Akujiki no Dinner / Bitter Relevé by Ogawa Chise

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Akujiki no Dinner/ Bitter Relevé could be described as a one-shot based on the concept of crossing some foodie show like “The Great British Bake-Off” and vampires.

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The concept is simple. Vampires used to walk in the shadows, but now, for some never-revealed reason, they’ve been reclassified as a subset of human being and walk among us, totally accepted–if considered a little weird for their tastes, as it were.

Our hero, Kanjina, has some kind of disease and he eats a lot of fruit to cover the smell of the medicine he takes for it.

Geena, a vampire, considers Kanjina’s blood a delicacy.

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Geena shows up in Kanjina’s life and pesters him into becoming a donor.  It’s really unclear why Kanjina agrees to this, except that, in this world, vampires’ saliva contains an addictive aphrodisiac (and there’s some semi-nakedness for those of us tuning in for that.) So… it’s no like Kanjina gets _nothing_ out of the deal.

Except, we see him going back to the doctor trying to figure out how to cure his disease, so maybe he wants out?

It’s not entirely clear, especially since he does seem to enjoy Geena’s possessiveness.

From what I can tell, the one-shot is kind of a mediation on the connection between food and ecstasy, which probably is more profound in the original Japanese.

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ブルー!ブルー!ブルー!/ Blue! Blue! Blue! by Amamiya

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ブルー!ブルー!ブルー!/ Blue! Blue! Blue! kind of makes me regret my policy of reviewing any manga I read.

There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, it’s just sort of ‘meh.’

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The summary reads:

When Takiya Kippei, the brother of two older sisters, realises that he desperately needs money to buy a birthday present for his lover, he decides to live and work onsite at a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). There, he meets the well-educated Honjou Masumi, a man who is neither too strict nor too lenient, and who has a charm which embodies the word ‘mature’. “This is the first time I’ve met someone like Honjou-san” – as Takiya continues working at the ryokan, he starts to become interested in Honjou…

It’s hard to judge a manga by its first four chapters, but I guess I’m going to anyway…?

Right now, I either wanted a faster romance or more life in the slice-of-life.  This one is still being scanlated regularly and, thus, ends rather abruptly, and so maybe the exciting bits are just around the corner?

As it stands I’m not feeling the chemistry.

Takiya (or, more likely, Amamiya-sensei) has a different sense of what constitutes ‘charmingly mature’ than I do. That’s not to say that Honjou doesn’t have his charming moments (more on that in a bit), but currently the only thing that sets him up as more mature than Takiya is his age and the fact that he manages the ryokan… oh, and that he smokes.  Otherwise, he kind of seems to be clinging to bits of his wilder youth, like motorcycle riding and an unrequited thing for an old (straight, or at least married,) high school chum.

I did find the fact that Honjou keeps putting off Takiya’s advances really VERY charming.

This series of panels made me happy:

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So, I mean, it’s possible that, once complete, I’ll have fewer complaints.

There was a series of shorts that I read long ago, before I kept track of such things (which is partly why I started the policy of reviewing EVERYTHING), that this reminded me of.

The collected stories I’m remembering were these very… I’m trying to think of the right word. My brain keeps reaching for ‘realistic’ or ‘mature,’ but neither of those is quite right. They were quiet, reflective romances, where the hook-ups were very… grounded?  Like, there was one in this series where a guy returns to his hometown for a festival and ends up having sex with one of the drummers in the stands after hours. There’s both not a lot of reflection about the characters’ emotional state, while also being oddly atmospheric.  There was a lot of wordless staring at the object of affection/lust.

So maybe it’s the tone of this manga that reads as ‘mature’?

Like I said, I ended up feeling ‘meh’ about it in the end, but it might be worth returning to once its complete.

Bagjwi Sayug / Raising a Bat by Jade

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Bagjwi Sayung / Raising a Bat might be one of the sweetest vampire manhwa I have ever read.

The official summary reads like this:

“Park Min Gyeom is a human with a disease that makes him produce excess blood. Kim Chun Sam is a half-vampire who needs blood to live. So begins an unusual symbiotic relationship between ‘predator’ and ‘prey.'”

Every once and awhile I wish that I could work for various scanlators/official translators.  Raising a Bat is a terrible title for this manhwa. Having read the whole thing, I know what they were going for.  There’s scene when our hero, Park Min Gyeom, sees a stray cat and is tempted to give it a bit of the sausage he’s having for a snack. The owner of the restaurant Min Gyeom is working at, sees him and says, “You don’t want to do that. Once you feed ’em, they’ll expect you to ‘raise’ them.”

