Restart by Cocomi

Continuing the New Year’s Eve theme, I picked up both Restart wa Tadaima no Ato de and its sequel Restart wa Onaka wo Sukasete by Cocomi.

I have more to say about the specifics of these two single volume stories, but if the pandemic and/or other woes are getting you down and what you are looking for what the kids might call a “wholesome,” good read, this shounen ai* may be for you. 

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Restart wa Tadaima no Ato de (which, if I were the translator, I’d’ve said means: A Restart after Returning Home, which is just a less clumsy version of the literal translation official English title: Restart After Come Back Home.)  The only reason I bother talking about what the Japanese means is that the story is basically contained therein. 

Our hero, Koduzaka Mitsuomi returns to his small town/village after a disastrous attempt to make it big in Tokyo. Unfortunately for him, everyone in town has him pegged as that loser-guy who has ‘bad eyes’ (by which it seems to mean he has a bad resting bitch face) and a tendency to speak his mind (when he shouldn’t.) So, when the story starts Mitsuomi has lost yet-another job–his part time gig at the local grocery store–and he is feeling like a complete loser. 

Literally, in strolls, Yamato Kumai, the one guy in town who has no preconceptions about Mitsumi, beyond the town gossip he’s picked up being the happiest of happy-go-lucky bumpkins ever to grace small town life. He’s all bright smiles to Mitsuomi’s grumpy growls. 

It’s the classic odd couple/opposites attract set-up and I’m into it. 

Mitsuomi finds himself generally drawn to this big galoot and they form a solid, realistic friendship… with an undercurrent a.k.a. sexual tension.

Mitsuomi notices early on that he just relaxes around Yamato and… other people notice it, too. Like, one of my favorite moments in this is that the guy that you’re totally expecting to be the town bigot, is actually the one who first suggests to Mitsuomi that maybe he’s MORE than really protective of his friendship with Yamato, maybe he’s INTO him.

And this just continues to grow–a kind of a slow burn as the kids say. There’s drama here and there, and, early on, Mitsuomi thinks he can get away with a stolen kiss when Yamato seems to be asleep on an overnight, but… yeah, no Yamato has been thinking about what that kiss meant just about as long as Mitsumi has been wondering what possessed him to try it on.

This is a kind of hard to classify yaoi, because it is really very much a character study and a celebration of how you can tell the love of your life by the way that they make you a better person.

Like, generally, even when they’re having their first fight and trying to figure out how to be a family in the second installment Restart wa Onaka wo Sukasete, I was only sad because I hated them even doubting their love for a second because it was pure and wonderful and they are both such precious cinnamon buns?? 

What I found both wonderful and somewhat unbelievable was the way in which this tiny-ass town comes to accept these two. I mean, Cocomi-sensei does a good job selling it to me. Like, I buy it in story? But, part of me–specifically the part of me that fled a small town BECAUSE I was gay–is, like, mmm, I love this but it is clearly wish fulfillment.  Not a single person throws a slur at either of them at any point in this story, which is GREAT, but I noticed it? Does that make sense? That’s why I feel like this is a perfect story if you’re feeling down. And I don’t hate it??

The second manga is fascinating because it is one of the first I’ve read that includes a reference to a relatively new partnership option available for gay couples in Japan (same sex marriage is not yet legal there.) 

It’s also one of the few manga I’ve read where the couple seriously considers a future where they might adopt a child. It comes in really naturally in this story because one of the main issues is that Yamato is actually not as happy as he appears on the surface–some of that is a front that he’s learned to put on because he was orphaned and spent a lot of time bouncing around the foster care system and orphanages before ending up in this village. But, because he was adopted, the thought that they could adopt a child of their own is totally second nature. The scene in which they consider it is one of the sweetest parts of the already amazingly tear-jerking ending of this ridiculously adorable, sweet story.

This story is ridiculously adorable. 

