• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: One Week Family

    One Week Family – Yatsuhashi

    “I’ll never forget those seven days for the rest of my life.”

    Young actor, Fujimaru Ren’s one flaw is that he is “not good with children.” So in order to overcome this particular weakness, his manager proposes that he spend a week living with his co-star and child actor, Yuu. On their first day of living together, Yuu’s manager, Kei, shows up at his door and it’s none other than the former child actor that inspired Ren to start acting?!
    A lot of things can change for a person in one short week of living together.

    One Week Family takes us to the fleeting and often tragic world of child actors. This manga is a lighter yet still nuanced look at that world.

    Ren is a young actor who claims he is hopeless at dealing with children, so his manager set him up to live with his future co-actor, the child prodigy, Yuu, for seven days. To Ren’s surprise, Yuu’s manager was none other than his idol, the former child acting prodigy, Kei. He was completely starstruck, then later in the story, he realized he was in love with the former actor. But why did Kei suddenly left acting all those years ago?

    First of all, I was so glad this is not a love triangle between the child and the two adults as some manga tend to go down that route. I really don’t like that, so I’m happy Yuu’s admiration towards Kei was more of a child looking up to his role model.

    Also, I loved the artwork. It’s so nice to look at. It conveys a wholesome, calming atmosphere that resonates strongly with the story’s vide. Also, the characters are so attractive, and Yuu look so cute. Sometimes in BL manga, female characters are not drawn as carefully. Some don’t even have faces. So bonus points for not drawing the female characters like an afterthought.

    The romance is tender and sweet, evolving at a languid pace. It’s quite adorable and touching. The childhood connection trope plays a role here. This is one of my favorites and I love how it is used here. It always gives me a pang when I think of the what-ifs, what-could-have-beens, and fate bringing two people together once again, like Ren and Kei.

    The story is full of heartwarming scenes. Aside from the MCs, another major thread here is Yuu and his relationship with his super busy C.E.O. mom. I felt sorry for the kid. He’s only five years old, but he’s working harder than many adults. His talk with his mom was super moving.

    Overall, this manga is a feel-good, almost angst-free story about family, the showbiz industry, and building connections. I loved the cover! It perfectly captures everything in the story.

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    MANGA: My Boyfriend The Rabbit

    My Boyfriend The Rabbit – Shouoto Aya

    After his pet rabbit dies, Hiro becomes friends with a classmate who resembles his former pet.

    My Boyfriend The Rabbit is a silly little one-shot of two boys who each thought the other look like a rabbit. The shorter boy, Hiro, just lost his pet rabbit. The taller one, Ren, is a popular boy in school with a pretty face and a cold personality. They became friends when Hiro witnessed Ren breaking up with his girlfriend.

    This is told from Hiro’s naive POV. He sees Ren being surrounded by girls and not happy with it so he jumps to the rescue. The two started hanging out together. Ren complains to Hiro about having to stay up all night writing rejection letters to all the girls who sent him love letters. Then he drops the bomb that there was somebody he likes.

    I would have loved Ren’s POV because he was so generic. Getting inside his head would have revealed more of his personality.

    The humor comes mostly from Hiro’s thoughts and reactions. He drove himself crazy thinking who is it that Ren likes and why does he care. This is an older manga, around 2000s, so there are no mentions of being gay. It’s mostly confused pining and slow realization of feelings. It’s cute but not that memorable.

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    MANGA: Urahara Megane-sama no Ounou

    Urahara Megane-sama no Ounou – Honjou Rie

    Yutaka is a designer who does remote work and hates the sun. In fact, the only sunshine he needs in his life is his old childhood friend, Akira, a shop clerk at a glasses shop with an ultra positive spirit. If only Akira knew how much Yutaka yearned for him… But what would that do? Akira is straight… A love story between a straight sweetheart and a successful designer who doesn’t know how to open his heart!

    The title roughly translates to The Trouble of Urahara Glasses-sama. The official English title is Reframing. It is a story about a change in the way you see something.

    This is a childhood friends-to-lovers story between a grumpy designer, Yutaka, and an upbeat eyeglasses sales clerk, Akira, who was completely oblivious to Yutaka’s deeper feelings for him. That is until he started feeling more than friendly feels to towards his grumpy friend.

    We first see Yutaka’s perspective, bravely enduring his friend coming over to his apartment to bring him food and sleeping over in the same futon. He had practically resigned himself to a life of singlehood because no one could compare to Akira. I feel for the guy. Especially with his best friend blithely invading his personal space.

