Owaru-senei Round-up

I joked that after reading Kichiku, Encount / Brutal Encounter, I would read everything Owaru-sensei has ever written.  I’ve compromised and read all of her m/m smut available on MangaHere. Turns out, I’d already read and reviewed: Our House Love Trouble about a college-aged guy who ends up slutting around at his new ‘share-house’ (think: communal living.)

But, there were several new gems….

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If you’ve ever said to yourself, what the world is missing is a hot love story about Big Pharma, then Omoichigai ga Koi no Tane / Love Sprouts from a Misunderstanding is for you.

In Omoichigai go Koi no Tane / Love Sprouts from a Misunderstanding, you have pushy pharmacy sales rep, Kuruno. Kuruno is the guy who will do anything–yes, anything–to make a sale.  Enter Ice Queen, Houjou-sensei who absolutely hates Big Pharma… for all the right reasons.

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But, what kind of story would it be if Kuruno gave up easily?  Instead, he sees penetrating (pun intended!) Houjou’s barriers as a challenge. Kuruno becomes even more insistent.

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This culminates in the doctor not only agreeing to get Kuruno a contract with his hospital, but also invites him along to a conference out of town.  The misunderstanding is that each of them thinking the other has been trying to seduce them from the start.

Owaru-sensei seems to be somewhat enchanted by scenarios where one of the guys gets caught up in the moment and ends up just going along with sex.

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Literally me, every time I have sex.

What’s funny is that other than one “Ah, I wonder what his smile is like,” moment from Kuruno, we really have no sense if he’s ever been with a man previous to this ‘misunderstanding.’  But, apparently, he’s just THAT willing to close the deal.

Alas, this one was last updated sometime in 2016.  Despite the ridiculousness of finding myself relating to a Pharmacy rep, I’m kind of disappointed that I won’t find out how this  relationship develops.

Next one I read was: Hang Out Crisis

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The description for this one starts, “Josei Tsubakiya is a rich law school student. Motoki Sakurai is the most popular guy in the education department. Together, they’re the hottest guys around, and totally irresistible to ladies.”

The set-up is pretty basic, the two party boys end up striking out one night with the ladies and drunkly decide to be each other’s consolation prize.

That’s the entirety of the plot, with the addition of Motoki finding it impossible to get it up with the ladies after having been ravished by Josei and coming to realize that perhaps, despite assurances that sex with a guy would not make him gay, he’s clearly That Way.

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Mmm, I’m pretty sure that’s the textbook definition, but whatever… 🙂

One thing I have to say that I love about Owaru-sensei is that her guys ALWAYS have safe sex. Condoms are always visible.  Sometimes, like in this one, the condoms just magically appear, but you very clearly see that they’re on.

This is another one that seems to have stopped updating somewhere around the same time, which is also kind of a shame since I tend to like the way Owaru-sense writes and, even if I’m not super-sold on a story, her smut is often very good.

The last one I read was Junju Bitch, Hatsukoi Kei / Pure-Hearted Hustler, First-Love Style.k000_cover

Haruya is a part-time gay prostitute, part-time art student.  He enjoys his life, for the most part, because his work is what most people consider pleasure.  It’s all good times, except he has it kind of bad for his serious, studious best friend, Hitoeda.

Somehow, Haruya hasn’t noticed that the only thing that Hitoeda ever paints are portraits of him. In fact, Haruya has somehow convinced himself that not only is Hitoeda straight, but he’s not at all interested in him.

Luckily, Haruya accidentally interrupts Hitoeda masturbating on one of his many paintings of him and kind of almost figures out that Hitoeda might have it just as bad… except, he spends a stupid amount of time NOT GETTING IT.

But, they do finally figure it out and the rest of the manga is about them learning out how to go from best friends to boyfriends…. like, dealing with Hitoeda’s jealousy and the fact that Haruya only seems to know how to say ‘thank you’ for something by performing sexual favors.

