Archive for the '♦♦♦♦' Category

24th Mar 2011

Crimson Snow

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

I haven’t been reviewing much manga lately because there hasn’t been much that has caught my interest. Oh, Kizuna has been coming out, and I’ve been loving it, but we already have reviews for it. Same with the Finder Series. I just don’t want to force myself to read a manga, then come here and spew out a few paragraphs about how much it bored me to tears – which only makes you all bored while reading it.

Thankfully, I found this release, which helped to remind me that this genre does have a few gems.

I was having an e-mail conversation with a friend of mine a week or so ago after we had traded some US released gay comics. Comics written for gay men, by gay men. He was telling me how much he enjoyed them, and asked me if I had any other recommendations. I had to tell him that aside from some great GLoBL by writers like Tina Anderson, my only other recommendations were for translated Japanese BL.

His main complaint with the genre was the oft complained about ‘chicks-with-dicks’ phenomenon. And, I have to kind of agree with him. It’s part of what got me so burnt out on the genre. I like men. I like men together. If I want to read about a guy and a girl together, I’ll go and hit some of my extensive het smut collection.

Thankfully, this release has two fully male characters. While the characters are not afraid to show emotion, they are MEN. Now, I don’t equate tears with the girlification of men in my manga, I equate shojou flowers and simpering looks with the girlification of men in my manga.

Feh. Enough ranting. Okay, back to reviewing. There’s Yakuza gangster, Kazuma, who is rescued by a young tea ceremony master, Yukihiro. Despite the two men coming from completely different backgrounds, they find they are much more alike than they would have ever thought, and find a kind of peace with each other.

It’s gorgeously drawn, pulls at the few remaining heartstrings I have, and made me smile. What else could one ask for in a manga?

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Crimson Snow, Tomoki, Hori | 1 Comment »

05th Nov 2010

Under Grand Hotel 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

It’s here. I’m holding it in my hot little hands. The conclusion of Sadahiro Mika’s prison sexploitation epic. Through dangers untold and rapes un-numbered, Sword and Sen have fought their way through the penal system, beyond the watch of the warden. All so they can kiss in the sun.

You know, if it wasn’t for the brutal violence, the murders and the drug trafficking, this would be epitome of a fantasy romance.

But, you know, I think I like it all the better for being so utterly violent and filthy. Let’s hope to see more of her work coming over here in the future. I know that I would love to see some of her other releases. I can’t be the only one who has most of her work in the original Japanese just waiting for a translation!

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Sadahiro, Mika, Under Grand Hotel | 1 Comment »

17th Sep 2010

ZE 5

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

There’s something gorgeously over the top about Yuki Shimizu’s works. They go right to the edge of being over-blown and over-dramatic without crossing that very fine line. I end up falling in love with all of her couples, even the ones that I’m convinced I’m going to hate.

So, in case you couldn’t figure it out, I didn’t think I was going to like the new couple that she introduced in this volume. Moriya, a kami, was supposed to return to hakushi, after his master died – but, instead he asked to be able to continue to serve. All other kotodamashi have a kami serving them, except for the exile, Ryuusei, who refuses to use his kotodama powers.

Of course, this causes drama and a boatload of sexual tension. Which in turn makes me salivate at the thought of the next volume coming out, so I can read the rest of this couples story. It’s all a plot to get me to fork over most of my paycheck to booksellers.

Sadly, it’s working. I’m right on board, drinking the kool-aid. As long as the releases that 801 keeps putting out are of this high quality, I see no rescue in site. Is there a 12 step program for those of us who have a book addiction?

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Shimizu, Yuki, ZE | Comments Off on ZE 5

07th Sep 2010

ZE 4

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

I really do love Yuki Shimizu. There’s no one that does angst better.

Case in point, take Genma, a man who’s been in love with his father’s Kami-Sama, Himi, for years, and finally has his feelings reciprocated – only to have Himi murdered, and in a wash of tears and paper, revert back to a paper doll.

Then have Himi reincarnated, only with no memory of Genma, just feelings of gratitude and servitude. It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes, or at least make me want to curl up with the entire series and pledge my eternal devotion to Yuki Shimizu.

Then throw in a story featuring some pervy twins, and their Kami, and you’ve got a threesome made in fangirl heaven.

If I haven’t convinced you to run out and get this series by now, there’s nothing I can say or do to convince you otherwise, but you’re truly missing out. This is everything that I love about this genre, and it’s truly one of my all time favorite things.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Shimizu, Yuki, ZE | Comments Off on ZE 4

30th Aug 2010

Under Grand Hotel 1

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

I am so thrilled to have this in my hot little hands. When I had my mental list of series that would never, EVER be brought over to the US, this one was on the very tippy top.
Yet, it’s been released.