What is really meant here is obvious. In English, we normally wouldn’t call that particular relationship ‘raising’ an animal, but ‘taming’ it.  So, I would have offered that this manhwa be titled, “Taming a Bat” or even “Adopting a Bat,” given that there is a strong theme of ‘what makes a family’ in this manhwa, too…. which is why I suspect they went with ‘raising.’  But, the connotation of raising is, in English usage, at least, about having had  responsibility for something since birth. You raise chickens and children.  You tame strays.  You adopt a pet.

Okay, enough with the English lessons.  On with the story.

 

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In the opening scene, we’re introduced to the idea that Min Gyeom has a rare disease that causes him to produce too much blood.  He regularly donates to a blood bank in order to maintain his health.  I think this is a made-up disease, if only because he doesn’t seem to have any other health risks due to it.  Doesn’t matter, because clearly this is a match made in heaven for a vampire.

It just so happens that, recently, on the streets of Seoul, there have been attacks reported which leave the victims with two puncture marks on their neck.

Dun-dun-DAH!

Min Gyeom is attacked and is left with the tell-tale sign.

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This sucks (pardon the pun) because it’s his first day at a new school and now he has to wear a turtleneck under his uniform.

Yeah. This was his biggest concern.

At this point, you can tell that 1) Min Gyeom is super gay and 2) has had a seriously sh*tty life up to this point, because he’s been ATTACKED in the dark and is all, “Well, f*ck, there goes my ensemble!”

Why Min Gyeom didn’t, say, go to the police after being attacked, I don’t know. I mean, maybe Korean police are useless? But, honestly, to do think this is an intentional clue that he’s just used to waking up feeling like sh*t and going on with his life.

He gets to school an who does he end up sitting next to?

His attacker, Chun Sam.

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Again, Min Gyeom rolls with this.  Maybe because Chun Sam is so… listless. He spends much of class time asleep and he faints a lot.

Turns out, that’s because he’s starving.  Chun Sam is a half-vampire. (In an interesting twist, we later discover that full vampires actually have an easier time of it. They can drink animal blood. Full vampires can eat extremely raw food and/or blood-infused food.  Half-vampires can’t–and they have to have HUMAN blood only. It’s nice to see the half-vampires have the restrictions.)

The point it, the two boys quickly establish a symbiotic relationship.

Min Gyeom initially has the upper hand.  Chun Sam is the one with the need and the secret, after all.  He doesn’t take advantage in the ways you might think–mostly, he just bosses Chun Sam around.  He’s a little cruel, because Chun Sam is very innocent… almost childlike.

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I think we don’t see a true sadistic side come out because, it turns out, Min Gyeom has a Tragic Backstory ™ that involves being starved and bled by his father.

Dad, we find out, is an A-#1 jerk. It’s not explicit in the text, but Min Gyeom’s mother died during childbirth possibly due to complications of his blood illness.  Dad never wanted a kid, anyway.  He seems to hope that with enough neglect–literally only setting one place at the table, for himself–Min Gyeom will just fade away and die.

Until, one day, Min Gyeom is in an accident and dad finally figures out that Min Gyeom has some use.  Dad, you see, is a scientist who needs human blood for research.

These scenes–where Dad comes to harvest blood–are totally drawn like molestation.

Dad creeps into Min Gyeom’s room at night, even after Dad is remarried and Min Gyeom ends up with a stepsister who is thrilled to have a big brother. (She’s the only one. We also find out that the reason Min Gyeom lives on his own in high school because the new wife is the classic wicked stepmom and wants Min Gyeom out of the house and the family ASAP.)

So, this new relationship with Chun Sam is… triggering.  It’s very easy for Min Gyeom to think his only value is being bled out.  Yet, this same goofy innocence that Min Gyeom mocks Chun Sam for starts to worm its way into Min Gyeom’s heart.  Chun Sam likes him.  He doesn’t have ANY friends, and he really does follow Min Gyeom around like a pet, like a stray who has been shown the first ounce of kindness.

The manhwa is very much a slow burn.

There’s moments when the boys almost make their love confessions when circumstances rip them apart.  There’s also a Predatory Bisexual ™ who Min Gyeom initially turns to for love advice, but who ends up seducing Min Gyeom when he thinks he’s been dumped by Chun Sam.