    Then, the perspective gradually to Akira’s. He saw another man coming out of Yutaka’s apartment and learned something new about his friend despite being together for most of their lives. This realization caused him to rethink how he felt back in their high school days.

    If you’re into megane-moe, you’ll love the moe-ness of this manga. You get, not only one, but both MCs wearing eyeglasses, not to mention Akira also working for an eyeglasses shop.

    There is a lifetime of pining happening here but it’s not heavy on the angst. The humor is low-key too, enough to amuse but nothing I would really call hilarious. This is an easy manga to read. There are no wordy dialogues but all the feels hit you where it matters most.

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    MANGA: Tsuranaru Stella

    Tsuranaru Stella – Takano Hitomi

    Hitomi Takano, the artist behind My Boy, explores love through this collection of BL one-shots.

    MILK”: Tomohiro and Shigeru are friends… with extra benefits. When Shigeru realizes he might have feelings for Tomohiro, their friendship seems to be on the brink of ruin.

    The Farther You Run, the Closer You Get”: After ten years apart, Keiki runs into Mutsu, his best friend in middle school. Though their reunion seems happy on the surface, Keiki discovers Mutsu’s memory of a secret still haunts both of them…

    Shining Stars In Line is a collection of one-shots. There are several stories, but I only read the first two. Both stories are steamy and dramatic. They both feature friends in complicated relationships.

    MILK is a play on the theme of “no use crying over spilled milk.” It talks about savoring the moment while we still have it before it’s completely lost forever.

    It reflects the relationship of two friends/fuck buddies, Shigeru and Tomohiro. In the middle of one of their trysts, Shigeru was hit by the realization he was gay. A friend later suggests he try going out with Tomohiro since Shigeru’s recently dumped girlfriend doesn’t do it for him anymore. When he broached the subject with Tomohiro, he was hit by another bombshell. Surprisingly, he was rejected.

    These two dorks needed to sort themselves out. A great thing about them is that they talk, even if these are painfully awkward conversations about their relationship. This is not a fluffy romance. It had a gritty rawness to it that brings to mind sweaty, clumsy fumblings. The characters weren’t drawn as pretty as the cover. They look like ordinary young men which goes with the story’s vibe.

    The Farther You Run, The Closer You Get is a story of the unexpected meeting of two former best friends. 

    Keiki was surprised to learn his middle school friend, Mutsu, was now working in the sex industry. Keiki dropped out of school and had watched Mutsu in his school uniform from a distance. Before that, the two had a sleepover, and Keiki had an unexpected reaction to his friend. Since then, he had kept away.

    This was even more dramatic than the first story. There are some psychological aspects to it as well. You got to feel it for Mutsu. I did expect he will seduce his friend, and you’d think he was a scheming bastard. Then BAM! The twist at the end was heartbreaking! Fortunately, it hinted at a more optimistic future. I really, really hoped it ended happily.

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    MANGA: Perai Sekai

    Perai Sekai – Hal

    A freshman in high school wakes up early, excited for another “tryst” with his favorite classmate. Unfortunately for him, daydreaming in the shower may turn out to be the best part of his day. His sister destroys his uniform, and his parents stopped sending him money. He even discovers that his “boyfriend” has been seeing another girl on the side this whole time. When everything seems to be at rock bottom already, the last straw breaks…

    Phony World is a psychological drama about an unnamed high freshman’s life that spectacularly fell apart.` It was the kind of rock bottom life, full of misery, lies, and despair that the only way to keep moving was to fake it. At his lowest, he smiles his most brilliant smile.

    He lives with his equally disturbed hikikomori sister. Her presence is felt as the aftermath of the damage that she caused his belongings. Later, she makes an appearance after a particularly vicious attack. That’s when he had enough and threw her out in the snow in her sleep clothes. We could pretty much guess her fate.

    His relationship with a schoolmate was a hush-hush affair. He is very aware that is built on deceit and that he is a dirty secret. It was sadly the only time he felt wanted.

    The artwork and dialogue had a chaotic edge to it, reflecting the chaos of the boy’s thoughts and his life in general. The boy was drawn with a pretty face and too-long hair that made him attractive while conveying an air of neglect.

    The manga opens with the boy appearing to talk to someone. Given the title, I thought this would be a story of hallucinations. But no, all that awful stuff is real. This is not romance. I had no illusions it would end in any other way that it did. It was that miserable.

