Archive for the 'Yoshinaga, Fumi' Category

27th May 2008

Antique Bakery 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Take an engaging storyline, a scratch-and-sniff cover, quality art, a gay of demonic charm and you’ve got Antique Bakery. Which, while it isn’t a BL series, is damn cute enough and BL-friendly enough to make me a happy girl.

We’ve got the despotic owner, the gay of demonic charm, who just happens to be the head pastry chef, and his assistant, a failed boxer. Add in a bodyguard for said despotic owner who seems to have an attraction to the demonic charm of the pastry chef and you’ve got an interesting mix. And let’s not forget the fact that the owner spurned the pastry chef back when he was in high school for being gay and for daring to like him.

It’s not a sticky sweet shojo series. There are a lot of serious, introspective bits interspersed with the mad-cap world of running a café.

The best part about the whole thing? It just gets better and better with each book.

Massive love for DMP and their presentation. I fell in love with this series first because of the scratch-and-sniff covers. I’m not sure if the original Japanese release had that, but if not, it’s a nice touch.

It’s a great read and something that I would recommend for most manga fans. Fair warning though, reading this series will make you hungry. After reading this volume I had this incredible urge to go and find crème puffs. It’s dangerous for your waistline.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Antique Bakery, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Antique Bakery 1

27th May 2008

Antique Bakery 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Again with the yumminess. Both with the pastries described and the boys in the book.

We get a figure from Tachibana’s past, a Chikage Kobayakawa, who is polite to the nth degree and completely subservient to Tachibana. There’s something about Chikage though that makes our favorite ‘gay of demonic charm’, Ono, turn on that charm full blast and sends poor, confused Chikage for a loop. Who is he supposed to be paying attention to? The pretty, charming chef who bakes all kinds of delicious things or the person that he has promised to protect?

Top that all of with a wild and wacky Christmas celebration complete with Christmas cake delivery via Ferrari and you’ve got a combination that’s almost guaranteed to put a grin on your face.

I love how the manga-ka of this series pokes fun at the typical BL manga clichés while at the same time using them to suck us in and further the story. While I for one would like to see more BL innuendo, I have to keep reminding myself that this is a shoujo series and it may have homoerotic undertones, and how, it’s not really BL.

I really think I would recommend this series a manga fan who was looking to get into the BL genre, but wasn’t ready yet for all of the polluted relationships and angst and drama that come part and parcel with the BL. This manga reinforces the fact that you can be gay and still be a good person and not want to get into every male’s pants with in a ten-mile radius. It concentrates more on the friendship aspect of the relationships and is just quirky and cute.

This is one series I am going to be very, very sad to see the end of.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Antique Bakery, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Antique Bakery 2

27th May 2008

Don’t Say Anymore, Darling!

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Just the very mention of Fumi Yoshinaga makes me happy. I have never read a bad story by her. Some of them I’ve like more than others, but even the ones I didn’t care for as much still left me with a feeling of satisfaction when I was done. Don’t Say Anymore, Darling! swings from impossible situations to heartbreak.

My favorite story was the first one in the book. It revolves around a successful businessman and his best friend, a struggling songwriter who relies on his friend for food. Our businessman isn’t too pleased with always having to feed songwriter boy, but it’s better than hearing him whine or letting him starve, besides, he’s kind of gotten used to having him around. When our businessman goes to meet a prospective wife, he keeps comparing her to our little song-writing friend and finds her lacking.

Eventually these two end up in bed and find out they have real feelings for each other. Businessman also finds out that our little songwriter has been keeping something from him, turns out that his silly little ditties have been selling and selling well. He’s got millions in the bank. He just didn’t want to let our businessman know because if he knew, then he wouldn’t feed him and then they wouldn’t be able to spend any time together.

Yes, it’s teeth-rottingly sweet. Just go with it and enjoy it. I know I need some sweetness in my life to combat the fact that I’m an utter bitch.

The other stories are not quite as sweet. I was almost in tears at the end of “My Eternal Sweetheart”. Maybe it’s because I’m a doll junky, but I’m always attracted to stories about androids or living dolls. This one had a nice twist that really was pulling at my heartstrings.

All of the stories in here are very nice. I even enjoyed the story about the aging professor and his wife. Yes, there is a story with a straight couple in it. A very sad story. Enjoy for it what it is.

I’m almost worried that we’re going to exhaust the amount of material that Fumi Yoshinaga has released and that there won’t be anymore to be brought over. Then I’m going to be horribly sad because I am so madly in love with her work. Here’s hoping to lots more of her stuff being brought over!

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Don't Say Anymore, Darling!, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Don’t Say Anymore, Darling!

