In These Words by TogaQ+ KichikuNeko

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What is with manhuas? Why are they so well drawn?  Why are the stories so… right up my kinky alley?

SPOILERS

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Bad news first.  In These Words is another one that I have not found scanlated.  I picked up this volume at Quatrefoil, and no one seems to be scanning this.  Worse, when I went to look to see if I might just go ahead and buy the second volume in English from the publishers… the price on Amazon.com was… unreasonable (Like, seriously, 69 dollars!)

This is a huge shame, because this manhua is stunningly illustrated and the story is kinky af.

The story follows psychologist, Asano Katsuya, a renown U.S.-trained, criminal profiler. The Tokyo police have hired Asano-sensei to get a confession out of Shinobara Keiji, a serial killer.

A couple curious circumstances arise, however.  One, Asano-sensei keeps having these extremely vivid nightmares about being one of Shinobara’s victims.  In fact, the volume starts with a prologue (written, like, as a light-novel, which is funky,) that makes you think Asano was maybe picked up by Shinobara  at a coffee shop, drugged, and held captive for weeks.  Only… after several wonderfully explicit panels of all the torture, Asano wakes up.  It’s all been a dream.

Or has it?

A young detective has shown up at Asano’s apartment to take him to talk to the chief of police about the big assignment.  Except, sensei has kind of forgotten where he’s supposed to be going or what he’s supposed to be doing.  It seems that Asano-sensei has not only been plagued by the vivid nightmares, but also these odd headaches.

Add on top of that, we find out when the police chief explains his mission to him, Shinobara has requested him specifically…. in fact, he won’t talk to any other psychologist and they need this confession, pronto.

Thus, the reader is left with an uneasy feeling that maybe these dreams aren’t just empathetic projection.

That feeling is underscored by the fact that at one point the young detective ‘reminds’ Asano-sensei to take a pill that sensei does NOT remember being prescribed… and that immediately brings on the headache again.

Something is clearly going on between Asano and Shinobara.

Only what, exactly?  Was he a former victim? Will be a new one?

The volume ends just when Shinobara has come up with a way to corner the doctor… and I pretty much ripped through the internet desperate to get my hands on volume 2 to find out what happens next.

IF YOU SEE ANYTHING ABOUT THIS MANGA/MANHUA PLEASE, PLEASE TELL ME!

The art is amazing, did I mention?

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Also all the sex is explicit, no invisible penises.

I’m so bummed not to have more of this, AND that I can’t share it with you because it’s not on-line, anywhere.

Sad face.

Vampire Yaoi Round-Up 2

My second vampire round-up actually unearthed a few gems!  One an non-vampire story and the other a science fiction dystopia manhua that I’m kind of addicted to all ready!  Last time I found five, but this time I had trouble reading much of anything after finding the really good one… so, there are only four.

 

SPOILERS

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1.

“You Must Be Joking” is the 6th chapter of 3-manen no Kareshi / 30,000 Yen Boyfrind by Mio Junta : it’s… uh?… silly? It starts with out hero complaining about how this vampire he just met is the total opposite of the stereotype: he’s poor and not-at-all-polished, in fact he’s a little froo-froo. But I guess they fell in love because the whole neck-biting thing didn’t work out…?  The bite hurt, which it isn’t supposed to.  The vampire figures the problem was he wasn’t terribly hungry and so it was more of a love bite.

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The 3-manen no Kareshi story, however?  That one I liked a lot.  Our hero, Takagi, is a popular office worker who is secretly very lonely.  He’s been dating a married man and, well, that’s not going to go anywhere is it?  So, when he hears the office girls talking about boyfriends-for-hire he decides to try it out.  He finds a super-hot one, but that guy is booked.  He ends up with his second choice, a youngish, enthusiastic guy, who further frustrates Takagi by explaining that, yeah, no, sorry not an escort service. You’re supposed to, you know, just date.  Takagi is having none of that.  Rent-a-boy says, “Wahh! Can’t have a bad mark on my performance, okay, let’s f*ck!”

And they do.

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And, of course, gay sex is so awesome for this straight guy that he’s completely smitten.  Adorably, however, he keeps trying to bring over games and DATE Takagi. Takagi thinks that all this insistence on dating instead of f*cking is a rejection, and so when number one is freed up he rents him.

Number one is very smooth, but Takagi can’t stop thinking about number 2 guy…. and of course they run into number 2 out on another date-for-hire of his own.

Love confessions ensue.

In case you had any doubt, rent-a-boyfriend is a real service in Japan: https://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/real-boyfriend-rental-service-offers-dates-with-men-aged-from-19-to-57

The other thing that amused me about 3-menen no Kareshi was that, because I found this whole volume under the tag ‘vampire’ in Baka-Updates, I was kind of half-expecting number one popular guy to be a vampire, because, well, it would be perfect cover for one.

 

2.

Blood Bank by Silb : This ongoing manhua is pretty much everything I have ever needed from a vampire yaoi, possibly even fiction in general.

