Archive for the 'Kodaka, Kazuma' Category

05th Nov 2010

Kizuna Deluxe Edition 1 / Finder 1: Target in the Finder

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

I’m not going to re-hash reviews that we’ve already written. For the most part, the content of these releases are the same as when they first came out in the US. No, I’m going to try and justify me purchasing a THIRD volume of each of these releases to have in my collection.

You see, I never thought these series would get released in the US. So, I went and imported the original Japanese versions. I couldn’t read them, but I could look at the purdy pictures. And, at least when it comes to the smut scenes, how much translation do you really need?

Then Be-Beautiful brought the series over. YAY. Aside from the fact that the censored Kizuna, and I found some of the translations to be slightly stilted. I was still happy to have them in my collection.

After Be-Beautiful went under, I (like most of you) was hoping that another company would pick up the series and release them. Well, June has, and did a fantastic job with it. All of the problems that I had with the original US releases have been taken care of. THEY LEFT THE MASA AND KAI KISS IN. The bit that we were all scratching our heads over when it first came out as to just why anyone would censor something so sweetly innocent. A childish peck does not shota make, my darlings, and I think we all realize that.

The other nice thing that June did, was to combine volumes one and two of Kizuna in the same release. So, if you haven’t picked up this series yet, here’s a great way of doing it and possibly saving yourself some space/money.

So, now I have three versions of the same series hanging out in my apartment. And, I’m finding it very hard to let go of any of them. There’s got to be some kind of twelve step program for this. Anyone got the number for Dr. Drew?

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Finder Series, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma, Yamane, Ayano | 4 Comments »

26th May 2008

Kizuna 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Kizuna was the first series that I ever ran out and bought in the original Japanese. I had seen the OAVs and fallen in love with it. Even though it took me a while to find the translations, I could amuse myself for hours just looking at the pictures and trying to imagine what the characters were saying. So you can just imagine how excited I was when I heard that they were going to bring Kizuna over for a North American release.

For those of us who aren’t familiar with this series, Kizuna is about Kei Enjyoji, bastard son of a yakuza boss, his lover Ranmaru Samejima, a kendo prodigy. Also appearing are Kai Sagano, son of a yakuza boss, and Masanori “Masa” Araki, second in command of the yakuza clan. So Enjyoji and Ranmaru are together, Kai wants Ranmaru, but at the same time harbors feelings for Masa. Masa is stoic and the perfect yakuza soldier. He never lets on to his true feelings. Still with me? Good. Because this gets even more complicated as the series goes on.

For once we’ve got characters that are drawn as males – even if they don’t always act that way. Kazuma Kodaka’s boys are fully muscled and take great pride in being stronger than the average bear. The smut is lovely and graphic and, to top everything off, Kazuma Kodaka is not afraid to add silly bits into her stories.

I could go on and complain about the lack of the dust cover, or the full cover insert, and bitch once again about the ugly black and white, oversized graphics printed on the inside of each cover, but I’ll spare you all of that. My main complaint is the fact that they left out two pages of the manga. The last story in the book is about how Kai started to develop feelings for Masa. It has a very young, kindergarten-aged Kai, giving Masa a peck on the lips as a thank you.

Now keep in mind that I really dislike shota. I really find shota distasteful, yet I found that peck to be very sweet, and a very nice way to set up the relationship that an older Kai wants to have with Masa. I understand wanting to keep anything with underage kids out of the manga in the conservative society we’re living in, but come on. There wasn’t anything sexual about this kiss. It really should have been left in.

Kizuna‘s just a fun read. Let yourself enjoy the over-dramatic plot twists and the over-emotional characters. It’s part of what makes this genre so great, and makes this series one of the stars of the genre.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 1

26th May 2008

Kizuna 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

When we last left our heroes, Masa had taken Kai back to his father’s house and left Enjoji and Ran to get on with doing what they do best. Having lots of sex and fighting over silly things.

In volume two, we get the story of how Enjoji and Ran met, discovered a love for kendo and grew up around each other. We also get to see just what happened to make Ran quit competing in Kendo and just what pushed their relationship to the next level.

There’s also a story about Masa and Kai, and them taking their relationship to the next level. Poor Kai. Very bad things happen to him. Good thing Masa’s always around to save his ass – literally.

If nothing else, Kazuma Kodaka does angst well. Angst with a good dose of humor, so at least you’re not left rolling your eyes at the utter silliness of it.

