• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Ano Hi, Seifuku De

    Ano Hi, Seifuku De – Nakamura Asumiko

    1) Ano Hi, Seifuku de (That Day, in the Uniform)
    I haven’t got myself used to this adult-like appearance with some nostalgic flavour of youth.

    2) A Senpai
    Body and mind think different things. But which one is true? A junior and senior love triangle.

    3) Chuugaku 3-nensei (Middle School, Third Year)
    There is a pervert in the male restroom in the book-store. Beware!

    4) Hadaka no Boku (Naked Me)
    Being shaved, becoming naked, the hidden feelings

    5) Tenkousei (Transfer Student)
    The secrets under the uniform, that none of the classmates knows.

    6) Nikoichi
    God knows when my childhood friend become much tinier than me. We have been through the heights and lows together, and now is my start with that childhood friend.

    6.5) Extra to Ano Hi, Seifuku de – Konya, Ano Hi ni
    2 years have already passed since that night.

    Nakamura Asumiko-sensei once again breaking hearts in this collection of short stories featuring school boys past and present. Her stories ran deep, dark and quite often devastating.

    This manga is the more explicit of her works. Majority of the stories had gratuitous scenes. Dialogue was kept minimal and the artwork is stunning as always.

    Ano Hi, Seifuku de (That Day, in the Uniform): Two salarymen found themselves in an office drinking party. One of them just got married. The other recalls that fateful day where the other left him an unforgettable confession that was unanswered in their last day of high school. He brings up the topic and they sleep together. The next day, they both pretend it was nothing.

    This is the best story of the collection. It’s full of nostalgia and regrets. We get the POV of the one confessed to and he wonders, what if he had ran after him and gave his answer? Too late…

    A Senpai: A love triangle between two sempai and a kohai. Characters had no names, just letters from the alphabet designating the points of the triangle. C-kun likes B-sempai but couldn’t resist A-sempai. There’s not much substance or novelty in the story. The ending felt incomplete.

    Chuugaku 3-nensei (Middle School, Third Year): Rumors of a man giving out 10,000 yen for a blowjob in a bathroom stall ran wild among schoolboys. One day, a schoolboy happened to come across a man offering money to his schoolmate near a bathroom. He confronts them and the man runs away. Then his schoolmate offers him the money in exchange for blowing the schoolboy. And so their salacious encounters begin.

    The money exchange presents their relationship as mere business and taints the story with a whiff of prostitution. It also begs the question of where a middle schooler gets that kind of money. This is one of the more compelling chapters here. I really liked how a story about lost innocence ends with purer motives coming to light.

    Hadaka no Boku (Naked Me): A story about a kohai who had an affair with his sempai who prefers the kohai shaved down there. This is more of a sketch of a relationship that came and went. No feelings were involved excerpt the kohai’s. Sad but not outstanding.

    Tenkousei (Transfer Student): This is about a transfer student rumored to have slept with a teacher and his classmate who discovered his secret. Then the two proceeded to sleep together.

    There were no real relationships here. This is mostly the two students sleeping together and the transfer student taking pictures of himself in his special clothes. The affair with the teacher was revealed when said teacher hysterically confronted the student.

    I wish this ended better because this felt incomplete.

    Nikoichi: A gay awakening between two childhood friends who discovered they were attracted to other males. Most especially each other. The fact that the smaller of the two had sex with the teacher in the gym was kind of glossed over as part of said awakening.

    Shady teachers aside, this was pretty sweet. This was also practically conflict free. So not much happened here.

    Extra to Ano Hi, Seifuku de – Konya, Ano Hi ni: This is Sensei throwing us a bone.

    Salaryman receives news that the other salaryman got divorced. He immediately asks for his contact number and rushes to catch up to him. Would he get there in time?!!! RUN DAMMIT!!!

  • book,  Uncategorized

    REVIEW: Their Bounty by K.A. Merikan

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    Four Mercenaries: Their Bounty – K.A. Merikan

    — Taken. Prized. Possessed. Loved. —

    Clover is an orphan and has led a tough and chaotic life. No stability. No money. No friends. He trusts no one.

    His already miserable life takes a nosedive when he ends up in the hands of a human trafficking gang. Someone has placed a request for a young albino man, and Clover is to become the property of a mysterious buyer who will stop at nothing to satisfy their depraved desire. Clover’s fate seems sealed until four bounty hunters appear to take out his captors and accidentally save him.

    The four mercenaries want to move on, but when Clover pleads for protection, they offer it to him at a price. In the beginning, the arrangement is all kinds of shady, but as he gets to know the four men who’ve taken him on a wild ride, his developing feelings might become as dangerous as the elusive buyer.

    But can a relationship with four such different men even work? Men who kill for a living? Men so full of contradictions?

    Tank. The massive ex-soldier eager to be Clover’s Daddy.
    Pyro. Wild, tattooed, with a filthy mouth and an itch for violence.
    Boar. Ginger, bearded, a big teddy bear who can turn into a grizzly.
    Drake. Dark and dangerous, with a tongue as sharp as his knives.

    Can these men provide him with the love and security he craves? Or has Clover made the worst mistake of his life?

    THEIR BOUNTY is a dark gay harem contemporary romance, book 1 in the “Four Mercenaries” trilogy. The story contains scenes of explicit violence, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters and lots of scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes.

