oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Angel's Coffin: This has been released by GoComi, and sadly, is nowhere near as cracktastically awesome as the title indicates. Seto is a demon who's been imprisoned in a book, only to be released by the unknowing and innocent Marie Vetsera. Seto promises Marie to grant her heart's desire, which is to have Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, fall in love with her. Those of you who know history (which I didn't) and who know You Higuri (which I did) will know this does not end well. Alas, Marie is totally boring and rather vapid to boot, Rudolf is a complete blank slate, and while Seto could be awesome in his demonic anachronistic way, he is instead unconvincingly in love with Marie.

Also, there may be a demon trying to seduce Seto to the dark side. Or... more of the dark side? Extremely boring, pass.

Lost Angel: Now this is more like it! (Also, a warning that I read this in Taiwan and have waited so long to write this up that I've forgotten most of it.)

Gunta is a mysterious, dark-haired new student at some school.... but secretly he is Lucifer! Or a powerful demon. But I'm pretty sure he is Lucifer, because why would you make someone a powerful demon when you could make them Lucifer?! Anyway. He is trying to redeem himself, so he goes about battling demons... with his skeleton hand! And the magical sword he wields! The sword, alas, does not have a secret identity, but that is probably just because the role of Lucifer has already been taken.

He investigates occult Satanic occurences, and while he is doing so, he meets the angelicly light-haired (or dyed, who knows) Z, whose name I have completely forgotten and cannot find after ten minutes of Googling, even in Japanese. Z finds himself strangely attracted to Gunta, as one is wont to do when confronted with someone who is... Lucifer!

Sorry. One day I will get sick of typing out the ellipses and "Lucifer!" but so far, not yet!

Gunta abandons the school, but he gets involved in several other cases that lead him Z's way again. One, of course, involves the innocent, beautiful, and totally doomed woman, although honestly, I have no idea why Higuri even tries to pretend Z is even vaguely interested in her. Instead of adding vapid love interests to nominally prove their heroes are heterosexual (HA), I feel mangaka should instead write in women who are... Lucifer!

In conclusion: Lucifer!

Given that GoComi licensed the horribly boring Angel's Coffin, couldn't they release Romaesque Mask as well? I have never read it, but it looks like it's based on the Takarazuka version of Dangerous Liaisions! How could it be bad?
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
I feel as though I keep repeating myself, but this series is really just so charming! I can never decide who I like more: the ever-practical Rakan, who is unfazed by people falling into his garden but will whack someone for putting a foot on the table; Chigusa, who has absolutely no comprehension of human behavior whatsoever ("I'm trying to seduce you"); or Koh, who is already filled to the brim with awesome by virtue of being a talking snake.

Spoilers )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
This continues to be funny and touching and sweet, although Koh the talking snake is not quite as hilarious as he is in the first book (seriously, "The sky is blue!" still makes me giggle randomly).

We get to learn a little more about the world Chigusa, Narushige and Koh come from, especially about the prince of the world, but most of what I remember after reading the volume is the character interactions. I think my favorite moment is when Narushige hugs Rakan for no good reason, and we see Chigusa catch sight of them. But instead of being jealous, he blankly walks over and envelops the two guys in a hug, prompting Koh to attempt to hug them, albeit a little too enthusiastically.

"Why did you do that?" they ask Chigusa.

"I thought it was just a morning ritual," he replies.

It's the combination of easy affection and intimacy, the complete lack of understanding of human interaction, and the quick by-stepping of romance tropes that's so lovely.

I also giggled a lot over Chigusa's attempts to figure out how to stop liking Rakan, as again, complete lack of understanding of human interaction.

Yet even with that complete lack, the makeshift family of Chigusa, Narushige, Koh, and Rakan is still so much healthier and cuter than many other character relationships.

Still charming; looking forward to volume 3.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Rakan's a fairly normal high school student with an unusual affinity for plants, until one day, he comes across an unconscious man in his garden who then proceeds to wake up and threaten him... with a flowering gun. As it turns out, Rakan looks exactly like the (evil) imperial prince from Chigusa's world (the formerly unconscious guy), but instead of being evil, Rakan is a sanome, or someone who has power over plants. Soon, they're joined by Narushige and his talking snake Koh, both also from Chigusa's world, while some politics go on back in Chigusa's world.