I should note that even though I found this by looking down the “New Year’s” tag on Baka-Updates, it only relates to New Year’s eve in the omake of the final chapters. 

The Restart franchise has been optioned for live-action film, which doesn’t surprise me? It’s kind of the gay Hallmark movie we all ACTUALLY wanted?


* I am considering the merits of talking separately about yaoi and shounen ai, despite the fact that I feel like this very much marks me as a Western reader. Thing is? I am a Western reader and it would be helpful to have an easy way to tag the yaoi that are almost entirely romance (and smut free,) which these stories definitely are. 

I could also simply start marking these as: PG, PG-13, R, and X, provided that most of my audience here is familiar with the American movie rating system.

I will ponder this question… and then decide if I want to go back in time and mark ALL my reviews this way.

6 Hours and 5 Minutes by Yoshitomi Akihito

I am thinking of doing more holiday-themed manga reviews this year, and so I thought I would start us off with a very short one-shot yuri called 6 Hours and 5 minutes. This is a lovely story about two young women who started dating just before New Year’s and decide that since they missed a year of kissing, they would try to make it all up before the New Year’s bell rings at midnight.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

This one-shot is so short that I considered forgoing the spoilers lead space this time, but I do want to talk about the whole thing, so… here we are below the cut, as it were. 

I have to say that I kind of adore the very sweet math that goes into deciding that they need to have this marathon kissing session. It’s based on what I consider a decently conservative (yet oddly wishful) estimation of “well, let’s assume we’d spend one minute of EVERY DAY of a year kissing.” I mean, maybe this averages out? But, a minute of kissing is actually a lot of kissing, and every single day? I have been married for thirty some years to a woman I like a whole lot and with whom I have a very decently cuddly life, and I’m not sure about this whole minute thing.

I mean, I now kind of want to try it to see HOW LONG a minute of kissing really is?

Anyway, they decide to keep it up for six whole hours.  Hilariously, this includes continuing to kiss while one of them has to go to the bathroom, kissing while eating, and all sorts of funny situations. It’s very silly, light-hearted and sweet. No sexy times beyond the sweet goofiness of trying to keep up a “year’s worth” of kissing in one day.

The very end is a punchline that I didn’t get immediately, not being a huge expert in all foods Japanese. After this marathon kissing session the women’s lips are completely bruised and puffed up and one of them says, “Now I’m hungry for tarako.” 

Ha ha?

Well, if you know that tarako looks like this, maybe.

Christmas Eve Present by Wako

In my continued Christmas theme, I discovered a yuri one-shot from 1999 called Christmas Eve Present. 

As many of you probably know, Japan does not celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. It’s not a national holiday either. People don’t typically get the day off. However, Christmas Eve is considered by many to be a romantic day when couples might exchange presents. Fried chicken is considered traditional and a lot of people will go out to KFC, believe it or not (see the appearance of Colonel Sanders in the previous review,) and of course eat fluffy Christmas cake. 

This context is not necessary to understand this manga, but white Christmas cake does make an appearance.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Remember how I said I didn’t expect to find anything smutty for Christmas?

I was wrong. 

Christmas Eve Present may just be one of the smuttiest yuri I’ve read. PERIOD. A couple of the images are so evocative I had… uh, sensory memories. I suddenly understand the appeal of certain shots in all that yaoi I’ve been reading!

Anyway, the story, because there was a story.

Nishino Yukari is a widow. She’s been grieving for some time and all her friends are anxious for her to get back in the saddle. In fact, when the story starts, Yukari is out with a particularly insistent friend who is kind of driving her to drink with all this talk of who she should date next. Yukari is so sick of it, she tells her friend to go home without her. She harassed the waitress to keep ‘em coming, and next thing Yukari knows she’s waking up in the middle of lesbian sex. 

So, you know, once again the love interest is a little short on the concept of CONSCIOUS, enthusiastic consent. 