It’s yaoi; it’s BDSM; it’s vampires; AND it’s science fiction!  Plus, it features my favorite kind of power dynamic….

In the future, a meteorite crashes into earth.  The ash and debris plunges the world into a ‘nuclear winter,’ where it’s nearly always dark and cold.  Vampires, who had been living among us but shackled by the long days, come out of hiding and dominate the remaining humans.  The powerful vampire clans fought bloody wars to possess the most humans.  Now, years later, there’s a kind of peace brought on by mutually agreed on shared resources: blood banks.

The story follows One.  One has a pretty okay life, for a human. His blood is ‘A’ quality and so he’s never had any trouble paying the ‘blood tax.’  He’s also extremely good at his job, hence his name One, as a banker.  The clients like him, and despite the vampires’ powerful pheromones, One has always been able to keep a cool head.

Actually, he’s mysteriously not affected by pheromones at all.  He can smell them, but other humans are enthralled, in the traditional sense, in that they have to do whatever a vampire orders them to do.

Along comes Shell, a vampire who is the son of a powerful overlord.  Shell has come to inspect the bank.  He takes note of One… and quickly uncovers his secret. One is trapped… or so it seems, except that what Shell wants is for a human to dominate him.  It’s his own shameful secret because vampire are supposed to use and abuse humans…

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..not the other way around.

So, yeah, this story!   So good!

As I have confessed many times before, I am easily taken in by stories where there’s an underclass.  The more unfair, unequal the underclass has it, the more invested I am. The world of Blood Bank is pretty bleak.

Humans are basically cattle in this world. One lives in a place called a human farm that looks a bit like a rough barracks. He lives on rations granted by the overlord.  But, he’s doing pretty well.  The ones who aren’t pretty enough or have bad-tasting blood live in slums.  Others are literal pets of the vampires, known as ‘arts’ because not only are they bought and sold like objects d’art, but also been artificially-bred to be the most beautiful and desirable.

Vampires, meanwhile, seem to have a pretty strict society, too. It’s basically understood that vampires dominate by force, so, of course, every vampire lord of note has a playroom-a BDSM dungeon.  Poor Shell just looks at all that stuff and wants all the wrong things.  He can’t come out because any non-dominant behavior is seen as abnormal–even being kind of swishy can get you thrown in jail.

The world is f*cked up.  Obviously, this means I could NOT get enough of it.

Plus, the plot actually gets pretty interesting fairly quickly, so it’s got smut AND plot! The only thing missing were women.  They’re almost conspicuously absent, but I wonder if some of that has to do with the nature of the society.  In some ways, it’s so brutal and unequal that it could be fairly stomach turning if there were women involved…? I’m not sure. It’s also possible that the mangaka also just forgot.

This manhua is going into my rotation and I’m going to be anxiously checking for updates!

 

3.

“Vampire Boyfriend” chapter 5 in Etowa / Love Machine by Tsuge Amayo : is… okay, nothing is going to satisfy me much after Blood Bank, but the age difference here was kind of a no-go for me.  The set-up, however, is that there are just vampires at school, no big deal.  Higashi has a problem–whenever he gets excited (sexually), he bites people.  He’s having very creepy teacher/student love affair with Shiozaki, his teacher, whom I think we’re supposed to like… possibly because he’s the one who made the love confession and isn’t into Higashi only because he’s a vampire.

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Eew…. sensei, just no!

The whole chapter turns on a misunderstanding that’s… kinda cute, but I could never really get over the age gap in the relationship and the art was kind of meh-to-awful.

 

4.

Glow Vampire by Wanatabe Asia : this is a one-shot that has vampire, but really mostly is just a very smutty, odd threesome.  I can’t even really explain it. There’s a priest, and a vampire bat and another vampire and… yeah, sex.

Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? #15-17

So… apparently, my review of this manhua showed up on someone’s Google search and so I got contacted by a person at Träumerei Scans who is involved in the official scanlation of Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? 

As one of the side-effects of that, as it were, I can now point you all to the official scanlator’s page: http://bato.to/comic/_/comics/lets-take-the-train-together-shall-we-r18448.

So, go read the next chapters, they’re cute.

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WARNNG BIG A$$  SPOILERS

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What is very weird to me right now is that, while I was briefly very honored to have been sought out by people associated with something I was really loving, I feel kind of uninvited to have an opinion on this manhua.

If you want to read the comment exchange between me and the folks at Träumerei Scans, you can see them here: https://mangakast.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/lets-take-the-train-together-shall-we-10-14/comment-page-1/#comment-335

I’m not sure if the scanlators intended to spoil the entire manhua for me, but they did.

I’ve been admonished not to ‘read too much’ into the relationship between Chen Yuchen and Li Tengyu. They took time out of their day to contact me directly and spray NO HOMO all over this.

Okay. Great.

You do realize this entire manhau is about their funny interactions between the two guys and how they can be/might be interpreted, right?

