• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Chiba Kyokan wa Nabikanai

    Chiba Kyokan wa Nabikanai – Kingyobachi Deme

    Driving School Love Story of a Complicated Shoujo Manga Artist and a Popular Instructor Who’s Timid in Love!

    In Love

    Driving school instructors are popular. They really are!

    Chiba is the most popular instructor among female students for his soft manner, careful guidance, and sweet looks. However, he brushes off his popularity with his students as “child play” and doesn’t take it seriously at all. His new student is a mysterious man named Yaotome, who is the talk of the school under the nickname “The Prince in a Suit”. He looks and acts just like his nickname, but when he meets Chiba, the instructor in charge, for some reason he acts suspiciously even though it’s their first time meeting…?

    A pure shoujo manga artist with a complicated unrequited love! × A popular instructor who has made up his mind not to fall in love anymore

    A frustratingly fresh love story of adults in a driving school.

    Moe unlocked!

    Instructor Chiba Isn’t Flattered is my introduction to ‘gap moe’, a moe for when the personality is unexpectedly different from the person’s appearance.

    Chiba is very attractive and good at his job as a driving instructor, thus very popular among female students. To avoid complications, he’s usually assigned to teach male students.

    One day, a striking young man in a suit oozing ‘prince’ aura came in and was assigned to Chiba. To his surprise, Yaotome was adorably shy and nervous, and on the first meeting, mistook him for someone named ‘Maki-chan’.

    I always loved the past connection trope. Yaotome is a shoujo mangaka whose MC is based on Chiba, whom he met while working as a convenience store clerk. Chiba was blissfully unaware of how huge his impact was on the then-unrecognizable Yaotome. So how heart-stopping it is to come face to face once again with the person who inspired your character out of the blue!

    This is a light-hearted slice-of-life, friends-to-lovers story with a lovable couple and a low-conflict plot. This manga’s charms lie in how wonderfully Chiba inspired and supported Yaotome and in Yaotome’s pure-hearted adoration of his instructor.

    They’re such an unexpected pairing! And they’re too cute, OMG!!!

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Bokura no Scramblues

    Bokura no Scramblues – Mame March

    Haru Kurosaki once heard a stranger’s song in high school that made him decide to finally follow his passions. Now, he’s a graphic designer who’s recently been put in charge of designing a CD jacket for the prodigy musical artist Eddie Astley. On the outside, Eddie is intimidating and aloof — but when Haru spots him at a rock concert, he realizes how wrong that assumption is. As he sees beyond Eddie’s surly exterior and catches a glimpse of the man beneath the affectation, Haru begins to think about the message and emotions that Eddie tries to convey through his music. And in trying to get to know more about Eddie for his design project, he discovers that music always has a way of transporting you to a vital moment from the past.

    The mangaka must have been rickrolled once, hehe.

    Our Scramblues is a tale of talent, inspiration, and the art of capturing an artist’s soul. Haru, a graphic designer and hardcore music lover, jumped at the chance to design the CD artwork of famous music prodigy Eddie Astley.

    Eddie is from Britain but moved to Japan at a young age. He’s fluent in Japanese. The man is also notoriously temperamental. He rejected Haru’s initial drafts, so now the graphic designer is struggling to come up with a design worthy of the prodigy’s fabulous songs.

    Haru decided to spend more time with Eddie to see what made him tick and hoped to hell he could capture that in his design.

    While the majority of the plot focuses on the humorous interactions of the two MCs, part of it is filled with nostalgia mixed with grief at the loss of Eddie’s grandfather, also a talented musician who constantly encouraged him as a child. Eddie longs to capture those childhood songs he composed with him.

    Eddie was an asshole but thawed little by little because of Haru’s sunshine-y charm. He initially tried to get under Haru’s skin by hitting on the supposedly straight man, but oooh, how the tables turned!

    Haru’s guileless adoration and solid belief in Eddie’s talent, and just being a creature of pure happy dog energy crumbled Eddie’s walls and laid him bare. Add to that the childhood connection drama that initially broke hearts, but trust the eternal optimist in Haru to turn that into a powerful confession scene!

    I liked the artwork, but I’m not a fan of how the mangaka drew the facial expressions. The ugly-cry faces and other intense expressions of the characters looked unattractive. But the characters look great in normal situations. Eddie’s appearance is yum!

    As somebody obsessed with rock music all their life, I loved this behind the scenes glimpsed of an album’s creation. Though I was underwhelmed with Haru’s final design, overall, this manga is a wonderful ode to artists who pour heart and soul into their creations.

