After Morning Love by Fujii Mitori

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So… once again, I went looking specifically for “animal characteristics” and ended up with a volume that had one story that fit that category.  I would complain, except that I really rather liked the main story.

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Matsuno is not the kind of guy who pulls drunken one-night stands, so he’s especially surprised to wake up one morning, hungover, with a rent boy named Rin in his bed.  This is particularly surprising because Matsuno considers himself straight.

To be fair to Matsuno, he’s one of the straightest of the “straight seme”s that I’ve seen.  I mean, he’s had a taste of Teh Gay, after all, and it does not magically or instantly queer him up.  Plus, he lives in ni-chome in Shinjuku (which our translator tells us is a well-renown gay neighborhood) and hangs out in a bar frequented by gay guys (the bartender is bi, and is clearly a college-buddy, longtime friend of Matsuno’s).  If he was going to randomly start finding dudes cute, he would have done it by now…

But, there’s something about Rin.  Rin tells us he was kicked out of his house for being gay and so he’s turned to hustling in order to have somewhere to spend the night.

Matsuno wants to offer his place, but, in talking about it to the bartender, the bartender warns Matsuno to be careful. It would be unkind to lead Rin on, since there’s no hope for love with a straight guy.

Matsuno actually tries really hard to abide by this.  But, he sees Rin chatting up a trick in the alley and pulls him away.

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Because of my own proclivities, I love the tiny scene of the salaryman clutching his briefcase wondering if Matsuno is Rin’s pimp or yakuza.  Gods, I’m easy.

At this point, Matsuno really just wants to tell Rin to stay at his place and not work the streets, but he’s afraid of coming on too strong.  For once, this motivation makes sense to me.  He’s straight and he knows saying, “Stay at my place, quit hustling” is basically saying, “I will be your sugar daddy.”  He doesn’t want to set either himself or Rin up that way, so he compromises by telling Rin he can stay at his place if he ever strikes out… or, you know, just doesn’t want to work that night.

Rin likes being fussed over, but has sussed out that Matsuno is straight af.  So, he makes agreeing noises, but he stays away.

Until one night, when Rin turns the wrong trick.  He gets battered and, having nowhere else to go, ends up at Mastuno’s.  Cue: hurt/comfort.  At this point, Matsuno starts insisted that Rin stay at his place.

YET, things stay platonic.  Rin starts talking to his hustler friends because, man, Matsuno is everything Rin wants in a guy.  He’s handsome, steady, and seems to sincerely care for him.  Hustler friend says, “Look, only heartache is going to come from falling for a straight guy,” and offers to set him up with a good client who is interested in something steady. The client is a little pushy (wants to bareback), but Rin finds himself feeling kind of empty afterwards and can’t wait to get home to Matsuno.

Bartender suggested to Matsuno that if he’s going to be all jealous like this, maybe he should try to help Rin get off the streets.  So, Matsuno gets Rin a job–as bartender’s apprentice.

Things seem to be picking-up in Rin’s life.  Matsuno tries to get Rin to work things out with his dad enough to get his health insurance straightened out, but Dad is a huge homophobe and instead of talking has set all of Rin’s stuff out on the sidewalk.  This makes Matsuno sad and, not knowing that it is similar to a marriage proposal, offers to adopt Rin.

This was news to me.  I knew that in Japan, adult adoption is thing.  I somehow missed that, culturally, this has been how the Japanese solved some of the legal issues of gay marriage (since that’s still not legal in most districts.)  Wikipedia says, “The adoption of one individual by another in Japan is commonly used as an alternative to same-sex marriage, which does not exist in Japan. By the elder party adopting the younger (as stipulated by the rules of adoption), the estate of either party can then be inherited or absorbed by the other without the payment of the prohibitive gift tax that would otherwise apply.”

Rin is, of course, shocked and gives an emphatic “NO” and runs off in tears.

Luckily, queer bartender helps Matsuno figure out what he did wrong.  Matsuno, however, realizes that the idea of ‘marriage’ doesn’t freak him out that much.  He kind of digs on the idea of a life together with Rin. They’ve been living that way for a while now, after all.