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    MANGA: Komiyama-san Chi no Dekiai Jijyou

    Komiyama-san Chi no Dekiai Jijyou – Kodaka Teruyo

    Aoi Komiyama enjoys his sweet time with his beloved partner, Riku Komiyama! One day, Aoi overhears a female co-worker talking about a man who caught his girlfriend having an affair with the delivery guy on a pet camera. Could his cute little Riku be up to the same thing?

    Komiyama-san’s Doting Situation is that rare rom-com one-shot of an established couple. 

    Salaryman Aoi and his househusband Riku are happy and madly in love. One day, upon overhearing rumors of a man catching his girlfriend cheating via listening bugs, Aoi got it into his head to buy some. Not because he thinks Riku would cheat, but because the dork wants to make sure his beloved husband is safe. Riku is too cute and precious!

    This is equal parts fluffy, steamy, adorable, and hilarious! Despite all his good intentions, things turned out differently from what Aoi expected. One time, he thought he heard Riku in distress only for things to turn XXX-rated really quick.

    I love reading about established couples who are still very much into each other. It’s all too common for stories to end with the wedding. So it’s always a treat to see what comes after the happy ever after.

    More stories like this please!

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    MANGA: Cut-Over Criteria

    Cut-Over Criteria – Omugi Koala

    I haven’t heard that such a large-scale update is available at the age of 30, God.

    To Seto, a system engineer who is feared and relied on by the company because of his ability, a new graduate’s subordinate, Jin-kun, came! Jin-kun can work, but he doesn’t know what he’s thinking. It was Seto who felt the glance at random from such Jin-kun!?

    Cut-over is the transition of a company’s old telecommunications system to a new one. A very apt title for the upheaval of one system engineer’s sedate life by a very determined subordinate.

    Cut-over Criteria is about Seto, all work, rarely plays. He is the head of the software development department. Jin is the new hire, a coding genius who fell in love at first sight with his boss. The young man had no hesitations whatsoever in letting his feelings be known to the older man. And thus, Seto found himself a boyfriend before he even knew what hit him.

    These people are hardcore coding geeks. Majority of the chapters were told in Seto’s POV and he thinks of his life in terms of software development. Even as he talks about his relationship anxieties with another co-worker, he talks in terms of upgrades and bugs.

    I loved how the manga incorporated the coding theme in the story. It brings the reader effortlessly into the world of system engineers while still making it understandable to the average joe. At the same time, it paints a clear picture of how Seto’s and Jin’s personal lives, as well as their relationship, are closely intertwined with their work.

    Jin’s character could have easily been unlikable. While I admired his honesty and directness, the guy practically bulldozed his way into Seto’s life. The mangaka deftly created a balance between his pushiness and his better qualities, making it so that his obsession with Seto still comes across as devotion and adoration. It helps that he was sometimes drawn as a cat. It was pretty cute!

    One of the things I enjoyed the most was how the relationship developed. At first, I was kind of meh with Jin being pushy. But as the story progressed, he gradually won me over. Seto’s bisexual awakening may have gone through some dub-con moments but Jin is still considerate with his adored boyfriend in his own weird way.

    Overall, this manga is fluffy and super adorbs. Plus the artwork is fabulous! I didn’t think I would like it but I found myself loving the story and the two dorks!

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    MANGA: Iimon Warumon

    Iimon Warumon – Yamada Papiko

    Narasaki Naoto was born into a family of thieves. After committing a marriage scam, he is arrested and taken to the upscale apartment of elite detective, Oogaki Kaoru.

    “I became a detective in order to distort that pretty face of yours.”

    As the good-looking Kaoru with a stalker tendency calmly says that, Naoto slowly warms up to him as their peculiar living arrangement starts. A love story of captivity between a forceful detective x con artist.

    Good Things, Bad Things is a psychological drama between an elite detective and the con man he kept captive.

    Naoto and Kaoru go way back. Then high schooler Naoto caught a glimpse of Kaoru’s devastated face and became obsessed. Now adults, the detective’s sole purpose was to have Kaoru. Meanwhile, Kaoru is trying very hard to leave his criminal life. With the two in forced proximity, one of them is bound to snap.

    I really liked that both characters are equally fucked up. However, I felt something was lacking. The psychological aspect seems to be holding back. I was expecting Stalking Killing levels of psycho craziness, too bad it kept things milder than I would have liked.

