Yoru wa Tomodachi / Friends at Night by Ido Gidou

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I’m a very sick puppy, my friends, so I enjoyed Yoru wa Tomodachi for all the wrong reasons.

The set-up is simple. By chance, masochist, Tobita, meets a boy his own age, Masume, who is willing to entertain Tobita’s BDSM kinks.  The drama of the manga comes from the fact that Masume isn’t, initially, entirely… into it.  He’s shown as this super-popular, well-adjusted sort, but it’s clear that he likes the intimate, personal power trip of being someone’s dom.

And, eventually, of course, they’re going to fall in love, because that’s how these stories are expected to go.

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And, they do.

I’m going to say, for the romance, I wasn’t terribly sold on it, at first.  At first, it seemed as though Tobita ‘loved’ Masume simply because he was so grateful to have found someone his age who was into his kink. When we get the flashback of how our two heroes met, we learn that Tobita had previously been kinda-sorta renting himself out to salarymen who were into BDSM with younger men. (I should note, both Tobita and Masume are adults. They’re at the same university together.)  But, Tobita is very insistent that, even when Masume happens to be more flush, they always share the bill or at least take turns paying for things.

Except sex toys. Apparently, Tobita is okay with Masume being the one to buy all the sexy toys and bondage gear.

But, at any rate, in the meet-cute flashback, we discover that Masume randomly inserted himself into an argument between Tobita and a former lover.  And, then later met-up with the former lover to get the whole scoop.  Masume seems to have done it, partly out of altruism, but mostly because he’s noisy af and likes knowing everyone’s business.

And, that’s the part that started working for me.

Like, the other thing about Tobita is that he’s “weird.” Even Masume characterizes him as kind of an alien.  He’s nerdy.  He’s socially anxious and very, very classically introverted.

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And, in total contrast, Masume is a social butterfly.  Everyone likes him; everyone wants to date him, or at least hangout with him.

Thus one of my favorite dynamics is born.

I really have a weakness for introvert/extrovert romances. I’m an extrovert myself. My wife is a complete introvert. And, Ido-sensei gets us.  The moment I was willing to say, “yeah, okay, you can interrupt perfectly good smut for romance if it’s going to be like this,” was when Tobita and Masume end up, for reasons, out on an actual date at an aquarium.  Tobita is enchanted by the sharks and Masume does this thing that should be very familiar to anyone in charge of the care and feeding of an introvert, which is that he’s done. He’s seen all the things he wants to, but he recognizes that Tobita is different. He needs his one thing and he needs to have his own time with it.

So, Masume says, “Hey, take your time. I’ll just be over there when you’re ready.”

This is an actual expression of love towards an introvert when you’re an extreme extrovert.  Stepping away from the introvert and giving them their space?  That’s every introvert I’ve ever known’s “love language.”

It’s no surprise that after that, Tobita also suddenly “gets” extroversion. He says to Masumo, “You fake your smiles a lot.”

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Look, I’m not saying that us extroverts are faking it. Mostly, we aren’t.  But when an introvert worms their way into your heart and not only notices those times when you’re not even aware that you’re kind of just going along to get along, and then turns to you and says, “You don’t have to do that with me. I’m happy just to be with you…”

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That’s kind of a nice moment.

At least, it’s one I could relate to.  Extroverts are often popular because they’re perceived as a lot of fun to be with–because we often are. But, just because social stuff comes easily to extroverts, it doesn’t mean we don’t recognize how much hard work it is. And, having that one person who says, “You know, you don’t have to work that hard. I like you no matter what” can feel like a real gift.

That being said, the BDSM practices in this yaoi are questionable.  If dubious consent is a turn-on, there’s several scenes that work well for that.  If you’re at all “WAIT, YOU KNOW HE CAN’T SAY HIS SAFEWORD LIKE THAT,” then, yeah–no amount of pleasant extrovert/introvert romance will save this one for you. Especially since Masume is an inexperienced dom as well, he semi-intentionally, but under the aegis of ‘but I’m trying to figure this out’ learning, blurs the lines between pain that’s fun/sexy and full-on physical violence.

So it comes recommended to you with those caveats.

Read at your own risk.