I was initially very excited to see the Bisexual dude as ‘gay mentor.’  He was as UN-repressed in his sexual identity as Min Gyeom was repressed.  He was clearly attracted to Min Gyeom when they first met, but I had been really hopeful that he would be an All a Big Misunderstanding ™ guy instead of a sexual rival.

Nope, the moment it seemed that Min Gyeom’s confession had been rejected, he pounced.  I wouldn’t have even minded that (because, look–we’ve all been there gay, straight, bi, queer, etc.) BUT it’s revealed that he had a lady on the side that he had promised to stay faithful to and, for whom, he dumps Min Gyeom like a hot potato… without telling the TRUTH.

Visually, one of my favorite scenes is the moment that Chun Sam sees the bisexual dude off with his ‘real’ girlfriend and knows just how badly Min Gyeom is being treated.

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That’s more than side-eye, friend. That’s Side-eye of DOOOOOOOM.

Chun Sam is, in this scene, trying to respect that Min Gyeom has said he’s dating someone and so has gone out on a date himself with a girl from his class who asked for his phone number.

That’s one of the things I like about Chun Sam–and the whole manhwa, for that matter.  It feels much more like a real life scenario, because they do these things where they try to go on.  And when Min Gyeom thought his love confession was being rejected Chun Sam actually just got tongue tied and screwed up trying to say, “Yes, let’s, but I want to go slow, I want to be friends first again,” but instead just blurted “Let’s be friends first.”

Who can’t relate to that?

This whole thing is weirdly relatable, despite there being vampires who can legit sprout wings AND a bear daddy (Chun Sam’s actual dad, the vampire) who just happens to be the famous, bestselling author that Min Gyeom adores.

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Do I recommend this one?  YES, whole-heartedly.  There’s even an extra that contains  Min Gyeom and Chun Sam’s first sexual encounter, so, even though this is mostly romance/relationship, if you want the smut, you can have it.

I also really love all the stuff that circles back to families and what constitutes a real family…. and how your made/found family can be the true bonds, etc.  I adore Chun Sam’s parents.  At one point (thanks to evil scientist dad), they end up housing Min Gyeom and there’s a whole lovely bit about the difference between feeling like a guest in someone’s home and being HOME.

It’s also, unlike a lot of things I read and recommend, complete at 52 chapters, all of which have been scanlated.  If you go to the Manga Rock site I linked to at the beginning you will see 86 chapters because there is also a complete side story about how Chun Sam’s folks got together.

So there’s not only a good story, but a whole (LONG-ish) story to enjoy.

我成为了BL漫画家的助理 / I Love BL Comics by Li Zhiheng and Mei Dajiong

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How could I resist a title like this?  I Love BL Comics.  It seems sort of made for me, doesn’t it?

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Our somewhat hapless hero, Ly Chee, is an unemployed artist, who is desperately seeking work as an assistant in the manhua business.

In the opening chapters, he tries a number of places and gets results that are very familiar to any freelancer in the creative arts.  Well, I mean, I’ve never been asked to wear a maid’s outfit as part of the job, but I have been asked to work for free:

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Still funny, even though the translation is VERY rough.

Finally, Ly Chee ends up finding what seems to be the perfect job.  He finds it a little odd at first that all of his potential bosses are women, until they reveal that they write BL/Boys’ Love.

Then the tabes are turned, they wonder if he can handle the subject matter.

He stares at the sketches of naked men for a long time, looking stricken, and they become more and more convinced he’s far too disgusted to work there.  Until this moment:

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He makes a huge, impassioned speech about the purity of the relationships in BL (he must be reading different things than I am,) which causes the ladies to make an obvious assumption about our passionate Ly Chee.

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Perhaps…. the boy doth protest too much.

Ly Chee insists that he’s straight as an arrow, which is an assertion that is put to the test in the following chapters. I suspect, in fact, it will be the main drama going forward.

There are, to-date, only 6 chapters available.  Buka Manga, which for some reason shares authorial credit on most sites, is the only translator of this manhua… which, is a bummer.  Their grasp of English grammatical construction is tenuous at best.  The words are all there, but, obviously, “I am for job here,” is not how a native English-speaker would that they are here for a job.

