But for his evening job, an assassin for hire, he's much more successful. On his way back from his evening job he finds a young man who'd collapsed in front of his house. This young man has a unique look and piques Keigo's interest. When the young man awakens in a strange environment, he freaks out. Keigo, like a good host should, introduces himself and learns the young man's name, Emiya Nozaki. Emiya is very wary but poses an interesting proposition. Since Keigo is not the best detective, Emiya gives him some information about a person he is currently looking for. If the info is correct Keigo has to let Emiya stay with him. Of course Emiya's information is spot on so Keigo allows him to stay. But while on another job he that a top secret government experiment escaped and that he may be getting a call. It turns out that Emiya is the government experiment. He possesses a high intellect and seems to have ESP abilities. Now that Keigo has accepted Emiya into his life will he be able to hand him over to the government, or will he protect him from having to go back to the place he tried so hard to get away from?

Oh man, the plot had so much potential but sadly it falls so very short! If the story focused on building the relationship between Keigo and Emiya it probably would have worked better. But we were introduced to the characters and then almost immediately they were professing their love. With the opportunity to have a great action/love story Love/Knot misses the point. I had hoped that there would have been more action because Keigo wants to keep his assassin side hidden and Emiya would have been fighting to stay out of the government's clutches but as quickly as these points are made they are quickly forgotten. Everything is just disjointed and things are kind of messy (just like this review). I found myself hoping for the ending to come quick which isn't a good sign for any book, manga or otherwise.

Digital Manga always does a great job when it comes to the physical production of the book. With the larger trim size it makes it stand out on a shelf and the illustrations are clear. I do kind of miss the dust jackets, but they are easier to store. Juné brought us another Hiroko Ishimaru title, Total Surrender and honestly preferred that title to this one.

I will admit I do like the art and the characters are all very attractive and are well proportioned. If you choose to read it at least the art is appealing. The story is not new and sadly Love/Knot hasn't really changed my life in this presentation of this story line. I've seen it done over and over again, and better. But I'm going to leave it up to you; you may really like it!

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Awaken Forest by Yuna Aoi review

Awaken Forest

Author/Artist: Yuna Aoi

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: D

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

Yoshimori is a newcomer to the editorial department but for some strange reason he's been tasked to retrieve the manuscript of the well-known and very talented author, Orito Suga. He had the opportunity to meet Suga-sensei and his brother at a work function. These two brothers are beyond handsome and Yoshimori is looking forward to spending a little time with these two handsome men. But behind these two gorgeous yet mysterious brothers lies a secret that can be the end of these two, and with Yoshimori not only living with the Suga brothers but also feeling an attraction to Masato something dangerous seems to be lurking.

Included with the main story of Awaken Forest are two short one shots. Loose Bonds is a tale of two childhood friends, one of which has had a crush on the other and will do anything to keep his friend by his side. Be With Me 'Til Morning and Be With Me 'Til Night is a story where a playboy realizes that his friend is the only man for him.

You might recognize the art in Awaken Forest. Yuna Aoi is another penname for Tamotsu Takamura the artist who created Jazz, also released by Juné. I never read Jazz and after reading Awaken Forest I probably won't. The story in Awaken Forest is a bit jarring with an incest angle. Plus throw in some non-con sex and that's about all there is to Awaken Forest. There is very little story, honestly. It goes from newbie editor going to authors house, finding out the secret behind the two brothers, being raped, to end of story. I sat scratching my head thinking "What crap did I just read?" Then following the story of Awaken Forest you have Loose Bonds which is almost as disturbing as the first story. Ren has had a thing for Aki since they were kids and will go to extreme lengths to make sure that Aki depends on Ren only. Ren has been pulling all kinds of crap to deceive Aki to keep him in his clutches. This type of story line doesn't appeal to me either. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with angsty plots but in the case of these two stories I didn't like them one bit. The third story is the only one that is half-decent but is rather typical of the genre.

Not only was the story lackluster but the art was rather unimpressive as well. There is little detail and the characters seem to all look alike. The only difference is the hairstyles on the characters. They seemed to have unnaturally large eyes, especially when children were portrayed. It really pulled me out of the story, which is bad when I'm not really fully invested to begin with. Honestly this title is one that you can miss. If you want to read it I say go for it but just know that in my opinion the only story that is half decent is Be With Me 'Til Morning and Be With Me 'Til Night.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mangaka Musings - Yugi Yamada

I've wanted to spend time yammering on about some of my favorite mangaka for quite some time but I could never decide with whom to start so I never got around to it. But since word on the net is that Yugi Yamada just isn't as popular here in the States I just have to put in my two cents about sensei's work.

I'm the first to admit that I wasn't one bit interested in Yamada-sensei's work. Every time I saw one of her covers I thought that the cover art was ugly and being new to the whole yaoi scene I truly judged every book by the cover (I've learned now that you can't do that because some of my favorite titles are those very books I thought were ugly). I was somewhat upset because I was running out of Juné titles to read and when I started reviewing for J LHLS I was usually battling with other reviewers for the Juné and 801 Media titles. I had requested a couple 801 titles but for me to get them sooner I had to request a couple more books for my editor to spend the money on postage. The only titles that were available were vols. 1 and 2 of Don't Blame Me. Since I really wanted my 801 books I decided that what the heck I'm not paying for the books I can just read them, slam them and get on with the titles I really wanted. What I didn't expect when I opened up my package of books was getting hooked on Yamada-sensei's work.