However, she does get consent after the fact, which I guess is something. Yukari is fallen into the euphoric stupor of how SOFT women’s bodies are… but she’s not thinking this will happen again.

Of course it does.

The very next day.

And the day after that and on and on until Yukari realizes she’s kind of in a relationship with the waitress, Okamura Shouko and… digging it?

In fact, she’s starting to look forward to Christmas Eve together!  Then, Shouko happens to overhear a conversation with one of Yukari’s busybody friends. Shouko lost her first lover to marriage to a man and she thinks that she’s heard the Yukari is just using her for a substitute for her dead husband.

There is tearful separation and an attempt to date others… until Yukari realizes there is literally no one else she wants to spend Christmas Eve with. So, she rushes back to Shouko’s arms only to discover she’s moved! Changed jobs! Oh NO! Keep in mind, this is made more difficult because cell phones are not a thing. There is one scene, in fact, with a device you folks are probably too young to remember called an “answering machine.” It’s like voice mail, only a box separate from your phone, because your phone didn’t used to travel with you…. (Weird, I know.)

Luckily one of Shouko’s co-workers knows about the new job and so Yukari is able to find her and make a long overdue love confession.

It ends with a PUBLIC kiss in the department store! In front of the cake display (and a shocked / disapproving straight couple) Hooray!

I really liked this one, if you can’t tell. I like smut, which I got for once in a yuri, AND I particularly like it when the romance is between grown-ups, which this totally is! WIN/WIN!  If you are okay with rape-y lesbian sex, this might be one for you.

Plus I am having flashbacks to my 90s hair cut.

Black Night Parade by Nakamura Hikaru

Nakamura Hikaru-sensei is the creative genius behind Saint Young Men, the irreverent story of that one time Jesus and Budha were roommates.

Given the reputation of that manga, I should not be surprised to discover this bizarrely wonderful Christmas nightmare of a manga called, Black Night Parade. 

Black Night Parade features evil Santa, known as Nicht, who visits the bad children. He’s a tall, thin, black suit-wearing nightmare with a bag that isn’t full of goodies at all, but is hungry to devour your soul.

This story should either be too horrible to enjoy or downright too weird. But, I’m honestly on the edge of my seat and am deeply disappointed that only three chapters have been fully scanlated.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

The story follows a somewhat unlikeable young man named Hino Miharu. Like a lot of us, Hino is just sort of unable to get his act together. He failed his university entrance exams and so, for the past three years, he’s been working at a convenience store. It’s a crap job. His manager is a jerk and his younger co-worker takes advantage of him. His life is a complete disappointment both to himself and others. 

The cherry on the top to all this awful is that he’s stuck working Christmas eve. 

After an even worse day than usual, Hino goes home thinking he’ll just collapse into bed and try again tomorrow. He’s bummed because he used to love Christmas so much, back when his life was full of potential and everyone said he was a “good boy.”

He’s just about to put his keys into the door of his apartment when the frisky couple from upstairs giggle past him. Great, he thinks, now I’ll have to listen to their hubba hubba when all I want to do is sleep. MAGICALLY, a horumonyaki food truck appears. Horumon is offal, the word itself means “discarded goods.” Hino decides a bite of something to eat seems like a great plan (or at least a temporary distraction), especially since the stall also sells beer.

Nevermind that the guy selling the fried offal DOESN’T HAVE A FACE.

After a few beers, Hino and the food truck employee start chatting. Hino finally asks, “Your Santa suit is black, why?” The guy says, “Well, in real Christmas(™) there’s Red Santa, who brings presents to good kids, and then there’s Black Santa, who is in charge of the bad kids. 

As the guy is talking Hino realizes all the stuff the bad Santa is supposed to bring to bad kids is all there: coal, animal innards, a whip, and a hungry bag.

The bag  then eats Hino and he’s kidnapped to the North Pole where Nicht offers him a job as a helper for the work of punishing all the bad kids in the world. Weirdly (and I am truly baffled at this) Hino doesn’t accept immediately. 