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Border by Kodaka Kazuma

Right now, in my Amazon cart are the next three volumes of Border.  I am seriously considering purchasing the official English-langague publication of this, it’s that good.

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What do I like about Border so much?

The things that this hits for me, include, but are not limited to:

  • Decent to good art.
  • A storyline where queerness matters and is not just window-dressing.
  • An ensemble cast of characters, which includes hot straight guys and well-characterized women.
  • ACTION. Well-drawn action and adventure, for real. Like, holy sh*t, this could be one of my favorite shounen fighting manga except it’s SUPER-QUEER which makes it seventeen thousand times BETTER!!!!
  • Good storytelling. Like, I actually enjoyed the adventure part of this action-adventure and would have read it without the promise of hot gay sex, BUT I ACTUALLY GOT TO HAVE EVERYTHING FOR ONCE HOLY CRAP.

The only complaint that a person could have (which I don’t in this case, but I’ll explain later) is that for something marketed as yaoi, there isn’t a huge amount of sexy times.  Don’t get me wrong. It’s there.  Border starts with a sex scene, but you have to wade through a lot of plot before you get to the next bit of naked.

For me, that lack is made up by the fact 1) the plot is good enough to stand on its own, but also 2) that the main character, Yamato, is man hungry in a way that feels very true to the real gay men I have known in my life.  Like, sometimes he’s just like, “I haven’t been laid in a while. See you guys later! I’m going cruising!” Yet, Yamato is deeply admirable. Like, he’s actually a hero I’d want to BE, which is not something I’ve come across all that often in a yaoi. His gayness permeates him–he’s totally the “squad mom” while also being super f*cking bada$$ and very masculine (if pretty).

Yamato is something queer characters hardly ever get to be: out af and legitimate heroes  in a story I would read, even if the characters weren’t gay.

So, this is the official set-up:

Yamato runs a detective agency that will use any means to get the job done, no matter how unconventional. His three misfit employees are more than his teammates, they’re his family too.

Wow, that doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it? But, you know, in some ways, yeah, that’s basically it.

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It kind of doesn’t surprised me that Kodaka-sensei has written voluminous amounts of doujinshi.  Kodaka-sensei’s work reads like someone who is as frustrated as any other manga fan, like myself, who reads a lot of great action adventure stuff and thinks, “THIS WOULD BE SO MUCH BETTER IF EVERYONE WAS GAY! IMMA GO WRITE FAN FIC AND MAKE IT SO.”

Only, Kodaka-sensei lives in Japan, where a person can actually make a living with thoughts like that.

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So, here’s our ensemble cast.  In the foreground is Yamato Suou. As I mentioned, he’s the team leader. He’s a former U.S. special forces officer turned detective. He mustered out of the army after feeling responsibility for his commanding officer’s death. The dog tags that Yamato wears actually belong to Will, as they became lovers despite the fact that Will was married (separated) and had been telling himself he was a 100% straight. (Turns out, Will was much more bi than he knew!)  But, what I LOVED about this tragic backstory is that Yamato was gay from the start. He must have signed up for this unit when he was barely eighteen, but he already knew he was gay, gay, SUPER-gay and no “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was going to change that. His guilt came from thinking that Will still loved his wife and that their relationship constituted cheating (oh, did I mention Yamato was raised Catholic?) and, because, Will ended up saving his life, that maybe Will died doing more for his lover than he would for another teammate.

There’s a moment in the manga where this is all worked out, however. We find out that Will’s wife was already VERY done with Will and that she KNEW the two of them were lovers and thought that was _great_, because, unlike a lot of other women in yaoi, she’s not a horrible person and wanted Will (and Yamato) to be happy.

Did I mention that our squad mom, who is totally the ‘bottom’ in his sexual relationships, and who has a soft spot for smols, is an an INSANELY competent leader and was in the Special Forces??

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I am f*cking in love with this man.

The next member of the team also breaks a ton of stereotypes.

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Tamaki Shinonome is a pretty hairstylist. Other than his unrequited crush on Yamato, he’s super-duper STRAIGHT.

