Otoko Hiromashita / The Man I Picked Up by C. J. Michaelski

I actually read the second half of this volume, a chapter called, “Ano Koro No Mama De Ite” on a different site, but when I went to Baka-Updates to see more about it, I decided to hunt down the titular chapter as well.

I’m kind of glad I did.

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The two separate stories in Otoko Hiromashita are held together by a location, a fictitious gay bar called “Boy’s Club,” where “cute younger men keep  other men company.”  From the fact there’s a “menu” of waiters to chose from, it’s basically a gay host club.

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The first chapter, “Otoko Hiromashita / The Man I Picked Up,” ended up being my favorite.  In it, we have the owner, Tamaki, who has the most fabulous, casual-wear wardrobe of any gay guy I have ever read in a yaoi…

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Yes, seriously, that pattern is… FAB-u-LOUS, honey!

The meet-cute involves our hero, Tamaki, finding his would-be love interest in the alleyway, beaten to a pulp.  Normally, he’d just call an ambulance and that’d be that, but the guy begs him ‘no cops.’  So… there’s a little hurt/comfort on the couch. When the stranger wakes up, he exclaims that he’s seen a vision of loveliness, a prince, and tries to kiss Tamaki.

Who promptly tosses him out the door.

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It’s love at first sight!  But, Tamaki is unconvinced. NO, PLEASE, says the guy, “I have nowhere to go.” Tamaki stays strong, though.  Thing is, he doesn’t normally go for the rough-and-tumble sort, so… but then he gets hit with something no blue-blooded man can resist: SAD, PUPPY-DOG EYES.

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Turns out, Tamaki has always wanted a dog.

I briefly wondered if things were going to get REALLY kinky here, but, as it happens, Tamaki simply adopts this guy, Kouta.

Kouta works really hard to be a good guest, too.  He keeps trying it on with Tamaki, occasionally, but he’s actually a big help around the bar.  He’s big and strong and eager, so he happily does all the jobs no one else wants–cleaning toilets, carrying in the deliveries, looking scary for the problem customers.

Except when the local mob shows up, then he makes himself scarce.  Turns out, he used to run with that gang…and even though there’s not much of a chance with Tamaki, (though when the boss’s old flame shows up Kouta discovers that Tamaki did have at least ONE other fling with a guy with a similar build to his own) he decides to go confront the local yakuza boss and tell him to stay away from “Boy’s Club.”

This results in hospitalization.

…And Tamaki wondering how he ended up attached to this big galoot.

The end.

I loved this. There’s only one sex scene, which is a kind of hurried grope, but the dynamic of this hit my favorite ‘odd couple’ buttons.  I can’t say you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did, but you really should read it just to see all of Tamaki’s outfits.

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Tamaki has never met a patterned shirt he didn’t love.

The second chapter “Ano Koro No Mama De Ite / Stay the Way You Were,” is the one I actually read first.  This story follows “Hiraku”–Hosaku is his real name but he thinks it’s old-fashioned and dorky–who works as a host at “Boy’s Club.”

Hosaku has long harbored a crush on an upperclassman from his old high school.  Years have passed, but he still thinks back fondly about all the times he went to the library to borrow books just so he could see Takano-sempai.

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Who hasn’t done something like this? 

He never thought he’d see the object of his affection again–especially now that he’s working in a “place like this.”

But, who should waltz in?

You guessed it in one.

Takano is now a salaryman and his colleague has dragged him out for a little nomikai. Colleague is already drunk enough that he thinks it’d be ‘funny’ to mix it up and go to a gay bar, for giggles.  Takano is unhappy about this, saying “this is not the kind of club to visit just out of curiosity,” but goes along, because this guy is probably his senior at the company.

Hosaku recognizes Takano right away, but hopes that his club pseudonym and the years are enough of a disguise.  He tries to hook Takano and his office buddy up with another host, but Takano wants him.

In fact, once they’re seated and have a few drinks, Takano cuts right to the chase:

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Not exactly, “What is a cute guy like you doing in a dive like this,” but….

To Hosaku’s credit, he’s like, “D’uh, because I’m super gay and this is the best way to meet hot guys and hook up with them!”  Office buddy is like, “Ooh, so, like, I could hire you for SEX???” and before Hosaku can even say anything Takano is like, “NOPE. I’m buying him.”

Upstairs, it seems that maybe Takano is pretty experienced in all this, even if things are a bit rough…

Afterwards, he’s like, “Oh, yeah, and from now on I’m you’re ONLY client.”