27th May 2008

Gerard & Jacques 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

I guess I must have been living under a rock for the past few years to miss out on this series. I mean, I had seen the cover in online shops, but for some reason it just never jumped out at me and screamed BUY ME.

Damn, I wish it had. Done by the manga-ka who brought us Antique Bakery. This series revolves around Jacques, a aristocrat in France, pre-Revolution and Gerard, a wealthy man of common breeding who is his first and only customer.

Jacques thinks he’s a bit too good to be whoring himself out and is pretty repulsed by the thought of sleeping with a man. Gerard taunts the boy. There’s nothing he hates more than spoiled aristocrats. According to him, Jacques doesn’t have it that bad, at least in the whorehouse he has three meals a day, feather pillows and silk sheets. After partaking in one night with Jacques, and, yes, making Jacques enjoy it, Gerard buys his freedom and tells Jacques to see if making a living for himself outside of the whorehouse is any easier.

A few months later Gerard is looking for a new servant and guess who shows up on his doorstep looking for work? Yup. Jacques. Some imp of perversity compels Gerard to hire him. Jacques has a hard time adjusting to life as a commoner. He’s not used to chores, working most of the day and he’s very surprised at the small bits of kindness that the rest of the staff show him. He and Gerard butt heads often, but eventually Jacques grows up and becomes a trusted member of Gerard’s staff.

We’re also introduced to some of Gerard’s back-story in this volume. Sweetly tragic, just enough to make you sympathize with Gerard and gain understanding of why he can be such a prick at times.

Seriously, I’m waiting on bated breath for the next volume of this series to come out. Fumi Yoshinaga has a way of sucking you into her stories and making you forget everything around you.

It’s not a very explicit book, but the scenes that are there are imbued with so much emotion and feeling that it packs more of a punch than a lot of the plot-what-plot stories manage to get in a whole book.

This series really is just lovely. I’m kicking myself for letting it fly under my radar. I should have been squealing like a rabid fangirl about this series a long time ago.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Gerard & Jacques, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Gerard & Jacques 1

27th May 2008

Gerard & Jacques 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Saying that I was eagerly anticipating the release of this volume is putting it mildly. Fumi Yoshinaga has a way of telling stories that will suck you in and not let you go. It’s such a treat to have something of this quality being released. Not that we don’t have a lot of quality work out there already, but I firmly believe in appreciating a good thing.

Our heroes have found peace and have settled into a routine since the last book. Their peace is disturbed by the news that Jacques’ mother has remarried and she wants him to come and visit. Gerard lets him go, fully suspecting that Jacques will leave him at a moment’s notice and rejoin the pampered life of the aristocracy.

But Jacques doesn’t fit in with the aristocracy anymore. He returns home to Gerard, who in preparing himself to let Jacques go, has gotten stupid drunk. Drunken babbling leads to Gerard exposing his true feelings to Jacques and Jacques being tormented by just what exactly he wants to do to Gerard.

Many funny scenes ensue with poor Jacques practically exploding with sexual frustration every time Gerard touches him. They finally do end up in bed together, but Gerard can’t bring himself to admit his feelings.

Overshadowed by the French Revolution the boys have a lot to get through before they can have their happy ending. As most of you know, aristocrats did not fare very well in the French Revolution. After the revolution, anyone who had ideas that the powers-that-be were not fond of did not fare very well either.

Yes, they get their happy ending, but, oh, the angst that comes before it.

This is truly one of my all-time favorite series for all that it’s only two books long and that it’s a series that I was just recently introduced to. I don’t often say to rush out and buy a series, but I’m saying that with this one. It’s too good to not have as part of your collection.

This series just makes me happy. It leaves me smiling and wanting more. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Gerard & Jacques, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Gerard & Jacques 2

26th May 2008

Ichigenme… 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Be prepared for a crash course in how the Japanese school system/colleges work with the release of this series. Tamiya is a new law student struggling to find his niche in college. Tohdou is the son of a politician and has a very carefree view of life and school.

During a party at the start of the school year, Tohdou saves Tamiya from having to strip as a hazing ritual by kissing him. Tohdou is gay, Tamiya is not. Or at least he says he’s not. He’s never been able to really connect with girls, never mind have an intimate relationship with one of them.

When a teacher comes on to Tamiya he starts to question his sexuality and look to Tohdou for advice and possibly something more.

I really don’t think that 801 Media could have picked a better series to be one of the ones they’re launching with. This series, along with being completely endearing and engaging, which is a hallmark of Fumi Yoshinaga’s work, is also sexy as hell and very smart. Unlike some manga, this series requires you to do some thinking.

The presentation is lovely, we’ve got dust covers, full-cover inserts, good translations and high-quality binding. The only change from the original release is that on the inside back cover, instead of an advertisement for a product that is not available outside of Japan, they’ve included a sweet little comic strip introducing the people who are behind 801 Media. It’s especially cute if you’ve been on the 801 forums and have interacted with the happy little smut queens.

