Play Boy Blues by Shiuko Kano


There are five volumes of Play Boy Blues available on Mangago.  I’m… going to be stopping at the first volume, alas.   Normally, I’m all about gay gigolos. This time…? Meh.





I feel I understand what Shiuko-sensei is trying to do here, but it’s not translating.  (In some cases, literally. I went through the Mangago scanlation to refresh my memory and in places I could barely track the dialogue.) But, I think she’s trying to have these two guys–Junuke (brunette) and Shinobu (blond)–be realistic, heart-hearted, manly-men… only 100% gayer.

And, somehow gay = drama (and tears!), so they end up reading more like emo teenagers. “You’re jealous!” “No, you’re jealous-er!”

OMG please, no, boys. Stop with the dialogue and get back to the invisible penis sex!

There does, at least, seem to be a lot of sex happening in the first volume.  I suppose I should tell you the set-up, huh?  A couple of years ago, Shinobu recruited Junuke to work as a host at a club.  Now, Shinobu is semi-retired and Junuke is the new number one.  When doing an “after,” Shinobu ends up falling into bed with a paying customer–nothing new, right? Except, this time, it’s a GUY.  Having experienced the magic that is Teh Gay, Shinobu starts looking at Junuke, who has been his roommate (with benefits!), in a new light–an emotional light.  Sure, Shinobu and Junuke have f*cked before, of course, loads of times, but when this new hook-up makes his love confession, a light goes on for Shinobu–but in his HEART, not his head.  He starts to realize that maybe, all this time, he’s been a little bit smitten.

As far as ‘OH HOLY CRAP I MIGHT BE GAY’ moments go, I have to admit that I find this one fairly plausible.

There’s a LONG established relationship. The two guys have been living together for over a year, f*cking on and off, like you do when you’re a carefree gigolo, apparently.  So, to suddenly stop and think, “Whoa, what if I actually like-like him!?” is pretty legit, in my book.

But you see what I mean about the manly-men, but with 100% more gay now, right? These are two dude-ly dudes who do NOT with emotion, except…. suddenly they do.  And, that part doesn’t quite work for me, alas.

I wonder if I could read Japanese, if the dialogue would be more nuanced and interesting.  Usually, when translations vary this widely, as they do between the printed copy and the scanlated copy, that often means that the language is subtle, rich. (Weirdly, I first came across this phenomenon in Bleach. The official translations often read like an entirely different chapter than what the fan translator posited.)  So, maybe Play Boy Blues deserves its subsequent four volumes.  I just wasn’t invested enough in them to push onward.

TBF, I’m also in a weird reading mood right now. Does this ever happen to you?  I read a book I really enjoyed, but when I was done, even though I had two other books already picked out for myself to read in basically the same genre, I just haven’t picked them up.  My family calls this “book ennui.” (I suppose to be proper, we should call it “le livre ennui,” but you don’t want to hear my bad French accent, trust me.)

My point–and I do have one–is that it’s possible that in any other week, I might have found Play Boy Blues (colloquially known as PBB!) charming.  This week I can barely drum up a ‘meh.’


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