Archive for the 'Kawai, Toko' Category

16th May 2010

In the Walnut 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Toko Kawai is my favorite mangaka. There are other artists working currently who may be more graphic, but when it comes to telling a story that brings a tear to my eye, and makes me fall in love with the characters, it’s she’s key.

In the Walnut is the name of an art gallery owned, rather reluctantly, by Tanizaki. He specializes in restoring and selling art, no questions asked. His methods may be a bit unethical at times, but under his rough exterior, his heart is pure. This being Toko Kawai and a BL manga, we should expect no less. His boyfriend, Nakai, is an aspiring filmmaker, who has made filming Tanizaki his life’s work.

The back-story on how these two got together is pretty interesting. Nakai was looking for a subject to film for his senior project. He saw Tanizaki and loved the way he looked through the viewfinder. Tanizaki really wanted nothing to do with being filmed, but agreed to do it under one condition, that Nakai sleep with him.

Yeah. Told you he was a pretty unethical guy. Nakai isn’t that into it at first, but grows to enjoy their encounters, and finds that he loves filming Tanizaki while they’re intimate.

His senior project, featuring just Tanizaki is a hit, and Tanizaki gets more fame than he ever wanted.

They break up, go through heartbreak (because this wouldn’t be a BL manga without a good dollop of angst) and only get back together after Nakai shows his true feelings by releasing a film that is just composed of Tanizaki’s face during intercourse.

But, that’s all in the past. The bulk of the manga revolves around the art gallery, and the clients that come in to see Tanizaki, and how he manages to make them happy, even through his illegal means.

I don’t know if Toko Kawai is everyone’s cup of tea. She’s more of a quiet artist, instead of being in your face like some of the other artists I really enjoy. The only other artist that I find comparable is Est Em, who manages to pull together the same magic of heart rendering stories, and happy endings that are laced with enough sadness to make them ring true.

Buy this one. Buy it now. It will restore your love for the genre.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, In the Walnut, Kawai, Toko | 1 Comment »

30th Mar 2009

CUT

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

Even though this release touches on themes that I usually associate with emo, cranky, teenaged bips, it’s still one of my all-time favorite releases. I fell in love with this release through scanlations years ago. It was one of the things that made me such a huge Toko Kawai fan. I never thought I would see it get released over here. Of course, by now I should know that every time I say that there’s no way in hell they’re going to bring over a release, it gets brought over.

Truly, anything that Kawai does makes me happy. It’s a guarantee of quality. I know that when I pick up one of her releases, that I’m in for a treat.

Chiaki and Eiji are both high school students who are carrying more than their fair share of pain. Chiaki is finding a release from his pain in self mutilation, while Eiji finds solace in withdrawing from the world around him. Their cure lies in each other, obviously.

It is a fairly dark release for all that it has a wonderfully happy ending. Molesting step-fathers, mothers trying to kill their own children and the fun of Chiaki cutting himself to ribbons. It’s sweet and sad in a way that only Kawai can do. I don’t think that any other artist would be able to take these themes, present them in a way that made you believe and still care for the characters.

Each time I say that I’m sick of high school romances, some company puts out a release that reminds me that they’re not all so bad. This one reminds me of just why I devote so much of my spare time to reading this genre. Run out and buy this one. Curl up with it on a day that you need a happy ending.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, CUT, Kawai, Toko | 2 Comments »

12th Dec 2008

Loveholic 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Again, that faint squealing sound you hear in the distance? That’s the sound of me letting out a fangirl shriek for getting a copy of this in English. What can I say? Toko Kawai just does it for me. Sweet angsty stories, gorgeous art and bits of humor sprinkled in to keep me grinning, even while the characters are suffering.

Now, this isn’t one of her really angsty series, but it does have its moments and they strike me hard. If you’re not a Kawai fan already, you should be. She’s not as graphic as some of the other artists I sing the praises of, but the sheer quality of her work makes up for any lacking in smut.

When we last left Nishioka and Matsukawa, things seemed to be going well. They had started to admit their feelings and were well on their way to falling into bed on a regular basis. However, because this is the wonderful land of boy smut, things don’t always work out the way we want it to for our intrepid heroes.

Work pressures and rivalries throw obstacles in their way, making the path to a happy-ever-after seem further and further away. Of course, we’ve got a happy ending in there. This is the wonderful world of yaoi, but Kawai really makes them work for it.

I can’t rave enough about this artist and this series. She always goes directly to my keeper shelf.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kawai, Toko, Loveholic | Comments Off on Loveholic 2

01st Sep 2008

Just Around The Corner

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

A mediocre release by Toko Kawai, is still better than ninety percent of the manga that is being released now. If this release was by any other artist, I would be impressed. It’s still a good release and full of Kawai’s signature charm, but it’s just not quite as good as her other releases.

We have Kiriya, a young man who is reeling after a callous breakup, and Yuuga, who is wallowing in self-pity after being told that his career as a pianist is at an end. After Yuuga pulls Kiriya out of the way of oncoming traffic, they recognize each other’s despair. A physical relationship starts, and aside from wondering about what the other is feeling, life is pretty good.

Things get interesting when Kiriya gets a new job and Yuuga starts a new year at school. See, Yuuya never revealed his exact age, so imagine the surprise when Yuuga walks into his math class and finds that his new teacher is Kiriya. Kiriya is pissed and wants nothing more to do with Yuuya, but Yuuya is determined to worm his way back into Kiriya’s good graces and heart.

