• manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Ginza Neon Paradise

    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.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Bitter Like Light

    Bitter Like Light – Nago Nayuta

    A Like a Sugar Spinoff featuring Morisaki and Taguchi.

    Cheerful, soft-hearted Morisaki and cool, silent Taguchi have been friends and lovers since their high school years. While their relationship has not been without its challenges, they’ve managed to get past them and live happily together…

    But they’re not actually “living together,” unlike their friends Yoshimura and Shima, who shacked up halfway through their college life. Will their friends’ decision inspire Morisaki and Taguchi to start thinking about their future?

    The volume comes with an extra story of Morisaki and Taguchi getting it on in the hot springs!

    Bitter Like Light is the spinoff of Like A Sugar which I have yet to read. It opens with an atypical third party POV where a young uni student frequently hears his next door neighbor having sex with his girlfriend. He secretly admires and cheers his neighbor on only to later discover, the girlfriend was a boyfriend.

    Then the POV shifts to both MCs , two high school friends turned lovers. They had opposite personalities. Taguchi was impossibly cool and unflappable while Morisaki was the more excitable and blushy one.

    The story depicts their relationship’s progress through day to day as they interact with friends, plot their future careers and internally agonize over living arrangements when they see their other couple friends from Like A Sugar moving in together.

    Went gaga over Taguchi who looked like Kuroo from Haikyuu!!! His cool as a cucumber persona was virtually impossible to break leading his boyfriend to scheme how to break his composure. The great thing here is that while he is indeed super chill, he’s not a frosty asshole. He’s a really nice guy and you can clearly see he adores Morisaki. Because Morisaki IS adorbs!

    The neighbor appeared a few more times in the story. He became friends with the couple and even offered support. I hope he gets his own gay-for-you moment.

    I love the art, especially the character designs. It matches the character personalities. Overall, the manga was executed really well both visually and story-wise.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Kimi ni wa Fureru to Naru Toko ga Atte

    Kimi ni wa Fureru to Naru Toko ga Atte – Hayane Dento

    Touji is an average high school student who is terrible at dealing with people and struggles with physical contact. On one rainy day, all of Touji’s struggles come to a head when he encounters Itsuki Yato, a fellow classmate who touches him casually even when they first meet. Even though Touji isn’t great at socializing, Itsuki goes out of his way to talk to him and spend time with him. Gradually, Touji starts to want to learn more about Itsuki…

    Every Time We Touch, I Hear That Sound is a slow-burn, friends to lovers manga with a gentle, peaceful vibe of lazy summer afternoons.

    Introverted, socially awkward Touji meets extroverted, touchy-feely Itsuki on a crowded train when Itsuki’s earbuds tangled with Touji’s button. The two struck up a friendship. Or more like, Itsuki decided to adopt the shy high schooler.

    Itsuki’s sunny personality and talkative nature drew Touji to him. I love how he saw beyond Touji’s fumbling attempts to converse to the true personality hidden underneath. He helped give him the courage to come out of his shell.

    The two lived near a mountain. Touji is most comfortable when exploring. His character shone the brightest when he is at home on the slopes.

    I love how these two boys were connected by the local festival. This is where things came full circle and where Touji showed his mettle and Itsuki found his god.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Kitsune no Natsu

    Kitsune no Natsu – Nacolat

    Norihiro returns to his hometown during summer vacation with a lingering feeling that something is calling to him. On the way back home, Norihiro encounters a mysterious fox man in a wedding dress waiting for him. Who is this fox and why does he want to “consummate” their marriage!?

    The Summer of the Fox is a cute paranormal tale between a young man, Norihiro and his childhood friend, the fox spirit, Tsunetsuki.

    Tsune patiently waited years for Norihiro to come back to him and fulfill his promise. This one-shot is filled with melancholy, longing and yearning but also nostalgic joy as the Norihiro remembers playing with the fox during summers past.

    It is an explicit manga. We get the graphic details of them consummating their marriage.

    I like the artwork. Tsune is pretty. Even with only one chapter, the manga was able to tell a complete story. But it also left me wishing this is a full length volume.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Doukyuusei Seikatsu

    Doukyuusei Seikatsu – Kinoshita Keiko

    Mizuno and Mitazon were middle school classmates with polar opposite personalities. One day, years later, Mitazon calls Mizuno up to help take care of some stray kittens. Mizuno agrees to stay in his house to look after the kittens for a short while. This is living together with a classmate!

    Kinoshita Keiko has been mostly hit or miss with me. Classmate Living is definitely a hit. It’s a childhood friends to lovers story, a slow burn romance between two middle school classmates who somehow maintained a connection up to adulthood despite separate schools.

    Mitazon is a poker-faced tsundere who is adorbs when flustered. Mizuno is the more outgoing of the two. I am so happy this was written in his POV. Typically, we get the story from the POV of the one pining for the other person. Seeing the romance unfold through the eyes of the one pined for is a refreshing take on the trope.

    The atmosphere is gentle and the artwork matched that vibe. The pacing was great, never too slow or fast with each scene executed just right. For me, this is the mangaka’s best work to date.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Falling In Love With The God Hotei Before I Die

    Falling In Love With The God Hotei Before I Die – Hinagi

    You’re gonna die anyway, so I’ll let you see the pure land of pleasures.” I’ve always been unlucky, and I get to have my first sexual experience… with a scary looking God Hotei!?

    Takumi has been unlucky his whole life, and he has to have at least one accident every single day.One day, while getting groped on the train, he gets saved by a man with intimidating features. he goes home and greets his statue, god Hotei of fortune. Takumi believes that this statue is his one true ally. The next day, he spots the man on the train and finds out that he’s actually.. Hoteisson.