Really, the only thing I could ask for would be the honorifics, but I guess a girl can’t have everything in life.

If you’re a fan of Fumi Yoshinaga – and if you’re not, what the hell is wrong with you – start saving your pennies for this volume to come out. It’s definitely worth being part of your collection.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Ichigenme..., Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Ichigenme… 1

26th May 2008

Ichigenme… 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Fumi Yoshinaga just makes me happy. You all know this by now, but it bears repeating. Her art is gorgeous, her stories warm my jaded, bittersweet and just make me smile. What more could I ask for in an artist. Well, aside from a hell of a lot more material for me to fangirl over, but I think that would be pushing it.

In this volume, not only do we get to see Tohdou and Tamiya and their relationship grow and flourish, but we also have Tohdou’s younger brother, Hiroaki, to contend with. Hiroaki has cut a swath through Japan with his sexual conquests and he’s more than happy to share his life lessons with his slightly clueless older brother.

Hiroaki is still firmly enclosed in the closet though, while Tohdou openly shares his love for Tamiya. This causes quite a bit of heartache for Hiroaki. You know things are going to work out for the best, but it’s going to be quite a ride getting there.

It’s great to watch Fumi Yoshinaga’s characters grow throughout the story. These are not static characters, which is a great thing. Her characters also do not fall into the stereotypical BL stereotypes. As much as I love the genre, I get tired of having the same thing repeated over and over again with nothing changing but the character designs.

This is one of the best short series out there. It’s only two volumes. Run out and pick this one up for your collection. I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Ichigenme..., Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Ichigenme… 2

24th May 2008

Lovers in the Night

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

Every time I get a book by Fumi Yoshinaga, I know that I’m going to be in for a real treat. This book is no exception. Like Gerard & Jacques, this book is set around the time of the French Revolution. We have a very young man, Claude, of mixed blood who is working in a brothel. A servant of an aristocratic family finds Claude, and after finding out his age, finds him a job at the house the servant is working for. Claude is eager to please and works hard at bettering himself.

The master of the house comes to rely on Claude and trust him, but the lady of the house, who is ill both physically and mentally, wants nothing to do with him. There’s a son born to the lord and lady by the name of Antoine. Shortly after the birth, the lady of the house falls deeper into madness and then passes away, leaving her son in the care of her dissipated husband and Claude. It wasn’t much of a loss. Given the time period and the fact that she was batty as a bedbug, she wasn’t much of a mother to begin with.

Years of wenching and drinking have taken their toll on the lord of the manor as well and he passes away, begging Claude to look after his son for him. This being a Boys Love book, you all know where this is going.

Antoine and Claude develop a relationship. Claude is a perfect foil to the hotheaded, spoiled and impulsive Antoine. Despite class differences, jealousy and revolution, they manage to make it all work out in the end.

It’s definitely one of Fumi Yoshinaga’s early works and does not have quite the depth of her more recent pieces, but the utter sweetness that is the hallmark of her work is there and the sketchy, slightly messy artwork is in full-force. There’s a good reason why she’s one of my favorite artists and that reason is abundantly clear, even in this early work.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Lovers in the Night, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Lovers in the Night

24th May 2008

The Moon and the Sandals 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

There are few things in life that make me happier than a manga by Fumi Yoshinaga. June has been making me a very happy fangirl by releasing so many of her works.

Book one of The Moon and the Sandals starts off with Mr. Ida, a young history teacher who is a bit nervous about his teaching abilities. There’s this one student who spends his entire class glaring holes into the back of his head. Except that the student is not really glaring at Mr. Ida. The student, Kobayashi, is gazing at Mr. Ida lovingly. Kobayashi really needs to work on his gazes. Mr. Ida, not surprisingly, is oblivious.

After Kobayashi witnesses a fight between Mr. Ida and his boyfriend, he decides to make a move on Mr. Ida and show him just how much better he is for him than his boyfriend. However, Kobayashi can’t make Mr. Ida smile the way his boyfriend can.

After Mr. Ida’s boyfriend comes back into the picture, Kobayashi realizes that Mr. Ida is not for him and just quietly gets on with life. Don’t feel too bad for Kobayashi. He stays friends with Mr. Ida and gets a boyfriend of his own.

This is a lovely and sweet series, topped off with bits of humor. The situations the characters get into, while true to life, are completely absurd. Like when Kobayashi wants more information on just how to fuck his boyfriend through the mattress, he goes to Mr. Ida, who’s clueless, never having slept with his boyfriend.

