• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: In Your Room

    In Your Room – Hino Youhe

    Kadokura and Yamasawa are surprised when they both fall in love at first sight… but are their feelings aligned?

    In Your Room is a cozy, domestic one-shot of two guys who fell in love at first sight and fell into a routine.

    Kadokura frequently comes over to Yamasawa’s apartment. After having sex, he usually ends up cleaning Yamasawa’s messy room. At first, he didn’t mind, being smitten by the other man. Then doubts gradually seeped in, thinking Yamasawa was only having sex with him in exchange for doing chores.

    What’s great about these two is that they really took the time to talk properly. The plot was pretty straightforward, a slice of life of mostly nothing but sex and doing chores. Far from being boring and explicit, it was able to convey the feels in a laid-back low-key manner.

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Musunde, Hodoite, Kiss wo Shite

    Musunde, Hodoite, Kiss wo Shite – Mitsuki Emi

    Tsukasa, who owns a tailor shop in a downtown shopping arcade, is reunited with his middle school friend Ren under the worst possible circumstances. Ren has joined the mob, who plan to demolish and redevelop the entire shopping arcade! To protect the neighborhood where he was raised, Tsukasa tries to persuade Ren to change his mind… But Ren says his goal is to “make Tsukasa’s dream come true.”

    Tie Me, Unravel Me, Kiss Me is about a tailor, for which I gave a happy dance because there’s bound to be beautiful clothes! SUITS MOE!!!!

    Tsukasa is the current owner of a three-generation old tailor shop in a downtown district shopping arcade soon to be demolished. It was announced to him by a middle school friend, Shinagawa, who was in charge of the project. Matters became more complicated when the yakuza got involved, and they found their other middle school friend, Adachi, was working for them.

    I spent a huge chunk of the manga wondering what’s going on. The plot was a convoluted drama of demolition prevention and yakuza machinations. Then there was a love triangle. Whatever feels the story was hoping to generate was slightly dampen by these. I also had no idea why the title is such. I hung on because there was a promise of a suit and I was really, really hoping Tsukasa chooses the right guy.

    If the second lead syndrome frustrates you, this manga is a balm to it because Tsukasa did choose the best guy! Yay for that! And the suit was indeed lovely. So it might not be perfect, but this manga is worth a peek.

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Hoshizora wo Mitsumeta Sono Ato De

    Hoshizora wo Mitsumeta Sono Ato De – Kida Bisco

    Miyazawa Subaru is a designer, who thanks to the recommendation from his planetarium creator friend, managed to get a job to work on a pamphlet for one of the planetarium’s event. What’s more, the event involves Amase Togo, a photographer he really admires who specializes in taking pictures of starry skies.

    On the day of the event’s private screening, there Subaru met…

    This is a pure BL between a photographer and a designer who is also a wheelchair user.

    After Staring at the Starry Sky is one of the most adorable manga I’ve read this year. The sheer level of adorableness is OMG!!!

    The story stars designer Miyazawa Subaru, an avid fan of nature photographer Amase Togo. One day, his best friend Akari, a planetarium designer, asked him to work with her. Little did he know, she set it up so that he meets his idol.

    Hands down, Akari is the bestest best secondary character ever! Not only did she set them up to meet, she actively encouraged their relationship. I loved how open and accepting she was of Subaru’s bisexuality.

    Subaru uses a wheelchair because he cannot walk since birth. He’s mostly at home and thinks he can’t go abroad. Part of the story is about broadening horizons. Togo always encourages Subaru to step out of his comfort zone, taking him to places he only dreamed of.

    Togo is total seme material!!! Also, the kindest, most gentle seme there is. His first appearance, yeah slayed! The meet-cute was endearingly awkward and hella cute. It was all floofy, and sweet, and tender until Subaru had an attack of insecurities.

    The separation sucks, but it paved the way to the most heartfelt, tear-jerking reunion ever! My kokoro almost couldn’t take it, watching Subaru move his wheelchair while ugly crying!