The worldbuilding so far isn't entirely new (parts of it remind me of Nausicaa, and for some reason, I feel like I've seen the plant thing before), but it's still fascinating and inventive. But the part I love best so far is the characters. Chigusa is protective yet shy, Rakan is confused and attempts to cover it up by feeding everyone, Narushige is also protective and sweet, and Koh is proof that talking snakes are made of win (see also: Fire Dancer, The Hollow Kingdom). I feel I should be more into the worldbuilding, which is cool, and I am, except again, my brain, it is on vacation. As such, I am left with the impression of a lot of UST between Chigusa and Rakan and tons of hilarity involving the snake.

Seriously, people! Characters from other worlds being confounded by modern-day life, a la Rukia in Bleach and the juice box, are always hilarious, and even more so when they are talking snakes exclaiming, "The sky is blue!!"

In conclusion: funny, sweet, charming, yet epic-feeling, with pretty art and nice production values from TokyoPop to boot.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
The art is so bad! The characters are so horrifying! The premise is so insane! And yet, I borrowed volumes 3 and 4 from Rachel anyway.

Sadly, I read volume 3 at Mariposa, so I cannot quote the most insane bits. I suspect the one that had me boggling the most was (one male character re: another) "I won't let anyone fuck my bitch! He's mine!"

This would not be amiss coming from a villain, but in an OH JOHN RINGO NO manner, it is supposed to be taken as very romantic.

There were probably also multiple references to womb worms that I read aloud to anyone who would listen (I feel the bogglement must be spread around), but I have thankfully wiped them from my brain.

Minor spoilers )

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] coniraya! This is the insane animals-as-humans mpreg series I was telling you about!
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
This is published as a two-volume series, but it's more like a set of connected short stories. Most of the stories center around Tachibana and Otani, two college roommates who have known each other since high school. The story begins when they encounter an old high school classmate, Yuki, who jokes and asks if they're gay.

We then go into Otani feeling jealous of Tachibana and Yuki's friendship. What I like a lot about the three Konno works I've read is that she actually has female characters, and that her female characters seem to have a life of their own. It's least noticeable in Kawaii Hito and most notable here; one of my favorite chapters was the one featuring Yuki's point of view on the two guys' relationship. Later on, in vol. 2, we get to see how Tachibana and Otani became friends and more, along with Otani's relationship with his girlfriend and how he basically mucks things up.

I like that their conflicts read as fairly natural; there are some unfortunate overheard conversations and the like, but mostly, the people in the stories tend to ask first and jump to conclusions later.

There are two other short stories about Otani and Tachibana's acquaintance Sho-kun, who's in a long-distance relationship with an American struggling actor. Then there's one about a girl's best friend and how he's falling for her ex-boyfriend, and one more about a guy who kidnaps another guy and chains him to his bed. The last is by far my least favorite.

One note: I was disturbed by how "homos" is used for "gay men." I'm not sure how much of this is the translation, though. My suspicion is that "homo" (in katakana) is an acceptable term in Japan for "gay men" ("okama" being the derogatory version), but that is based solely on one article written by Mizoguchi Akiko which contains the phrase "homophobic homos" ("homofobikku na homo"). I vaguely recall Mizoguchi being lesbian and the article as having a GLBT-political look at yaoi, but I also read it five years ago. That said, if my speculation is correct, I'm still curious as to why DMP's translators are choosing to translate it as "homos," since even if the term is the same in Japanese, the connotations seem to be very different.

Anyone know if any of the above speculation is correct or waaaay off the mark?

Anyway, I like Konno's art and her people, so I will probably be reading more if more gets licensed and/or published.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
And still not all the manga I read all weekend!

Kouno and Naomichi are next-door neighbors; Kouno's dealing with a drunken night of passion with his friend Natsu, and Naomichi has just had his roommate Kei confess to him. What happens isn't unexpected, dramatic, or brilliant, but there's a depth of character to this that I like.

Fujiyama not only sidesteps the normal shounen-ai tropes that I hate (non-con, exaggerated uke/seme), she ends up with four people who feel very real. I like that her characters do things like dash up the stairs when they finally get a message they've been waiting for, or nervously joke around before having sex for the first time. And I particularly like how her characters work through what would normally be a stupid misunderstanding.

There still are stupid misunderstandings, but they feel driven by character rather than plot, and the other partner reacts very realistically -- frustrated, but also unwilling to let the entire relationship go down in flames because of it. In fact, the general sense that I get from her is that there are no meet cutes or zany switcheroos; relationships here actually require work and effort and trust.