Hosaku is all, “hahaha, sure,” but you know this wouldn’t be a yaoi if that was the end of things.

Sure enough, by the final panel, we get a love confession. Turns out, Takano always admired Hosaku back and now that they’ve discovered they’re “the same way,” the long honeymoon can begin.

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Bonus cameo by one of Tamaki’s amazingly patterned shirts…

This chapter had a much longer, more explicit sex scene, so it’s probably best that these stories are read together for maximum… er, enjoyment.

I’m beginning to wonder if 2018 is going to be the year of “eh, I enjoyed it; ah, what the hell.”  Last year, I was all about the the slice-of-life happy stories about nothing, so maybe this will be year that I love all the randomly slutty yaoi.

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Boku to Neko to Hatsukoi Kousa / Me and Cat and First Love Intersection by Miyoshi Ayato

I found Boku to Neko to Hatsukoi Kousa / Me and Cat and First Love Intersection  completely by accident. I was just wandering around Mangago and stumbled across it.

The title is a play on words. There is an actual cat that occasionally makes an appearance in this yaoi, but really, the ‘neko’ (a slang term referring to a ‘bottom’ among the GLBT community in Japan) is the boy next door.

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Intrigued?  I was, and that wasn’t even the set-up that starts this thing….

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Our ‘neko’ above, Taisuke (often Tai-chan in the manga), has been living next door to Masao (Maa-chan) since forever.  Taisuke has a kind of crap life: his parents divorced because his father is an alcoholic–a mean drunk, who randomly throws bottles at his son and, it’s quite clearly implied, beats him up on a regular basis.  Mom calls from time-to-time, but isn’t much invested in her first born.  Masao has a decent life, and worries about his friend, but, you know Tai-chan is the sort to laugh all this stuff off.

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The story starts when Masao is treating Taisuke for yet-more-injuries and he notices some new kinds of marks on his body… Taisuke’s all, “Whoa look at the time” and they head off to school.

After school, while looking for his club activities, a sleepy Masao wanders into the wrong classroom… lo-and-behold, there’s Taisuke and a teacher in flagrante delicato. Masao would have turned around, except Taisuke calls for help.  Apparently, the teacher was taking advantage, though it’s not clear how–Taisuke says the teacher noticed all of his bruises and wanted to have a home visit, but Taisuke begged him not to, because that would only make things worse, and “this sort of happened.”

Masao is mad that someone got to Taisuke first.  Plus, ever since an incident when they were very little, Masao imagines himself Taisuke’s protector… and he clearly failed and he gets all emotional about it and “things sort of happen.”

It’s actually pretty cute.

The rest of the manga is about them figuring out how to be a couple while in high school. They have a lot of sex before figuring out they’re “that way.”

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There’s a word for that… what would it be… mmmm, starts with a ‘g’ rhymes with HEY!

To be fair to the boys, what they’re really figuring out is whether or not this is all just sex or if they love each other.

I ended up liking this one… maybe because Taisuke’s life kind of stays an unmitigated train wreck through most of this and Masao is wonderfully straightforward at times.  For instance, his solution to the girl who wants to date him is, after the classic attempts to just ignore her and hopes she goes away, Masao actually realizes that his non-committal is hurting Taisuke and just tells her, basically, “Listen, I’m gay and Taisuke is my boyfriend.”

She tells him that, you know, she’s pretty sure she’s a better cook than Taisuke… to which Taisuke points out a skill set he has.

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OK-ay then! I think you win that one!

So, yeah, I enjoyed it. It’s complete at one volume, too, so it’s a quick read.

 

Ai ni Somare / Dye of Love by Fujikawa Yuri

 

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At long last, I bring you a new yaoi review.

Unfortunately, Ai ni Somare / Dye of Love is another one of those volumes that MangaReader cut up into its various chapters, so my review of it is somewhat incomplete. The link gives you the whole story, but there are other, unrelated chapters, as part of this volume.

If I end up reading any of the other chapters, I will be sure to put the volume’s title in the tags.

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The set-up is pretty simple. Ai (whose name means “Blue”) is the producer of kimono dyes and is especially well known for his deep crimson colors. Previously spurred by his fashion-designer cousin, Tokiwa, Tokiwa returns into Ai’s life and is desperate for that special deep red dye, so desperate he tells Ai, he’d do ANYTHING for it….

ANYTHING.

Yeah, Ai has the same thought you did.