This was was probably my least favorite of the three, if only because I wasn’t especially charmed by Hitoeda.  He’s fine, he’s just not my type.

Owaru-sensei has written several things that aren’t yaoi, though no one has bothered to scanlate them.  If you want a full list of her work, it can be found at Baka-Updates.  She’s apparently also written a couple of Tiger & Bunny Doujinshi, which I guess just means she has great taste, because I totally ship that.

Overall, I have to say that Owaru-sensei is an easy read. If you’re not into the story, her smut is very smutty and likely to satisfy.  She does seem to have a type for her men–the aggressive one is usually the spiky, dark-haired one, and the ‘bottom’ is nearly always the wispy, girlish lighter-haired one–but her art is otherwise very palatable, IMHO.  So, yes, if any of these stories seem like your sort of thing, I would recommend.

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Kichiku, Encount / Brutal Encounter by Owaru

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They say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but I totally picked up Kichiku Encount / Brutal Encounter because the cover looked cool.

Also? Aggressive dude? Totally my “type.”

And then I see that it’s tagged ‘smut’? Was there really anything else I needed??

Oh, wait, then I get this little gem:

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A wild manwhore appears? OMG, YOU HAVE TO CATCH THEM ALL.

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I was so completely sold after the “A wild manwhore appears” moment, I kind of didn’t even care what happened next. That being said, I should probably warn for those hoping for a sweet story that, while this one has its moments near the end, it’s definitely of dubious consent.

Our hero is Hajime Sato, age 25, a typical, overworked salaryman.  One early morning, after pulling an all-nighter at work (because you DO that in Japan), he’s sitting in a mostly abandoned train car and overhears the unmistakable sounds of his favorite porn star, moaning.  Hajime looks over, expecting the listener to be some nerdy virgin, like himself. Instead, he sees a total hottie, Chihiro (a guy, it turns out, who just happens to have the same name as said porn star.)

Chihiro sees Hajime looking at him and goes over to confront him. It kind of seems like Chihiro might beat Hajime up, but instead… well, er… let’s just say something else with the word ‘beat’ in it happens.

But before that happens, they have this weirdly cute interaction in which Hajime tells Chihiro that it’s his fault that he’s all hot and bothered because Chihiro didn’t properly plug in his headphones:

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Chihiro then drags Hajime to a train station bathroom and lots of super-porny sex happens.

Super. Porny.

As Chihiro points out, Hajime can relax. He’s a professional.  We later find out that this means that he’s a host at a host club that serves both men and women–one that clearly services ‘afters,’ if you know what I mean. (Spoiler: he’s a sex worker.)

In fact, they settle into this kind of relationship for the next several chapters. Hajime kind of does/kind of doesn’t want to keep ending up in compromising positions, but he can’t seem to help himself.

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Can you blame him? Look at him. (I mean, pick your favorite, but mine is on the right.)

Hajime feels so tormented by Chihiro, that he’s put Chihiro’s contact information into his phone as “That Devil,” which is a humorous little touch.

And, actually, there are a lot of those throughout.

This one is SUPER. PORNY., but there are moments of both humor and sweetness interspersed in the story.  For instance, early on, Hajime ends up with Chihiro’s phone and discovers that most of the pictures on his phone are not, in fact, porn, but adorable shots of his much younger brother and their dog.  The guy is a delinquent and sexually aggressive (borderline rapey), but he’s a good onii-chan and loves his puppy!  He can’t be all bad, right?

And, that’s kind of what the next chapters do–they try to convince the reader that, yeah, Chihiro is oversexed, but really, he’s a good guy. We get more and more of Chihiro’s softer side, culminating in the classic hurt/comfort scene in which Hajime comes down with a cold/fever and Chihiro aggressively mothers him (because he’s even aggressive in his kindness).

I have to admit that I was extremely charmed by this smutty installment. The mangaka didn’t actually have to work that hard to convince me of Chihiro’s appeal, but I’m just as glad she did because his aggressive caring justifies my attraction to him.