This may make the manga sound like the most boring thing ever, but it's not. Recommended.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Why yes, yes I am trying to catch up on writing up all my weekend reading!

I really like Konno's yaoi series Kawaii Hito, which is very PWP, but also very sweet, with the additional bonus of an ex-girlfriend who doesn't make me want to strangle the mangaka. Star is a one-off about the antisocial Sudou and the friendlier Hirokawa.

The neat thing is that Sudou is the shorter, more feminine-looking one and Hirokawa's older and taller. Even neater is the fact that they're both working. I.e. manga about people older than teenagers! Amazing.

The manga ends up being about Sudou's attempts to get used to interacting with people, as opposed to his usual brusqueness. He's got a reputation for seducing and abandoning women, but he's not much of a ladies' man. Rather, he's more a person who uses other people without emotionally connecting to them, man or woman. I would dislike Sudou except the mangaka clearly portrays his antisocialness and his antagonism as a flaw, not a virtue. Also, I have a thing for grumpy ukes. It's a nice change from the usual oblivious cluelessness and mad protestations.

Hirokawa is much mellower, which is again a nice change from the usual aggressive, alpha-bastard semes.

I didn't like the way Konno portrayed some of the women in the beginning, but she makes up for this by having a secondary female character who has slept with Hirokawa and doesn't villainize her, shunt her to the side, or make her unsympathetic. Instead, she's a character who values her work and her relationships and keeps sex separate from love.

The only problem with this was that I didn't quite buy the Hirokawa-Sudou relationship. I'm not quite sure why -- I think Sudou protests a little too much in his mind for me. There's just too much back-and-forth about the relationship; I tend to like stories that start after the relationship is in place, rather than stories that are about getting to the relationship.

Still, Konno remains on my list of mangaka to look out for.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
(originally published as Sex Pistols, but the title was changed as Blu didn't want a lawsuit here)

Um, so you know how I said After School Nightmare was the strangest thing I've read this year? I have found competition! ASN is still the strangest thing I have read all year, but Love Pistols is the most insane, and not in the good Yuki Kaori way.

Actually, I think Love Pistols will be the absolute worst thing I read all year that I was still compelled to finish (as opposed to the worst thing I read all year that I didn't finish because I chucked it at the wall in rage).

The thing is, I knew pretty much all of the cracktastic and insane bits in it, and it still does not compare to the real thing.

I will not give a plot summary, as there is no plot. Instead, there are zooman beings and womb worms (omg my brain will never be the same again) and "This is the first time I've had sex with you while you were conscious" (roughly). And lots of bodily liquids.

Spoilers broke my brain )

In conclusion: my brain just broke again.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Taki and Goh are snatchers; they get secret missions and recover drugs for some private organization. Many of their missions involve seducing beautiful men and women and decoding strange clues at the most romantically inconvenient times.

Taki is straight; Goh is gay; Goh has a mad crush on Taki and expresses it by molesting him in public. This would seem homophobic, except it's pretty clear that the mangaka approves of such behavior. I don't, largely because Taki dislikes it and I am a huge unfan of the "if you love someone obnoxiously and loudly enough, that person must return your affection" trope. Also, the setup with gay Goh and straight Taki means that women end up being the romantic rivals.

I wasn't going to read much more, except there was fic on Yuletide. So I read vol. 2, which thankfully moves away from the mystery of the week set up and also works on Taki's reciprocation of Goh's feelings, which made me much happier. I like mutually reciprocated relationships! I only wish more BL/yaoi mangaka liked them too... Either that, or their line for mutual reciprocation is much, much, much fuzzier than mine.

In the end, this series ended up being better than I thought it would be, but I'm still not the biggest fan.

Spoilers )
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
People have been reccing this to me for just about forever, seeing as how it's manga about tasty pastries! Unsurprisingly, I adored the first two volumes.

I'm a little less fond of the latter half of the series, but that's more because it goes more into the personal lives of characters I don't care that much about, and it features some BL tropes that I'm not particularly fond of.

Tachibana is a rich playboy who decides to open a French-style pastry shop called Antique Bakery. He ends up hiring master patisserie Ono, who despite his prodigious talent is unemployed because he is "a gay of demonic charm" and ends up getting into troublesome romantic entanglements anywhere he works. The shop soon acquires ex-boxer Kanda, now apprentice patisseries, and Tachibana's servent/childhood friend Chikage, who is generally useless but very cute.