Tokiwa is a lady’s man, we’re told, but he doesn’t seem to have any kind of learning curve to get things going right away with Ai.  Maybe because he’s been living in France?  😉

There’s some other plot bits involving a Ai’s father taking credit for Tokiwa’s original dye formula and Ai being jealous of “other women,” but that all works out easily.

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At least say “other people” when you’re talking to a guy, maybe? 

This is not a deep one, but it’s plenty smutty, if not explicit.  It’s a fast read so it’s not difficult to recommend.  I initially thought the art might be too “wispy” for me, but I found it tolerable enough. So, yeah, I’m not ga-ga over this, but it was a pleasant enough diversion.

Futari no Renai Shoka / Our Romance Bookshelf by Yamakazi Kore

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I found Futari no Renai Shoka / My Romance Bookshelf by hitting the “surprise me” button at Mangareader.  Normally, I’m not much for straight people romances, but this one was cute (and complete in two volumes.)

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The premise is pretty straight-forward. Kanako and Akio are two book nerds that fall in love.

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The complication is that when they meet and Kanako blurts our “marry me!” she’s a college graduate and he’s in middle school.

I’d be more squicked about the age-gap, only he’s not drawn like a middle schooler and, perhaps more importantly, Kanako is only partly serious when she says it.  Akio has eidetic memory and can repeat full passages from books he’s read. When he recites one of Kanako’s favorites, she has the same moment I had when it was revealed in Dream Daddy that Damien had Naruto fan fiction in his library. I turned to my son and said, “I’m sorry, I have to marry this man.”

A lot of the rest of this manga is occupied with the question of how people are like books, and, particularly, the thought: sometimes you just like what you like.

There are some weird familial issues, too. Akio moves in with Kanako while still a high schooler, which he’s able to do because he’s that manga/anime phenomenon of the abandoned child of business workers, who just left town for a better job and abandoned their adolescent at home alone, sending the occasional packet of money home. (I just tried to do some Googling on this, and it does not seem to be a Real Thing, or is at least certainly not as prevalent as it is in anime and manga. If you have a source that proves me otherwise, PLEASE link me. I’d love to know more about this, if it’s a Done Thing in Real Life ™. )  Kanako, meanwhile, has a father who stopped caring for her after her mother died because “all his love was used up.”

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A lot of that is resolved by the end of the second volume, except Kanako’s parents. They’re just gone.

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But, beyond being baffled by some people’s (realistic?) lack of compassion, I enjoyed this manga and you might too.  It is, you could say, a ‘book’ you could curl up with while warming yourself under your comforters/kotatsu.

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Ao no Exorcist / Blue Exorcist (Chapters 94-95) by Katou Kazue

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Some of my longtime readers may remember my complete freak out over Weekly Shounen Jump‘s handling of the ending of Bleach.

To say that I was furious was probably an understatement. White hot burning suns may have been involved. I kind of lost my mind and went to Twitter in July of 2016 and took WSJ to task. I tagged them in tweet after tweet after tweet where I asked them what was the point of my subscription when pirate sites were two weeks AHEAD of their official English-language digital-only production and they wouldn’t even translate all the material, like a runner explaining the Bleach was ending in a matter of weeks.  I blasted them over and over and over and…

You get the point.

My best moment might have been:

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And then I promptly cancelled my subscription.

Well….despite the distinct lack of likes, comments, or re-tweets, WSJ might actually have been listening to me.

On a whim today, I decided to renew my subscription.

Listen, the thing is, I like officially supporting my mangaka, and I’m mostly over my saltiness over how WSJ handled the ending of Bleach (notice that I did NOT say I was over my feelings about the ENDING of Bleach.)  Frankly, they publish good stuff. Some of my current shounen favorites are WSJ products: My Hero Academia, Haikyu!, and, of course, Blue Exorcist.

Thus resolved, I paid my money and downloaded the most recent issue.  In it, I see Blue Exorcist: Chapter 97 “Beyond the Snow: Part 6.”  And, I’m, like, wait. The last chapter I reviewed here was Chapter 93!  I went to my usual sources for scans because, in the past, the other problem with WSJ was that it was always AT LEAST a week behind the pirates, and I thought, “Sh*t, they must have scanned up to 98 by now!”

Except they haven’t.  I can only find up to chapter 95: “Beyond the Snow: Part 4”

There’s an actual value to my subscription again, because I’ve now read up to chapter 97…. which leads me to a new conundrum.