Tamaki gets the entirety of the second volume to explain this aberration and why Yamato steadfastly refuses to sleep with him.  Turns out, in a surprise to no one in the Real World ™,  growing up on the streets and being abandoned by your family can leave emotional scars. Tamaki is taken in to the same Catholic orphanage a Yamato, but he’s already seen some sh*t and he can never quite adjust to ‘normal’ life.  He’s got a kind of attachment disorder that makes him super needy and to imagine any kind of ‘no’ as a complete rejection.

To be fair, Yamato isn’t in a whole lot of better shape. He joined the Special Forces because, if he died, which he fully expected to, the pay-out to the designated beneficiary–in his case the Catholic orphanage–would be a ton of money.

In Tamaki’s case, this caused him to run away from the orphanage, join a gang, and end up in an even worse situation with a man who abused him horrifically because Tamaki would literally do anything for praise and affection.

We find all this out because the detective agency is hired when Tamaki’s abuser resurfaces, and so the team has to rally together to help Tamaki face his old ghosts and put some of his past behind him.  Part of Tamaki’s constant attempts to get Yamato into bed are entirely wrapped up in the fact that Yamato takes his job as squad mom/older orphanage brother seriously and has remained steadfast in his unconditional love for Tamaki.  He rescued him the first time, and when Tamaki gets in trouble again, is there for him again.

There’s a scene where Yamato gets fed up with all of Tamaki’s teasing and says, “Really, is it lust? Do you even know what guys do together?” And Tamaki looks genuinely…

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… scandalized.

Though, this seems to backfire, because then Tamaki is like, “Fine. You won’t let me do you until I’ve done other men. I’m going to go be the gayest guy around!”

We’ll see how that works out if I end up buying the rest of the volumes of this.

Then we have Sougo Kitaouji, another hopelessly straight guy (or…. is he?? Extra chapters/omake suggests more flexibility than Yamato realizes.)  He’s the only one of the team, so far as I can tell from where the story stopped being scanlated, who is NOT from the orphanage. Sougo and Yamato seem to have met at a karate dojo–and high school? For sure the one, the other isn’t as clear.

Sougo is, physically, “the tank,” if you know your gamer jargon. He’s also the most level-headed, stoic one of the group.

In the omake where the entire crew decides to follow Yamato to his favorite gay bar, that all the men there dream about:

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Also, if Yamato has a crush on any of the guys on his team, it’s Sougo.

He’s kind of my type, so I get it.

But, the scanlation stops on what it obviously his backstory chapter, so he will remain a mystery unless I shell out hard earned cash to find out what happens next.

The final member of the team is Kippei Yaotome.  Kippei is the resident “guy in the chair”/computer genius/hacker.  His backstory is the subject of the third volume and is the only “mission” that Yamato’s team goes on that even vaguely seems like the sort of thing a private eye/detective would actually be hired to do.  Kippei ends up being the ‘lost’ son of a dying millionaire, who never knew his true family because his mom was the millionaire’s secret lover.

Kippei is the team member that most draws out Yamato’s mom side, though he mothers everyone.  But, Kippei is young and cute and fairly innocent.

One of the things I like about all the guys in Border is that they are physically affectionate with one-another. Occasionally, everyone all sleeps in the same bed together, platonically, because it’s an orphanage comfort thing. Kodaka-sensei never forgets that these men were all damaged by their past and that they have these rituals that have helped them cope.

There’s also a whole lot of emphasis on a theme that I adore, which is ‘made’ families.  I adore storylines that underscore the idea that the blood of the covenant is thicker than than water of the womb, ie, that families are not made in the womb, but by people coming together and MAKING it work, putting _in_ the work to make a family.

I’ve probably talked too much about this one, but I really loved it.

Now I just have to go break open my piggy bank and see how much is in there…

Sapuri / Suppli (Vol. 1) by Okazaki Mari

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I normally don’t judge a book by its cover, but I thought the cover of the first volume of Sapuri / Suppli was unusual and gorgeous af.  It did its job; the artwork got me to pick up the tankōbon and read it while bored at work last night.

As unusual and standout as the cover is, I found the storyline to be the opposite–very… well-tred and stereotypical.

“Minami Fujii is an employee at a high-powered advertising firm. She’s good at her job but finds herself torn between the pressure and expectations of her career and her attraction to two of her coworkers: the younger, arty Ishida, and the classy, put-together Ogiwara!”