I love all the characters except Tachibana, which is a little unfortunate, as the last volume is all about his angst. I just don't seem to have that much sympathy for scruffy, rich playboy womanizers with angst any more.

On the other hand, I adore the other characters, and oh! The pastry porn! There's not much of a plot in the first two volumes; instead, we get looks into the lives of various Antique Bakery customers and glimpses of the day-to-day behind running the store. I loved these parts so much. They're small and quiet, and I loved that Yoshinaga included women as well.

Later on, the series gets a little too melodramatic for me, particularly when it comes to Tachibana's angsty past and Ono's angsty past love affairs.

I'm not particulary enamored of Yoshinaga's art or paneling; the paneling in particular gets very crowded by word balloons. On the other hand, I will forgive that, as the word balloons contain words like these:

This rhubarbe fraise is a tarte made of rhubarbs stewed into a sugary-sweet compote, then topped with a fluffy, sour strawberry mousse, and is a seasonal cake offered for a limited time only.

One of our recent best-selling items is the chiboust chocolat framboise -- a chocolate chiboust placed atop a layer of raspberry-flavored custard cream on a crumbly chocolate tarte shell.

And over here we have a new item today -- the pave' au caramel. A caramel-butter mousse has been paired with a biscuit base loaded with chocolate, and is a divinely rich dessert perfect for anyone who loves cakes!

oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
I swear Minekura was trying to redo Banana Fish in her own style with Wild Adapter.

In Vietnam, a soldier suddenly goes crazy and shoots down his friends, saying only "banana fish." Eighteen years later, teenage gang leader Ash Lynx* finds himself in possession of a mysterious drug and the words "banana fish." Soon, he's tangled in a complicated plot that involves rival gangs, mysterious drugs, and one teenage Japanese reporter, with whom I am guessing is the signature yaoi love interest.

This is a classic shounen ai manga that supposedly addresses issues like AIDS and homosexuality in a very real manner, and Matt Thorn has pimped it constantly. I held off reading it for so long because the art is very 1980s.

I am going to stop reading it because I am nowhere near as enamoured with Ash as all his enemies, friends, acquaintances, and, clearly, the mangaka are. Also, the fact that it's set in New York and is attempting to be a serious thriller are very off-putting, given the assorted cracktastic elements (why is everyone so obsessed with Ash? Also, Ash Lynx?!). The real-world setting also meant that the politics squicked me out even more.

I do give Yoshida props for actually having POC, but I am rather annoyed by all of them being drawn with afros and thick lips. It verges on caricature. I also nearly threw the book across the room when I came across one plot point that has to do with Ash's black friend (make a wild guess...). The treatment of the Chinese characters is a little better; they get more to do. But they're still overshadowed by Ash (white) and Eiji (Japanese).

I think this series falls right in between the boundaries of realistic and cracktastic, and as such, it's not good enough for either.

* His real name is "Aslan." I could not make this up if I tried!
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Welcome back to the cast of Hands Off!, which gives you four bishounen of the apocalypse for the price of three!

Oohira Kotarou is cute, Yuuto is snarky, and Tatsuki (Kotarou's prickly cousin) is brooding and angsty at the same time. Truly his woe o'erhangs him like a hat.

Anyhow, this continues the formula of Kotarou getting into tons of trouble, Tatsuki rescuing him while never acknowledging that he even feels a shred of affection for him, and Yuuto mother-hen-ing it over the two of them.

Alas, while I revelled in this for a few volumes, by the time I hit vol. 5, I had gotten a wee bit sick of the schtick.

On the other hand, Tatsuki continues to rival Sasuke in his pure emo-ness, and this amuses me.

Er. I feel like I should make more comments about the plot, except the plot is mainly in Paragraph 3: lather, rinse, repeat.

Possibly the series will come to a conclusion in which Tatsuki is even more woeful with even more black clouds of DOOM hanging o'er his head (like a hat!).
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Completely unrelated PSA: Loretta Chase's new book is out!

I read the mangaka's Same Cell Organism yesterday, which was so gorgeous that I ended up reading this one and buying it. I need to go back and acquire Same Cell Organism as well.