When it comes to yaoi titles that I like to read I love humor, I love my characters to behave like men (seeing how that’s what they are), and I like rich, interesting characters with art that matches the story. I especially like unique art styles that compliment the storytelling. That's what I found with Yamada-sensei. I picked up the first volume of Don't Blame Me and within just a few pages I was sucked in immediately. The characters were interesting, unique, and I found myself laughing. I couldn't put the darn thing down. The next thing I knew I had powered through the first volume and was impatiently ripping off the shrink-wrap dying to continue. Now, you see manga doesn't take too long to read but I simply had to read these back to back and immediately because I had to find out how the story ended. Once I finished it I was converted. The story moved quickly with wit, humor, and depth that is honestly rare to find in yaoi. Even the art grew on me and now she is one of my favorites. After I read Don't Blame Me I honestly ran to my nearest bookstore that sold yaoi to purchase the rest of the titles that were released in English. I even went so far to check out many of her titles that had been scanlated and found several more of her titles that I've really enjoyed and would love to see them brought to our shores.

The title that really spurred me on to write this little (yet crappy) editorial is the release of Close the Last Door vol. 2. Juné licensed several of Yamada-sensei's titles but seem to have a difficult time selling her books. Close the Last Door was one of the titles that they licensed before the Biblos bankruptcy. You see Biblos was one of Japan's largest boys love publishers but due to poor management the company went bankrupt. Libre was then created and picked up the Biblos licenses and all the English publishers had to go back to renegotiate the terms for releasing the titles. Close the Last Door was a fun, crazy story about a guy who was in love with his kohai but when said kohai got married he was so upset he ended up drunk and slept with the kohai's wife's coworker. This story was released several years ago and was caught up in the Biblos mess. But it seems that Juné worked through all those issues and are back on track with publishing these titles. But it seems that because Yamada-sensei just doesn't seem to sell all that well we’re going to have to wait until the end of 2010 to get that book. I realize that they have to make money and I don't blame Juné. I blame all those people who haven't given Yugi Yamada-sensei their time. I'm sure that there are people out there who feel like I did (you know thought her art was ugly and so on) but once you crack open one of her stories I know you'll be hooked. We need to show this popular mangaka (in Japan) that we American readers love her work as well. Then maybe we'll get some more of her work (including one of my favorite titles Taka ga Koi Daro [which this was actually written by Saki Aida author of S]).

If you are interested in seeing my reviews of some of her titles feel free to click on the links:
Don’t Blame Me vol. 1
Don’t Blame Me vol. 2
Spring Fever
Glass Sky
Laugh Under the Sun

Yugi Yamada-sensei is a hidden gem in a mountain of mediocre yaoi and deserves to be read. I would love to hear your opinions on Yamada-sensei and her greatness (or lack thereof if that's how you feel) in the comments section!

Friday, November 6, 2009

breath vol. 4 by Chifumi Ochi review

breath vol. 4

Author/Artist: Chifumi Ochi

Publisher: Yaoi Generation

Rating: M – 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance

Grade: A-

I want to first make it known that there may be spoilers in regards to previous volumes of the series, and I heartily apologize. Now that that's out of the way lets get to the review!

Ain't nobody happy in the fourth volume of breath. Now that Ten has successfully separated Arata and Yanagi and he's somewhat happy that Arata is back within his grasp, or is he? Arata has always dealt with a huge inferiority complex towards Ten but because (in Arata's mind) Yanagi chose Ten he no longer wants to spend any time with his brother. He's so heartbroken he has no appetite and what he does eat he vomits almost immediately afterwards. Arata isn't the only one who's screwed up over this. Yanagi goes back to his playboy ways only more so. He's drinking more and sleeping with just about anyone without really thinking about whom he's sleeping with. It seems that those around him are a little concerned.

One evening Yanagi and Arata bump into each other on a crowded street. Because Arata hasn't had a proper meal in ages, he passes out in the middle of the crowd. Yanagi swoops in to rescue the damsel in distress. Their feelings finally come to the surface, but because of this meeting things take a dramatic turn in the end.

Chifumi Ochi-sensei has dialed up the angst yet again. I really appreciated this volume because it delves into Ten and Arata's relationship and how Arata's inferiority complex became so engrained that he became dependent on Ten. Also Ten's true colors are showing, and he is Satan in human form. OK, that may be a little over the top, but he's pretty darn evil. One thing I liked about this particular volume is at the end Ochi-sensei presented us with a gag chapter featuring all of our favorite characters in a Snow White setting. Arata is Snow White and Ten is the wicked Stepmother (tee-hee). It was definitely a great addition to the book.

I am thoroughly and totally addicted to this series. Not only does it have physically attractive characters, but also the sex is hot, the story is engaging, and is a great title all around. That is one thing I like about series. You are able to delve more into the characters and really get a feel for them. With a story like breath there is no way you could make it an interesting story with just one volume. Each character is fascinating and interesting and seeing how their minds work is what makes this a really great read.

I know I say this every time but I love Yaoi Generation's way of publishing. The books are about the size of the original Japanese tankobon, they have a full color cover sheet, the paper is brilliant which makes the images leap right off the page, and it's so easy to hold and read.

I so can’t wait for the final volume, especially the way the story ended this time around. I am going to have a very hard time waiting for it. This is a title I definitely recommend and I've even bumped up the rating because I've been enjoying it so much. To quote LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow "but you don't have to take my word for it." You'll find other glowing reviews of this series all over the net, or check out my reviews of vol. 1, vol. 2, and vol. 3.

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