Working at the bar, Rin runs into the ‘good client’ in an alleyway.  Rin had been sent to fetch fruit for the fruity drinks, and was making his way back.  “Good client” shows his true colors by beating up and raping Rin.  (Almost all of it is off-screen. This is very much BL instead of smut.)

That’s it for Matsuno, though. He wants to be Rin’s protector, his HUSBAND.  So, he offers again, and explains that, no, he knows what he’s asking this time, and he loves Rin–not just in a platonic, big-brother kind of way, but like let’s do the sexy stuff kind of love!

That would be great, but Rin is worried that since the “good client” finally got his opportunity to go without a condom, he might be infected with AIDs. So, they have to wait to find out the results of the test.  In four months, they can do it, but not sooner. Rin won’t risk infecting Matsuno.  Not even with a kiss.

Test comes back negative and it’s smoochy-smoochy happily ever after for the guys! Hooray.

I actually really like this story, despite the lack of sex. The relationship-building seemed more plausible to me than many of these set-ups (particularly with a straight seme) and… ugh, true confession time, I totally love stories with sex workers.  Also, there is a tiny bit of implied yakuza goings-on in the bar that also worked for me because I love yakuza stories, too. So by chance, this one hit a lot of buttons for me.

I adored the fact that when they finally go for it, Matsuno has done his research and Rin is the one who wants things to be ‘what it’s like when people are in love.’

It’s actually kind of romantic that way.

The animalistic stuff appears in “The Ear’s Feelings.”  It’s fanatical story where, like Kafka’s cockroach, our hero randomly and spontaneously wakes up with cat ears. His coworkers tell him that they sort of like the ears because previously he’d been the sort of person who was hard to read. Now his ears give away his emotions. In fact, they work just a little too well, and a male co-worker finally twigs to the idea that ear boi finds him hot.

When they sleep together, they trade. Suddenly Interested Co-worker ends up with the cat ears.

There is some jealousy because all of the office ladies find the ears super-kawaii. Our hero is forced to make a love confession and somehow this makes the ears transfer to the company’s boss (? or maybe the joke is that Interested Co-worker is actually a run around and is trying to blame the sudden appearance of the cat ears on the boss as being an “airborne” virus.)

Obviously, I liked the morning after love story better. If you want a bit of romance and aren’t in desperate need of smutty smut, you can read After Morning Love at Mangago.

Bachi Bachi by Kuma Hyougo

I went looking under the tag “animal characteristics” at Baka-Update and was promptly inundated by a flood of choices, most of them NOT yaoi.  Alphabetically, this is the first one I found that looked promising.

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So, the guys on the cover aren’t actually animals or have animal characteristics.

In fact, they’re regular high school volleyball players.  They are the stars of the first chapter, “Bachi Bachi,” in which it looks like we’re getting set-up for the little guy to facilitate a love confession between his two senpai. What ends up happening, instead, is that they both confess they’re in love with him.  Very graphic sex ensues and they become a happy-for-now threesome.

The second chapter, “Youth, the Color of Sunset,” which involves another hottie dad….

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I’m beginning to worry about myself, but look at his guy!

In this story, we have a lonely, super-gay hairdresser who is working late one night when a pushy young woman comes in and demands that he make her dad hot, so Dad can find a woman. It seems he’s been divorced for some time and that was all fine when the daughter was still at home, but she’s off for college now, and it’s time for dad to get some action.

Guess where he finds it?

Yep, got it in one.

“Samurai Honeybee” follows a kick boxer who decides to try out a karate class at his local gym.  The normal instructor steps aside and let’s his super-attractive, younger apprentice teach the course. Kick-boxer is immediately smitten, but initially thinks his desire is to surpass the little runt and show him how awesome his skills are.

Instructor-kid is my usual type…. (the one staring stupidly out at us below:)

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As he’s actually an ex-gang member who turned to Karate to get out of the life of crime (I’d say “straighten-up” except… yeah, there’s nothing “straight” about what happens next.)  In his past, he looks even more like my usual sort:

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Playing out the scene we all want in a shounen anime, our kick-boxing main character challenges youthful karate instructor to a duel. If kick-boxer can beat karate instructor, he gets to dominate him.