Honestly, it is kind of his dream job? Plus it actually pays? 

In the second chapter we discover that they are, in fact, in the north pole and there are a LOT of people working for Nicht. 

The story so far is mostly about Hino uncovering the secrets of this new job while avoiding signing the employment contract. Part of what I am digging about this manga is the fact that all of this Nicht stuff is completely made up–it’s Nakamura-sensei’s own flipside of Christmas and I am absolutely fascinated by the world-building. Like, I dunno, even when things get weird and the bag seems to have a red Santa persona with a Colonel Sanders face???

Like I said at the start, I am all in on Black Night Parade. I’m going to have to find a way to be notified when new chapters are scanlated. I’m really very into this one, and I don’t understand it at all. I think what I like about it is that, unlike with Saint Young Men, the humor here is interwoven into the situation. This isn’t a gag manga, per se. It’s not 4-chome or full of puns. It’s just an insane situation that is also weirdly relatable? And the humor comes out of Hino’s predicament and Nicht is taken seriously? (And kind of drawn hot?)

I had tried Saint Young Men and bounced out of it. Perhaps I should try it again or one of Nakamura-sensei’s other manga.

I totally, fully recommend this manga, but the caveat is that I can’t imagine it’s for everyone. You kind of have to be weird in the ways I am in order to enjoy it.

11:59 by Bopul

I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked to discover that most of the manhwa that I’ve been finding that center around Christmas are ultra-sweet. It’s not like Santa and smut go hand-in-hand, after all!  

The newest short, four chapter Christmas themed manhwa that I found, 11:59 by Bopul, at least makes more sense than About Good Boys. It’s also a science fiction-y story that involves two characters stuck in a time loop.

11:59 Chapter 2 page 22 - Mangakakalot.com

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Our hero, Lee Mokhwa, is living the same day over and over, Groundhog’s Day style. But, instead of running a repeat of an obscure American holiday, Lee Mokhwa is reliving the day before Christmas.

When the story starts, Lee Mokhwa has sort of settled into it. Even though the weather report hasn’t predicted it, he lets everyone know that it’s going to rain this afternoon. Likewise, he knows that they can take the slow walk to school because the headmaster is going to be out sick. He doesn’t know why this is happening, but he’s resigned to it. 

Until he notices that the guy who sits in front of him in class, Choi Gyun, has also brought an umbrella to school. Lee Mokhwa used to be close friends with Choi Gyun in middle school, but they just sort of drifted apart. 

Lee Mokhwa decides that if Choi Gyun is also re-living this same day, their fates must be somehow entwined, and, more importantly, Choi Gyun might have a solution to the problem. But, when Lee Mokhwa tries to talk to him, he bolts like a scared rabbit.

The story, which is really so short that I kind of hate to spoil it, follows Lee Mokhwa as he comes to understand that Choi Gyun actually cursed them to relive this moment because he’s been wanting to invite Lee Mokhwa over for Christmas since grade school, but a rumor (that happens to be based in fact) that he is gay made him distance himself from the one he loves in order to protect Lee Mokhwa from the same bullying/taint. 

Lee Mokhwa had no idea there was even a rumor, but he doesn’t get why it’s a big deal. 

This only causes Choi Gyun to be more upset because, clearly, his vague disinterest must mean Lee Mokhwa is straight because a gay person would get it. 

Of course, it turns out Lee Mokhwa is just terrible at communicating that no, what he meant was, that would be GREAT because then they could be gay together. 

Maybe.

I mean, again? This one ends without even a kiss, but it’s much clearer that Lee Mokhwa cares for Choi Gyun a lot. So, I have a much better sense that Christmas Day is going to be quite lovely for these two young men. If nothing else, they will rebuild their friendship and, in my heart of hearts, they will continue on and become lovers.