I could bitch here about Be Beautiful and their production values, or lack thereof, but that would just be beating a dead horse. If you’ve been following my reviews, you know my feelings on their layout and covers. There’s no sense in me getting into here. Suffice it to say that if I didn’t love the series so much, I wouldn’t be buying them from Be Beautiful, I would stick to my original Japanese versions.

Don’t pay any attention to my jaded fangirl babbling about production values. Pick up this series because it’s addictive, sweet and one of the hallmarks of the genre.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 2

26th May 2008

Kizuna 3

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Welcome back to the trials and tribulations that are the relationships in Kizuna. This time we have Ran suspecting that Enjyoji is cheating on him. It’s nice, it’s an angst fest and after much misunderstanding everyone ends up happy ever after.

The real jewel in this book is the further development between Kai and Masa. Kai, shooting his mouth off and defending one of his classmates, gets himself into more trouble than he bargained for. Masa again comes to his rescue, and ends up getting injured in the process. More angst, and Kai playing a mother hen and then a KISS! Finally, a drugged up Masa shows his true feelings!

I just love Kai and Masa together. They just work so well. They spend the entire series angsting over each other, secretly wanting each other, so when something does happen it’s quite nice.

I’m still cranky with the enlarged black and white printing on the inside covers, but the translation of this series really isn’t too bad at all. I’m missing Masa call Kai ‘bon,’ but I guess that’s just something that really wouldn’t translate too well into English.

Kazuma Kodaka’s art just gets better and better the deeper into the series you get. Her lines are clean and her boys are so muscled. It’s really a nice change of pace for the girly-looking waifs with long, flowing hair that I usually am drawn to. Hell, Enjyoji looks even better with short hair than he did with long hair. It’s just a series that’s easy to get addicted to.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 3

26th May 2008

Kizuna 4

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

I’ve got a soft spot for assassins. Let me just squee over the introduction of JB and Tashiro in this book. Uber-violent assassins with a secret past. Color me a happy fangirl.

Lots and lots of plot in this book. This leaves little to no room for sex, but have no fear. This is Kazuma Kodaka, she’ll make it up to us in a later book.

Little Kai’s biting off more than he can chew with a rival yakuza gang and Enjyoji gets dragged into the whole mess. The mysterious Tashiro gets called in by Masa to keep an eye on Kai and the rival Yakuza team hires JB to kill the lot of them.

Following me still? Good. It only gets more convoluted from here on in.

Enjyoji gets kidnapped by the rival yakuza team when he goes out looking for Kai, Ran-chan’s left home to worry and Kai’s thinking that Masa’s abandoned him.

I’m still underwhelmed by Be Beautiful’s production value, but I’m starting to get over it. All my bitching isn’t going to have them give me the manga in a format I like. I guess I’m just going to start enjoying the fact that I do have one of my all-time favorite series in English. I don’t have to go from the original manga to my computer screen trying to read a translation and look at the pretty pictures at the same time. At the end of the day, Kizuna just makes me happy. That’s all that really matters.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 4

25th May 2008

Kizuna 5

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

When we last left our heroes, Enjyoji had been kidnapped and Kai was doing his damnedest to make everything right again. Oh, and Ranmaru was worrying his cute little ass off.

Well! It’s gets worse…or better – depends on how you look at it. Masa is still in “protect the prince” mode, Kai gets all kinds of pissed off about this and decides that he’s the boss from here on out. Yeah, smooth move, huh?

Kai and Ran make a run for it to find Enjyoji and, boy, do they find him and a heap of trouble. Let’s not forget the Tashiro and JB situation in all this. Tashiro still hasn’t found where JB is hiding out. And JB’s hunting them all down while the shit hits the fan.

I’m sorry to say that there is no smut in this volume either. The plot makes up for this lack of sex, however. I am not disappointed. The timing and switching to different characters keep this volume moving fast. When I came to the end, I desperately wanted more and now.

Now, Cyn is underwhelmed by Be Beautiful’s production and the lack of pretty inserts. I would love to have inserts too, actually. I think both of us are willing to overlook this because we finally have Kizuna in English. I’m very pleased with how Be Beautiful is handling the content and overall quality of the volumes.