    My favorite part was the illustrations of the constellations. The big reveal of Togo’s message to Subaru was the most breathtaking scene. It was worth all the tears!

    Boy, you deserve all the stars in the universe.

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: High Pressure

    High Pressure – Totsuki Eko

    You used to be my teammate. And together, we formed the strongest duo. Now, you’re my rival, and also my lover. Under your adoring gaze…I cower.

    A seesaw game that hovers between the threshold of Lover and Rival.

    High Pressure is a one-shot of two basketball rivals AND lovers, Ogata and Hasegawa.

    Hasegawa has an injured knee and cannot play right now. So he watches from the sidelines and admires Ogata playing for a rival team. He worries about how his lover thinks about him. There is a possibility of a permanent injury. Ogata has said before he like Hasegawa as a basketball player the most.

    The two have most likely been friends for a long time. They are an established couple very much in love, but you could also see the easy camaraderie born from a childhood connection.

    They mutually admire each other as athletes. Their life revolved around basketball. Ogata’s words seemed callous in a way. I loved how it later paved way for Hasegawa’s change of perspective, taking what seemed a negative into a motivation.

    The way this unfolded was the best part. It was super poignant. It’s why one-shots could be devastating or devastatingly good in their shortness.

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Mata Ashita To Iwasete

    Mata Ashita To Iwasete – Aoi Nuwi

    On the way home from a drinking party he attended at work, Maizumi encounters a boy. Wanting to get out of this place as soon as possible, he lied that “the boy is a relative of mine”, so he got involved with him…? A cold young man× a boy who tends to expect a lot of things, and their days begin to take on a color from a chance encounter.

    Let Me Say See You Tomorrow might not technically be a BL manga since nothing overtly romantic happened. It reads more like two solitary people, an antisocial salaryman and a lonely high schooler, were brought together by happenstance and developed a friendship.

    The scenes where the salaryman made efforts to make the younger man happy by celebrating his birthday, possibly the boy’s first in many years, were quite endearing. This slice of life one-shot laid a good foundation for a super-cute age-gap romance should the mangaka choose to add a sequel. I loved this little story so I hope they do!

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  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Karasu Otoko ni Kiotsukete

    Karasu Otoko ni Kiotsukete – Kawai Ame

    Shiratori, a civil servant in charge of controlling the city’s crow population, was approached in the park by a handsome but suspicious-looking guy named Kuroo. As Kuroo had no address and was unemployed, Shiratori was wary of him, but somehow found himself unable to dislike him. One day, he finds out that Kuroo is actually a crow…?!

    Be Careful Of Raven Man starts with civil servant Shiratori doing his park maintenance duties. Part of this is controlling the crow population. He spies a crow being bullied by two others. He kindly reminded the crows about their precarious situation. The man tended to talk aloud to the birds. He has a soft spot for them and doesn’t want them exterminated.

    Then his watch was stolen by one of the birds. The bullied crow took after it to retrieve it. This is when Kuroo makes his appearance. He promptly latches on to Shiratori, who made it a habit to feed him because he thought Kuroo was homeless.

    Kuroo has Grell’s (Kuroshitsuji) personality. Clingy, has no concept of personal space and has no shame whatsoever declaring in his love for Shiratori. He’s quite the drama queen, employing his Oscar-winning acting skills to persuade Shiratori to declare his affection.

    He might sound like a bad person when I say it like this, but he’s actually very endearing. I never found him pushy. The poor crow is kind of a pariah in the bird community. So it’s no wonder he’s attached to the person who showed him kindness.

    The plot is pretty simple and straightforward, so you can already guess how things play out. Given that, I still loved the whole thing. This is an example of a manga that spins a cliché into a highly entertaining story. While not employing any groundbreaking twists, this little paranormal one-shot is very cute and charming.

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  • 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,  Uncategorized

    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,  Uncategorized

    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,  Uncategorized

    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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