Like Same Cell Organism, The Day I Become a Butterfly is also a collection of short stories; some are BL and some aren't, but they're all infused with the same wistful, quiet melancholy and joy. The titular story is on the dying Uka and somewhat psychic Mikami, who apparently can sense when people are about to die. Cue gorgeously understated and quiet angst! Others are on childhood friends and a girl who fears change (het); a girl trying to disentangle herself from affairs and draw; and two 16-year-old boys, one of whom purports to be an alien. The last one is sweet and funny and a nice look at being different; I didn't expect to like it, but it made me laugh with the ending:

Ulala Nakazawa (16), currently residing in Tokyo, is still, as always, an alien.

Yuzuru Yoshimoto (16), currently residing in Tokyo, this day transfers citizenship to a nation in space.

And from the childhood friends one: "The lonely war. Hailing bullets of happiness. Yellow flowers. / And next to me -- you."

A small warning: some of Yumeka's boys look just like girls. Or, er, even more so than manga boys usually do. I stared at the het story and decided that since the character had long hair (not so telling) and was in a girl's school uniform with skirt, she was probably a she. Though really, even with the school uniform, you can never be sure in manga. (She was a she in that one though.)

I have clearly gone from simply enjoying these to wanting people to read them. This collection and Same Cell Organism are more BL than yaoi; this one also has non-romantic character studies as well. The art and paneling are gorgeous, spare and clean and evocative. The sensibility of the mangaka reminds me a little of the Nishi Keiko shorts that I've read.

Nothing really happens in any of the stories; it's the art and the minimal prose that I love.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
(yes, the lack of a hyphen in the title is still bugging me)

This is a really gorgeous collection of BL short stories. The stories themselves don't have much plot: two high school guys, one shy and one not as much, have a relationship and discuss their future. An angel gives up angelhood to be with someone. Two high school students who enjoy being alone find that they enjoy each other's company in the attic.

Guess which one was the one that made me pick up the book?

There's this sense of wistfulness about all the stories, which are all about people who might have drifted through the world if it weren't for finding the other. The art and the panel layout echoes this: the art is spare and sketchy and sometimes seems to disappear into the page; and the panels are open, lots of white space and open-ness. I love just looking at it. Also, part of the aesthetics may have been enhanced by the good paper stock; it's thick and white and the blacks stand out superbly.

Also, [livejournal.com profile] vom_marlowe! It uses lots of wordless sequences! And I love how the panels focus on the small details -- a hand reaching out to another, someone bending down to kiss another person and then deciding at the last minute not to. I just love how spare and lovely it all is; there's so little dialogue, and yet, the mangaka nails the moods perfectly.

I am going to hunt down her other translated manga now.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Ummm, sorry [livejournal.com profile] vom_marlowe, I didn't really like this =(.

Kei is your standard BL/yaoi/shounen ai character who is short, somewhat feminine, and gets hugged by all his larger male friends. Alas for Kei, he finds that (through a series of medical handwaves) he is actually a girl. He decides that he might as well change his name and live as a girl; for reasons that I don't quite comprehend, he decides that this means he must learn all sorts of girly mannerisms.

When she (now Megumi) transfers, she finds that her old gang has also transferred. Refreshingly, everyone discovers her secret early on. Not-so-refreshingly, all the four guys want to date her and express that by crowding her personal space.

I think while this series occasionally hits on neat points on gender and sexuality and sexual identity, it does so mostly by accident (my main problem with it). The default assumption seems to be that women must act a certain way and men must act a certain way, and reading all that gender essentialism, despite the gender-bending main character, drove me nuts. I mean... why couldn't Megumi just be a tomboyish girl? Why the constant assertions of the boringness of "girl" shopping (clothes, accessories) vs. the interestingness of "boy" shopping (electronics, gadgets)? I think it would be interesting if Megumi chose to question this, but she doesn't. She (and presumably Tsuda) attributes any stereotypically masculine traits as coming from her male upbringing and any stereotypically feminine traits as things she must acquire to be a real girl.

Tsuda does make some interesting statements on male violence against women, particularly when Megumi is sexually threatened by a group of classmates. She (and her friend and "girliness" coach Makoto) notes that as a guy, she wouldn't have been as afraid because she would have been able to fight back, though she conveniently forgets that the guys' attitude toward her as a sexual object also would be lessened (though not gone, as this is BL and more feminine boys are threated sexually all the time by other men, but that is a whole 'nother can of BL worms and drives me nuts). Unfortunately, as opposed to this being seen as just one more thing women must contend with, it's sort of brushed aside as a fear that Megumi must get over.