    On the other hand, how the connection between Naoto and Kaoru gradually gained strength was spectacularly portrayed in their tumultuous everyday interactions. The magnetic pull towards each other was something both couldn’t seem to escape. There’s a lot of push and pull that frequently result in them having sex. There are a few dub con moments here.

    I grabbed this because of the cover and the blurb. I loved the character designs, especially how the eyes were drawn. How they reflected the characters’ feelings, at least visually, came across with intensity and madness. Look at how they stare at each other!

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    MANGA: Hadashi no Tenshi

    Hadashi no Tenshi – Nonomiya Ito

    One day, shoemaker Turner meets a mysterious young man, Benny, who calls himself an “ex-angel”. Worried about Benny going barefoot, Turner decided to make shoes for him. Moreover, because the production will take several months, Benny decides to live in Turner’s house.

    Barefoot Angel is a gentle, slow-burn love story between a young shoemaker and the exiled angel he stumbled upon at the park.

    Benny was exiled for breaking heaven’s rules. With his wings burned off, he was sent to earth to live as a human. Now Benny has always been fascinated with humans. Even while feeling vaguely melancholy about his old life, he eagerly embraced his new life and was even very gung-ho about traveling all over the world.

    Turner, a caretaker by heart, wanted to make Benny’s dream happen. So he set about creating the perfect shoes for him. While working on them, he teaches Benny how humans live and love.

    This is a pretty manga with artwork that perfectly captures the pure, wholesome vibe of the story. I love the softness and fragility of Turner and Benny’s dynamics. I loved how they cherished each other. Even with the more explicit scenes, there’s still a gentle, soothing mood present. It made them feel precious rather than erotic.

    However, I found the flow of the story disjointed. There were a couple of chapters that started with a preview of a future event. This is perhaps to tease the reader. Then, it jumps back to the present. The execution was wonky. They don’t add anything to the chapter. They just made things confusing.

    I was also not a fan of the separation near the ending. It made Benny’s dream come true, but I felt sad for Turner. But no worries, this has a happy ending.

    I say, read this manga for the pretty boys and the wonderful mood.

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    MANGA: Konokoi wa Unmeijanai

    Konokoi wa Unmeijanai – Yamada Yugi

    Tsukamoto is newly independent designer who wants his work to be printed with traditional movable printing at the Nakajima printing house. There, he meets the delinquent turned printing master, Seto. Seto’s skills and knowledge are undeniable, but his insensitivity and firm opinions cause him to butt heads with Tsukamoto. As they continue to work together, Seto’s passion for printing shines through, and Tsukamoto’s feelings begin to change. Then one day, they receive a huge job, and the client is none other than…Tsukamoto’s ex-lover, Soejima?!

    This Love Is Not Destiny is a low angst, gay-for-you manga featuring the dying art of movable printing.

    Tsukamoto, a level-headed man, has recently gone into independent design after a bad breakup with the director of his old company. He goes to Nakajima Printing upon the recommendation of a friend to have his design printed. There he meets the short-tempered former gangster turned printer, Tsuyoshi, and the elderly owner, Zen. After starting off at the wrong foot, Tsukamoto and Tsuyoshi realize they work well together.

    According to the mangaka, they were inspired to create this story after visiting a movable printing shop for a business card order. You can clearly see the mangaka was fascinated because they were able to convey the appeal and the sense of wonder with the process and the printed designs.

    Apart from the unique setting, the manga is peopled with lovable characters. I loved the clothes the mangaka chose for each of them. It really highlighted their personalities.

    Tsukamoto is pretty with long lashes, described by his ex as “looks demure but is really sexually aggressive”. He’s a talented designer with a good eye for color. His character design perfectly portrays a well-mannered, creative professional neatly dressed in smart casual clothes.

    Tsuyoshi is a grumpy sort whose care and worry is shown through scowl-y commands of “eat your snacks!” His bomber jacket with the roaring tiger print really suited him to a T. He’s very passionate about his work. By all accounts, he is straight but the more time he spent with Tsukamoto, the more he thought about it, the more he realized certain things.

    The plot was well-executed, the romantic development, slow but wonderfully done. It’s a gay man pining for a straight guy in that as-long-as-I-can-stay-by-your-side-I’m-happy self-sacrifice that makes the chest feel tighter. This could have easily gone the full angst route but happily kept things light. I loved how everything was resolved and how the ending tied together their personal and professional lives.

    There’s a bonus super cute love story for Zen, the old master printer, and his long-time love, Richard. I hope they get their own manga too!

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