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You can’t hate a guy this nice to his puppy and his younger brother, can you?

There is a bonus chapter at the end that involves the pretty bartender at Chihiro’s host club and his secret BDSM fetish, which pretty much puts the icing on the cake of this manga for me.

Thank you, Owaru-sensei, you pretty much hit ALL my buttons for this one-shot. I will now commence checking out everything else you have ever written.

So, yeah, if you have all my perversions and kinks, this manga is totally for you. If you squick at any whiff of non-con and are especially annoyed when Mr. Rapey McRaperson is then given a soft-focus lens, yeah, no this will enrage and disgust you. STAY AWAY.

Meanwhile, I bookmarked it. I’m a terrible person.

Kabeana Money Hole by Nakawaga Riina

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Kabeana Money Hole is another one where the cover is so explicit, I really can’t show it as the opener to this review blog.  I mean, once again I found this under the tag “prostitution,” though specifically “debt-motivated prostitution.”

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The set up goes like this: our main character, Mitsuru, works at a sex shop that specializes in anal. It’s so specialized that, really, all customers deal with is the back end. The other half of the guys doing the services is on the other side of a wall (later, hilariously, we see that at least one of the workers checks his phone or reads magazines while getting f*cked).

At any rate, Mitsuru has been forced into sex work to pay off his father’s debt.  Initially, the yakuza wanted Mitsuru’s younger sister, but, being a good onii-chan, he stepped up and agreed to take her place.  This works out well, plot-wise, as a reason he’s never run away, despite the fact that he’s got some seriously rough customers.

Enter (AS IT WERE!) Mitsuru’s high school chum, Keita.

As we see in a flashback, Keita was always sweet on Mitsuru, but they lost touch after they went off to different universities. One of Keita’s friends is organizing an informal reunion, and asks Keita to try and hunt Mitsuru down. Keita has been chatting occasionally with Mitsuru and so goes back to the last place that he knew that Mitsuru hung out. It’s in a an unfamiliar part of town, but somehow, while Keita is lost, he manages to run into Mitsuru. Mitsuru is cagey and in a hurry to his “part-time job.”

In fact, Mitsuru rushes off so quickly that he accidentally drops his wallet. Being a good friend, Keita picks it up, determined to return it to him.  He checks through Mitsuru’s stuff and finds a business card for a shop, even though the name on the business card is Micchan, Keita figures that must be where Mitsuru works and heads over.

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The manager (above with the shoujo roses) thinks Keita is a lover, so he gets shown to Mitsuru’s “room.”

Confronted with nothing but Mitsuru’s butt and legs, Keita figures out what kind of place his friend from middle school has been working:

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Keita really just wanted to return the wallet, but, apparently, seeing an opportunity, he decides to go for it.  Because, after all:

 

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You’re so considerate Keita!

Helluva cute-meet, eh?

Afterwards, they get to talking and Mitsuru tells Keita his whole story.  Keita decides he really wants to help.  He even makes a love confession, but it’s a typically Japanese one, in which he shouts “I LIKE YOU.”  Mitsuru can’t comprehend that this is like-like, and so assumes that Keita is just a very devoted friend.

The manager overhears this whole thing and decides to take advantage.  He says, “Listen, you want to help? Take a job here and you can put your wages towards your friends’ debt.”

So, Keita takes a part-time job at the sex shop, too…. as a “cleaner,” a person whose job it is to tidy up the rooms after their use, as well as see to the worker’s needs.

He’s such an affable, perky guy that he actually takes to the work.  This is when we’re introduced to Ken, the sex worker who explains “I do it while checking my phone!”  I ended up sort of liking Ken–if anyone was going to get another spin-off, he’d be my choice. (I get ahead of myself, but, when I went to look this particular yaoi up on Baka-Updates, I discovered that it’s actually a spin-off to a previous story called Kabeana Heaven Hole.) Ken is the first person to point out that no one who isn’t totally in love with their friend would take a job like this (cleaning up what happens in these rooms is GROSS), even if they are so chivalrous as to want help pay off a debt.