He then goes to a female friend. He wants to know if the manga club would have any idea if gay manga would provide a reference for the real thing. Then after he buys the manga and reads it, he gives it to Mr. Ida so that Mr. Ida can study up on how to please his boyfriend.

How could anyone not like this? It’s just one of those series that make you smile when you read it. The only thing I could complain about would be the lack of honorifics and the fact that Mr. Ida is not Ida-sensei, but as you all know, I’m a whore for authenticity in my manga. This is the perfect series to curl up with on a gray and rainy day. It’s guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Moon and the Sandals, The, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on The Moon and the Sandals 1

24th May 2008

The Moon and the Sandals 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

I know I sound like a broken record here, but Fumi Yoshinaga just makes me happy. Every time I see a book that she’s done, I know that I’m going to be in for a real treat.

The characters have grown up a bit since the first volume, but they’re still facing challenges to their relationships. Giant is first faced with Kobayshi going away to college, then after graduation, fear of how his colleagues will react to him being in a homosexual relationship. Hashizume is now running his own restaurant and Ida is faced with jealousy. You know things are going to work out well and that it is going to be a glorious ride getting there.

This series is so engrossing that while writing the review I went to go check on the spelling of a name, I ended up getting caught up in it and rereading the whole thing. I just finished reading it a day and a half ago. All of Fumi Yoshinaga’s releases have that quality. They just suck you in. You go to look for something you want to reference, or maybe just reread a sex scene, and you end up curled up with her books for hours. Not that this is a bad thing, mind you, it’s just not something that I’m used to with manga.

If you’re not already a fan, you should be. I don’t like telling people to run and and buy a series because I know that everyone has different tastes, but the storytelling in anything by Fumi Yoshinaga surpasses any restraint I may want to show.

Buy this. Buy everything you can by her. You are going to enjoy it.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Moon and the Sandals, The, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on The Moon and the Sandals 2

22nd May 2008

Solfege

Rating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Wikipedia defines solfege as…

…a pedagogical technique for the teaching of sight-singing in which each note of the score is sung to a special syllable, called a ‘solfege syllable’ or ‘sol-fa syllable’. The seven syllables normally used for this practice in the West are: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si. In England and America, ‘Sol’ and ‘Si’ are usually replaced with ‘So’ and ‘Ti’.

Traditionally, solfege is taught in a series of exercises of gradually increasing difficulty, each of which is also known as a ‘solfege’ or ‘solfeggio’. By extension, the word ‘solfeggio’ may be used of an instrumental étude.

The book defines solfege as the “basics of musical studies, such as learning how to read music as well as take musical dictation.”

Either way, in case you couldn’t guess, this book revolves around music and musicians. We’ve got Tanaka, who despite his appearances as being nothing more than a juvenile delinquent, has a love for classical music and a wish to better himself. Then there’s Kugayama, a music teacher with a knack for bringing out the best in his students, but a lackadaisical attitude on life. Being born into money he doesn’t quite get Tanaka’s problems, but he does his best, setting up voice lessons and taking Tanaka in after his mother is hospitalized.

Things are going well until the night that Kugayama his having problems with his love life and has a bit too much to drink. Tanaka innocently comes over, just wanting a shoulder to cry on. Instead of getting sympathy, he ends up gaining a lover.

Kugayama knows that their relationship is wrong on a few levels, but he can’t bring himself to care. He and Tanaka are extremely compatible in bed, his teaching is improving and Tanaka’s singing is improving.

All goes well until Tanaka’s vocal coach finds out about the relationship and removes Tanaka from Kugayama’s care. Kugayama just lets him go. He’s just as lackadaisical about the relationship as he is about the rest of his life.

Tanaka goes off to Italy to study opera and Kugayama goes on with his life. Kugayama finds a new lover who bears more than a little resemblance to Tanaka and goes so far as to ask the boy to call him sensei in bed, just like Tanaka did. The new boy finds out that he’s nothing more than a empty substitute to Kugayama and takes his revenge in a spectaculary bloody fashion.

Years go by and Tanaka has been growing in fame as an opera singer. He returns to Japan to find that Kugayama has lost everything. He’s still got his money, but after being outed as gay by being stabbed by his lover in front of the elementary school he taught at and being quietly bundled away by his parents, he really is just a shell of the man he used to be.

Tanaka makes him an offer and convinces him to start getting his life back together and they start making music again.

While I really and truly do love my smutty books, there are only two manga-ka who are able to bring tears to my eyes. Fumi Yoshinaga is one of them. Take engaging stories, gorgeous artwork, add in realistic angst and enough sweetness to melt my jaded, bitter heart and I am one happy fangirl. Run out and buy this release. It’s definitely one that should be a part of every fan’s collection.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦♦, Solfege, Yoshinaga, Fumi | Comments Off on Solfege