Archive for the '♦' Category

27th May 2008

Only the Ring Finger Knows: The Lonely Ring Finger

Rating: ♦

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the manga, Only The Ring Finger Knows, I’ll do a basic plot synopsis. Take one school, where the current fad is for couples to wear matching rings. Add in two boys. Boy #1 and Boy #2 don’t realize it, but they have matching rings. One day, on accident they get their rings switched and they find that the other one’s ring fits perfectly on their ring finger.

Throw in a boatload of angst and confusion and you’ve got the basic gist of the manga. I’m not going to go into great detail here because we’ve already done a review of it. It’s cute, it’s sweet and it’s not graphic at all.

The second half of the book delves further into the boy’s relationship. This time we’ve got the boys getting ready for exams. They decide to not take their relationship further until after exams. I wonder if this plot device is really that common in Japan. “Oh no, we can’t sleep together until after exams!” There’s more confusion and angst with the rings. Then, finally, a happy ending.

I was really looking forward to reading my first BL novel in English. I was terribly disappointed. Some seriously choppy editing work and poor translation ruined the book. I think the bit that threw me the most was the use of one poor, lonely honorific in the whole book. We don’t see a hint of an honorific, then all of a sudden one of the character’s adds the term san to a character’s name as an insult.

After that we don’t see an honorific again.

We all know I don’t like it when companies leave out honorifics, but I can get over it when they’re not used at all. When they just throw one in there it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Top that off with the phrasing and pacing of the book being very awkward. As we all know, Japanese has a very different flow than English. It just doesn’t translate smoothly to English. The whole thing just didn’t read very well or very easily.

I know all the fanbips are squeeing and jumping up and down for joy with the release of this book, but I just couldn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t the syrupy sweet romance that did it for me, it was the lack of readability that did it in.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Kannagi, Satoru, Odagiri, Hotaru, Only the Ring Finger Knows: The Lonely Ring Finger | Comments Off on Only the Ring Finger Knows: The Lonely Ring Finger

27th May 2008

Torrid

Rating: ♦

I had such high hopes for this book. The premise sounded so promising. We’ve got a young dance instructor who gets rooked into taking a job as a male stripper. Apparently, there was a female friend who wanted a stripper at her bachelorette party who could actually dance.

While shopping for undies, our intrepid dance instructor, Trey, runs into another male browsing the wares. Trey decides to get some practice flirting in, even though he’s usually not attracted to males.

All’s well and good, and I’m sure that we can all see where this is going. So, there’s the party, there’s stripping and, of course, the boy from the sex shop is sitting front and center. Predictably this all ends up with a round of handjobs in the men’s room. Of course there was a round of doubt, denials and the boys reassuring each other that they were not gay before they got to the round of handjobs, but that’s to be expected.

So far, so good. It’s a generic smut story with impossibly pretty boys. The only thing that turned me off so far was the fact that every time the word ‘come’ was used as a euphemism for orgasm, Hawke spelled it as ‘cum.’ I hate that spelling. It feels cheap and tawdry to me, like I’m reading a badly written letter to Penthouse. Maybe that’s just me, maybe I’m just oversensitive.

Whatever it is, it did not put me in a good mood for the second half of the story. What really turned me off was the fawning fangirlish feel that the writer gave off. The boy that our dancing hero meets in the sex shop us is part Asian, martial arts expert who’s name is Kenshin. Kenshin takes Trey back to his apartment where he introduces Dance Boy to anime and they watch Akira.

Yeah, I don’t know about all of you, but I really hate it when authors throw in bits of things taken from real life. I don’t want to know about what current movies the characters are watching or what band they like. Maybe I don’t like that band and maybe I don’t picture the character liking that kind of music or whatever the situation is.

Not to mention the fact that the name Kenshin is just rubbing me the wrong way. I don’t think that Kenshin is a common Japanese name. To me, it just sounds like someone watched a bit too much Rurouni Kenshin and decided to take the name for her character. Now watch, someone is going to come up and tell me that Kenshin is the fifth most popular name in Japan for a boy and shoot my theory all to hell.

Either way the story ends well. Kenshin introduces Trey to the joy of being a bottom. Calling the prostate a ‘cum button’ was a bit much though. Kind of a failed attempt at dirty talk.