My only real problem is that it’s so goddamned tiny! I don’t know if they were scared by the size of Sword’s cock, so they issued this manga in an itsy-bitsy format, but it’s much smaller than any other manga I own. It’s the size of the BL novels that DMP releases. I guess I can understand, I mean, Sword’s cock really is quite intimidating.

It’s also missing the authors notes, where she explains some of her USA pop-culture fangirling. The peeping-tom inmate? That’s based on Stone Cold Steve Austin. Fangirling goes both ways my freaky darlings. We go gaga over Japanese personalities, and they can go gaga over ours.

What we did get, is part one of the UGH doujinshi. Which, is pretty awesome. I know I’ve had it on my looking for list over at JPQueen for ages, and they haven’t been able to find it for me, so to have it, in English, as part of the manga makes me happy.

I guess I’m still slightly gob-smacked at the fact that I’m holding one of the most violent, filthy, abusively sexy manga that has ever been released, in my hot little hands. I had forgotten just how absolutely WRONG some of the scenes are, and spent a very enjoyable evening reacquainting myself with the characters

For those of us who are completely out of the loop, UGH revolves around a prison, set under New York City, Underground Hotel. The inmates who manage to find some enjoyment during their incarceration call it Under Grand Hotel. Throw in trading bodies for protection, prison rape and blowjobs in the prison library, and you’ve got an idea of what’s going on in this manga.

Mika Sadahiro is the master of what she does, and what she does gets my panties in a knot. I’m still not happy with how tiny this release is, but I’m SO happy to have it here.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Sadahiro, Mika, Under Grand Hotel | 4 Comments »

30th Aug 2010

Isle of Forbidden Love

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

Duo Brand makes me happy. Boys in traditional Japanese outfits make me happy. Time traveling cops who fall in love with boys in traditional gear make me happy. So, all around, this release made me very happy.

Aki, is a Jittemochi, or a commoner with the authority to make arrests on behalf of the local police force, living in feudal Edo. While researching a murder, he spies a familiar face. It’s the man who rescued him from drowning twelve years ago – Yet the man won’t admit to it. And, this mystery man keeps showing up at murder scenes, and can explain the mysterious burned holes (bullet holes) in the bodies that Aki keeps finding.

Kuga is a modern day detective with a secret, and a fascination with Aki that can only lead to trouble.

It’s BL done in the best style, which Duo Brand seems to have mastered. Continuing to sing this releases’s praises will just lead to me either spoiling the release for you, or me repeating myself, so we’re going to keep this one short and sweet. Buy this one. It’s too much fun to leave mouldering at the store.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Duo Brand, Isle of Forbidden Love | 1 Comment »

13th Jun 2010

Dry Heat

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

I adore Yamada Yugi. Her characters are batshit crazy in the very best way. The plots are completely unbelievable. Yet, instead of them making me cranky, I fall into them and get sucked into their little world of insanity. That’s quite a talent. After reading BL for longer than I want to admit, I’ve just about had it with some of the more outlandish plotlines and tropes that go along with this genre.

So, Yamada Yugi, you’ve got the rare talent of making me forget that, at times I hate this genre, and remind me of just why it is that I love it.

Itaru had grown up taking care of Tatsuhiko. Tatsuhiko grew up in love with his caretaker. Time goes by, and the two grow apart, leaving Itaru with a bittersweet memory. Years later, when Itaru has joined the wonderful world of salary-men, he is tasked with a mission. It seems that young Tatsuhiko has run away from college, and his family desperately wants to find him. In the normal world, the police would be called in, which Itaru points out, but as Tatsuhiko’s family hates the police, he’s charged with the task.

Along the way he’s put in contact with a less than honest private-eye, the #1 massage girl at a local parlor, and Tatsuhiko, who’s never outgrown his love for Itaru.

It’s slightly crazy, but works out in the end. Trying to explain the plot here, in just a few paragraphs is giving me fits, because it’s so amazingly convoluted. By all rights, this manga should not work, yet it does. It’s like she broke all the rules that govern what should make up a good release, and in putting it back together, came up with something utterly wonderful.

I want more releases from her. This one just made me happy.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Dry Heat, Yamada, Yugi | 2 Comments »

16th May 2010

Tea for Two 4

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

It’s graduation time for the boys, and while whether or not Tokumaru will even be able to graduate is still up in the air, their relationship is still solid.