Keita agrees that he probably is pretty stupidly in love, but he hasn’t figured it all out yet.

I really kind of like that admission, honestly.  It’s probably here that the story really starts to work for me as a romance.

When Keita first introduced himself as Mitsuru’s friend, the manager said that he was glad that Mitsuru had someone to look after him. Mitsuru, you see, has a LOT of debt, so he’d been working very hard–maybe too hard, and, as is typical of people in Japan, apparently, Mitsuru is terrible about remembering to eat and otherwise take care of himself.

Keita is more than happy to step-up into the caretaker role.

But, can they really work together when Keita is starting to harbor feelings?

Mitsuru, too, is starting to find himself fantasizing about Keita when he’s with customers… even so, they continue on this way until one day, a notorious customer asks for Mitsuru.

This customer is known for going over the line. In fact, he’s the reason that the cameras have been installed in the rooms.  Normally, a guy like him would be shown the curb, but he’s a powerful TV executive. He’s threatened to use his reputation and back channels to powerful people to get the shop closed down if he doesn’t get what he wants.  So, everyone kind of holds their breath and hopes he won’t do anything that will permanently injure the staff.

Wen Keita hears that Mitsuru is scheduled with this guy, he wants to go storming in.  One of the very part-timers, who happens to be a famous actor, tries to stop him from doing anything rash. But, Keita’s protective streak is too strong.  He bursts in, just as the evil customer is about to use his belt to whip Mitsuru.

There’s a big scuffle and the manager comes in and tells Keita and Mitsuru to go cool off somewhere.  They end up out at lunch and have a heart-to-heart.  Everything not only gets smoothed out with the evil customer, but the manager manages to get the evil guy to pay off half of Mitsuru’s remaining debt. Turns out the actor had far more clout than the TV producer (probably knew his wife or something,) and they were able to extort him.

Now Mitsuru can quit working at the shop and he and Keita can set up house.

Which they do.

The remaining chapters are Keita trying to figure out how to have sexy times with a guy who has kind of literally done it all.  That part is very sweet and a little goofy.  There’s a funny moment when Keita misinterprets a fight that he’s had with Mitsuru and takes really bad advice from a cameo character, who is introduced as the former #1 of their sister shop (the translator clued me into to the idea that this random guy actually starred in a similar yaoi.)

So, after being quite surprised by the romance (and satisfied with the sexy bits), I went to look for the other yaoi, Kabeana Heaven Hole, and read that one.

One of the things I ended up really liking about Kabeana Money Hole was that, despite the incredibly raunchy set up (and corresponding imagery), it’s actually a very sweet story. Despite his initial, ‘well, his butt is here, I should probably f*ck it!’, Keita actually cares very sincerely for Mitsuru.  They have this long-term friendship, and Keita is really sweet when they are finally at home together, alone, in his determination to make their sex special and like nothing Mitsuru has ever experienced before.

Kabeana Heaven Hole is much more pure smut.

I mean normally that’s a selling point, but once again a perfectly hot set-up gets ruined for me by incest.  I mean, a friend of mine suggested that maybe the Japanese preference for ‘childhood friends becoming lovers’ gets perverted into this kind of incest story.  I mean, your sibling is, I guess, your absolutely most childhood of childhood friends… but, ewww.

Basically, the plot of the original is that our hero, Yuuya, chafes under his elder brother, Takumi’s watchful eye. Yuuya was always jealous of how easy Takumi has it–with business, with the ladies.  Except, lately, the ladies aren’t doing much of Yuuya anymore.  As he puts it, he’s gotten addicted to the power of doing a guy anonymously because it makes him feel superior–it lets him play out his somewhat sadistic fantasies, because he can say anything he wants, knowing the guy on the other side can’t hear him (the original shop, it seems, does not have the new-fangled two-way communication tech that the later one does.)

You can probably guess who he’s really torturing on the the other side of the wall.  Yep, it’s older brother, Takumi.