What do I review here?  Obviously, the current WSJ is out. I own it. In my capacity as a reviewer, I can talk about all of it.  In fact, it actualy behooves WSJ for me to post pictures and teasers and tell you all about the upcoming chapters, because it could (and, if I do my job right, it SHOULD) prompt you to run out and buy a subscription for yourself.

HOWEVER.  I kind of feel like the average fan of Blue Exorcist / Ao no Exorcist is doing one of two things: reading chapters as they hit the pirate sites OR buying the official tankōbon as they come off the presses.

Also, depending where you are, Weekly Shounen Jump (English) might not be available for you. So, encouraging people to buy a subscription is fine, but there are a lot of English readers of these manga who don’t actually have a valid way to pay to play, as it were.

More to the point, I don’t imagine that this is the site that people go to for information they can’t get elsewhere. I suspect (and again, HOPE,) that what you’re tuning into is my take on what you’re also reading.  A shared community of fannishness, if you will. That’s why most of my reviews on chapters like this start: “[manga title] chapter [#] is out. Go read it. I’ll wait.”

I’m waiting to share with you.

But now I have potentially valuable information, too.

Thus, the conundrum.

So, what do you, my readers, think I should do?

While I wait for the answer, I’ll at least let you know what I think of the two widely available chapters 94 &95:

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We open the chapter with the arrested Lewin Light, being his usual weirdo self. He’s super happy at being treated like a criminal by Redarm and the rest of the Exorcists.

Light’s excitement over his predicament is hampered by the fact that demons are spawning everywhere and Redarm is leaving him in order to take command of the exorcist troops… Light seems especially distressed to discover that the Paladin has gone to guard the “artificial Gehenna Gate” which is apparently being attacked by a… yeti?

Um? Yeti are yokai now? …. Okay.

ANY-way, back to the story. Light brings up the Mephisto‘s barrier of the Hellmouth Gate is set to expire soon, which seems kind of unrelated, except, Light gets very cryptic about all this and COULD NOT LOOK MORE SUSPICIOUS when he says, “I hope nothing unexpected happens.”

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[In Godfather voice] “Sure would be a shame if something was to happen to ya boy.”

Because, sure enough, something totally unexpected happens to Mephisto.

After talking the prime minister into revealing the existence of demons, Mephisto goes on TV to field questions at a press conference.  Only, Yukio has followed him with the intention of confronting him about what he learned about his past from the files Bon sent him. This does not… go well.

In fact, instead of answering Yukio’s burning question (see what I did there? Do you? ‘Cuz of his eye!  Get it? Get it?), Mephisto has one of the best lines ever: “Sorry! I simply don’t have the time to accompany children on journeys of self-discovery!”

I mean, I get why someone would want to shoot Mephisto in the head after that remark.

But, it wasn’t Yukio that did it, despite the fact that he clearly had his gun trained on him. Boob Lady is right. The angle is all wrong.

ao-no-exorcist-10009915.jpgBut, that doesn’t stop the authorities from grabbing the wrong guy. Yukio is forced to the floor and dragged from the scene.

Rin, meanwhile, has been racing to try to find his younger brother, having overhead from Bon that Yukio has gone off the rails.  He arrives too late, but Boob Lady gives him some important information:

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Can I just say? I love how this is drawn. The silent exchange, the desolation of the Rin outside of the van with the snow falling… the two panels of the extreme close-ups on their eyes: one shocked the other… pitying?

LOVELY.

Meanwhile, just as Light suggested, something unexpected happened. Mephisto’s body has grown too weak to keep himself alive AND hold the gate, so, being a demon and selfish (no shade!), he choses to focus on his own survival and literally lets loose Hell.

Rin, who was told explicitly by Boob Lady to go home and lay low, bursts back into the True Cross Academy and exclaims that he’s going to mount a rescue.

When the curtain falls on these two chapters, that’s exactly what he’s done. He blows up Yukio’s cell with a “I’m here to rescue you!”

The question is, will Yukio appreciate his onii-chan efforts or not?

Of course, I now know the answer, but for now, I won’t say.

What about you? If you’re reading this, what did you think? Also, don’t forget to let me know if you want information from the Jump chapters or not.

Min’na, Arigatō !

Gangsta 48 by Kosuke (46 & 47, anyone?)

Speaking of splatter-fests, the newest chapter of Gangsta. is out at various scanlation sites. It is labeled as 48, though the last one I reviewed (and which seems to be out) is 45.