If nothing else, Choi Gyun will not have to be lonely on Christmas Day.

It’s short, it’s Christmas-y, so I totally recommend this one.

About Good Boys by Po Teu

I found About Good Boys by Po Teu while looking for something with a Christmas theme. I’m not sure anything about this manhwa could be called a typical Christmas story.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

Choi Won is a budding sociopath. He’s spent most of his life doing what people asked of him, but, after shoplifting candy at a store one day, Choi Won discovers that being bad is a thrill. By the time Lim Jungwoo catches up to Choi Won, he has graduated from petty theft to torturing and killing small animals. 

And, thus begins an… attachment?

It’s kind of hard to call what happens between Choi Won an Lim Jungwoo as a romance. They end up bound together by Choi Won’s secret.  Lim Jungwoo doesn’t really want the burden of it, especially since he’s very much a classic bad boy–always late for class, constantly in a fight, and beat-up–and Choi Won really does have everyone fooled that he’s a perfectly good boy.  Choi Won has even managed to be popular.  Lim Jungwoo is the kind of person that people are scared of just looking at him. 

Everything about Choi Won irritates Lim Jungwoo. 

Yet, ever since that fateful day, when he saw Choi Won torturing and killing a bird, Lim Jungwood is… drawn to him? Horrified, yet intrigued? 

The rest of the story is them getting closer. Choi Won stops murdering small things, mostly because he’s aware that the next step up is people. He kind of makes a threat of it early, and so when they meet Lim Jungwoo’s abusive father, we’re kind of always expecting a literal axe to fall. 

It never does. 

At one point it seems like Choi Won might have pushed Lim Jungwoo’s dad down the stairs at school and killed him, but that turns out to be a red herring. 

Which is sort of this whole story in a nutshell? The relationship really never becomes anything, other than confessions of “you’ve become important to me and I want to see you laugh.” Which, I mean, is clearly love? But, there’s no kissing or even any suggestion that they might date. 

Choi Won spends the manhwa implying that once he’s an adult on Christmas, the kid gloves are off. He’s going to stop pretending he’s a good boy. 

Which… I mean, maybe that is supposed to mean he’ll come out? I think we’re supposed to assume that it means he’s going to fall into being a villain. But, maybe in Korea being gay is akin to that?

I’m not sure.

I ended up kind of enjoying it, however? Some of the translations are a bit clunky. But, you can guess what’s meant most of the time. The art is nice enough. In the way of manhwa, there is a lot of empty space used to imply emotional states, passage of time, etc.  

It’s a difficult one to recommend. The story is oblique at best. The romance is something less than a slow burn. There’s no smut, not even a kiss. Some fingers entwine, but that’s it. Worse, you’re expected to sympathize with a guy who breaks birds’ legs. But… I did? So, maybe it would be an interesting diversion for you, as well.

In the end, it’s not all bad.

“Les Sciences et Les Fantasies,” from Sakitcho Dakedemo/Even Just the Tip by Tojitsuki Hajime

Scanlators love to break up anthologies into their various chapters. In this case, the whole of Sakitcho Dakedemo is over here, but for some reason the singular chapter of “Les Sciences…” is here. (“Waterproof,” also seems AWOL from the volume.)

I sort of understand an editorial reason for splitting this one chapter from the others in this volume. For one, “Les Sciences et Les Fantasies,” is much gayer (in a traditional sense) and much smuttier than many of the rest of the stories in Sakitcho Dakedemo, but the entire volume is a really fascinating showcase of Tojitsuki-sensei’s range as a mangaka.

There is, as you know, gentle readers, a tendency in yaoi to make all the men very pretty. There is even a word for it: bishie.

The main character of “Les Sciences…” totally fits that bill, but most of the other men in the three remaining stories are really fairly atypical, in a way I found myself really rather appreciating.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

I’m going to review these in the order that I read them, so let’s start with “Les Sciences et Les Fantasies,” which follows our hero, Yoroizuka, a regular salaryman who ends up at a company with his ex-boyfriend, Koreeda. 