Yet, I’m not entirely convinced that this detracts from the story. It might make it unintentionally funnier in some cases, and this is meant to be comedy.  More importantly, it’s not IMPOSSIBLE to parse what’s being said.  It just takes me a second or two to mentally correct it, which, should they ever take a dramatic turn, might lose me as a reader.

The art styles are, as you see, also vary wildly.  Normally, where there are two mangaka listed, I tend to assume that one is the writer and the other is the artist.  My guess is, in this case, we actually have two writer/artists.

On the other hand, I think that helps them pull off scene like this one, where Ly Chee is showing off his artistic talent to his bosses:

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My artistic talent in a nutshell.

It’s interesting how often this sort of handicap is shown in comedic manga/manhua about manga/manhua writing.  At least, there are similar gags in Gekkan Shōjo Nozaki-kun/Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.  Apparently, there is hilarity to be found in the idea that artists might not be capable of drawing All The Things (which, as someone who dabbles in art, seems really LEGIT.)

If you read this, be warned that there were moments of “???” that might be lost in translation or ‘humor works differently in different cultures’ kinds of things for me.  As you know, gentle reader, the broader the humor, the less likely *I* am to appreciate it.  So, as always, grain of salt any problems I have with the funny bits.

Would I recommend it?  I’m kind of intrigued by the fact that Baka-Updates gave it a ‘smut’ designation (however, they seem to also assume it’s shoujo ai/Girls’ Love? So, maybe that’s just a mis-tag.)  The cover also seems to imply that there might actually be smut/romance between the two others in the picture, though I will tell you (even though it’s a GIANT spoiler) one of them is decidedly NOT human… which might be a kink for you?

No judging.

So, a hesitant yes.  I do wish the translations were a little smoother, but the chapters are short.

Ani no Chuukoku / Brother’s Warning by Asada Nemui

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I went down the rabbit hole of the Baka-Updates tags again.

Look, I was hoping to find another good yaoi about sex work, and, instead, stumbled across Ani no Chuukoku / Brother’s Warning, which has to contain some of the WEIRDEST BL shorts I have ever read.

Given some of the stuff I’ve read, I think that’s saying a lot.

But, seriously, there’s a romance in this manga that involves a giant, hairy caterpillar. No, I am NOT kidding.  And… I read them all. None of these stories are even very explicit, so I have no excuse.

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The first few chapters are the titular story, “Ani no Chukoku / Brother’s Warning.” (Note, if you read via the link I provided, start with chapter 2. Chapter 0-1.5 all get repeated, but are better scanlated later.) This is one of those incest stories that I never understand. I know that there is a fondness for the ‘childhood friend turns lover’ trope among the Japanese audience, but what is it with brothers? These two are full brothers by blood, even, so I dunno–I mean, I guess it’s the ultimate ‘childhood friend,’ but when they start the hurt-comfort with ‘listen, I’ve changed your diapers’….

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Is this sexy?  I don’t think so.

Let me back up a bit…. right, so, I think the reason Baka-Updates gave me this manga under the tag ‘sex work,’ is because Younger Brother, Tsuzuki, seems to be part of a pimping gang in Tokyo, who do a little hustle on the side.  The girls cry foul and they squeeze a little extra ‘hush’ money out of the johns.  It’s pretty nasty business and one day it catches up to them, sort of.  Tsuzuki notices a car following them after one of these little cons, and confronts the guy…. turns out it’s his long lost older brother, Hajime (whom he’d literally just been dreaming about.)

Big Brother is like, “Whoa, what a coincidence! Let’s hang out, catch up!” and shows Tsuzuki to his upscale apartment.  Tsuzuki’s all, “Dude, you’re loaded” and wants to know why he didn’t share all this good fortune with mom.  Older brother’s like, “Look, I was…uh, ‘overseas,’ and, anyway, I did. Oh, yeah and you should stay with me, here’s a key. Oh, yeah, and the catch? You need to give up your life of crime.”

Younger brother isn’t having it.  They have a fight about it and he storms back to his girlfriends’ place.

Lo and behold, next time Tsuzuki runs his little scam, the local yakuza boss comes down hard on him and his crew.

Two guesses who the local mafia capo is!

Yep. “Aniki,” the mafia version of Big Brother.  But, here’s where things get weird. Hajimi’s henchmen beat up Tsuzuki so hard, he’s actually incapacitated for six months–with broken arms and legs.

Cue: weird hurt/comfort.