Except Sapuri / Suppli is a little bit more than a torn between two lovers story, but I’ll get to that after the spoiler break.

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In manga, Japanese women seem to worry a lot about not getting married.

I mean, I guess we see something similar among the older gay men in Fumi Yoshinaga’s work–this preoccupation with having to reach a certain pinnacle of traditionally-defined success by age fill in the blank, but usually 30.

There is a thing that happens to a lot of people around the age 28-30.  In astrology it would be defined as a “Saturn Return,” but a lot of people do some kind of “what am I doing with my life?” soul searching at that age.  It’s a fairly common/universal conundrum.

My problem with how it often seems to end up being portrayed for women, in these particular manga, is that there’s a lot of unexamined, internalized misogyny.

Our heroine in Sapuri / Suppli, Fujii talks about not wanting to ‘dry up’ and basically turn into ‘an old hag.’ Fujii worries about not being cute any more, and tries to glam it up at one point (and gets mocked for trying to dress young by her officemates).

There’s a successful businesswoman in the office, who, on the surface (at least in the first volume), seems happy enough, who is the fear of every office lady. Don’t end up like her! Alone at 40!  Like that’s some kind of death sentence.  Worse, the older lady herself participates in this myth, by telling Fujii to go out to karaoke one night because, “you don’t want to end up like me!”

This might be more poignant, if she was was actually portrayed as sad. The only time we see her out of the office, she seems to be happily shopping for houseplants by herself.  (Is that a cultural metaphor? If so, I didn’t get it.)

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My version had her Fujii’s boyfriend saying, “Isn’t that the woman you always say you don’t want to end up like?”

To be fair, a lot of this particular drama bounces off me as a queer woman.  We get perceived this way a lot: washed-up, frumpy, alone (even when we’re not. In fact, given this scene and Fujii’s loving description, I briefly wondered if this was going to end up a yuri romance!)

But this whole drama also bounces off me as a nerd, a geek.  We never like the things we’re supposed to, we’re also often seen as weird and lonely (again, even when we’re not.  Lonely, I mean. Of COURSE we’re weird af.)

I think the last time I worried about ‘fitting in’ or participating in culturally-defined success was 1983, when I was in high school. (No, strike that, by 1983, I’d already found Gay Comix at the local head shop.)

This is not to say that I can’t sympathize. There is a secondary tension in Sapuri / Suppli about the pressures of work versus keeping any kind of social life.  For Fujii, that means trying to continue to date, but it’s generally relatable in terms of how in your mid-20s (and, really, almost at any point in one’s life) the struggle of “does this job define who I am?” is real.

I am also endlessly fascinated by the work culture in Japan.

There’s actually a diagram in the manga, at one point, about how to form a stable napping platform out of three wheel-y office chairs. Fujii also demonstrates how to wrap your blazer around your skirt so you don’t accidentally give your officemates a free show, while you nap in the boardroom.

Fujii is regularly shown staying overnight at the office.

I can’t even.

There is no job on the planet I like this much. Even when I was writing full-time, I always took the weekends off (unless my deadline fell on a Monday.)

I’ll be honest, too. Despite her traditional obsessions, Fujii is a sympathetic character. The manga is well written.  Enough so, that I ended up spending some time last night after I finished the first volume trying to find out how easy it might be to get the rest. Scanlation sites don’t seem to have much of it–the first few chapters of the first volume, at most.  Amazon has English-language versions up to volume 5 (out of the 11 published in Japan.)

So, I mean, I might be able to pressure my library into at least finishing up the run of what they started (at least up to what’s currently available in English), but… I just don’t know that I’m that interested, especially if it ends with some kind of underscoring of traditional societal norms, you know?

It’d be boring to me if Fujii ends up leaving her career for marriage.  Or, worse, if she settles with some dude just because she doesn’t want to grow old alone.  That’s what people do in real life.  Yawn.

What I’d rather read is the story of the career woman who is happily single, despite all the pressures to be otherwise.  That’s a bit more edgy to me, a bit more exciting.  I mean, smash the patriarchy, sister. Even if it’s just to defy everyone’s expectations and be a happy, well-adjusted singleton.