Yoroizuka can’t remember WHY they broke up three years ago, but the longer he works with Koreeda the more he finds himself lusting after the egotistical, “mocking” face gets when he laughs (his words, not mine!) 

Yoroizuka isn’t convinced getting back together is a great idea, however.  Koreeda was the opposite of romantic!  So, Yoroizuka stays firm in his resolution not to get re-involved, until he’s chatting with one of Koreeda’s lab assistants and discovers that Koreeda has been secretly working on a time machine in order to be reunited with a lover he lost… THREE YEARS AGO. 

That’s pretty romantic!

They rush back into each other’s arms and all is well. There is, however, one secret Yoroizuka will take to his grave. After sex, he remembers EXACTLY why he broke up with Koreeda. (I’m not going to spoil this one, because it’s actually quite cute.)

Switching over to the other stories, I will admit that I skimmed through “Underground,” and “Kanojo wa Shinda/She Died.” Both have love interests that don’t hit my buttons very hard? But, if you like scruffy guys who look a bit like Jesus, these might be for you. 

The first, “Underground,” is about a photographer who runs into a former university classmate that everyone had agreed was some kind of genius, only to discover that the classmate quit photography entirely. They end up living together and talking a lot. I skimmed. I suspect it was a good story, but I am not entirely in the mood for story at the moment (I’m in a much dirtier mood). 

The second one follows a guy who is trying to get to know his dead half-sister. He starts with the last place she lived and the man who lived with her. Again, I have to admit that I was very, “words, words, words, no sex, okay… NEXT!” so I’m not giving this particular story a very good description. 

I honestly wasn’t going to review this volume at all, but then I hit these next couple of stories and I wanted to share.

You just don’t see a lot of yaoi about rappers. But, “Okuyami Moushiagemasu (Please Accept My Condolences)” is, in fact, about a hot, young rap artist, Shibuya, whose DJ dies unexpectedly. At the funeral, the DJ’s mom gives Shibuya a note. In it is a recommendation for a new DJ back-up… since he was given this message from Beyond, as it were, Shibuya can’t not go check this guy out. However, he does NOT expect to have to go into a “Butler Bar” (the male version of a Maid Cafe, apparently.) Turns out this recommendation is kinda… gay, but Shibuya doesn’t have a lot of other connections so he gives the Butler-dude a chance. And, well, once you ask a guy to DJ for you, it’s basically marriage.

Then, there was my favorite chapter, the titular chapter “Sakitcho Dakedemo/Even Just the Tip.” I have never seen a love story that is clearly a yaoi (not bara) where the dudes are just kind of regular guys, like not especially attractive–except to each other (or, in this case, to one of them.) 

So, the set-up is that this kind of schlubby art student, Tokuji, is feeling kind of inspired. All the models at the university’s studio are starting to look like unappetizing slabs of meat to him. He hasn’t felt the SPARK in a long time. Despondent, he does what every depressed man in Japan does: he goes out for ramen. On his way to the shop, he runs into a guy taking out the garbage and it is literal lust at first sight. Like, he just sees this pretty average-looking dude and is like, “WHOA. HOT,” and then he sees the hint of a dragon tattoo and he becomes obsessed.

The rest of the story takes place almost entirely in Tokuji’s fever dreams/fantasies about the ramen guy and his tattoo.

It’s great.

It’s actually fairly smutty, too. The title comes from the fact that at least one dream is interrupted just as things are starting to get good.

I can not tell you why I liked this one so much. In a lot of ways, Tokuji is kind of a creeper? And, he and ramen guy never get it together in real life, but it’s sort of sweet in it’s own way? I can’t explain it. I just love how completely REGULAR these two dudes are. Not sculpted abs or any of that. Just a really cool tattoo. 