The majority of the rest of this is Yuuya figuring out that his favorite sex shop toy is actually his brother, and the two of them, I guess, realizing the feelings they’ve always had towards one another.

So not my cup of tea, but at least I can show you the cover:

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The only other interesting wrinkle (because, yeah, of course I read the whole thing) is that, after the two brothers set up house together, there’s a guy at Takumi’s work who makes a love confession to him.  What he wants is for this hard-ass businessman to treat him badly.  The problem? Takumi is not that sort, not really. He can start to play that game, but he loses interest.

Office guy misinterprets Takumi’s coldness and stalks him, following him home. He’s shocked to discover Takumi is already with someone, but decides he still wants a piece of that action, even if he has to share.

Cue perverse scene of younger brother saying, “Oh, you think he’s THAT way, let me show you how he’s really THIS way,” which, amusingly ends with office guy saying, “Oh! You’re the sadist I’ve been looking for! Take me!”

Which, I mean is at least kind of cute?

I guess this review is a twofer.  For myself, I would obviously take the sequel over the original, but you can feel free to check them both out and decide for yourself. The bonus is that if you like the basic raunchy premise of this ‘anal specialty’ shop, you can at least skim both for those bits.

I found some of the translations to be a little rough, but you can get the gist of them. The art is pretty and the story (s? depending on your taste) is decent.  If this sounds like it might amuse you, you should give it a go.

 

Hamerare Host by Kaneko Ako

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Continuing down the alphabetical listing of manga with the ‘prostitution’ tag on Baka-Updates, I came across Hamerare Host.  This is a terrible story, so, of course, I liked it.

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Our hero, Keigo, is a the number one host at Club Kissing. All the ladies love him, all the other hosts want to be him.

Well, that is, everyone but number two, Tomoya….

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It kind of looks like number2 would like to punch number one in his cute, smug face…

But, everyone has to do their best because tonight is a big night.  Nagase-sensei has bought the place out, to show his nurses a good time.  Since part of how Keigo gets paid (and secures his number one spot) is by how many bottles of the expensive champaign the ladies drink, Keigo challenges the doctor to a drinking challenge. If Keigo wins, the doctor must consider becoming Keigo’s regular customer; the the doctor wins, Keigo will pay for all the drinks.

The doctor, a devious one, is all, “ha, ha, like I’d even want to win a bet like that.”

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You’re surprised? Really?

So, the night goes on, until the skeevy doctor corners Keigo in the bathroom.  He’s pretty drunk and he thinks maybe this whole having won the right to be a regular thing comes with benefits.

And he’s pushy.

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I think you meant “habit,” dear translator, but “hobby” works.

And he doesn’t take no for an answer.

In fact, Nagase-sensei figures this little bet entitles him to rape Keigo with impunity.  Keigo, meanwhile, is very much trapped by his desire to keep his spot as the number one host…. and, you know, the money that comes with it.

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Number two guy, Tomoya, goes to check on Keigo and stumbles in on them getting it on.  Later, Tomoya confronts Keigo, noting that too much of that kind of thing (especially on the premise,) could cost Keigo his job.

Keigo’s solution is to seduce Tomoya in the same bathroom.

This causes problems the next time the doctor shows up. Tomoya does the dude-shoulder bump to Nagase-sensei. Of course, he has to apologize and the doctor figures out that Keigo has been slutting around with Tomoya too.  So, there is “punishment” involving sex toys… and inviting Tomoya to watch/join in.

Did I mention this whole thing is super explicit and rape-y?

The next chapter skips to Keigo’s birthday, where the doctor has planned kinky pleasures… and that’s the entire chapter, with help from Tomoya, again as well.

The final chapter is a weird little kidnapping set up by one of the girls who really wants Tomoya to be number one and figures the way to do it is by kidnaping and beating up Keigo.  Luckily, it turns out that the doctor really is a medical doctor so he can bandage Kegio up AND have sex with him in the hospital!