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Itadakimasu wa Koi no Aji

    Itadakimasu wa Koi no Aji – Matsumoto Ayaka

    A high school boy’s lunchbox is filled with excitement! A BL about young love between a picky eater and a cooking fanatic!

    Mizuno, a cooking fanatic, is so preoccupied about what other people eat thate even keeps a close eye on his classmates’ lunches. He’s particularly taken aback by the picky eater, Hashimoto, and worries that someday he’ll get sick, and after a certain chain of events,
    Mizuno gets stuck with making Hashimoto’s lunches for him! At first, Mizuno isn’t crazy about the idea, but as he watches Hashimoto’s face as he eats his perfectly balanced and nutritious packed lunches with gusto, Mizuno starts to enjoy his lunch time as well…

    Roughly translating to Itadakimasu, the Taste of Love, this is a cute shout-out to good nutrition and home-cooked meals.

    Mizuno dreams of becoming a nutritionist and is quite obsessed with cooking and the benefits of healthy food. Upon learning his classmate Hashimoto, a picky eater, is not eating well due to his parents not being home all the time, he volunteers to cook for him.

    This lil grumpy/sunshine romance proved yet again the adage of winning a man’s heart through his stomach in the most adorable way possible. This one-shot also has kawaii character designs, lovingly detailed food drawings, and floofy moments that, alas, ended too quickly.

    I’m begging for more servings of fluff, food, and feels!

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Itooshiki Hibi

    Itooshiki Hibi – Sono.N

    A 50sX60s BL. We met when we were 18 and 28, from that time… until now, I’ve always loved you.

    “I’ll wait no matter how long, even 10 years or 20 years. Even when we’ve become old men.”

    Following the life path of two people from different generations – This is a tender life story. Akihiko, an employee in his 50s and Makoto, who’s 10 years older than him, are lovers, sons and family. From when we meet as tutor and pupil, things that have changed, and things that are unchanged…

    Old men yaoi with plenty of old men sex? The ultimate relationship goals!

    Our Lovely Days is one of the most heartwarming portraits of a happy couple’s lifetime of love and togetherness. The story opens with the two men in cozy domesticity. Makoto is in his 60s, already retired, and bored puttering inside the house alone. Akihiko is in his 50s, already keen to retire and putt around the house with Makoto, but still has 10 years to go.

    The two are still as lovey-dovey as they were young, still active in bed, though with their age, admittedly need magic pills to get going. And boy, do they keep going, even well into their 70s and 80s.

    The chapters flash back to the decades they were together. They first met when Akihiko was a senior high schooler struggling with his entrance exams, and Makoto, then 28 became his tutor. Soon feelings developed, Makoto as the adult, tried to step back but Akihiko was determined, using his crush as the motivation to ace his exams.

    The succeeding chapters were about their lives as working adults, later becoming a family, up until the inevitable ending that one makes peace with. This is a couple who are not only husbands but also each other’s best friends. They communicate their feelings openly, talk about each other’s hobbies, and affectionately notice how the other has changed throughout the years.

    One interesting thing in Japan where same-sex marriage is not allowed, is that gay couples use adoption as a way to become legally recognized as a family. In this case, Makoto adopted Akihiko as his “son” and with that, they were essentially husbands. Akihiko takes Makoto’s last name.

    In the mangaka’s note, they said they set out to write a straightforward happy ending. It is the simplest plot there is yet rarely written. We do love our plot twists, angst, and conflicts. But here the mangaka created the most basic story and they went HARD! Read this and I dare you not to bawl!

    It’s one of the most emotional, uplifting manga I’ve read!

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Sugar Dog Life

    Sugar Dog Life – Yoriko

    Isumi Sakuraba, a university student with a short stature and baby-faced complex, is mistaken for a minor and is guided home by police officer Amasawa. Although he was a real student who showed his student ID, he later met Amasawa again at a convenience store where he worked part-time. Amasawa, who works at a police box nearby, became a regular customer and asked Isumi for a recommended dinner every time they met. Though Isumi felt awkward, he was worried about Amasawa’s eating habits, uttered, “Why don’t I make food for you?”

    Hands down, the cutest gremlin uke!

    Sugar Dog Life is a grumpy/sunshine romance between a smol, fangy university student and the friendly neighborhood police officer. Isumi and Amasawa meet when Isumi is walking alone in the dark streets, looking like a young kid, and the officer tries to escort him home.

    Isumi belongs to the cooking club and works part-time at the convenience store. Upon learning Amasawa always eats convenience store food, he volunteers to cook for the officer.

    I loved the character designs! Isumi’s grumpy face is super adorbs, and being chibi size and feisty, he’s the floofiest thing I’ve ever seen!!! I loved how Amasawa, with his chill, sunshiney vibe, and tall physique, is a wonderful foil to Izumi’s character.

