Shokuinshitsu no Himegoto – Ueda Kiyo
Nishio, a stoic math teacher, doesn’t get along very well with Sakaki, the beloved gym teacher. However, after one drunken night, Nishio finds himself in Sakaki’s bed where he is suddenly kissed and confessed to…?
A Secret Of Teachers Room is an endearing opposites attract, gay for you, teacher + teacher romance between a grumpy but softy Math teacher and a handsome, uber-popular PE teacher.
I really liked that this is between two teachers since I am not a fan of teacher/student romances. It started as a one-sided enemies thing because Nishio considers Sakaki his natural enemy. The PE teacher was everything he was not. To his surprise, his so-called enemy was in love with him.
Sakaki is a great seme. Even after he was rejected because Nishio is straight, he still made friends with him. And he’s not pushy about it as is sometimes the case with these things. My favorite part was how he was always there to take care of the Math teacher, offering him advise and cheering him up when the latter had some issues with his students. And he’s so easy-going about it.
Nishio is a devoted teacher. His passion for teaching is one of the things Sakaki loves about him. He’s super strict in the classroom but is a lovable dork who cries during graduations. He’s spectacularly unaware of his own appeal. He thinks nobody likes him
I loved both MCs. I enjoyed how their opposite personalities played off with each other. The story was mostly from Nishio’s POV but we are still privy to some of Sakaki’s thoughts. I liked this style because we can see the depth of Sakaki’s feelings while still giving us some surprising twists.
The manga did a good job showcasing the slow-burn transition from co-workers to kind of friends to lovers. The art is a bit generic but fits the vibe of the story. This is a great volume to read if you’re looking for a low-angst workplace romance set outside a corporate environment.
There is also a nice little side plot about their two students. I have yet to check if they have their own spin-off. I hope they have.0
Amayadori Wa Basu-Tei De – Kano Ayumi
This whole incident started with a phone call from Ikushima’s younger siblings in a bus stop, where he had the most unfortunate luck of meeting happy-go-lucky boy, Ariie. Ikushima may look pretty, but his seemly bad and cold attitude gave him the nickname “queen”. Even though he doesn’t think he’s wrong (actually what he say seems right, justified even) but his good intention is always taken the wrong way. He blames it on his extremely serious look. Stumbling upon the queen’s soft side, Ariie used the information to his advantage and started following poor Ikushima. Will love blossom from this seemingly weird pair…?
Taking Shelter from the Rain in the Bus Stop is the main story of this volume. It has such a cute opposites attract premise between a blunt guy with a scary face and a cheery popular guy who can charm any body.
I was first drawn by the art in the cover and the special illustration inside. However, I was a bit disappointed with the manga artwork itself because the characters lacked expressions.
The story started with a promising meet cute/meet disaster where scary-looking Ikushima poured coffee over Ariie because of an incident with a crying child. Right after that, the happy-go-lucky Ariie befriended Ikushima after he discovered he was a doting big brother to 3 younger siblings. I really wished the manga went with this thread.
Unfortunately, the story got sidetracked by Ikushima’s roommate who was there to stir unnecessary trouble. There are no love triangles, more like the roommate was one of the rare persons who didn’t like Ariie and was sowing seeds of discontent between the pair. I lost interest in this part and I ended up skimming. It didn’t help that the dialogues were uninteresting and the ending was a whole lot of nothing.
Ushiromuki ni, Ai which roughly translates to pessimistic love is another chapter with an interesting premise but failed to deliver. This is about a very, very pessimistic guy who was so insecure he frequently texts his boyfriend that they should breakup because he thought he was not good enough for him.
The bright spot in this story is the boyfriend, Onitake. He is a workahohlic salesman who actually saw the good in the insecure Hinoyoshi and was always trying to reach out. I struggled to like Hinoyoshi. I understand what it’s like to be insecure but seriously, this guy is just plain annoying, with his constant need for reassurance.
This story also suffered from boring dialogue, which could be due to the translation. The ending was also blah.0
Gad Sfortunato – Basso
What is being sought after cannot be felt even on the fingertips. This is a series about the extravagant lifestyle of a tattoo artist named Gad, and the circle of people who revolve in it.