Honestly, this is very plot-what-plot, heavy on the smut.  The manga ends with the question, how long with this go on? But, however long it is, “I’ll shine at his request again tonight,” which is one of those things that is clearly not quite translatable, but you get the gist of it.

Also, I could not get over the hero’s name, since it’s the same as this guy… who actually looks a little like a younger version of this guy?

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Keigo Asano, from Bleach… who did always seem a little gay for Ichigo…

Given how badly Bleach ended for a lot of the characters, the idea that this Keigo could grow up to be host club Keigo, doesn’t actually seem like much of a stretch to me.

But, in all seriousness, I can’t recommend Hamerare Host to you if you are at all uncomfortable with rape. Keigo clearly says “no” a lot, and the doctor is totally sadistic and twisted. If you’re looking for smut and can roll with non-con, however, this one is definitely for you.

Gentei Kareshi / Limited Boyfriend by Uni Yamasaki

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Having not been terribly satisfied by the previous yaoi tagged “sex work,” I went looking for more.  I found Gentei Kareshi / Limited Boyfriend, about a ‘rental boyfriend’ named Mitsui, and the youngest son of a super-rich and famous financier named, Daiki, who falls for him.

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If this kind of sounds like the yaoi version of “Pretty Woman,” that’s fairly accurate. This came out in 2013, so it’s probably a subconscious homage, rather than a direct rip-off.  One thing that I like better in Gentei Kareshi / Limited Boyfriend, is that Daiki, the rich kid, actually falls for Mitsui when they meet in college.

Their meet-cute is actually fairly cute.

Daiki is talking to his friend about the fact that he’s gone through yet-another girlfriend. His friend is, all, “What the hell, man. That girl was even cute!” and Daiki starts to say that he has this ideal, right? Something like…

…and, as he’s gesturing while trying to find the right words, he smacks Mitsui in the face.

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Who, it turns out, is his IDEAL person.

It’s like, fate, right?

Except he doesn’t know this guy at all.  So, when a friend bails on a group date, Daiki asks Mitsui to join them.  Mitsui give him a face and says, “I don’t know you. AND I can’t; I have a part-time job.”

He walks away.

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I love gloomy otaku…

But, fate, it seems, has other plans, because when Daiki escapes the group date to go to the bathroom, he sees someone who looks a lot like Mitsui… only dressed as a woman.  Daiki runs up to the Mitsui look-alike and confronts him.  Turns out, Mitsui is dressed like this because he has a date… a date he’s been hired for.

Daiki decides the date must be an awful person and decides to “rescue” Mitsui.  Yeah, only the date was a super-shy girl who is trying to work out her fear of men… and now Daiki has now wrecked everything and has potentially cost Mitsui his job.

What else is there to do, but hire Mitsui for himself, am I right?

Cue: a whole lot of sex.

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And, you know, the magic of gay sex…. once Daiki has had a taste, there’s no going back. Another straight boi falls to the amaze that is Teh Gay. (As we used to yell at the Act Up rallies, “10% is not enough: recruit, recruit, recruit!”)

The rest of the story is a slow-ish burn.  Daiki has been in love since the first time they clapped eyes on each other.  Mitsui is the tough sell. Like Julia Robert’s character, he refuses to kiss clients on the mouth.  Only, in Mitsui’s case, we discover there’s a tragic backstory, involving a senpai that made Mitsui feel gross for wanting to kiss.

Luckily, love conquers all.

And rich people can afford to buy out sex workers, so they don’t have to walk the streets, any more.  Again, Mitsui quits on his own, but the offer is made: stay with me and you can have all of this…. (swanky apartment and expensive trips to the hot springs.)

I mean, what can I say? I liked “Pretty Woman,” too.

However, this is another one where I do worry whether or not there’s really a happily-ever-after, because we don’t really know WHY Mitsui ended up as a rent-a-boyfriend. We get his one tragic backstory bit, but we have no idea what his home life is like.  There is some “but *I’m* the ‘girlfriend’ Daiki is spending all his money on,” and, other than a “don’t worry, I can actually afford you,” that’s left somewhat unresolved. Is Mitsui going to be okay being ‘paid for’ even after he quits working?