    The romance was surprisingly laidback. The two didn’t dive headfirst into a relationship. They took a step back and waited to see how they truly felt. Nobody had a hissy fit. It was all very level-headed and mature. Even our grumpy boy Isumi, who reminds Amasawa he’s an adult too.

    It made the manga’s pacing off for a bit but the delayed gratification led to a satisfying conclusion. The romance itself is pretty standard, but the play of opposites, the height difference, the contrasting personalities, and even the age gap, were deployed to maximum adorableness, elevating the entire story to another level.

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Kon-kon Ton-ton

    Kon-kon Ton-ton – Satou Chidori

    A manga where nothing happens because neither characters can give into the other.

    Kon-kon Ton-ton is like a one-shot Seinfeld episode where two dorks, so obviously into each other, try to start something each chance they get but go nowhere. The two have been living together for years. Awkward confessions have been made, awkward hand-holding has been done, and awkward attempts have been tried.

    It’s funny and silly and hella cute, the way these two dorks were mutually pining so hard and know that they both like each very much. But just too proud to bottom.

    I say, switch.

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  • Uncategorized

    MANGA: Tokyo Hikari Auction

    Tokyo Hikari Auction – Tokiha Kanenari

    In the district of desire, Tokyo, there is an auction hall that once shone bright, bringing in huge amounts of money with black market dealings. Now, after being hit by the recession, it’s set to fade away without a hint of its former glory. At that run-down black market auction hall, a gambler, Sengoku, who’s covered in debt is being sold. Not wanting to be left with leftover stock, the auction master, Tsubame, decided to buy him for two yen only to free him afterwards. Because of that, Sengoku took an interest in his new owner, and even offered some “special services…?!”

    The cover intrigued me to no end. Here you have a fully-clothed eye-patch guy I would typically peg as a dominant villain type, being manhandled by a shirtless, muscled guy in chains. With the title Tokyo Hikari Auction and the scattered money, plus the gavel in the eye-patch guy’s hands, we could assume someone, the guy in chains most likely, was sold.

    So, how did they end up like this?

    This humorous, psychological tale of a happy slave and his reluctant master is one of loneliness, aimlessness in life, and gambling addiction told with the infectious good cheer of Sengoku. This man signed himself up to be sold to a slave auction and waited for his fate to be decided with such genki spirit you’d think he’s the one offered slaves at his beck and call.

    Scarred and dour auction master Tsubame was irritated and annoyed by the cavalier attitude and how Sengoku was starting to get under his skin. A series of events led Tsubame to free the other man, who then promptly offered himself to be Tsubame’s slave.

    It was the start of a deceptively toxic relationship where Tsubame tried devious tactics to get rid of the devoted Sengoku, only for them to backfire, and he ended up with warm fuzzies. My favorite part is watching Tsubame feeling his feels despite trying really, really hard not to feel them.

    Because who wouldn’t when our boy Sengoku is always eager to please and hellbent on doting on the sad solitary Tsubame who put his life on the line for an aimless stranger like Sengoku twice? Our boy is holding on to his man tightly and employing his nifty tricks to thwart smiley psycho slave masters from stealing Tsubame away.

    The smut is plenty and hella sizzling to complement the endearing, slow-burn romance. Overall, deep and passionate and yeah, maybe a little fucked up.

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    MANGA: Issho ni Itadakimasu

    Issho ni Itadakimasu – Mike Nako

    Ryo runs a small bento shop in the shopping district. One day, a hungry young man went down at the storefront and collapsed from hunger. His name is Kotaro, a fledgling novelist who speaks inaudibly quietly with unkempt glasses on his unkempt head. It seems that Kotaro couldn’t write his debut novel, and has been running away from his responsibilities. Up to the point that he can’t get a normal job to pay bills and his electricity, gas and water were cut-off. “Ryo-san’s bento tastes like a family.” He grew up in an orphanage and was happy to eat while saying that he had never had a meal with his family.

    I was looking at the cover and had to go grab a bite because it made me hungry. That soy tofu is a fave of mine.

    Let’s Eat Together is a mellow story of comfort food and following your dreams.

    It started when Ryo, struggling to keep his father’s bento shop open, found a stranger passed out from hunger. He promptly housed and fed the man and asked about his circumstances.

    Kotaro’s tale of woe was a series of unfortunate events the likes of which are only found in soap operas. Starting with his attempts to write a novel that went nowhere…

    The two agreed to cohabitate. Kotaro helped with the chores, and Ryo fed and cheered on Kotaro while the aspiring novelist tried to finish his work. Kotaro then used his wordsmith skills to help the bento shop get a much-needed boost.