Anyway, I came for the science nerds and stayed for the tats.

Kind of typical of me, really.

I’m not sure I am recommending it? But, if nothing else, you should check out the full spectrum of men that Tojitsuki finds attractive enough to write manga chapters about. It’s staggering.

Kyou Kara Dame Inu/Dog, Starting Today by Sasamura Gou

I have a policy of reviewing every manga that I’ve read all the way through (or at least a significant portion of), and thus, much to my deep embarrassment, I must report that I read Kyou Kara Dame Inu.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

I suspect it will take me longer to describe this story to you than it will take you to read it for yourself. It’s a one chapter, one-shot that is… well, it’s about EXACTLY what you might think it is from the title. 

Our hapless hero, Aijima, is extremely clumsy. So, why he decided to take a job as a waiter, I’ll never know. He breaks dishes all the time and the manager is THIS CLOSE to firing him (or so he fears.) The last time he broke something he blurted out that he’d do anything! Anything! to avoid being fired, including (and why this occurred to him, one has to wonder,) “be your dog.” Just give me one more chance!

The light in the manager’s eye engites and he’s like, “Okay! Dea! If you screw up again, you will be my dog!”

Aijima is a little surprised at how quickly and enthusiastically the manager agrees, but thinks, okay, cool. He can’t be SERIOUS about the dog thing, anyway, right?

WRONG.

Sexy hijinx ensue. Though, honestly, they’re much more tame than I might have expected, all things considered. I have read smuttier dog-kink stories. The one that comes to mind is a manhwa called Make Me Bark by Sagold, which I reviewed back in 2018.

Would I recommend this short little romp? I mean, I dunno. Do you like collars?  The art of Sasamura-sensei is mercurial–sometimes I look at it and think “pretty!” and sometimes I look at it and it seems clumsy and clunky. So, hit-and-miss, I guess? But, that being said, this is ONE chapter. Hard to really form an opinion before it’s already over… so if you’re amused by the whole master/doggo thing? Sure, why not?

Mazu Wa Ubaiai!/First of All by Sasamura Gou

I don’t normally go to a random manga site and just start scrolling for something to read, but, for some reason, that’s exactly what I did today.  Somehow, what I found was this oddly cute seme vs. seme story, Mazu Wa Ubaiai!/First of All.  

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

The story focuses on two doctors. One is a kind-hearted, bisexual pediatrician (Sakuma), the other is an intense, gay surgeon (Takiyama), but they both top in the bedroom.  Until they meet each other, of course, then someone has to bottom if they’re going to get it on…. How to solve it? A perverted challenge of course!

They decide that whoever can get the other off first will get to be the one on top. Of course, the first time they try, they’re both satisfied at the same time.

Takiyama, who is the main character, refuses to give up. Suddenly, Sakuma is on his mind all the time. 

What I ended up enjoying about this five chapter yaoi is how the relationship slowly progresses from “I’m going to get you into bed!” into something more. One of my favorite scenes is when Takiyama ends up getting a candid picture of Sakuma. Sakuma is just at ease, at a party for one of his patient’s birthday parties, and Takiyama sticks it up at his desk. Suddenly, he finds himself looking at this guy he’s been schtooping in the public bathroom and the backroom and thinking, “Has he always been so cute?”

Takiyama has been “winning” the fight for top and suddenly decides that, you know, it might be okay to switch things up, especially if it would make Sakuma happy.

Turns out, Sakuma has just been waiting for two little words: “suki desu” –“I like you,” a.k.a. a love confession!

Awwwww….

Would I recommend it? Sure, probably. 

Sasamura-sensei’s art oscillates between a bit clunky and fairly decent. It’s not exactly pretty, but it’s not bad.  There’s a lot of smutty bits and it’s all consensual, so that’s something. The story is simple, but sweet.