Weird is maybe harsh. I mean, I get that there are catheter kinks and kinks involving having to use the bathroom in front of other people… but add the incest, and I read the whole thing with Ichigo’s expression above (but, yeah, okay, I read the whole thing.)

Still. Not for me.

The next chapter is called “The Swerve.” I’m not quite sure how this qualifies as either boys’ love or yaoi, but, okay, so we have Yukichi, a middle-aged, out-of-work salaryman. It’s the recession, so no matter how hard he tries, Yukichi just can’t land a job. He takes himself to a city park for a sulk and runs into another middle-aged unemployed guy named, Inazou.

Inazou  is a little shady-looking, but Yukichi bonds with him over their mutual love of sweet buns (Oi! The kind you eat! No, not like THAT!~the ones made by bakers!!)  Inazou is staring longingly at a bun-selling food truck and mutters to himself about needing a vehicle and tools. Yukichi assumes that Inazou’s plan for recession employment is to get himself a van and start selling sweet buns.

He begs Inazou to cut him in on the plan.

Only, yeah, Inazou was thinking about a heist. There’s a fairly hilarious scene of a botched robbery, where Inazou’s toy gun gets bent in a very suggestive way….

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The only thing even remotely reminiscent of a phallic symbol in this entire chapter, and it never even “goes off.”

…and the robbery is a bust. Inazou gets busted and thrown into jail, but Yukichi gets away… because he was too chicken to go in.  A year and a half later, when Inazou has served a year and a half in prison, Yukichi is there waiting for him….

….with a bakery van.

Love?

I mean, I kind of liked it as a male friendship story, but….?

The next chapter is “Kemushi / Hairy Caterpillar,” and, in many ways, defies description, but I will try anyway.  Right, so, these two high school guys are in love: Dai and Shou.  They’re so annoyingly lovey-dovey:

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That a woman who is being dumped by her boyfriend for being too clingy curses them.  She just happens to be a witch with real supernatural powers, I guess.  She curses Dai to see Shou as a hairy caterpillar.

The thing that’s funny about this–besides the whole hairy caterpillar thing, which is… pretty weird–is that Dai keeps trying to think the right thoughts/do the right things to break the curse.  He thinks: “Oh, maybe, if I love him for more than his looks?” Squeezing his eyes shut, he thinks about other things about Shou he loves….

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Eventually, he does figure out how to break the curse… and it’s, honestly, sort of cute. (I’d spoil it, but you might want to read this one for the sheer weirdness of it.)

The witch also comes back and lifts the curse because things actually worked out better for her, thanks to the break-up.  So, everyone’s happy again, yay! The End.

The next chapter is “Life in the Parks,” and is also more about male friendship than anything.  Momoki works at the Social Welfare Department and is given the assignment of asking the local homeless population to move out of “Onigashima Park.”  The translator notes that “Onigashima” is a mystical island of ogres, so when this guy, Kijima, shows up…

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I figured he was the local god/oni… only, if that’s the case, nothing supernatural ever happens with him. The two guys get into a dust-up over whether or not it’s cool to kick the homeless out of the park, and they end up working together to solve the problem, with a bonus “tragic” backstory to explain Kijima’s fierce loyalty to the homeless population.

Yay? I mean, I guess it’s nice that it all works out? (No sex and no magic. I dunno, man. Especially since this combo hit my favorite odd couple type, damn it.)

The penultimate chapter is “Nami no Oto ga Kikoeru / The Sound of the Waves” is a story about a horror writer who only write well when he’s angry about a break-up.  Sensei falls for a young waiter named Mitsuru… and the editor spends a lot of time trying to get things to go badly so that sensei will be inspired to write the grotesque revenge torture porn he’s so famous for.

Only, things keep working out.

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The true confession of every writer, everywhere….

Until they don’t…

Luckily, editor is there to pick-up sensei yet again…and sensei finally sees that he’s always had a constant companion in editor.  The end.

The final chapter is a return to the first story, “Ani no Kokuhaku / An Elder Brother’s Confession.”

So, yeah, the stories were… unsatisfying? A little weird?