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I’m a terrible Gangsta. fan.  I mean, here it is, the end of Marco/Connie and I should be in tears. Yet, my only source of any feels is this panel spread:

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Do not hurt my PRECIOUS CINNAMON BUN, KOSUKE-sensei. I will hunt you down and kick you in the shins and yes I know you’re sick but DO NOT WITH MY BABY BOY.

I will be happy, however, if Connie is able to take out Striker with her final act. I hate that guy.

Likewise, given this couple of panel teaser with Nic, I am hopeful that the next chapters will bring us back to the main story arc.  “Hopeful” being a relative term, given that, if I remember correctly, Worick is working for the biggest anti-Tag doucenozzle, Corsica, in his guise as “Storage,” which just bodes so, so ill. Of course, speaking of “this can’t end well” scenarios, Nic has already agreed in Chapter 43 to give Dr. Theo his corpse to study, after he completes an ominous “final order” (which one PRESUMES is from Worick.)

So, we may be hurtling towards a grim, grim ending.

I mean, I do hope that Kosuke-sensei gets a chance to see her story to completion while she is still well enough to write and draw it, so you know, god speed and all that.

But, to quote the Star Wars franchise: “I have a VERY BAD feeling about this….”

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Brief UPDATES (with spoilers) of other manga chapters:

 

For anyone who depends on me (not likely) for alerts as to when some of the things that I follow have been updated, here’s a few that I’m reading, but have not individually reviewed:

Wombs: there have been three chapter updates since last I posted. As of this date, MangaHere has published up to: Chapter 35: Homecoming (19 weeks). What can I report about it? These last few chapters have gone deep on the political machinations between Dr. Lin and our stalwart Sargent Armea.  Something is rotten in transfer space and Olga is trapped in some kind of faux utopia… until she isn’t. This is getting into weird territory, but this manga has kind of been like that from the start. I’m glad someone seems to be continuing the work of scanlating this, however.

Watashi ga Motete Dousunda / Kiss Him, Not Me: has two new chapter updates since I last reviewed it. They’re now up to Chapter 52: Their First Time?? The question of is Yoshiro stealing our heroine’s boyfriend is answered:

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And then this whacky “it should have been over when she picked one guy” reverse harem manga continues with an installment in which our two love birds realize that both of them are virgins and have zero clue how to get it on. They solve this in a typical for this manga way: our heroine realizes she’s straight and checks out shoujo manga; our hero talks to his fellow harem members who give him the straight talk (as it were) on how to take the lead (and remember consent!)

Bad Police by Saruwatari Tetsuya

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Apparently, 2018 is the year Lyda reads all the blood-spatter manga. I was hunting around for something new and, I’m sorry, but how was I supposed to resist anything with the title: Bad Police?

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Visually, this manga looks so much like Akira that I wondered if the mangaka was in some way associated with its production.  As far as I can tell (please correct me if you know otherwise), Bad Cop is just a product of its time (1985) and a terrible, if deliberate homage/pastiche.

But, I mean, look at this bōsōzoku b*st*rd:

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This is “Hyena” a former biker gang member turned police officer. He’s not big on the rules, in fact, his favorite pastime seems to be exploding people’s…oh, sorry, criminal’s faces (who totally don’t need the benefit of due process–nope, not even when you’re a kind-hearted, possibly mentally deficient guy who is clearly being manipulated by an evil older brother) with his giant, extremely manly gun.

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You thought I was being sly?  No, sometimes a gun really is a metaphor for the size of one’s penis.

Was this entertaining?  Eh, only as a period piece. I can’t actually recommend it, unless you’re just genuinely curious how “Hyena” ends up naked with a gun between his legs (spoiler: man manliness.)

To be fair, Bad Police has a certain kind of Kenpachi appeal.

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Text reads: VIOLENCE: if it’s not solving all your problems, you simply aren’t using enough of it.

There are actually two other stories in this collection, one about a bomber who gets a cybernetic arm (cleverly titled “Bomber”), and another about a tough-as-nails woman, who also likes to drink hard and blow people’s brains out (“Artemis”).

I mean, it’s short. If you can handle a lot of gore, it’s probably mildly amusing enough to be worth the twenty minutes it will take you to read the whole thing.

Besides, learning that violence is always the answer, there’s this life lesson to be learned from Bad Police: remember, kids, if you get shot over twenty times, it helps to be the hero of an action manga with a lot of “will.”

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