Gad Sfortunato is a difficult manga to describe. It is, on the surface, slices of life of tattoo artist, Gad and the men in his life. There seems to be barely any plot.
Most of the scenes were mundane everyday stuff, tattooing, paying the rent and so on. With these ordinary things comes the sexual encounters of Gad and his men. Majority of these were casual hookups, friends with benefits or one-night stands, illustrating the various nuances of gay relationships.
Our Gad is, apparently, quite a catch. Very promiscuous but elusive to those who want him the most. The most lasting relationship he had was with his childhood friend, Alesso, who still influenced his life to this day. Alesso appears in other manga by Basso.
The feelings we get from the various key scenes were charged but somehow still lowkey. Nobody had outbursts or grand declarations. Dialogue was minimal, many were inside thought balloons. Half the time, I had to think about the point of each chapter, especially the endings. This is not exactly saying it was pointless, more like things are so subtly played out or they alluded to something unfamiliar that I didn’t entirely get it.
This manga is part of a series of works set in Italy. Characters from other stories make appearances here and there so I had difficulty keeping track of some characters. This is best read as an companion piece to Kuma to Interi, and Amato Amaro.0
Odu-Kun no Vita Sexualis – Kashio
30 year-old Odu is feeling left out. His friends are slowly marrying off and with his tiny salary as a video store clerk, he can’t afford to go on trips with them when they can all hang out. Oh, and just to top it all off, his popular friend Araragi just found out Odu’s most embarrassing secret… Odu’s still a virgin at 30, but maybe it’s not so bad after all, because Araragi’s never been with a girl either?
Odu-kun’s Sex Life is a collection of three friends-to-lovers stories. It has a nice cover but the artwork inside is a toned down version of the character design. I’m a bit bothered when that happens because I prefer the art to be consistent
Oda-Kun no Vita Sexualis: The title story is about Oda, a naive 30-year old virgin who’s spectacularly oblivious to his friend, Araragi’s interest in him. Araragi oh so slowly took his time seducing his friend. This has a nicely done friends to lovers transition. Although the effect was diminished by the narration that explained too much of what was going on.
Himitsu no Aru Futari: The Secret of a Certain Two is a cute 2-chapter story of an otaku who discovered his popular, outgoing crush was also secretly an otaku himself. The two geeked out over their favorite manga. This story employed the old eyeglasses trick, where Narita was overlooked when he had his on. He completely transformed into an unrecognizable bishounen when he took it off. The story didn’t go all the way to boyfriends territory. It was more like Narita read the BL manga Minami liked and his imagination ran amok. He was forever seeing his friend in certain erotic positions. It ended with an almost kiss leaving us hanging.
17 Seventeen: A chapter about a boy wondering what the kisses from his childhood friend meant. Their idyllic friends with benefits situation hit a rocky patch when Yukisaki didn’t go on their school field trip causing Shino to wonder about their status. I was surprised this turned angsty. There was a teary eyed-confession and a parting. For one chapter, it packed more punch than the other two stories. I wish this was a full-length volume.0
Suki, Dakara Furetai – Noda Matsumoto
With the help of a friendly ghost, Masaki, Ono-sensei can examine his young patient’s teeth without much fuss. It seems that only Ono-sensei and children can see Masaki. He brings a calming presence, which is convenient for children at the dentist and for Ono-sensei as well. But is he really a ghost? He doesn’t remember much about his past but for some reason, he’s very attached to Ono-sensei. So much so that Masaki hangs out around the office and even walks Ono-sensei home. Once they reach the entrance to Ono-sensei’s apartment however, Masaki is asked to stay out. Ono-sensei doesn’t want Masaki to know that something else haunts him behind closed doors.
I Want to Feel You Because I Like You is a ghost love story with a twist. I normally avoid ghost stories because they usually end in tears. This one is a tearjerker as well.
Ono is a dentist who can see Masaki. Only he and children can see him. Masaki helps calm the young patients. His presence also helps Ono through some very rough patch.