Posted by Nikita | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 5

25th May 2008

Kizuna 6

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Oh, how I have been waiting for this. You don’t even know the love that I have for this installment. Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole series, but there’s a special spot in my heart for this book. Not only do we have an amazingly sweet scene with Enjoji and Ran, but there’s all kinds of lovely drama and angst with Masa and Kai. Top that off with two of my favorite assassins and just how they got together and I am one happy fangirl.

So, when we last left our heroes they were in the middle of a shoot out with some not-very-nice yakuza-type people – as opposed to the happy, fuzzy Sagano family-type yakuza. Ran has taken a stand to try and save Enjoji; Masa is worried about Kai and Tashiro – remember Tashiro? He’s the bodyguard-cum-hitman that Masa hired to protect Kai, among other things. The one with a mysterious connection to another hitman? Anyway, Masa is also trying to figure out who to shoot to keep the casualties down to a minimum.

Our heroes start off having the upper hand but things go south quickly and Masa ends up getting used as a human shield. Kai jumps in and puts himself in front of Masa. Not only was the person that he’s completely gonzo in love with in danger, but Kai was getting pretty tired of always being the person who had to be rescued. Seems he thought it was high time he did some rescuing on his own.

In the confusion, Tashiro manages to get a shot off, killing the man holding Masa and Kai. Great. One bad guy down. We’ve still got more to contend with though.

An order is given for the other hitman – did I mention there was another hitman? His name’s JB. There had to be another assassin. Tashiro needed someone to be able to ride off into the sunset with! The other hitman is to take out Tashiro. JB refuses and instead starts taking out the bad guys. The situation de-escalates from there and we’re left with our heroes trying to patch each other up.

Enjoji and Ran end up at a hospital while Enjoji recovers from his injuries. There’s a very happy scene – including one of the funniest blowjobs ever – where Ran and Enjoji reaffirm their feelings for each other and get very sappy.

Then we’ve got Kai confronting Masa about his feelings for him. I love the Masa/Kai dynamic. There’s so much unrequited love/lust there. We know that Masa wants to bend Kai over the nearest horizontal object and have his wicked way with him and we know that Kai would welcome that treatment… But they don’t know that about each other and their angst is a beautiful thing.

We end the book with my assassin story. By now, most of you know that I have a soft spot for my lovely, angsty assassins. Here it is, in all of its overblown, overdramatic glory. I don’t know what it is about assassins that causes them to spout oodles of flowery metaphors while fucking, but we’ve got it in spades here.

It’s hot. It’s slightly silly and it’s completely endearing. I’ve so missed my Kizuna. I’m so happy to have it back.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 6

25th May 2008

Kizuna 7

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Kizuna just makes me grin. Seriously, just the sight of the covers makes me happy. I know that in each release there’s going to be a mix of lunacy, sweetness, boys being stupid and loving and just all kinds of wonderful.

We start off with Enjyoji recuperating in the hospital after the fight with the yakuza that concluded in the last issue. Surprisingly, Enjyoji’s father comes to visit and apologize for the violence that has been inflicted on the boys so far. While his father is there, he also accepts Ran as Enjyoji’s chosen partner. He even offers to send the boys off on a nice mini-vacation to Kyoto so that they can visit Enjyoji’s mother’s grave and get some quality time to themselves.

Kai is not too pleased to hear that his father is sending the happy couple on a trip. When he came out to his father, he ended up being kicked out of his house. Now his father is sending his half-brother and his lover off on a trip where they can be alone together. Of course, Father-dear doesn’t see Ran and Enjyoji as being gay. He’s willfully got his blinders on when it comes to their relationship. So sending the boys off on a trip is mostly harmless in his mind.

Kai’s just in a bad mood anyway, he’s really taking Masa’s refusal to acknowledge him very hard. I do so love the Masa/Kai dynamic. You know that they want each other, but Masa’s responsibilities and loyalties to Kai’s father keep him from acting on his feelings. I want to shove them in a locked bedroom and tell them, “Okay, it’s time for you both to hump now.”

Kizuna is one of the classics of the genre and it’s not hard to see why. Yes, it’s over the top at times with the angst and the violence and the sex, but for some reason it all works. I know in my heart that the yakuza really are not all sweet and cuddly, like they’re portrayed here, but I still find myself believing it.

If you’re not already a fan of this series, you really should give it a try. It’s got something for everyone.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 7

25th May 2008

Kizuna 8

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Kizuna has been slowly worming its way into my favorite list. I think this installment has cemented its place. It’s charming, sexy, funny and touching.