However, Sapuri / Suppli was apparently made into a J-drama, so perhaps you might like to consume it that way? I couldn’t find it on Crunchyroll, but it looks like a fan site might have it for you.

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So, am I recommending this or not?  I don’t know.  It kind of looks like from the description of the J-drama this ends up a straight-forward romance.  I guess we can all be relieved that Fujii won’t end up a lonely, old woman, eh?

Watashi Sekai o Kouseisuru Chiri no You na Nani ka / The Feelings We All Must Endure by Amano Shuninta

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There I was, randomly hunting down the list of tags on Baka-Updates, like you do. I hadn’t even gotten out of the ‘A’s (Antarctica, really? There are THREE??), when I came across “Asexuality.”

And, I thought, “Hmmm, yeah, color me intrigued.”

Not a ton of people are scanlating Watashi Sekai o Kouseisuru Chiri no You na Nani ka / The Feelings We All Must Endure, but I did find a good copy at Kiss Manga. I should tell you, right up front, that despite the tag, the main character isn’t the asexual one. (In the picture above, she’s the one sleeping in striped stockings.)

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The main character is actually Ruki–we first meet her when she’s critiquing how much of society is focused on sex and love and relationships.  She hates all that (which made me originally think maybe she’d be the one to turn out to be ace.)  In fact, Rukia kind of hates how all the girls in her college are. They’re all so giggly and relationship-focused that Ruki wonders how she ever got here.

Well, turns out, it was because of a girl.

For Ruki it was very much love at first sight. She met Sachi (Sacchan) when going for her college entrance exam.  Meeting Sachi was so distracting that Ruki blew her test. They both ended up going to their safety school. It’s all kind of a mess, since Ruki doesn’t understand these feelings and just wants to get through to graduation, but she’s stuck doing a group project with, what seem to her, to be a bunch of ditzy women.

Little does she know, they’re actually the SECRET LESBIAN CABAL.

For real.

In chapter three, there’s even a fun connect-the-dots for you to play: Who’s All Sleeping with Whom?

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Remi-san (Remia) probably has a line to everyone, because she’s the resident… shall we say, “free spirit.” In fact, when Ruki confesses to being a virgin, Remia seduces her on the spot.  Ruki is underwhelmed by the sexing, but figures it’s nice enough.  Her problem is that the girl that she fell for at the entrance exams, Sechi?  TOTALLY straight.

Ruki spends much of the manga first figuring out that she’s gay and then figuring out that she’s completely smitten with Sechi. Luckily, Sechi’s boyfriend is a controlling, two-timing jerk, and, though it takes a lot to get there, it turns out Sechi can be convinced to give lesbianism a try.  (The magic of gay sex, I’m telling ya!)

Probably my favorite scene in that regard is when Remi-san and Ruki are hanging out for the first time, and Remi-san notices Ruki’s hands.

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Possibly the truest moment in all of yuri. For real. Fingernails like that? Not with me, sister!

I found a lot of this yuri to be very… ANGSTY.  There’s a lot of questioning about what is love, anyway.

The ace character, Fueko, seems to also have narcolepsy, since she falls asleep constantly.  She’s in a relationship with Asuna (the woman with the glasses). As she says, she loves their “quiet time together.” Asuna has a slightly more than healthy sexual appetite, and, while Fueko can be convinced to have sex now and again, they agree to an open relationship. I can’t say it’s terribly happy, however. They break-up and get back together a bunch in this, and I kind of want to take Fueko home and snuggle her properly… but she’s so damn in LOVE with Asuna.

And that’s kind of the general theme of Watashi Sekai o Kouseisuru Chiri no You na Nani ka / The Feelings We Must Endure: you can’t chose who you fall for and sometimes that sucks.

Oh, and love kind of sucks in general.

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Would I recommend it? Maybe? The story is compelling enough. The sex isn’t explicit, though there are a lot of naked boobs to be had, as it were. If you want angsty, relationship stuff, however, I’d say yeah, go for it.

It does, at least, have a happy ending for our two main love interests, Ruki and Sachi.