    Themes: abduction, polyamory, mercenaries, bounty hunters, albinism, commitment issues, indecent proposal, dark past, male bonding, human trafficking, size difference, enemies to lovers, danger, alpha male, found family, size difference, distrust, shared, victim and protector

    Apart from their Criminal Delights contribution, Wrong Way Home, I am hard-pressed to find a K.A. Merikan that sticks. Unexpectedly, this polyamorous series opener seemed to do the trick.

    I picked up Their Bounty after reading Our King, Our Master, another poly series that had interesting characters but poor execution. I’m neutral on poly but I wanted to see better examples of how this particular trope can be done.

    The four mercenaries are a brotherhood of former soldiers who take on jobs that bring down the bad guys while bringing in the money. On one of their jobs, they stumbled upon a 19-year old orphaned albino kid chained up to be sold to a mysterious buyer.

    The kid, Clover, was part of a pick pocket gang ran by a local criminal. He was getting too old and too conspicuous given his unusual looks. Aware that he is a wanted man with no defenses, Clover pretends he has friends waiting for him in New York and negotiates his safe passage to the city in exchange for the men using him while they escort him on their roadtrip.

    The leader of the group was Tank, a huge man whom Clover immediately tagged as his Daddy. He’s level-headed and he’s no fool. He knew what kind game Clover was playing but he felt protective of the kid. Tank’s alright but I don’t really go for Daddy kink.

    Boar and Pyro are a couple very much in love but sexually incompatible. Boar is a hearts and flowers kind of teddy bear while Pyro is a blue-haired punk with ink and fast bike. Together, they found Clover to be the missing link in their relationship.

    Everyone was quite smittened with their new boy. All except Drake. So of course he’s my favorite. I have huge respects for people who are not easily swayed by a pretty face and Drake was the only one who was unimpressed by their new plaything. He kept his distance. He was the only one in their group who thought they should stop spoiling Clover and teach him practical skills. Like self-defense especially with bad guys coming after him.

    Drake was the main reason I stuck around. There was something about him, something smoldering behind his frosty exterior. He was the most nuanced of all the characters and therefore the most compelling. He talked some sense into Clover and in doing so revealed deeper hurts he rarely showed his brothers. He was definitely worth winning over especially when the ice did melt bit by bit. He wouldn’t admit it, but I bet he’s Clover’s favorite too.

    I really liked how the authors made all of them stand out. It was tricky to find a nice balance between five MCs where each can shine individually and with their love interests. The authors succeeded in doing just that. The men each gave something to Clover who, in turn, gave them what was missing in their lives. It’s what made their 5-person romance work. They were like different puzzle pieces forming a cohesive whole

    An oversight by the mercs came back to bite their asses and poor Clover was captured again. Clover was thrown into the very sinister world of human menageries and most definitely not the fun kind. Will he ever see his men again?

    Unlike the other poly series where meeting a new character is just prelude to sex, the book had a solid story line that was pulled off well. Even if it was only secondary to the relationship development and group dynamics, the mystery + action-suspense part carried enough weight that added a lot of excitement to the overall plot. I liked how that twist came out of nowhere and threw me for a loop.

    Their Bounty falls somewhere between like and love. I had a great time with it but some aspects were not my cup of tea. And TBH, Drake was all I cared about although I liked the other guys just fine. Clover was the one I’m least drawn to. He tended to act like a spoiled brat. And really, for a street kid, I expected better survival skills other than offering sexual favors.

    Please do heed the warnings. The book touches upon human trafficking and other sordid crimes. There are some graphic details, enough to give color but not too much to completely gross the reader out. It’s dark but not so much. Probably medium gray on the blackness scale. Some things were somewhat dub-con. Most of the more disturbing aspects were off-page or hinted at.

    The song for this book is Sweet Surrender, originally by Sarah Maclachlan. It’s a lazy choice because I have a hard time looking for a song about poly romances. The lyrics kinda fits the way Clover left his miserable life behind and surrendered himself to four dominant people. Turned out to be a pretty sweet deal.

    Not outright recommending. I know how most people feel about poly so I say read this if you’re feeling adventurous.


    Sharing these face claims from Ele, a GR reviewer because they’re perfect:

    L to R: Drake, Tank, Clover, Boar, Pyro

    Posts on K.A. Merikan here.

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Sweet Surrender
    Artist: Thierry Amiel
    Album: Où Vont Les Histoires ?

    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to get your copy of Four Mercenaries. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

  • quote,  Uncategorized

    It doesn’t mean much
    It doesn’t mean anything at all
    The life I’ve left behind me
    Is a cold room

    I’ve crossed the last line
    From where I can’t return
    Where every step I took in faith
    Betrayed me
    And led me from my home

    Sweet surrender
    Is all that I have to give

    You take me in
    No questions asked
    You strip away the ugliness
    That surrounds me

    Are you an angel
    Am I already that gone
    I only hope that I won’t disappoint you
    When I’m down here on my knees

    Sweet surrender
    Is all that I have to give (who are you?)

    Sweet surrender
    Is all that I have to give

    And I don’t understand
    By the touch of your hand
    I would be the one to fall
    I miss the little things
    I miss everything about you

    It doesn’t mean much
    It doesn’t mean anything at all
    The life I’ve left behind me
    Is a cold room

    Sweet surrender
    Is all that I have to give (who are you?)

    Sweet surrender
    Is all that I have to give