Friday, October 21, 2011

Maiden Rose vol. 1 by Fusanosuke Inariya review

Maiden Rose vol. 1

Author/Artist: Fusanosuke Inariya

Publisher: Juné

Rating: M – 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Action, Historical

Grade: B-/C+

Today marks the first day of Yaoi-con and since Fusanosuke Inariya-sensei is the Guest of Honor this year I thought that it since I can’t be there I’ll review her manga instead. Though, I’d rather be in Burlingame, California for the con.

I’m having a hard time summarizing this one so here is what Juné has to say:

Taki Reizen is an honorable young aristocrat caught between his call to duty and a forbidden love. Claus von Wolfstadt is the proud Saxon who becomes Taki’s knight in a war against his own people… and his secret lover! Will these two passionate men lay down their weapons once they’re off the battlefield, or will they push the very limits of their sacred alliance?

Maiden Rose is armed to the hilt with fiery men, fierce fighting and plenty of hand-to-hand combat! With the fate of nations hanging in the balance, it’s up to the noble Taki and his devoted knight Claus to strategize the perfect attack… and they’ll only take the right kind of prisoners! Who will be the victor in this all-out war?

This is a difficult title to review. Why, you ask? Let’s start out with the complexity of the plot. It takes place in an alternate world that very much resembles our own in the early 20th century. You have several different sides and I’m still trying to figure out where all of our characters fit. Also it seems that the story starts out in the middle of all of the action instead of the beginning, which confuses me even more. Another reason why I struggle with this title is the fact that it is full of non-con. I’m not one who is into the rape scenario. The weird thing is Taki is so forceful on the battlefield and could easily take Claus down so why he permits the treatment he receives from Claus is beyond me. We know that Claus is super devoted to Taki (giving up social standing and his country of origin) but if it is someone you truly care for, romantically or otherwise, must you rape them? I just don’t know.

There are some positives, though. The art is beautiful and lushly detailed. Claus has a very manly look to him, which plays well with Taki’s softer features. But they both look like men. There is also a brief short at the end that is drawn in chibi/furry form that is simply adorable. I’ve always been a sucker for chibis and it is so cute that the furry aspect makes it that much cuter. Taki, when in military mode, is very powerful and holds his own against those around him that are larger than him. That may have to do with his position within the Royal Family. Claus is also very loyal and would do anything to protect Taki. So, again, I just have a really hard time with the non-con.

I have high hopes for this title (that’s why it has the grade that I’ve given it). I hope that we’ll be able to get further into their past and find out whether their relationship actually is a non-con situation or if there’s more to the story. Juné has done a good job and I look forward to the next installment.

***Copy Provided by Publisher***

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tired of Waiting for Love by Saki Aida and Yugi Yamada review

Tired of Waiting for Love

Author/Artist: Saki Aida/Yugi Yamada

Publisher: Digital Manga Guild

Rating: M – Ages 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, Organized Crime

Grade: C+

Kyosuke Sawaragi was determined to start afresh once released from prison. So when Shuuya Kasuga tried to strike up a friendship as a way to escape his situation (being the baddest dude in their cell’s sexual toy) Sawaragi was not going to have it. But as hard as Sawaragi was working to keep Shuuya from breaching his defenses Shuuya was still able to wheedle his way in. Once on the outside Sawaragi put his yakuza lifestyle behind him and became a bartender. Life is never that easy though. One evening Shuuya, roughed up, shows up outside Sawaragi’s bar and quickly passes out. Not able to leave an injured man alone Sawaragi takes him to his apartment. The flame has been lit.

To offer his thanks Shuuya is more than willing to repay Sawaragi with his body but Sawaragi doesn’t want just Shuuya’s body and feels that Shuuya deserves to be happy. But things don’t run as smoothly as we would like and Sawaragi’s yakuza past pays a visit. Not only that but another prison acquaintance shows up to play. Will Shuuya realize what he really wants in time and will Sawaragi be able to give it to him?

For those who don’t already know this is Digital Manga Guild’s first release. Digital Manga Guild (DMG) is a project where titles are localized by groups of fans with the backing of Digital Manga, Inc. (DMI)  and the original Japanese publishers. Instead of paying all the fees upfront all parties enter into this agreement and split up the proceeds from sales. It’s DMI’s solution to bring more manga (mainly yaoi up to this point) to the masses legally instead of manga fans accessing illegal scanlations. The titles are originally released on DMI’s eManga site with the possibility releasing them in other digital formats like the Kindle, Nook, etc. It’s been stated that if the titles sell well digitally there may be an opportunity to publish them in print. I know that some manga reviewers and critics have been skeptical (myself included) about how successful this venture will be both fiscally and in terms of quality.

Now that the background of the project has been touched upon I’ll be able to make my comments about this release. I’m probably placing myself in the firing line here but I’m no stranger to scanlations. I don’t read too many now but I do check them out from time to time. Because of this I’m quite familiar with this title and one of my complaints is that Tired of Waiting for Love is actually a spin-off. Takaga Koi Daro is the original piece and deals with Sawaragi’s brother-in-law Izumi, nephew Makoto, and the arresting officer Takatsudo and features Sawaragi’s days as a yakuza and drug dealer. Izumi, Makoto, and Takatsudo make appearances in this spin-off but it focuses on Sawaragi. You don’t have to read Takaga Koi Daro but it makes for a more enjoyable reading experience if you know the original story. I hope that Digital Manga will think about picking up this license.

Although this isn’t an original story by Yugi Yamada-sensei, Saki Aida-sensei is awesome in her own right so it is definitely a title that I would find interesting. If this were a title by any other artist (with the exception of some of my other favorites) it would have received a much lower grade due to the issues I have with the localization (and were it not for the localization issues it would have gotten a higher grade.) I really think that DMI/DMG dropped the ball by releasing this without publishing Takaga Koi Daro first. Secondly, I personally think that the scanlated version was better. The language flowed nicely and the clean up and typesetting looked much more professional. With DMG the localization groups generally consist of three people: a translator, a typesetter, and an editor. However, the group handling this title one person, Ms. Kimiko Kotani, completed all tasks. I have no problem with how the groups break down but in this case I feel that doing your own editing is not in the best interest of the title. Because she did her own editing the language was stilted and awkward within the manga itself. Due to her translation and the font choices reading the author and artists notes at the end were really a chore (especially for Yamada-sensei’s remarks.) I don’t know how much experience Ms. Kotani has with typesetting but you could often tell where the Japanese was removed because there was a smudgy look behind the translated text. Also I wasn’t too fond of some of the fonts that she used for her sound effects. My final complaint is regarding Ms. Kotani’s ethics. In an article at Publishers Weekly (click here for the article) Brigid Alverson states that Ms. Kotani has experience in freelance writing, editing, and reviews. Since I like to keep up on reviews written by others I am familiar with Ms. Kotani. Now that Ms. Kotani is a contracted employee with DMI in most circles it would be expected that she no longer review titles released by Digital Manga’s imprints. However, she continues to publish reviews. In one review she does place a disclaimer (this is for a Juné title) that all opinions are her own regardless of her doing freelance work for the company but in her following reviews for DMG titles there is no such disclaimer. Disclaimer or no I feel that any and all reviews for DMI (and especially for DMG) hold no weight and she should cease and desist due to a conflict of interest. I have no problem with her reviewing material for other manga and book companies but she lost all respect from this reviewer by claiming that she can remain objective. I will not be purchasing my own English copy, digital or print. Instead, I’ll buy it in Japanese.

***Digital Review Copy Provided by Publisher***