I want to have more faith in this company. I want to be able to go and buy original smutty stories with boys boinking each other’s brains out. But in all honesty, I can’t justify spending $12.99 for a book that leaves me feeling vaguely pissed off.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Hawke, Morgan, Torrid | Comments Off on Torrid

27th May 2008

Alone in My King’s Harem

Rating: ♦

It’s been said that the characters in BL manga are really just flat-chested women with penises. Never have I seen this cliche more apparent than in this manga. I mean it’s pretty enough, and it’s well drawn, but the characters – especially the uke characters – are nothing more than girls. Girls who cry when they have sex. Girls who cry when they think that they’ve lost the affections of their lover. Girls who cry when they have the affections of their lover. It really gets to be quite silly. Top it all off with the characters being drawn very young looking and you’ve got something that just leaves me feeling a bit empty and a bit creeped out.

This is an collection of one-shot works, rather than a cohesive manga. With the exceptions of the first and the last two stories I found myself skimming through the stories just to see how silly they would get. But I just couldn’t get past the fact that the characters looked all of twelve-years-old and they wore more makeup than some J-rockers I could mention.

While it does not inspire the loathing that Level C instills in me, I really wouldn’t recommend this manga. It’s just silly fluff.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Alone in My King's Harem, Hoshino, Lily | Comments Off on Alone in My King’s Harem

27th May 2008

Gakuen Heaven

Rating: ♦

I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there who love BL games and were very excited about a manga based off of a BL game being released over here. I’m not one of them. Much like the original game, the manga Gakuen Heaven is almost completely plotless and most certainly pointless.

We’ve got Keita, a boy with extra-ordinary luck, but no other redeeming qualities. Well, aside from the fact that he’s uke-boy extraordinaire. He somehow gets accepted into the prestigious all-boys Bell Liberty Academy.

After arrival, Keita gets sent on random errands around the school as a way to introduce the reader to all of the pretty boys that Keita has the possibility of being fucked by in the game. The top pairing in the game is to get Keita to end up with the student council president, known as King. Here in the manga, it concentrates on just how Keita and the wonder-boy end up in bed together.

And really, that’s it.

The art is pretty, the presentation is stellar but the book has absolutely no plot.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Gakuen Heaven, Higuri, You, SPRAY | Comments Off on Gakuen Heaven

27th May 2008

Hot Steamy Glasses

Rating: ♦

I haven’t felt violent hatred for a release in a long time. A lot of times when I read a release and it’s just so-so, I just put the book aside to write a review on it later. Then I promptly get distracted by releases I’m excited about.

Normally, I’m excited about a release in a positive way. I want to write a review that will make you all run out and buy it so that if we ever meet, we can dork out about it together. It’s rare that I feel this much excitement in telling you to avoid a release like the plague. This is kind of fun. I feel my bitch senses tingling.

My main problem with this release, aside from wanting to smack the ever-loving shit out of our seme for being an utter fucking doormat and lacking anything resembling a pair of balls, is the similarities in the character designs. It’s like this artist only learned to draw a face one way, perfected it and then used it for every single one of her characters. The only change is hair colors, styles and giving some of her characters glasses.

The main story revolves around a self-proclaimed otaku, who’s also the president of a successful company. He’s got everything going for him. There’s just one problem: he’s in love with one of his friends from high school. The friend from high school? He has a violent hatred of otaku and spends half of the manga bleating about his heterosexuality. Then it’s like someone flipped a switch and he’s all of a sudden enjoying being pounded into the mattress.

The whole thing left me feeling kind of icky. I don’t mind characters hopping into bed with little to no provocation, but I want them to be something more than this. I want my characters to act like males. If I wanted chicks with dicks, there’s a whole other genre I would be reading!

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Hot Steamy Glasses, Kaiya, Tatsumi | Comments Off on Hot Steamy Glasses

25th May 2008

Level C 1

Rating: ♦

Level C centers around a relationship between Kazuomi (seme) and Mizuki (uke). Mizuki is a model, Kazuomi is the twin brother of Haruno, the head of a corporation that wants to center their latest promotion around him. Haruno talks Kazuomi into seducing Mizuki and the plot degenerates from there.

Kazuomi runs into Mizuki at a bar and finagles his way into spending the night at Mizuki’s apartment. In return for Mizuki’s hospitality, Kazuomi promises him a “night of ecstasy that…[he] will never forget.”

The characters find that they can make each other feel very good and an affair is started. The little bit of a plot that the series has seems like nothing more than situations to get the characters back into bed.