    Of course, they ate scrumptious meals I wished I could snatch off the page.

    It was almost a dream-like idyll. The only fly in the rice bowl is the jumping-the-gun scene that created unnecessary conflict.

    Still, this has such a chill vibe full of cozy, domestic scenes and two men caring and supporting each other selflessly. Savor this comfort food to the soul!

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Matte, Suki.

    Matte, Suki. – Omayu

    “Because when we’re together, you make me feel like the most loved person in the world.”

    Haruto, a hairdresser, is dating Aoi Kuga, an actor who is rapidly gaining popularity.
    Aoi, being the doting lover he is, comes to see Haruto even if he only has 5 minutes of free time. Haruto likewise spoils him everyday with mutual love.
    When Aoi receives an offer to star in a movie, Haruto is also assigned to the same site as a hair and makeup artist…
    Can they keep their love from being found out!?
    Wait, I love you. A righteous love that will endure!

    Oooh, an established couple, everyone!!!!

    Very rare it is to get an established couple in an original story and not a sequel. And gorgeous character designs too!

    Wait, I Love You is the sweetest, most wholesome relationship I’ve seen for a while. Hairstylist Haruto is quietly supporting his boyfriend, up and coming actor, Aoi, because they had to keep their relationship a secret. It might negatively affect Aoi’s rising popularity.

    Haruto was the one who helped Aoi get his big break after the hairstylist gave the then-college student a free make-over. Aoi knows a treasure when he sees one and promptly grabs the talented hairstylist. With each one in high demand in their respective careers, they barely saw each other. Still, Aoi is holding tight to his adorable boyfriend, always making time out of his busy schedule to see him. 

    After all these years, Aoi and Haruto are still madly in love and can’t get enough of each other. They had a chance to work together in a movie shoot and the dorks had to force themselves not to make heart eyes at each other. These two are giving me life!!!

    While the boyfriends remain a solid unit, most of the conflict, barely there as it is, comes from the effort of keeping it on the down low and pot stirring by Aoi’s co-star, a former child actor and current It Boy.

    I loved how the title captures the spirit of the story. Hastily uttered words of affection amidst crazy busy work schedules of men who know how to keep their careers safe and their boyfriends close. Goals!

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    MANGA: Shikabane to Hanayome

    Shikabane to Hanayome – Akagawa Sagan

    They were the only two brothers in a sprawling family mansion. At the end of a gruesome battle for succession, the younger brother, now head of the family, held a solemn wedding. The bride’s face remained hidden from everyone behind a thick veil, and she became rumored as “the faceless wife.” But in the bridal chamber on their wedding night, the face revealed is that of his elder brother, who was supposed to be dead.

    From the mangaka who brought us the bitterest bittersweet space-age romance, Hate no Kouya de Vacances WoAkagawa Sagan presents another deeply angsty and hella thrilling psychological forbidden romance of the brotherly kind. 

    Content warnings: incest, violence, zombie sex

    The Corpse and the Bride is a tragic tale of a family torn apart when two half-brothers are pitted against each other by a father who prefers his beloved mistress’s son, the younger brother Jin, and a mother protecting her legitimate son, Lee, who should have been the rightful heir.

    Unknown to the parental units, the two brothers bonded and became each other’s close confidant. When it was time for them to marry, they put off choosing a bride for as long as they can. Until one day, the younger brother Jin is set to marry a woman. On the day of the wedding, a tragedy occurs that wipes out the opposing faction, including Lee, and leaves the bride with hideous scars. 

    Then, a year later, Jin and his mysterious bride, a veil covering her face, were finally married. The lady of the house never showed her face, nor did she speak.

    I had my heart in my throat the entire time I read this. The setting is China, and it is a horror story involving necromancy and Chinese zombies. I had no clue where the story was going. I would have sunk into a pit of despair at some intense scenes had I not cheated and read reviews looking for clues that this ends, if not happily, would at least not reduce me into a bawling mess.

    At its core, it is about love between two brothers, a possessive, obsessive love that defies even death. Many tried to keep them apart. They were forbidden to interact since they should be enemies. Then, they were forced to marry other people, only to be betrayed by an unlikely character.

    The manga started with mystery, and just as we were getting a clearer picture, it exploded into kick-in-the-gut moments. Then, as if to make up for all the drama, the mood gradually lightened, even became humorous, and I breathed a sigh of relief. If the wacky shaman is making jokes, things are definitely looking up for Jin and Lee.  

    Overall, dark, passionate, and fucked up yet so…right?


    Strictly FICTIONAL brotherly love only.

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