I mean, you know me, gentle reader, I’m kind of in it for the smut, and so this romance stuff is a bit baffling, especially when they are these kinds of shorts that don’t even seem to be all that romantic to me. I mean, a food truck? I guess it’s nice that the salaryman waited for the guy for a year and a half, but, does the robber even know you’re into him? Is he going to really say ‘yes’ to life with you as a BUSINESS partner? I mean, I almost would rather read chapter 2 of that one where they are JUST NOT GETTING ALONG BECAUSE OMG WHO THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO MAKE STICKY BUNS WITH A FAILED MAFIOSO?? And, salaryman is all, “I WAITED FOR YOU; THIS IS ALL FOR YOU, MY LOVE” and mafia dude is all “Okay, but what was your name again?”

I mean, maybe we’re supposed to figure that’s the next scene and that makes the whole thing that much funnier?

I don’t know.

And then there were illusionary caterpillars?

I think maybe the worst part is that the only even vaguely explicit stuff happens between the two brothers and that’s the one thing that just DOES NOT do it for me.  *sigh*

Here’s the other thing. I LOVED the art. I really liked the way everyone was drawn… all of them were very different from one another(–for the most part, the younger brother and the kid with the caterpillar had some similarities in looks).

Plus I probably would have put up with some of the weirdness, if there were more sex…with the park onis and the salarymen. I even love yakuza stories!  Just not with brothers, okay??

This one was frustrating for me, all around.

You  might want to check out the caterpillar story, though.  Is it weird that I kind of wish there’d been sex in that one? Yeah, it’s probably weird. Very weird. But, humor? It could have been funny! Especially since Dai couldn’t tell where Shou’s face was…. (yeah, no, I’m a sick puppy.)

And why couldn’t this guy have been a real oni? (I mean, I kind of still think he is? Look at his ears?) So, what the hell, we had witch magic!  And, yet all the social worker and the oni did was work together and talk.

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Damn it.

Read this one at your own risk.

You & Me, Etc. / Bokura ni Matsuwaru Et Cetera. by Kyuugo

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You & Me, Etc. / Bokura ni Matsuwaru Et Cetera is a collection of one-shots by the same author that brought us Acid Town.  A fact I didn’t actually notice until just now, though I should have had an inkling, given how much PLOT (and how little sex) is in each of these stories.

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The first chapter is “Someday We’ll” / “Itsuka bokura ha” and follows characters we’ll return to in the final, titular chapters “You & Me, Etc.” / “Bokura ni Matsuwara, Etc.”: Iku and Keita.  The two are best friends whose relationship becomes fraught when Keita, a rising baseball star in high school, has his career cut short by a tragic accident… an accident he suffered because he pushed Iku out of harm’s way.  Iku is horrified that he’s the cause of  the end of Keita’s big chance a stardom, but Keita is just happy Iku is alive, because Iku means the world to him.  Like, THE WORLD, but that’d be pretty homo, so, you know, things are just TENSE.

At least until Keita decides to just try going for it.

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A kiss Iku can’t get out of his mind. From there, the story goes where you might hope, with some extra baseball and a near repeat of the traffic accident to help Iku realize that he Loves This Man ™.

“The Sakura Pilgrimage” / “Sakura no Junrei” follows another set of high schoolers, these two basketballers, Sugaya and Fujishiro.  Fujishiro is that enviable guy, the one all the girls giggle after and call ‘prince,’ who is destined for the class presidency, and probably gets straight A’s. Only, turns out, there’s NOTHING straight about Fujishiro.  Sugaya accidentally catches Fujishiro making out with none-other-than a teacher!  Sugaya isn’t the sort to tell, but Fujishiro makes a point of paying him off, anyway.  Things go on like this for a while (a phrase that is actually used a bunch in this chapter,) until someone else spies the lovers and the teacher is fired.  Then, Sugaya listens to Fujishiro’s woes and they share a moment of camaraderie, the end.

Yeah, this one is literally about a guy who is kind of bored with life who makes a gay friend. I mean, I can’t say I’ve seen anything like it before, so I guess there’s that.

“The Beautiful Tomorrow” / “Utsukushii Asu” parts 1 & 2 follow Tatsushi Kuwahara, a famous editor/author, and Akira Shinozaki, the son of a beloved professor of Kuwahara’s, who has come to Tokyo… basically to impose on Kuwahara’s kindness.  Turns out, his father remarried and his step mom is legitimately evil. When dad died, she kicked him out on the streets.  Kuwahara learns all of this, slowly. Not that it matters, he gets used to having the kid around.  Akira is a guitar player who is trying to do the breaking in thing, so sometimes he stays out late or… comes home drunk.

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“Wanna what?  I’m an editor, kid. Use all your words.”