The manga slowly goes from light-hearted to heavy. As the story progressed, we learn more about Ono. He suffers from recurring nightmares and has what appears to be a terminally ill lover. A touch from a someone he couldn’t see calms him when the dreams were really bad.
The story deals with grief and healing. While we witness Ono’s heartbreak, there still a feeling of light at the end of the tunnel. I had some inkling of where this was going and I’m glad I was right. There was a new beginning. Although, this has another surprise which comes with a warning that if you don’t like shota, best not read this.0
Kimi to Koi ni Ochite Nakereba – Suji
Seiji Nono, a passionate Chinese cuisine chef who works at the food manufacturing corporation Yamato, looks like a punk, but he’s actually a first-class cook. The contrast between his appearance and his cooking has earned him many fans. One day, when Nono meets the newly transferred elite, Takeru Misato, he invites him to come eat in his cafeteria, but Miasto coldly refuses him by saying he “dislikes oily Chinese food”. With such strong personalities, there’s love and arguments abound between this cool inspector and gangster chef couple!
If I Hadn’t Fallen in Love With You is a cute story about hot-tempered Chinese chef Nono who took it upon himself to feed the cold and difficult Audit Department manager Misato upon learning the guy barely eats.
Nono’s fuse might be short but he is beloved by all. In contrast, not a lot of people liked the workaholic Misato.
The overall tone of the manga was humorous. It’s low-angst and slow-burn. It tackles body image and eating disorder. Misato has trauma with food. He was a pudgy child and was often bullied. Nono was determined to help him get over it by cooking for him.
As is usually the case, a deeper connection that goes way back twenty years was revealed. There was also a moment where we are teased with a love triangle but turned out differently. All their friends were rooting for them. Even the big boss was low-key helping them stay together.
They look pretty in the cover but it doesn’t really match how the characters were drawn in the manga itself. The art looked rougher and less polished but still goes well with the personalities of cast, especially Nono.0
Restart – Harada
A one shot about two fuck buddies and their complicated relationship.
Restart is a one-shot by Harada whose style I’m getting more familiar with. Like One Room Angel, this features MCs who are typically outside society.
Miki and his unnamed lover started off as a “make-believe relationship” or as Miki puts it “fashion relationship“. Then he dashes off to Thailand with the intent to become a woman because he wanted to bear children. He gets hit by a tuk-tuk and returns home with a faulty memory.
His lover started thinking deeply about their relationship when Miki got excited about Japan’s new same-sex partnership law. It was sweet how Miki’s lover takes care of him. He tries to maintain the carefree nature of their relationship and I love that he lets Miki be himself.
This is a deeply nuanced psychological story about homosexual relationships and being different. The art almost has an unfinished look to it. The characters are dressed with edgy fashion, tattoos and piercings, reflecting their status as outsiders. The two are seen holding hands in public and we see the reactions from other people.
The mangaka’s stories usually has shades of angst, sadness and bittersweet endings. This one is no different but has a lighter, more hopeful feel to it because the two lovers were happy and still together (and alive) till the end.0
Fukou-kun wa Kiss Suru Shika Nai! – Gamoko Tsuyu
College student Fukuhara Kouta has bad luck that causes problems everywhere he goes. One day, Shinomiya, a student with super good luck, helps him out. Now, in order to divide the luck between them, they need to be with each other all the time.
Fukou-kun Can Do Nothing But Kiss is a humorous story about a spectacularly unlucky guy trying to neutralize his bad luck by going out with his school mate known for perpetual good luck.
Fukou puts up a friendly, all-around nice guy face to hide the fact that he always suffers some misfortune everyday. Later, the claws come out. He is actually a potty mouthed, hot-tempered dude with a mean right hook. Strangely enough, he was more likable like that.
Shinomiya is the genuine all-around nice guy who loves making people happy. He frequently shares winning lottery tickets to friends but some unscrupulous people secretly used him and resell the tickets.
The two started going out. At first Fukou was just using Shinomiya but he soon noticed how Shinomiya always do things to make him happy. Feelings, confusing, conflicting feelings ensued.