And… that works out exactly how you hope. Right there in the dojo….

“Nana-nii-san’s dog and cat: 723-1122” is the “animal” chapter.  Here we have a science fictional universe where at some unnamed point in the future a virus spread that made most people infertile. The Japanese response to this, apparently, was to create human/animal hybrids.

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When the virus was cured, the “pets” were tossed out onto the street to perish from neglect.  Our hero, Nana (Seven), who is, himself a clone, has adopted two of these strays.  There is another threesome in this one that is kind kinky, and maybe hot??–I’m not sure I want to admit that, though.

The cat is charmingly cat-like, so that amused me.

The next chapter is called “Hatagaya Lullaby” and follows an old-fashioned, middle-aged author and the young goth rockstar that live in the same apartment building. They meet by accident and start up an intellectual affair–this might be one of the first times I’ve seen this kind of meet-cute.  The rockstar has read sensei’s work and they pass time talking about literature and eventually sensei, even though he really doesn’t fit with the goth scene, appreciates the similar artistry and poetry that goes into song lyric writing.

This, somehow, miraculously, leads to sex.

Clearly, the mangaka does not know any real novelists.  😉

The last chapter, “Blue, the Color of Depression” is a return to hairstylist and hottie dad, who have now moved in together.  Hairdresser is feeling like a bad partner because when he comes home, he finds hottie dad passed out on the couch, sick. Dad refuses to let hairdresser take care of him, but after a call to the daughter, hairdresser finds out that Dad just needs some attention.

Hairdresser takes time off work to be with Dad and everything is good again.

Kinda cute, I guess. It is actually sweet to have a romantic story in among a lot of very graphic smut.

Speaking of all the smut, I totally recommend this one.  I had a hard time finding a place that had all the chapters AND wasn’t totally riddled with spyware/pop-ups (the problem with full-on graphic images, I imagine), but, eventually, I discovered the full version of Bachi Bachi on MangaPark.

Have fun, kids. Read responsibly.

Your Honest Deceit / Kimi no Tsuku Use Hontou (vol. 1) by Ajimine Sakufu

I only just noticed this is volume one (of two), so I have to apologize for my incomplete review. If you want to read the whole thing, Mangago has it.

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I liked this one more than I expected to, but I’m not sure that’s saying much.

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I was in a hurry when I was at Quatrefoil, so I grabbed a bunch of yaoi at random, with no rhyme or reason.  I mean, that’s part of the fun of it, right?  But this cover made me go ‘meh,’ and so I left it for last.

The main story follows a young lawyer, Kuze, who has finally landed his dream job–or maybe, more accurately has landed a job with a dreamboat boss, Kitahara-sensei, that he’s been pining after since Kitahara was a guest lecturer at law school.

Is it disturbing to me that Kuze never drops the formality of full surname + honorific the entire volume?  I’m guessing that’s meant to be part of the kink, because Kitahara definitely falls into ‘hot dad’ territory.  ‘Hot dad’ is not a place I normally go, but I will admit to really enjoying Kitahara’s dad haircut.

 

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This hair game is on point. Good hair is Important.

I found Kitahara weirdly attractive, what can I say?  He’s not my normal type at all, (see: bad boy with weird/wild hair.) But, I kept turning the page to look at him, which is clever on the mangaka’s part, because, otherwise, the story is a bit of a slow-burn.

Kuze didn’t really think he had a shot with the boss, see, because it was well-known that Kitahara was married. Kuze starts to have hope when he notices the ring gone, but then rumors are swirling around the office about whether or not Kitahara is getting back with his wife.  A drunken love confession is contrived for reasons of plot, and Kuze figures he’s screwed everything up for himself. Luckily, Kitahara is bi, or at least down with the idea of trying it on with Kuze.

The big moment comes, they’re getting hot and heavy, a little blow job action is happening, and it suddenly hits Kitahara that, hey, maybe Kuze has done this a time or two before.  Stupidly, he says something to this effect. (Pro tip: It’s never a good idea to make your lover feel like a ‘ho.) Kuze runs off, upset, convinced that Kitahara finds his queerness “disgusting.”