Even though initially, it looked like Kuwahara might be straight (he had a female writer living with him at the beginning), he’s fallen for this kid. Hard, I’d say, since right after this attempted love confession, Akira pukes between Kuwahara’s legs, and he still kisses him, later.

I will say that even though kissing is the most you’ll get (beyond one shadowed het blowjob in “Sakura Pilgrimage,”) I ended up reading all of these.  I guess I like Kyuugou’s writing style, despite the profound lack of nookie.  Milage may vary, however.  So I recommend this one hesitantly.  I do like how these stories tend to have a note or two of humor among all the angst.  Reminds me, as I said of Acid Town, of my own work.  (Though my fan fic is a WHOLE lot sluttier.)

 

What Did You Eat Yesterday?/ Kinou Nani Tabeta? (Vol. 12) by Fumi Yoshinaga

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I’ve been known complain about how Yosihnaga-sensei makes her gay protagonists (in everything, but in What Did You Eat Yesterday / Kinou Nani Tabeta? especially) seem vaguely unhappy, like they’ve settled for something not quite perfect.  In the past, I’ve felt like, even though she might be going for “realism,” the Unhappy Gay Guy is such a hurtful stereotype that I’m angry that her sense of ‘real’ doesn’t accurately reflect my life.

Until Volume 12.

There’s a chapter in volume 12 (#95) that so perfectly encapsulates my life with my wife that I had to read it to her.

SPOILERS

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Before I get into that scarily accurate chapter, I have to take a moment to appreciate this ridiculously awesome cover for volume 12.

Here we have Kenji and Shiro walking seriously out of a lined black background, dressed to the nines, looking like they could be yakuza hit men or something.  All around them are the titles of the recipes found within:  “apple muffins,” “sukiyaki,” “stir-fried chicken and turnips,” and “red squid, natty, and avocado rice bowl.”

I dunno. Something about the juxtaposition of this serious, stylish look and the recipes made me smile.

If you’ve never read What Did You Eat Yesterday / Kinou Nani Tabeta? before, the thing you have to know about this slice-of-life manga is that it’s basically an illustrated cookbook with tiny–and I mean, minuscule–bits of plot threaded through very detailed recipes. I categorize it as yaoi, because the main characters are gay and because Yoshinaga-sensei is known for her yaoi/shounen ai. (It apparently debuted in a seinen magazine aimed at adult men: Weekly Morning. So maybe it should be categorized as seinen?)

Despite the fact that it’s mostly recipes, there are a couple of great character moments in volume 12.  One thing I will forever love Yoshinaga-sensei for is that she very much prefers to write about older men.  The heroes of What Did You Eat Yesterday / Kinou Nani Tabeta? are in their 40s.  They even joke about how this is why their lives just aren’t that dramatic.  At one point, Shiro gets hit on by a friend of theirs.  It’s a really light pass–hand holding and a serious stare–but it’s not nothing.  He gets super flustered (and flattered) by it, but turns it down with a gentle laugh.  Fondly, he thinks, “Ah, if that had happened ten years ago, who knows what might have happened.”

That’s What Did You Eat Yesterday / Kinou Nani Tabeta? in a nutshell, folks.

And, if the next chapter hadn’t been my life, I probably would be complaining right now about how it’s deeply unfair to so broad-strokes categorize older gay people as sexless and done having adventures and extra-(non-)marital affairs.  But, yeah, so comes chapter  #95.

Our couple have time off together for O-Bon. They’ve slept in, Shiro has made breakfast, and Kenji is trying to get Shiro out of the house to enjoy the day.  Shiro jumps up and is like, “Oh! The shops will all be closed. We have to get groceries for the week.”

I swear to god(s), I married this man.  And, just like my wife, when they get home from this huge shopping trip, Shiro is like, “Right! Let’s do some of that cleaning we usually neglect! I’ll clean the vents. You do the curtains!”

Did Yoshinaga-sensei peek in my window and just copy my life???

I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking, “What? This isn’t cute. Why did Lyda marry someone so… anal?”  Trust me that I’m over here smiling a huge smile.  (Case and point? My wife just said, “Okay, here’s your list” talking about the shopping I need to do today, so that we can spend the day baking.  I LIVE IN THIS MANGA.)

Except I’m not a hairstylist.

Or a dude.

Otherwise, this is my life.  The gay agenda: cooking and cleaning and shopping.