The art work in Level C is fairly sophomoric. Oh, everything is somewhat in proportion, and it’s hell of a lot better than I could do, but there’s just something off in the execution. You find yourself staring at the page during one of the many sex scenes, not enjoying the work, but trying to figure out what body part is going where and who’s doing what to whom. Very distracting. The characters have limited facial expressions. They’re either showing extreme innocence, advanced debauchery or they’re screaming in pain/pleasure. The only real saving grace for this book is that the characters have utterly filthy mouths and engage in a lot of smut talk. Something that’s rather rare to see in BL manga. No amount of smutty words though, can carry this work past the empty plot and general bad art.

I picked up volume one because I wanted to support the genre being released in North America. After reading the manga, I realized that I can support the genre without supporting crap. I will not be purchasing the rest of the series. I think it’s fantastic that they’re bringing over graphic BL series for the fans to enjoy, but can’t they bring over some more quality work?

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Futaba, Aoi, Level C, Mitsuba, Kurenai | Comments Off on Level C 1

25th May 2008

Level C 2

Rating: ♦

“We were complete strangers…
Everything is new…
Let’s create the love we share, starting now…”

We were complete strangers is right. It’s hard to build a relationship off of a one-night stand. Kazuomi and Mizuki are trying, but there’s really nothing keeping them together except some wild-hot-monkey sex.

There are a few attempts at plot and character development. In this book, Mizuki is on the track team at school. Kazuomi and his sister come to watch him compete. The day is going along swimmingly, when Mizuki runs into his rival on the track team, Takanashi. Takanashi picks a fight with Mizuki and then kisses him.

Now this isn’t just your normal BL plot device where everyone wants to screw the uke. Takanashi has his own hidden agenda for messing around with Mizuki, not to mention that it gives Takanashi an excuse to be a good, jealous seme and prove to Mizuki that they belong together. So, in the end we’ve got Mizuki and Kazuomi screwing madly, and not much else.

I’m trying to like Level C. Really I am. Normally, the lack of plot doesn’t bother me in a smutty manga. I’m here to get hot and bothered and look at the pretty pictures, but there’s just something about this series that rubs me the wrong way. I don’t get hot and bothered. I end up flipping past the sex scenes to see if there is any semblance of a plot on the following pages.

I just don’t see why this series is such a fan favorite. Is it because its OAV was one of the first commercially available BL OAVs in North America? If so, then that’s a pretty crappy reason to like a series. Is it because it’s pretty much pure smut? I can at least respect that reason. I don’t like this style of smut, but if that’s what you’re going for, this series has it in spades. I know it’s not the art because the art is still very sophomoric.

If you like it, then I’m happy for you. Just don’t expect me to join you in singing its praises.

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Futaba, Aoi, Level C, Mitsuba, Kurenai | Comments Off on Level C 2

25th May 2008

Level C 3

Rating: ♦

“Nobody can take my memories away…
Nobody can take him away from me…
His love will never be broken, it will last forever…”

When we last left our two intrepid heroes we had Kazuomi showing his jealousy at Mizuki getting kissed by his classmate, Takanashi. Takanashi doesn’t like Mizuki. He has his own reasons for starting trouble with Mizuki and Kazuomi.

A few years ago, Kazuomi broke his sister’s heart. Sending her into a dream-like state where she waits for Kazuomi to come to her. Eventually, Kazuomi breaks her out of it by confronting her and letting her know that it is Mizuki that he truly loves. Which leads to rounds of hot, sweaty make-up sex.

So, once again, in the end, we’ve got Mizuki and Kazuomi screwing madly and not much else.

The plot is spread really thin in these books. I had to stop and re-read them for a third time because I could have sworn that the whole Mizuki/Kazuomi/Takanashi mess happened in one book, leaving room for a new plot device in volume three.

Nope. This flimsy plot got stretched between two books. Seriously, this series could have been compressed into one or two books. The main thing the characters do in the series is screw.

I’m sorry to say this, I’ll be turning in my pervert membership card later, but I’m just tired of watching these boys fuck. I want to see some real plot development. I don’t care about the characters in this series or want them to have everything work out so that they can live in happy smut-land. I don’t want them to have a happy ever after. I want to douse them both with cold water and tell them that there’s more to life than screwing.

The characters don’t even really argue. When they do, it’s in bed and it ends up with, you guessed it, more bedroom antics. Damn it. I want plot. Where is my plot?

Posted by Cynthia | Posted in , Futaba, Aoi, Level C, Mitsuba, Kurenai | Comments Off on Level C 3