Luckily, they both know a private detective that helps Kitahara track down Kuze in a hurry (there is some handwaving as to why Kitahara doesn’t just phone the guy or walk back to the office and rummage through his HR file for the address.) I bring this up because the inclusion of the absolutely random P.I. baffles and delights me.

It all works out and they become a couple. The rest of it settles into an at-work relationship drama. Highlights include: Kitahara getting jealous of an old lover (which in Kuze’s case is a double-entendre because he’s into “geezers,”) and there is on-the-desk office sex, because if you’re doing this kind of story, it’s sort of like the gun over the mantlepiece, am I right?

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The office romance appears to continue in the second volume.

Interestingly, none of the on-line sources I found for Kimi no Tauku Uso to Hontou includes the second set of unrelated stories, “Honey*Bunny” and “Cutie*Bunny.”

“Honey*Bunny” and “Cutie*Bunny” continue the mangaka’s obsession with age gaps and stoic/cold lovers, where one of the couple refers to the other, formally.

So, we have Yuu and Kono-san.  The twist in this set of stories is that the elder, and former teacher of Yuu, Kono-san sleeps with a cute stuffed animal.  Yuu really wants the snuggles that the bunny gets.  He gets no respect until, after a series of events that leads Yuu to think Kono-san is swanning off with someone else on Yuu’s 20th birthday, Yuu gets so mad and jealous that he calls Kono-san by his first name, “Toru,” without thinking.

“Cutie*Bunny” involves more jealousy, this time with an ex of Toru/Kono-san’s who sends him a giant stuffed bunny.  (Just when they got rid of the last one!) Yuu stalks Toru to the meet-up (at a gay bar, ‘natch, with a trans bartender for the same random reason, I suppose, as the PI,) where it is revealed that the gift was a good-bye, as the old flame is going straight and getting married.

There is almost zero on-screen sex in these two chapters. (There’s some implied sex in the opening and some kissing.)

Would I recommend it?  Like I said, I ended up sort of liking Ajimine-sensei’s art. So, if you’re looking for well-drawn romantic drama, this could be a nice diversion.  It’s certainly short, especially given that the on-line versions skip the secondary stories.

It’s not terribly sexy, however.

But, you know, there’s something to be said for a decent story with good art.

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Man’s Best Friend / Inu mo Akurekeba by Takashima Kazusa

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The love of a dog is unconditional.  At least, that’s what my friends who have dogs tell me.  You see evidence of this sentiment all over, though, am I right? Bumperstickers that say, “Be the person your dog thinks you are,” etc., etc.

Well, in Inu mo Akurekeba / Man’s Best Friend our hero,  Ukyo, gets to discover just how awesome it is to be loved by a dog.

And, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, but, actually, this story is really sweet.

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 This is another one I picked up at Quatrefoil.  I actually remember thumbing through it in the used section of Barnes & Nobel, many years ago, before I really understood my deep and unabated love for yaoi.

What is weirdly awesome about the title story (because this is actually another story collection), is that, even though Kuro is able to shapeshift into the hotty on the cover, he is actually a dog.

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The dog has been praying to the moon, every night, to be able to meet his beloved, Ukyo. One day it happens. Kuro, a stray, is being picked on by some kids, and Ukyo rescues him and takes him home.  When he gets excited, he transforms into a human:

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Mostly.

He still keeps his ears and tail, though, like you do.

And then you know, there’s a lot of licking and excited sex, and, I swear, despite how that sounds, it’s actually a really sweet story.  Ukyo tries to keep Kuro’s magical nature a secret, but the problem is….well, you know dogs, right? You say, “Kuro! Let’s go for a walk!” and suddenly you have a six foot one naked man with a tail who really really wants to go for a walk, but who isn’t really sure how these two-legs creatures do that two-legged thing.

It’s stupidly adorable.

If you can get over the fact that this is basically a dog, it’s plenty sexy, too.  I mean, they go for it ALL THE TIME.  I guess, you know, like a dog would.

The next two chapters, “Summer’s Here Again” and “Pinpoint Lovers” about two thoroughly human childhood friends, Kasumi and Kentaro. When Kasumi had to move away, Kentaro made a promise to wait for him… only, apparently, he thought Kasumi was a girl.  So, when Kasumi shows back up in town Kentaro is in for a shock.