It’s a sweet story and, yes, I really enjoyed it. I jut wanted more from Kawai. Still, it’s better than most school-boy/teacher stories that Juné is known for. It had a touch of realism that a lot of stories are severely lacking. Buy this one. Enjoy it for what it is, just don’t expect the same magic that can be found in Our Everlasting or Loveholic.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Just Around The Corner, Kawai, Toko | Comments Off on Just Around The Corner

27th May 2008

Bond(z)

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

To say that I was squealing and bouncing up and down with joy when I heard that this title got picked up for a release would be an understatement. The title story in this compilation is my all-time favorite. I never thought that the artist, Toko Kawai, could draw smut. In my mind, her stuff was always just light and sweet and not graphic at all.

Happily, I was proven wrong. Here there be smut, and not just any kind of smut, there there be hot ‘sneaking around on our girlfriends because the sex is just too damn hot’ kind of smut. Here there be ‘boys experimenting and piercing tender bits’ kind of smut.

This, my friends, is what got me started on my kink for stories about boys sneaking around with each other. Words cannot describe the love that I have for this story. For me it’s just mind-bogglingly good. The other stories in the compilation are just as sweet as the title story, but they just didn’t grab me in quite the way that the title story did.

“Situation” revolves around two childhood best friends. They were told when they were young that boys couldn’t fall in love with other boys and one of the boys took that to heart, bottling up his feelings for his friend tighter than a drum. He started to use girls as a way to hide his feelings for his friend. Things do work out well in the end, but, oh, the angst getting there.

“Sakura” gives us a young salaryman who’s given an odd assignment. He’s to take the heir of the company, who has been completely sheltered from real life, and teach him how to live on his own. Again, we’re faced with a boy who was told at a young age that his feelings for another male were wrong and that he’s some how defective for having them.

I really couldn’t ask for anything more in a book. 801 Media is just knocking them out of the park when it comes to addictive stories. They seem to have their finger on the pulse of what the more mature fan wants in their BL manga and the format they want it in. If they keep putting out stuff like this, then 801 Media has made a fan for life out of me.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Bond(z), Kawai, Toko | Comments Off on Bond(z)

24th May 2008

Loveholic 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Let me say once again, that anything by Toko Kawai just makes me a very happy girl. Here stories are just melt-your-heart sweet. In this series we’ve got Nishioka, a photographer, and Matsukawa, a very successful businessman.

Matsukawa uses Nishioka as a photographer on most of his advertising projects, even though Nishioka’s antics drive him a bit nuts. Matsukawa stick-in-the-mud attitude drives Nishioka a bit nuts as well, so with the two of them going up against each other, fireworks are sure to fly.

Now, add in the fact that both boys are harboring feelings for each other and things really start getting interesting. Nishioka has a secret collection of photographs that he has taken of Matsukawa that he looks at when ever he’s feeling down.

Both boys have thorns they keep around their hearts. They’ve both had some pretty bad things happen to them in the past that made them leery of letting anyone else in. They do eventually get together and it’s made all the sweeter for the pain they had to go through to get there.

This release has Toko Kawai’s signature messy line work and heartbreaking facial expressions. I don’t know how she manages to imbue so much emotion on the faces of her characters with so few lines, but she does it.

June Manga has been releasing so much great stuff lately that I’ve been hard pressed to not jump and down with joy when the mail comes with a package of books for me to review. I just want Toko Kawai to release more series so that June Manga can pick them up for release and I can curl up and get comfortable with her characters. They’re the perfect antidote to a rotten day.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kawai, Toko, Loveholic | Comments Off on Loveholic 1

24th May 2008

Our Everlasting 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Our Everlasting is another series that I was fangirling over way before it was brought over for a North American release. Take one shy introvert, add in a popular surfer boy and a boatload of angst and you’ve got a sweet series that is almost guaranteed to bring a smile to the most jaded of BL fans.

I didn’t think I was going to like it when I first read it. The art style took a bit to grow on me, and I was rolling my eyes at some of the angst, but by the time the late night confessions rolled around I was hooked. The art is a bit messy, but well done. Toko Kawai is very good with expressive faces. Her boys are just beautiful when the smile.

Even nicer for me was the inclusion of a side story that I had never seen scanlated. “Fleeting Days” revolves around an art teacher with a bad heart and the Osaka born boy who’s doggedly pursuing him.

Toko Kawai is originally from Osaka and loves to have her characters talk with an Osaka accent. Something that mostly gets lost in the translation, but the story really doesn’t suffer from that. You get the general idea that the Osaka-born boys are slightly hick-ish.

As usual, DMP excelled in production values. I’m still loving my over-sized books and my dust covers.

This is just a sweet, sappy, sexy book. Definitely one of my all-time favorites.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kawai, Toko, Our Everlasting | Comments Off on Our Everlasting 1

24th May 2008

Our Everlasting 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

More about my favorite shy, introvert and his surfer boy boyfriend. Horyu and Shouin seem to be getting along well, but there are still things that are pulling them apart. Shouin has his French tutor who keeps trying to talk him out of a relationship with a ‘straight’ boy and Horyu has his surfing.

It’s interesting watching these two try to find a balance in their relationship, and find out what’s the most important thing of all.

Included in this book are a side story about Horyu and Shouin babysitting and a one shot called “My Beautiful World” about a student film maker, Nakai, and the person who inspires him to make movies, Tanizaki. Both stories are just inherently sweet. I love just how lazy Tanizaki is. He’s all scruffy and rough around the edges and just beautiful.

As is the case with just about everything that Toko Kawai does, the art is messy and lovely and the stories are sweet and sappy and full of angst, and will make you smile. Her books are the ones I go for when I’m having a really bad day and just want to have a story that will make me cry, and then pick me back up again. Really, I don’t think I can write a review on her work without overusing the word sweet. The stories just make me grin.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kawai, Toko, Our Everlasting | Comments Off on Our Everlasting 2