Koiseyo Sennen NEET by Muzuhara Zakuro

Following up on other stories by Muzuhara-sensei, I stumbled across Koiseyo Sennen NEET which is… as charming as it is difficult to explain.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

.

In fact, ever since reading Koiseyo Sennen Neet, I’ve been trying to decide what a Western analog would look like. I feel like it might be a little like stumbling across an x-rated film featuring Tom Thumb or The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Because the hero’s love interest of this smutty story is none-other-than Urashima Tarou, a Rip van Winkle/pandora’s box-type figure from Japanese folklore. 

The original children’s story of Urashima goes like this: Urashima, a simple fisherman, comes across a wounded turtle and rescues it. In repayment for his kindness, the turtle wisks Urashima to the underwater palace of the Dragon King, where he is entertained by Otohime, the dragon princess. He spends when he thinks is a week in her company and then returns home, only to discover a hundred years have passed. The princess gave him a jeweled box, a tamatebako, with express orders not to open it. Of course he does, and he instantly ages a hundred years and dies.

The porn version starts with a non-descript salaryman, Hitachi Hayato, who is kind of at the end of his rope. He’s not super-happy at his job and they’ve got him working so much that he barely knows what to do with himself when he finally gets a day off, other than stress over the fact he will have to go back to that sh*thole again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

He’s walking along the beach in his business suit and doesn’t even notice a huge swell of the tide as it comes in and drags him off to sea. As he’s drowning, he thinks, “Well, at least I won’t have to go back to the office tomorrow!”

Instead of dying, however, he ends up saved a mysterious handsome man.

Honestly, at this point, I thought, “Oh! Unexpected merman yaoi! I love mermen yaoi!” Alas, as I mention in the opening, it turns out that this mysterious man is actually a character out of folklore, Urashima. We find out that, in reality, Urashima never returned to his village. In fact, he’s enough of a layabout that he’s decided that setting up a permanent residence under the sea in a swanky palace will suit him just fine. The entire palace staff, including the turtle he saved way back when, view Urashima as a bit of a load–a folklore version of a NEET (no Employment, Education or Training)–and call him Orohime’s “gigolo.”

Even our suicidal salaryman can’t stand that this folklore legend is actually just a complete waste of space and agrees at Orohime’s urging to set him “straight” (haha!) and make him a productive member of living society again.  Hitachi’s first order of business? Giving Urashima a stern talking to!

Which backfires.

Turns out, Urashima has been looking for someone who cares enough to threaten to beat him into shape. His heart goes “ba-dump,” and the meet-cute is set. Urashima instantly begins attempting to aggressively seduce our sad-sack salaryman, Hitachi. 

To be fair to Hitachi, he has a bit of trouble motivating himself to leave the Dragon Palace, too. Food is provided and someone else does his laundry, etc. But, he finds out during the course of his stay that Urashima has actually been missing home enough to have connected to the land of the living via a computer. He’s been showing off underwater photos on Instagram and has caught the attention of a wildlife magazine editor, who wants to offer him work.

A job for the NEET!

There is also a subplot involving the rescued turtle, his unrequited love for Urashima, and his actual relationship with Orohime’s brother, who is a seahorse… which leads to possibly the cutest (and oddly believable, if you know anything about real life seahorses,) mpreg/kid fic…. That–despite my usual resistance to the kink–I found weirdly charming. 

I have to also say that even though I spent several pages of this literally saying out loud, “I can’t believe I’m still reading this,” I ended up really liking the relationship between Urashima and Hitachi. 

Also, for once the female character was not at all seen as a detriment to the couple’s relationship. It was always clear that Urashima had been her lover for hundreds of years, but she had kind of treated him as a fun plaything (but not in a cruel way), and she was happy that he had found someone of his own species. She, in fact, makes plans to entertain real suitors and they part very nicely.

Believe it or not, I totally recommend this one. It’s complete in six chapters, moderately smutty, nicely drawn, and entertaining in a weird-but-compelling way.