He gets over it pretty quickly, though.

What I like about this one, though, is that the two guys spend time becoming friends again.  We get a kind of relationship montage, where it’s clear they’re spending the summer just doing things together and Kentaro is realizing that maybe there’s a different reason why he’s jealous of all the female attention Kasumi gets.  Like, maybe he doesn’t want the girls, so much as he wants the guy.  So, one night when they’re reminiscing, Kentaro makes a move.

They have a brief moment of, “oh, oops, I slept with you and maybe that wasn’t cool” where they then avoid each other for the rest of summer, until Kentaro gets wind of the fact that Kasumi is cutting his vacation short.  Kentaro rushes to make his love confession and we get to more sex and a HEA.

Though the next chapter shows the downsides of trying to have a long distance relationship… this one is also, ultimately, very sweet.

The last chapter is probably the weirdest one, “Princess Goldfish,” in which a guy rescues a goldfish from being tossed aside, after having been won at a fair.

Did your county fairs do this? Ours did. You could win a goldfish in a plastic bag, if you got the pingpong ball to balance on some glass or something. It was actually a fairly easy game to win, and I must have murdered more than my share of goldfish, because who has an aquarium waiting at home? It’s interesting how universal this is between cultures.

At any rate, this guy overhears some kids wondering what they’re going to do with the goldfish and they basically say, “I dunno, I guess I might as well dump it now,” and our hero rushes in and saves the fish.

Who, later that night, turns into a naked boy and… yeah.

Goldfish sex.

I mean it’s kind of classic right? The hero gets a reward for acting kindly towards [fill in the blank].

Except, magical goldfish….????

Eh, it was a fast read, and maybe was a dream? I dunno, I regret nothing.

Would I recommend it?  I would, but hesitantly.  I think if you have an Ah-What-The-Hell casual attitude towards shape-shifting/beast stories, you could find some humor and sweetness, particularly in the dog stories–though the childhood friend story was mainstream yaoi, so there is that, if nothing else.  The sex was plentiful, but was never in the category of super-hot, for me.  So take that as you will.

 

Dining Bar Akira / Kuimonodokoro Akira by Tomoko Yamashita

I picked up this volume of Dining Bar Akira / Kuimonodokoro Akira at Quatrefoil, but you can read it on-line at MangaReader.net (linked to the title, above.)  For some reason, Dining Bar Akira has its own Wikipedia page, possibly because there was a drama CD released in Japan?

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This volume is actually a collection of shorts. The table of contents is offered as a menu, which is kind of cute, except that not all of the stories have anything to do with working a restaurant.  The largest one (five chapters, plus an afterward of character sketches,) however, is.

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Is it weird that I’m sort of disappointed we don’t see more about the Dining Bar itself?  I don’t really know what a dining bar is in Japan, even after having read this whole manga.  I wish I knew a lot more about what is served at a dining bar, how they work, what kind of customers they get… anything slice-of-life-y!

Instead, I get a bunch of dude emotions.

Much to my dismay, the story focuses on straight boi, Akira, who receives a love confession from the surly Torihara (pictured above on the left). Having a homo hit on him freaks him out, makes him angry, and, of course, aroused.  Cue: five chapters of a lot of “I hate you!” “No, you don’t!” “Yes, I do!” “Why’d you kiss me, then?”

Except, some how, we never see the kissing.

There seems to be some actual sex going on, but we hardly see any of it, and so occasionally I was confused when Akira grumbles about the fact he’s dating Torihara (Akira grumbles about everything) and all they’ve done is mess around. I was like, “Wait? When have you even touched him, other than to Grab His Arm ™ ?”

Can someone please explain to me when Grabbing Someone’s Arm ™ became some kind of universal romance gesture in yaoi?  I only ask because I’m currently watching Junjo Romantica and it really seems like the Grabbing of the Arm ™ is always stop-framed, given a close-up, and seems to be some kind of visual shorthand for “I am gay and I am making a claim.”

I guess gay dudes are grabby?