Presumably love overcomes all that, too.

I mean, I enjoyed the story.  There was LOTS of sex.

But, I’ll probably keep hunting for a better one.

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.

Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come by Kome Mochino

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Okay, so I’m a terrible person. Once again, I discovered manga via a very porny screenshot on Tumblr.

The rest of the story is nothing like this particular chapter (#5) of Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come.  Chapter 5 is a flashback that goes very dark. Turns out that our young gigolo, Sakura, has had a very rough (in all senses of that word) past.

But, I get ahead of myself.

SPOILERS

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Komatsu Kaede is a virginal nerd. The “spring” that he’s awaiting is… well, I think the English-language analog would be his “deflowering.” (I think the ‘pun’ / play on words here would still work, given that the name ‘Sakura’ is both a flower and a CHERRY….)

Kaede’s life should be more successful. He got the grades, got into the good school, but now he finds himself overqualified for most of the work that’s on offer.  Everyone around him seems to be having a better life.  He’s got enough money, but he doesn’t have ANY of the things that make a person happy.  No friends, no lover… not even random hot sex.

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Until he realizes, you CAN actually buy love… or at least sex.

He literally trips and falls into the entry way of a sex boutique, as it is later called.  And, Kaede thinks to himself, “Isn’t it normal to want something like this?”

So he goes in.

By chance, he ends up being hooked up with one of the more popular gigolos, Sakura.  Sakura had a client cancel just as Kaede (literally) stumbles in.  Fate brings them together… but fate does not stop Kaede from being his typical awkward nerdy self. The “date” ends up as a fumbling hand hold, which is more physical affection than Kaede has had in decades and so he breaks down to tears.

This, of course, charms our jaded gigolo.  As the time runs out, Sakura gives Kaede a gentle kiss, tucks a scarf around his neck, and sends him on his way home with a “y’all come back soon, you hear!”

It takes nervous nelly Kaede some time to go back.  In fact, one of the office ladies convinces him to get contacts finally and you know, just be the fabulous gay boy he obviously is….

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I feel this accurately reflects my life in so many ways: “You’re so gay,” they say.  Me, “Yeah.” Me, two beats later, “Wait. What?”

He goes back and returns Sakura’s scarf… only, he’s so nervous that Sakura is leaving by the time he worked up the courage. They end up walking and talking hand-in-hand.

This is SO SWEET.

The whole time I’m reading these adorable interactions I’m thinking: “I bet that tag was wrong on Tumblr. This is a totally different yaoi. Oh, well, I like this one!!”

There’s a bit of a looming threat in later chapters when a mysterious, possibly threatening stalker of Sakura’s makes an appearance. Luckily, Sakura seems to have a creepy, over protective uncle who makes a random appearance.

And, then we hit the flashback chapter and I’m like… OH.  Oh, my.

It’s not like there aren’t hints that this story has its darker side.  I highly doubt someone goes into sex work (especially this kind, where it’s like hourly wages,) for the fun of it. So, the idea that maybe Sakura’s life hasn’t been all rainbows and roses up to this point is pretty much implied, especially given how moved he is by Kaede’s simple kindnesses.

As I have confessed many times before, gentle reader, I tend to rather enjoy these darker stories…. I have a particularly odd weakness for stories involving sex work, so Haru ga Kita / Spring Has Come totally worked for me.

I’m disappointed that it’s not completely scanlated yet, however.  This is what, the third or fourth manga I’ve found this year, that I’m going to have to try to remember to check back into?

Sigh.

My advice would be to book this one, if you have the same interests / proclivities as I do, and wait for a few more chapters to appear before starting it. Baka-Updates seems to believe that this manga is complete in one volume, so there’s probably no more than two or so chapters left to be scanned, if that many.