I had high hopes for this. The manga had a great premise but weak execution. The humor was vaguely amusing but not the laugh out loud variety. The romance also needed a little oomph. The connection of the two MCs is there but missing a lowkey fluffy scene or two to show the depth of feelings. The artwork is a bit generic but it looked good overall, especially the characters.0
Ginza Neon Paradise – Unohana
In 1940’s Japan during the war, long-time friends Aoi and Takahiko part ways as Takahiko is enlisted. For years, Aoi stayed in their hometown with the looming worry that his friend might not come back. He never received word from his friend and so he feared the worst. Now, Takahiko shows up all of a sudden and Aoi is not sure to what to make of this. Anger, relief, paid, all of these emotions overwhelm Aoi as he was certain his friend was gone because he never received a letter or any indication he was alive. Can the two reunite as friends or are they long past the point of friendship?
Ginza Neon Paradise is a historical, childhood friends to lovers drama set in post-war Japan with flashbacks to the war time period.
Aoi and Takahiko couldn’t be more different from each other. One was a serious bookworm who later became an interpreter for the American army, the other was a carefree womanizer who was disinherited by his grandfather.
The two were separated when Takahiko was drafted. After 3 years of radio silence, the solder finally showed his face and was now an actor.
I called Takahiko carefree but he’s really a callous good-for-nothing who trampled all over his friend. He lives with Aoi and frequently comes home smelling of booze and women’s perfume. He put Aoi through a wringer. The man was one of my least liked seme.
I preferred the kind-hearted American Lieutenant Walter, Aoi’s boss, to the deadbeat Takahiko but alas, Aoi’s heart was forever loyal to his friend. Takahiko did redeem himself at the end. But barely. There was even a ridiculous fight because he was jealous about Lt. Walter’s attention towards Aoi. Tsk! What an ass.
Unlikable love interests aside, this manga did a great job rendering a slow-burn, angsty, passionate love story amidst the backdrop of post-war Ginza. There were some liberties taken to eliminate homophobia but it retained most of the historical elements such as the bomb wreckage, poverty, shy interactions with the Americans, the glittering clubs, etc. My favorite part here was them walking around the city in the middle of the night just feeling the vibe. I always wanted to do that
All in all, this a sepia-tinted homage to a district that never lost its luster.0
One Room Angel – Harada
When one door shuts, another opens.
There are a lot of things that Kouki doesn’t have – no hobbies, no friends, no lover, no stable job, and no will to live. So when a random tussle with some kids gets him stabbed, he thinks maybe this is finally his ticket out of this crappy life. But just as he’s about to pass out he sees a beautiful “angel”… How is Kouki supposed to cope when less than a month later, he’s mysteriously healed, has astronomical bills to pay, and suddenly has the same beautiful angel as his amnesiac roommate?
This is the kind of manga where you know it would end bittersweetly once the realizations set in to twist the story. I never saw them coming.
One Room Angel is the story of down-on-his-luck, perpetually penniless, part-timer Kouki who lives in a one room studio apartment. He has a scary face, fabulously messy hair (love his hair!) and a prison record that made it hard for him to land a decent job.
One day, Kouki was stabbed and as he lay dying, he saw an angel descending from the sky. Later on, he saw the same angel appear in his room. Thinking this is the luckiest he could ever get, he took the angel in and tried his best to make him comfortable.
The angel turned out to be blunt and bratty but I love that he never failed to point out that Kouki is a good person. Especially during moments when the man was being too hard on himself. Despite his intimidating appearance, Kouki struggled with his self-esteem. He is also dealing with guilt about his past and how his brother was badly injured and ended up as a yakuza because of him.
Another unconventional character here was Arisa, Kouki’s mother. She is impossibly youthful and very beautiful but has the personality of a delinquent. She runs a bar. She’s tough but she cares. She sometimes sends Kouki money when he’s down to his last penny.
This is one of the purest, gentlest, slow-burn love story out there. I don’t even think of it as romance. It is really about two disparate individuals who shared small kindnesses, developed a strong connection and saw the good other people overlooked. It also a deeply nuanced story about one man’s eye-opening journey to find things worth living for.
Yes, this might end in tears but luckily, we are gifted with chapter 8.0