Grabby and crabby in this yaoi, anyway.  I did, however, like the one chapter that seemed to be from Torihara’s point of view where, when Akira drags him off to play an early morning game of baseball, he comes to realize that maybe just hanging out with someone is as romantic as it gets. I find this true to life (although, dude, you CAN ask for dinner and a movie night. Honestly, you don’t have to be the world’s saddest sack, begging for love crumbs.)

Sad people in sh*tty relationships does seem to be the volume’s theme, however.  The second story is called “Foggy Scene” about a high schooler who is in love with a straight classmate and, in frustration, goes off for skeevey hook-ups. One of he hook-ups ends up being with a substitute English teacher, who ends up at his school.  He and the English teacher (who is 31 to his 16) strike up a non-relationship/sex thing and the high schooler pines after his straight best friend, until one day the best friend sees him and the teacher getting it on on the rooftop, the end.  It’s called a foggy scene because our hero’s contact falls out and he has no idea how people are reacting to the big reveal of him being kind of slutty.

The last, very short scene is called “Riverside Moonlight” in which our hero wakes up from a wet dream about his pudgy (who is not drawn all that fat, so whatever) co-worker. He then proceeds to attempt to ask him out by basically saying, “Hey, you’re desperate, I’m desperate. I’m good at sex.  What do you say?”

It ends before we find out of anyone says yes or if our hero is just having a mental breakdown in front of his straight co-worker.

I mean, wow.

I feel like Yamashita-sensei is some kind of apprentice/fan of Fumi Yoshinaga-sensei in that there’s this sense that the mangaka is trying really hard to be über-REALISTIC, but is actually just being kind of depressing.  I mean, I get it as a push-back against some of the more ridiculous yaoi tropes, but… I don’t know.

I guess I’ll be honest. If you’re going to give me sad-sacks having meaningless hook-ups and talking about settling for second-best, at least give me super-graphic hot sex, okay?  Otherwise, what’s the point? What am I getting out of my time commitment, as a reader?  I have a couple of friends in my life that might fit the stereotype of unhappy, aging gay men, but they always have fantastic stories of wild sex. So, I mean, if you want to be REAL, at least give me the hot, hot (sometimes funny) sex!

Or at the very least, don’t pan to the left, or have the characters talk about it as an afterthought!

Ten Count (Vol 4) by Rihito Takarai

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I still can’t quite get over the fact that my public LIBRARY carries this.

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WARNING: NSFW LANGUAGE BELOW

…especially since this volume starts with a butt plug scene.  There are none of the invisible penises, either. There are the usual useless censor bars that cover little strips of things that I wouldn’t necessarily think were more explicit than the whole member, but whatever.

I’m not complaining, mind you.

Volume 4 of Ten Count covers chapters 19 through 24 and includes what looks like three shorts, “Kurose, Shirotani, and Thumb Wresting;” “Kurose, Shirotani, and Silky Sensations;” and “Kurose, a White Cat, and a Can of Tuna.”

What can I say about this that you don’t already know?  If you’re into Ten Count you’re probably caught up to the latest scanlated chapter.  I took this out of the library, because I want to encourage the librarians to keep BUYING it.  I can’t always afford to support mangaka the traditional way, but library sales can be significant income for authors (at least they are to US novel writers.)

If you’re new to Ten Count, you should probably read my previous review.

But, this volume picks-up with Dubious Consent Boy (Kurose’s superhero name) torturing Shirotani with a butt-plug. I’m not surprised that poor Shirotani is pushed into telling Kurose that he’s disgusting and should get lost again, but OMG am I tired of this same old, same old.

As someone who has written this kind of m/m romance/erotic story, I understand the impulse to keep using ‘we’re breaking up!’ as the main conflict.  But no reader, anywhere, enjoys our paramours being apart! It’s literally the anthesis of what we signed up for (even with an extended masturbating scene). Takarai-sensei gets them back together in the most random, coincidental way, too. They randomly get locked in an elevator together and when Shirotani kindly asks to hold Kurose’s hand, Kurose goes full-on dom and demands a kind of tribute first: “You must kiss my hand.”

Oooo-kay.