    Not as smutty as advertised by that cover.

    This is actually a cute story about perpetually unlucky Takumi who’s a devotee of the God of Fortune, Hotei. In his many unlucky days, he occasionally encounters a mysterious man who saves him from mishaps. He turned out to be none other than Hotei himself.

    Takumi is a bit naive and clumsy. He gets treated like a doormat in his office. Hotei has the same intimidating air as Hoozuki from Reitetsu no Hoozuki. Looks like him too so I definitely like the artwork.

    Their very slow burn romance developed over nine fast-paced chapters. I liked that the manga didn’t focus on the sex. The feels are very low-key with subtle expressions highlighted here and there. It’s like these two didn’t even realized that that they were falling in love. It ended just when Hotei’s heart skipped a beat which is argh!

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Kimi wa Samishigari ya no Hana

    Kimi wa Samishigari ya no Hana – Nomori Mina

    One evening, Hisanaga approaches Morio at a bar with just one thing in mind. However, Morio is looking for a deeper relationship. Can Morio break through the wall around Hisanaga’s heart to get something more than empty sex?

    You Are The Loneliest Flower is a story of university student, Morio, who developed feelings for his on-again off-again hookup, an aloof salaryman, Hisanaga.

    This has a not so common set-up of characters openly admitting they’re gay and regularly hooking up at gay bars. Most of the time, BL manga characters just fall into relationships without even realizing or acknowledging their sexuality.

    Morio knew Hisanaga is a self-centered, lonely man who pushes people away but it didn’t stop him being drawn to him. Morio is a natural do-gooder who can’t help but dote on the difficult and blunt Hisanaga. I liked his dedication and that he didn’t cross the line to pushy. Although I did wonder what was so attractive about the older man other than his looks. I didn’t connect with Hisanaga. I think his character could have been developed more.

    The manga had a mature vibe. The premise is good but the way it was delivered wasn’t that convincing. The pacing and the scenes felt awkward. It closed in an open-ended but hopeful note where Morio hopes Hisanaga would eventually open up to him.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Otoshimono

    The Yaoi Report: Otoshimono (Lost Property) by Miyamoto Kano

    Otoshimono – Miyamoto Kano

    An odd encounter between two strangers results in tales of violence of questionable validity and of course sex. But is this just a one night stand?

    An offbeat story about a do-gooding part-timer, Hashimoto, who helped out a stranger standing in the cold. He offers him a place to stay for the night. After sharing a few beers, the stranger tells his story of being abused by his partner. After jokingly offering to sleep with Hashimoto then actually doing it, the story reveals a twist that left us questioning some truths.

    This gay-for-you one-shot takes you for a ride and leaves you wanting more. It’s one those stories that feel like a prequel to a very promising volume. I was one with Hashimoto in his sympathies and was as shocked when the stranger dropped his bombshell. Not sure about a relationship built on such dubious grounds but heck, if the mangaka wants us to root for these two, she definitely succeeded.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Escape

    Escape – Miyamoto Kano

    Jun hates his boring, lonely high-school life. Kouji hates being a penniless thug. Even though they have absolutely nothing in common, Kouji ends up getting roped into taking Jun on a roadtrip, and they realize maybe their lives aren’t as bad as they think.

    Escape is about a small-time thug, Kouji who was latched on to by a lonely high schooler, Jun. Try as he might, Kouji couldn’t get rid of Jun but it doesn’t stop him from treating the young boy with kindness. Kouji’s gruff but gentle treatment was the heart of the story as it gave Jun a measure of happiness.

    This is a sweet story about two people who found a deep connection. This was made more precious because they knew time was fleeting and they had to eventually go their separate ways.

    The manga was short but the story was presented well. This melancholy one-shot packed a punch with an ending that breaks your heart into tiny pieces.

  • manga,  Uncategorized

    MANGA: Keppeki Buchou no Mousou

    Keppeki Buchou no Mousou – Setsuna Kai

    At the corner of the company cafeteria full of employees who are enjoying their meals together, Endou Kurenai always eats his own lunch alone due to his sour face kept being misunderstood. Then, a newcomer cook in the cafeteria, Ayabashi Hisame, notices the situation and offers his cooking. But, the mysophobic Endou who couldn’t even stand the cafeteria’s plate, only leaves with a word, “Sorry…”, without lifting his chopsticks at all. Ayabashi, who doesn’t know about it, keeps struggling and refuses to give up. And this straightforward novice cook somehow evoking Endou’s delusion…!

    “Mysophobic Chief’s Delusional Tasting” is a tale of scowly chief, Endou, whose scary expression belies a lively imagination. He eats alone, having scared off his co-workers, so he entertains himself by daydreaming.

    Enter cute new cafetaria cook, Ayabashi, who took it upon himself to befriend the chief by tempting him with various dishes. At first, the germaphobe chief refused until he noticed Ayabashi’s hard work. Soon he found himself tasting the dishes and then his imagination devolved into more salacious territory as he imagined what Ayabashi’s fingers taste like.

    Wild imaginings aside, this is an adorable story that reminded me of my all-time favorite ace romance story, His Quiet Agent by Ada Marie Soto. They are both stories about winning the hearts of picky eaters by lovingly force feeding them delectable dishes.

    This one-shot also featured a similarly ostracized and misunderstood protagonist with a brilliant mind and a popular love interest determined to break through their walls. It’s a winning combination that works well with fluffy, humorous stories.

    I wished this was a full-length manga. There was no actual romance here. This was more of a prequel than anything else. The manga was a fun look at what promised to be quite an interesting couple. If only Endou would have the guts to make a move and make his dreams come true.