To which I say: WTF?! Why? Why can't the guys just, oh say, not sexually threaten her?!

Also, her four guy friends drive me crazy and I want to hit them all over the head and tell them that giving women no personal space and attempting to force her to see them is really not the best way to get into her heart. Argh.

I feel sometimes it is completely futile to bring feminist critique into BL/yaoi/shounen ai, but really. How did a manga on gender-bending end up just reinforcing all sexual identity stereotypes? Possibly I will finally pick up After School Nightmare and read it as a comparison.

On a more minor, less political note, the art also bothered me. The character designs were nice, but the spazztasticness of Megumi/Kei was accentuated by the messiness of the panels -- too much text, too much yelling, too many images and emphases and clutter on a page for me to make out easily.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
For some reason, I thought this was about psychic basketball players. There is one psychic basketball player, but the manga is not actually about basketball, thankfully.

It is, however, about psychic kids. Oohira Kotarou is aforementioned psychic basketball player, though the basketball really is not very important so far. He's recently transferred to Tokyo from an all-boys school, as his smaller physique and feminine face used to get him into situations. In case you were wondering, the first page of the series has him in a schoolgirl uniform (oh manga!).

But now he's living with his grandfather and his surly cousin Tatsuki, who used to be a good childhood friend of his and now brushes off any attempt at niceness. He's made friends with Urushiyama Yuuto, your standard womanizing guy with a heart of gold. Little does he know that his touch enhances other people's psychic powers; Tatsuki sees the past while Yuuto sees people's auras. Together, they fight crime!

No really, they actually do fight crime, albeit in a non-structured, very random way.

I wasn't too drawn in by the art, which is somewhat too sketchy and skinny for me, but I am already deeply in love with Tatsuki, who is your standard manga variation of the alpha male. Namely, he is brusque and gruff and says about three words every five pages and he will just as silently and gruffly put himself into mortal danger to protect Kotarou and then pretend nothing just happened. I am not sure why this version of alpha male gets to me, as opposed to the romance novel version, which just annoys the hell out of me, but it invariably does.

Kotarou, Yuuto and Tatsuki are all fairly standard manga and BL types (Kotarou fills the role of the clueless girly one), but I'm enjoying what Katsumoto is doing with them and how their respective powers embody their types. Kotarou doesn't know his touch enhances psychic powers, Yuuto is good with people because he reads auras, and Tatsuki violently reacts to being touched because he has been tragically non-literally scarred. And I absolutely adore the dynamics among the three, particularly the Kotarou-Tatsuki relationship (where is the fic??).

Just like with the main characters, some of the side plots are fairly standard manga tropes, but Katsumoto does small things with them that I enjoy. For an edging-toward-BL manga, the main female love interest has been very sympathetic. Also, as Kotarou is the girly one, he endlessly gets into trouble and needs to be rescued by Tatsuki. I might get tired of this some day, but so far, I love it to pieces.

And for anyone wondering, we already have completely random sibling incest complete with cross-dressing!

Also, have I mentioned completely falling for Tatsuki in a very dramatic and embarrassing way?
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
I managed to randomly pick out a shounen ai title at the bookstore without completely squicking myself out! Yay!

Unfortunately, I've pretty much forgotten everyone's name already, due to downloading entirely too much manga over the weekend. Anyhow Boy 1 and Boy 2 have been best friends forever. Then for a reason that is solely the author playing god, they end up kissing. Boy 1 is completely freaked out about this. Boy 2 is mostly not affected. Boy 1 then discovers that Boy 2 has been in love with him for forever, a tiny bit of angst ensues as Boy 1 proceeds to be very clueless, but not quite as clueless as some CLAMP characters can be (*ahem*Legal Drug*ahem*Watanuki*ahem*).

It's not very deep or meaningful or anything, but it's cute and sweet and while there is a bit of interaction that begins as slightly non-consensual, I like very much that Boy 2 cannot go through with it and falls back to being his nice, cute self.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Or: in which I continue to play catch-up with book write-ups.

The title is apparently a very old-fashioned way to say "July, 1999, Shanghai."

Unsurprisingly, the story starts in Shanghai during July, 1999. Actually, this may very well be a surprise, given the complete randomness of most manga titles.

[livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink has described this several times as "Romeo and Juliet set among Hong Kong gangsters right before the hand-over to China." I actually totally missed the part about Hong Kong and thought the whole thing was set in Shanghai, but that may be because I was attributing too much logic to the title ;).

But yes. It is angsty, star-crossed gang yaoi. Xiaoxue is the sniper for one gang while Dawu is the second-in-command to the boss of another. They meet, they have angsty sex, they fall in love, numerous complications come up, due to the aforementioned gang war, much angst is had, and there are some scenes that push my buttons so hard that I am not even rational about it (the one at the end of vol. 1? With the gun? And how it's repeated? $#%(*&@%!!!GUH).

It took a few pages to get used to the mangaka's style, which is disconcertingly like eighties shoujo. But it gradually gets bolder and less wispy, and the hairstyles thankfully start becoming more distinct. Also, thankfully, the cast of characters remains small, so I could finally figure out that even though Xiaoxue and Xianglong have black hair and names that start with "x," Xianglong has bangs in his eyes.

Facial identification takes me a very long time, particulary when the hairstyles aren't distinct.

My quibble with this series is how the sole female character is handled.

I also found myself falling for Lu of all people, but then, the unrequited yet non-emo love thing is such a button. Plus, Mizushiro takes time on the other characters, and she manages to plot convincingly, instead of letting the entire series become a long string of misunderstandings and feints. It's also good that the series is only 4 volumes long; I wasn't sure how long she could sustain the forbidden love thing, since sneaking around gets old fast, but she manages to put enough twists in there and make me care about enough of the other characters to make it work.

Also, the ending is perfect.

ETA: also, I forgot to nitpick the mangaka. The Chinese celebrate Qi Xi according to the lunar calendar, as opposed to Tanabata in Japan (solar calendar), even though it's basically the same holiday. Also, I was very happy that they met on Qi Xi, despite the date being wrong, because it is a holiday centered around lovers who are literally starcrossed! Hee!

- [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink's review and write up in her 2006 favorite unlicensed manga post
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
Lalalala I am so susceptible to CLAMP!

Much like Her Majesty's Dog, I very much enjoyed this, despite the very thin veneer of plot. Actually, I don't even remember the characters' names.

I think I may have read too much manga this weekend.

Or: since there is no such thing as too much manga, I think all the cracktasticness may have addled my brain.

Anyhow, there's a Pretty Blonde Boy, rescued by a larger Dark-Haired Guy. There is a beautiful panel of the rescue in the snow. Pretty Blonde Boy and Dark-Haired Guy become roommates and work together at a drugstore (legal! Not crack!) run by a blonde guy with glasses (hereby known as Glasses). Glasses seems to have some sort of relationship with a tall, dark-haired guy who always wears shades (hereby known as Shades).

When introducing the manga to me, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija mentioned that the relationships in the series were very subtext-y. Then there was the page in which Shades was nearly licking Glasses' ear, pulling down his turtleneck, and turning Glasses' face toward him. We both decided that that was very much text.

Glasses has some weird jobs on the side, which he frequently sends Pretty Blonde Boy out on. These jobs frequently involve cross-dressing, prettification, and very revealing situations which enable Dark-Haired Guy to come to his rescue.

Oh yeah, Pretty Blonde Boy is somewhat psychic.

Obviously, this is all a ruse to get pretty boys together, but since they are so pretty, I don't mind very much at all. In fact, I feel rather bad for Dark-Haired Guy, who is quite obviously pining away in a very Gothic but non-bloody fashion, since Pretty Blonde Boy has the emotional maturity of a mushroom. I must specify that Dark-Haired Guy does not want to possess Pretty Blonde Boy's eyeballs, stalk him, kill him, torture him, torture his friends, be his twin star, steal his destiny, steal his organic sword (literally! No phallic symbols involved!) or drive him insane. I say Gothic just because it is CLAMP and because the romance between Dark-Haired Guy and Pretty Blonde Boy is pushed forward by things like possession.

While I am enchanted by Dark-Haired Guy's silent angst (he doesn't actually angst, but I imagine that he must angst a whole lot. See above re: Pretty Blonde Boy and mushrooms), I am even more entranced by the love of the two guys with glasses. I think they should get their own series called Framed and have many perfectly innocuous conversations that would be completely devoid of innuendo if they weren't pulling down each other's turtlenecks and licking fingers.


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