Lupin Sensei / Lupin III (Vols. 1 – 4) by Monkey Punch

Today, I happened to read through some of the other blogs that I follow, and I came across MangaHoarder‘s Manga Reading Challenge 2018.  It looks like a fun list, and so I’ve decided to give it a try… somewhat passively. I figure I’ll just continue to read the things I read and see which boxes I can check by the end of the year.

Occasionally, if I’m looking around for something, however, I might try to hit a particular category.

Like, “a manga that is older that you.”

When I saw that one, I thought, “Whoo boy, where am I gonna find a manga published before 1967?”

Turns out, I had four volumes at home.  Lupin Sensei / Lupin III was first serialized TWO MONTHS and 8 days before I was born.

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I first came across the characters of Lupin III in the late-1980s/early 1990s, when the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis did a midnight showing of The Castle of Cagliostro.

I was enchanted and… energized. There’s a scene in this movie that had me getting up out of my seat, and I remember thinking, “Holy sh*t! This ‘Japanimation’ stuff is amazing!”  (I didn’t know the word ‘anime’ yet and, honestly, The Castle of Cagliostro was originally released in 1979.)

In fact, I often credit The Castle of Cagliostro as being one of the first major influences in my later interest in anime and manga.

Thus, several years ago, when I saw four tankōban of the original manga in the used section of my local science fiction store, I snapped them up.  Baka-Updates informs me that I have no where near the entire run, which is apparently 14 volumes. But, you’ll notice, should you go the link to Mangakalot that I provided above, the most you can find  scanned on-line seems to be the first four chapters of volume 1.

So, what can I tell you about this series?  Lupin III is a master thief. He’s kind of the original international man of mystery who galavants around the world dodging the law and having (mostly) comedic capers (some of which break the 4th wall.)

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I’m really disappointed that more chapters haven’t been scanned. Even with reading glasses, I found a lot of the panels difficult to parse.  As you can see from the above panel (and the one below), too, Punch-sensei has a very crude, loose style.

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Now, imagine this a fourth of the size it is here….

Plus, you know me, gentle reader. I’m a tough sell on humor, and a lot of the humor of Lupin Sensei / Lupin III is crude and even slapstick.  I had a hard time actually tracking some of the action…. and there are a lot of naked ladies getting ravished.

A LOT.

That being said, it’s often a lot of fun to see just how Lupin III is going to outsmart Detective Zenigata this time. Plus, you gotta love lines like this one:

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But do I recommend it to you?  Ah, maybe for the head-trippiness of it… but, honestly, the movie is much better.

Peace out, man.

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!)

Renai Game by Chidori Peko

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Once again, I discovered that this set of chapters, “Cinderella and the Shoemaker” (Act 1, 2 and extra,) have actually been hived off from its original volume and is presented as a stand-alone.  But, I read them this way, and the other chapters follow separate characters, so…. I’ll just review this as it is (though, it will be tagged by the volume’s title.)

Oh! And, Happy New Year, to you all!

SPOILERS

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The story is basically as advertised: a very loose retelling of “Cinderella.”

I mean, okay, if there’s no fancy dress ball, no actual prince, nor a fairy godmother…. yeah, no, actually, it’s just a guy whose name is an apparent homonym to the Chinese Cinderella, Kaji, who ends up falling for a guy whose name is basically prince (Mao).  Oh, though there *is* a scene where Kaji runs off without his shoes.

In this version, however, Mao has MADE the perfect pair to fit, because he’s a slutty shoemaker that Kaji initially tried to apprentice to.

Mao didn’t really want to take on an apprentice–he’s never taught anyone before–and so when Kaji shows up and begs him to teach him his magical shoemaking ways and says, “I’ll do ANYTHING,” Mao decides to have a little fun.  Only, this isn’t the rape-y version, so Mao just has him dress in an apron and make food.  Hot?

I’ll let you decide:

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Well?

It’s ok-ay for me, personally, but, this was a cute enough diversion for a few minutes.

In case you’re wondering, also unlike the Cinderella story, Mao does eventually decide to go for it when Kaji turns 20, so there is some explicit stuff in the second chapter.  More sweet than hot, but, as I say, pleasant enough, should this sound fun to you.

Ja mata!