In this volume, Masa and Kai are still at the inn with Ran and Enjyoji. According to Kai, Masa and him should move onto an “adult like” relationship. That’s what everyone who is reading this series has been screaming for.

Masa does finally acknowledge his lust for Kai though. To which I yelled at my book, “About frickin’ time!” Slowly but surely, they will hump. We all know this.

Ran, in the meantime, has made up his mind about a few things. He wants to be strong and quit running away. Which means for him taking up kendo again. Once Kai hears of this, he asks for a match. The training and the sweating ensues for said match.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Kodaka is the master of tease. I know she’s building a story, and a good one at that, I just want Be Beautiful to get their butts in gear and put the next volume out!

Posted by Nikita | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma | Comments Off on Kizuna 8

24th May 2008

Midaresomenishi: A Tale of Samurai Love

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

This version of Midaresomenishi is censored. This does not please me. Apparently, an innocent kiss between brothers is not okay yet seeing a young man get gang-banged is perfectly acceptable. Sure, the little kiss being taken out doesn’t interrupt the story, exactly. It’s just sweet.

Let’s also mention that Fujimaru is being depicted as an eighteen-year-old in the beginning. You’ve got to be shitting me. He looks about ten in the first chapter! I can’t believe anyone is going to buy that he’s of age. I understand by a legal standpoint that Be Beautiful has to cover their proverbial ass. It’s just ridiculous to pass a child off as an adult.

Well, anyway, the story opens up to Shirou being sent away from his family home because he’s too wild. His brother, Fujimaru, chases after him because, you know, that’s what little brothers do. Oh, but the brothers are not safe. They are attacked by bandits and taken to the bandit leader, Sougetsu.

Sougetsu, being a very bad man, blackmails Shirou into joining his gang. Shirou is tortured and raped until he gives into Sougetsu’s desires. Or is Shirou simply feigning resignation to plan his revenge?

Don’t forget about Fujimaru. He’s still in Sougetsu’s camp and being held hostage to keep Shirou part of the bandits. Of course, if Shirou ever found out what Fujimaru’s true purpose at the camp is, he’d kill everyone…

Midaresomenishi is full of great twists in Kodaka’s usual style. It’s a fast read too. I couldn’t put it down. Despite the faults in this version, I will recommend Kodaka fans to check this manga out!

Posted by Nikita | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Kodaka, Kazuma, Midaresomenishi: A Tale of Samurai Love | Comments Off on Midaresomenishi: A Tale of Samurai Love

18th May 2008

Kizuna: Kazuma Kodaka Signature Edition DVD

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

The packaging for Kizuna: Kazuma Kodaka Signature Edition DVD is so nice! Gorgeous slipcover and even a little booklet inside featuring the manga covers sans title. Be Beautiful is calling this a Manga Portfolio, but whatever, it’s a nicety they didn’t have to do.

The English dub is not the worst one I’ve heard. However, it’s not the best, but if you really need to watch Kizuna in English, it’s enjoyable. Keep in mind, people, that I am a subtitle snob. Even if I buy an American anime release, I rarely watch the English dub for I don’t like my anime americanized and sanitized for my protection.

The subtitles are of good quality and good timing. This is definitely not your Hong Kong rip. Since I know the barest of Japanese, I know the translation is fairly good. Some things have been mistranslated, however, because, for example, ‘aho’ doesn’t mean ‘idiot’ exactly. It’s a little more vulgar than that, ‘dipshit’ or ‘dumbass’ is a better translation, but I’m not going to split hairs. (Even though I already have. Heh.)

The extras on this DVD are squeal-worthy. Actually, I did squeal like a little dorky fangirl. (This shouldn’t be surprising.) There are interviews with Kodaka, Q&A and English director commentary. The insight you get from all these features is wonderful.

I won’t tell you about the plot because if you’ve read the manga, you know what’s happening in this OAV. If you haven’t read the manga, you’re going to be a little lost for most of this OAV. (And no amount of me trying to explain this to you is going to make any sense anyway.)

In short, this DVD is worth the purchase. Doubly so if you’re an old-school fan of Kizuna.

Posted by Nikita | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Kizuna, Kodaka, Kazuma, Miscellaneous | Comments Off on Kizuna: Kazuma Kodaka Signature Edition DVD