I’ll be really interested to find out if the next volume is going to try to explain Kurose’s pseudo-sadism or whatever it is that drives him to push beyond Shirotani’s boundaries, the same way we got the full back story of Shirotani’s germophobia this time.

Shirotani’s backstory was interesting, if chilling to me, as a parent. I’m a little stressed out that a big part of Shirotani’s phobia is rooted in the fact that his father used to put his hand on Shirotani’s head and say, “I can read your thoughts when I do this.”

I’M TOTALLY THAT PARENT.  OMFG.

In fact, I do know that the sort of casual/I’m-being-flippant things I’ve said to my son did trigger some fears in him that I was going to go away and never come back (he was too little, and I basically just teased that his fears were silly, I wasn’t going to run off to France. Lesson I have yet to entirely learn: my son is ALWAYS serious. Teasing is NEVER a good idea.)

So, as far-fetched as it might seem, it’s not unreasonable that Shirotani might have developed fears based on a throwaway comment/awkward attempt to be the cool parent.  And, you know, masturbating to your dad having sex is… yeah, the combo seems legit traumatizing, especially with annoying girlfriend (named Lieda, no less, which is basically how my name is pronounced) telling you that you’re gross for having done so (and wanting to marry a man.)

The sex continues to be hot, so long as you’re down with the whole dubious consent thing.

Would I recommend it? Well, obviously, I’m still reading it. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about Kurose, but I can’t deny that he’s totally cut from a mould that I… appreciate. (I’ve totally written my own version of this guy, so hey.)

Kenka Banchou Otome (Girl Beats Boys)

I don’t normally review anime, but I ended up watching all of Kenka Banchou Otome (Girl Beats Boys). It has no corresponding manga, being based on a video game. And, really, there is hardly any there there…

… but I kind of loved it, anyway.

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It may be time to admit that I have a problem.  I really love delinquent high school boys… and badass girls.

SPOILERS

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So we have our hero(ine), Hinako.

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She ends up going to an all-boys school called, Shishiku Academy, under the most ridiculous, suspender of disbelief-snapping, contrived set of circumstances, ever.

Even though she was raised as an orphan, turns out Hinako is actually the twin sister of Hikaru, the second son of a yakuza boss.  Hikaru fakes an accident between them and bullies Hinako into cross-dressing and taking his place at the Academy.  He, meanwhile, cross-dresses and takes her place at an all-girls school. (Literally nothing is made of his sub-plot, even though I kind of think he’s pretty happy with this arrangement given that he has posters of a male pop star, Mirako Yuuta, on his bedroom wall, and once in the dress, he’s never seen out of it.)

However, Hikaru neglects to mention that this all-boys school is a 24/7 fight club. Or that his brother, Onigashima Houou, is the toughest tough of the 3rd years and became king of the school in a matter of months.

Hinako is tasked with doing the same.

Turns out, she’s good at it.  Being an orphan meant she got bullied a lot, and with the help of a fellow-orphan nii-san, she got tough fast. Plus, she’s studied martial arts… so, surprise! (no surprise.) she quickly rises to the top.

In the way of these things, pretty much anyone she defeats in battle, she also wins over their hearts, and they become ‘bros (seriously the term used in the anime).

Weird quirk of this anime? A lot of slang is actually defined for you in still-frame cut-scenes.  Also, the characters have these odd moments where they seem to be talking to the audience, 4th wall breaking style, at odd intervals.   I’m sure this is entirely a mimic of part of the gameplay.

Oh, and another thing, the episodes are 8 minutes long.

They do manage to cram a fair amount of drama into those eight minutes (though I initially though something was wrong with my iPad when I was watching this because I thought, “that wasn’t long enough; did the feed cut out after the intro?”)  There’s, of course, the constant threat that Hinako’s true gender will be discovered, but also there are mini-arcs about friendship and loneliness and tragic backstories.

My favorite character was Kira Rinatarou, who is the first to guess the truth about Hinako, and who ends up having a secret connection to her past.

But the whole thing is kind of… dumb? Far-fetched? Ridiculous?  YES. YET I LOVED EVERY EIGHT MINUTE GEM.

I’m such a loser. 😛

If any future commenters want to point out my bad taste, throw this one in my face. I’ll have no defense.