Or, is it? Hasune wants nothing more than a confession of Tokumaru’s feelings, while Tokumaru is just fine with things going on as they always have. Predictably, this leads to strife – and with the introduction of someone Hasune has had a relationship in the past – confusion and jealousy on Tokumaru’s side.

Both characters have grown over the course of the series, but have they grown enough to be able to express their true feelings to each other, without losing each other?

I’m going to miss this series. It was far too much fun. It wasn’t anything groundbreaking, but it was well drawn, and managed to combine humor with angst very well. I wish everything that got released over here was this charming.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Sakuragi, Yaya, Tea for Two | 2 Comments »

30th Apr 2010

Loud Snow

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

Ah, another GloBL manga from Tina Anderson! This time she’s teamed up with Amelie Belcher. Now, we should all know by now that Anderson delivers the goods. However, before I got my hands on Loud Snow, I wasn’t familiar with Belcher. After poring through Belcher’s deviantART, I was sold. What a talent!

Anyway, enough of my gushing. Loud Snow is about an ice-age family living on the coast of North America. In this happy family is Anituk, who is not happy. Anituk shows that teenagers are sulky and grumpy no matter the era. He’s cute and harmless, though.

One day, a stranger from the south pulls into camp. This stranger, Abalu, takes a keen interest in Anituk. Anituk, completely taken off guard, rebuffs Abalu’s friendship. Of course, Abalu won’t give up the pursuit our surly teenager.

As the tale continues, Abalu teaches Anituk some important lessons. With these lessons, Anituk lowers his guard and the two become closer. And, as they become closer, Anituk finds himself attracted to Abalu…

There’s more to this story, but I don’t want to spoil it. Also, it doesn’t end exactly how one would expect. Having said that, Loud Snow is entertaining and touching. I dare call it sweet. ‘Sweet’ is not usually an adjective I would employ to describe an Anderson manga, but it fits this time.

Overall, Loud Snow isn’t one of Anderson’s most complex stories nor is it gritty. It’s a delightful story with lovely illustration, though. If you’re a fan of GloBL, I think you’ll find this manga to be worthy of your shelf.

Posted by Nikita | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Anderson, Tina, Belcher, Amelie, Loud Snow | 2 Comments »

03rd Mar 2010

Selfish Mr. Mermaid 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

I shouldn’t have been as charmed by this release as I was – yet re-interpretation of fairytales has always been one of my downfalls.

This release opens up with a mish-mash of The Little Mermaid fairytale. Haru has always used a giant clam as his sounding board. Every time something’s gone wrong in his little world, he would go and cry to the giant clam and tell it all of his secrets.

The giant clam was listening. After one night of tearful confessions from Haru, the giant clam prayed to be given a form that he could comfort Haru with.

Its wish was granted, and he became a mermaid. The only thing was that he wasn’t given a voice, so, he has no way of comforting Haru, or even letting him know that he is the giant clam that Haru is now going crazy looking for.

You can see where this is going. It’s cheesy. I’ve seen it before, but damn if it doesn’t pull the right strings and leave me with that warm, fuzzy, just petted a basket of puppies feeling.

This release is really a great example of the whole being worth more than the sum of it’s parts. Taken individually, the stories, and the art wouldn’t be enough to make this stand out – but on a whole, this series sticks with you, and is going firmly on the keeper shelf, to be read when I want to just smile, and let happy fluff spill all over me.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Kamo, Nabako, Selfish Mr. Mermaid | 2 Comments »

11th Feb 2010

Vampire’s Portrait 2

Rating: ♦♦♦♦

You know, it’s kind of nice to get back to vampires that are demonic and bloody. Most of the vamps that we get in manga form are too lily-white to be able to cause some real carnage.

Not so for the vamps in this release. Lots of gore, complete with hearts being ripped out of chests. While I’m not a huge horror fan, vamps should be a bit forbidden and scary. They can’t be sexy and mysterious all the time. Hell, they’re supposed to be killers, not saints.

When we last left these guys, Sein was recovering from an attack by his older brother, Verloren. His devoted human Lou wants nothing more than to be first in Sein’s eyes, and to keep him strong.

Verloren has different ideas for his brother, and is going to do everything he can to turn Sein into a killer like him.

What really makes me happy is the mix of serious drama, and silly, silly art. One moment things are very detailed and all of a sudden Lou says or does something that’s exasperating/cute, and the characters go super deformed for a panel or so.

While there wasn’t quite enough romance to make this a truly stellar release for me, it was really damn good – and something that’s going directly to the keeper shelf.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in ♦♦♦♦, Kusumoto, Hiroki, Vampire's Portrait | 2 Comments »