So… literally all the joy has been sucked out of my reading of this manhua, because I sure as F*CK was not tuning in to find out how Li Tengyu’s office politics were going to turn out or whether or not Chen Yuchen was EVER going to get a new hoodie.

I was there for, what I assume most readers were: the cute interactions, which I could enjoy for their sweet bromance-y awesomeness… and, you know, imagine as the scanlators clearly do the potential for gayness.

The entire tension of this manhua is built around how other people, including the characters themselves, interpret this relationship. You can not deny that part of what makes you turn to the next page is a potential for someone to misinterpret what’s going on. It literally happens constantly in these last few chapters, like, where Tengyu’s boss is insistent that the texts he’s getting from Chen Yuchen must be from a date.  The fact that Tengyu doesn’t just show his boss the screen and say, “Nah, that’s just my friend standing over there who’s getting all weird because I’ve missed hanging out on the train with him in the mornings for the last week,” is because Tengyu thinks his boss is going to think he’s gay.

That scene has no power otherwise. It’s got no traction if the titillation, the queer-baiting, isn’t intentional on the part of the author.

Plus, it’s just fun, right?

Like, oh noz!  The touchy-feely boss might think Tengyu is gay!

Except now I’ve lost all that fun. My enjoyment of those moments have been taken away by the insistance of the scanlator that I might be “disappointed” by the end.

There you go, then. Thanks for deflating all of the fun tension.

No need to read any further.

And I honestly don’t know if I should bother any more.  I really kind of feel like I was singled out and told ‘we don’t want fans like you, you who READ TOO MUCH into things.’

Crap.

Now I can’t even love this thing any more. Damn it.

Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? #10-14

Somehow I missed a bunch of these!  The bonus is that I got to read a whole slew at once, which is lovely.  If you’ve not caught up either, you can find them all here: http://bato.to/comic/_/comics/lets-take-the-train-together-shall-we-r18448 (official scanlation site.)

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If these two don’t end up as lovers by the end, there will be gross sobbing and possibly a little raging from me. I can no longer pretend I won’t be devastated if this ends in a platonic way.  Also, if these two just end up bro’friends at the end?  Sally-sensei is a queer baiting son-of-a-b*tch!

Because Chapter 10 is literally about how Chen Yuchen is having an extremely sh*tty day until he sees Li Tingyu in his street clothes.  Seriously.  Just seeing Tingyu in casual clothes lifts the cloud from Chen Yuchen’s day.

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Listen, I have some really awesome friends in my life with whom I have a 100% platonic relationship with, but they usually lift me out of  my crappy mood by talking to me about their lives or hanging out with me.  I do not get happy just by seeing them in cute clothes.

When I see my wife coming out of work in her cute shoes and a kicky skirt? Holy sh*t, yes. Just watching her walk will bring a smile to my face, brighten my day–before I even talk her.

Do you see the difference?

I don’t think that people in Taiwan are that much culturally different than people in the U.S.  Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe bro’mances are really different in Taiwan. Maybe guys there are just more laissez fair about it all. “Dude! Cute shoes! OMG, they make me so happy! How do they make you feel?” But, I have tons of girls who are my friends who do not make my day just by wearing something I’ve never seen them in before.  Hell, half the time I don’t notice when my friends who are girls get new glasses or change their hair, but that might be part of being a lesbian.  So, maybe this isn’t a Taiwan/U.S. thing, maybe this is a straight thing.  Maybe straight people really get happy when they see their other straight friends looking good.

BUT, JUST FYI, THIS READS AS VERY QUEER TO ME, AS A QUEER WOMAN.

Especially since the next three chapters are all about the guys finally exchanging phone numbers and then spending a lot of their waking hours wondering why the other one won’t call.

Plus, we do get some full-on queer baiting/fan service, when the two high school girls who were hoping to score some adult salaryman action try to get closer to Chen Yuchen and Li Tengyu again, and, when the train breaks suddenly, slam the two men “too close” together.  This ends with a bloody nose from Chen Yuchen, which has its own kind of cultural double-entendre, but in this case is actually cause by a hard skull whacking into a nose.

So, yeah, what to make of where this is going…. I’m not sure.

Let’s Take the Train Together, Shall We? is not, so far as I know, listed as a yaoi, so I can’t be certain things are going to go as they should.  In fact, what I’m suspecting is going to happen next is that now that Li Tengyu’s overly touchy boss is sitting next to him on a the train and is more a little sloshed, having had an afternoon client meeting at the Taiwanese version of an izakaya, there’s going to a Big Misunderstanding between our boys when touchy-feely boss gets a little too physically friendly with Tengyu.

Now, how that’s going to play out will be interesting.  Is there going to be a whole lot of Chen Yuchen avoiding Li Tengyu because “OH SHIT HE’S A HOMO!” or what?

I don’t know, but things could go terribly, terribly wrong from here.

Someone hold me.