Princess Jellyfish/Kuragehime (Volume 1) by Akiko Higashimura

I picked up Princess Jellyfish because a friend recommended it to me and I saw that the library had it.

Kuragehime_vol01_Cover.jpg

The premise of this is kind of fun. Tsukimi Kurasita, 18, lives in a commune of self-proclaimed fujoshi and otaku. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘fujoshi,‘ it means ‘rotten woman’ and is usually a designation specifically given to otaku/fannish/geek women who are obsessed with BL or yaoi.  The translator’s notes in the back of Princess Jellyfish also implies that in the case of the women in this manga, it’s more that they are generally geeks, but that there’s specifically an element of defying patriarchal expectations of what makes a ‘good girl’ for anyone who self-defines as fujoshi.)

Tsukimi’s geekery is jellyfish. She’s been obsessed with them since she was a little girl.  She reads about jellyfish, she draws them…. everything. She even has a tragic backstory involving jellyfish and a dead mother.

tumblr_lv9rbvDNRJ1r039aio1_500.png

 

The inciting incident of this story happens when Tsukimi happens by a fish store and discovers that someone has mistakenly put a moon jellyfish in the same tank as a spotted jellyfish. They are incompatible in way that’s deadly to the spotted jellyfish and Tsukimi tries to get over her social awkwardness/anxiety to tell the clerk this, but is unable to until a brash ‘stylish’ shows up and bullies the clerk into giving Tsukimi the spotted jellyfish in order to save its life.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

Tsukimi is pretty horrified to discover that after their big rescue of the jellyfish, the ‘stylish’ has stayed over.

Worse, this super-cute girl turns out to be a boy–a beautiful boy named Kuranosuki.  Bringing home one of the cool girls would have been bad enough, but boys are strictly verboten in their commune, which they jokingly call the ‘Amamizukan’ the Nunnery.

9b986c1b9c050dececf3a8c05158dff21437855877_full.png

Tsukimi accidentally pulled off his wig and was trying it on in the mirror.

Kuranosuki insists that he is not okama, but cross dresses as a ‘hobby’ and as an easy way to get away from his high-powered political family. (Sure, honey.)

Kuranosuki, who usually hangs out with the cool girls, suddenly discovers the joy of nerds.  Like, they talk about more than sex and clothes! What are these wonderful creatures? I must pet them and hug them and call them my own!

Yes, it’s true. Nerds make much better friends than the clubbing sort. However, the Amars (nuns) as they call themselves, do NOT want men in the commune, so Tsukimi is the only one who knows Kuranosuki is a boy.

But, even as a lady Kuranosuki rubs the Amars the wrong way. They tell Kuranosuki to get lost.  Repeatedly. They have a quiet life. Go home; you’re too friendly.

screenshot-146.png

But like every privileged rich dude everywhere, Kuranosuki ignores their request and worms his way into their hearts by being persistent AF and buying them stuff. (Niku! The answer to unlocking nerd girls’ hearts, apparently? ‘Niku,’ aka meat. Seriously. Bring fancy meat to hotpot night is apparently the ticket.)

Then, Kuranosuki decides that what Tsukimi needs is a makeover.

And, let’s face it, ladies, makeovers are magic, am I right?

I mean I saw Grease. I know how this works. You get the big dance number at the end and the Happily Ever After if you ‘dress to impress.’

And, sure enough, when Tsukimi is all dressed up, that’s when she stumbles into Kuranosuki’s older brother and she finally feels chemistry for a guy.  Of course, he’s only hot for her when she’s dolled up. In fact, he doesn’t even recognize her when she’s in her natural otaku form.

There’s a subplot that involves the house being bought by a corporation, but mostly, in the first volume (the one I have might be a two-in-one because I have 380+ pages–12 chapters) is about the little three-way that’s forming:  Kuranosuki developing feelings for Tsukimi, Tsukimi’s interest in Kuranosuki’s nii-san, and Nii-san’s attraction for made-up Tsukimi.

I’m not sure how I feel about this aspect of the story.  It will depend on how it ends. I have a very bad feeling that Kuranosuki’s influence is going to end with all the nerd girls dolled-up.  He already has them convinced at the end of this volume that make-up is their “armor” and a weapon they can use as an advantage in the world.

He seems to be right about this.

This depresses me.

But, I’m hopeful that maybe that’s not going to be the point. I’m hopeful, given this is a josei, that maybe we’ll get something more out of it. Although, maybe not, maybe like Kids on the Slope, the whole point will end up being that the nail that sticks up will be hammered down and settling for less-than-your-dream is just fine.

So far, I’m in it for the side characters. I like Tsukimi okay enough to keep reading, and I would like Kuranosuki much more if he WERE an okame or trans, but he’s very NO HOMO, so whatever. I have only so much patience for pretty rich boys.

Currently, my favorite character is Mejiro-sensei, a mangaka shut-in that we never see. She lives behind a door that never opens, and apparently she’s only been seen a few times. She communicates via notes slipped under her door, and sometimes also solicits help finishing her BL manga close to deadline.

I also like Mayaya, who is a Records of Three Kingdoms nerd. I think I like her because she reads the most like a anime fan, plus she’s drawn very non-binary/gender non-conforming.

So, you know, I’m kind of in it for the ensemble cast; I could take or leave the romance.  I’ll definitely get the other two volumes from the library, though. I like the somewhat unconventional art style quite a bit, and I kind of want to see if this whole thing is going to be about the magical GIRL power of make-up and a good hairstyle. (If so, expect angry rant when I finish this series.)

Ten Count (Vols. 1 – 3) by Takarai Rihito

My public library had this yaoi… yeah, seriously.  I noticed it because it was in the NEW! section of the adult graphic novels.  I don’t exactly know how the purchasing decisions get made at the library, but I can’t help but think that maybe, in this case, someone thought they were buying something else.  Because, why, of all the yaoi out there, did the library decide on this one?

SPOILERS

.

.

.

Ten Count is billed as the story of someone with OCD, Shirotani, who falls in love with his therapist, Kurose.  I don’t know a lot about OCD, but a quick scan at the Wikipedia entry on it, tells me what Shirotani really is, is probably more of a germaphobe who has an intense desire to wash his hands. Outside of the hand washing, there doesn’t seem to be any other kind of repetitive thinking or need to obsessively check things.

The therapist meets Shirotani by accident, when he leaps in to save the president of Shirotani’s company from a car accident.  Shirotani has guilt about this because he feels if only he could have touched the car handle maybe he could have warned the president of the impending car crash himself.  So when the president wants Shirotani to hunt down Kurose t in order to thank him properly, Shirotani is all over that.

ten-count-banner.png

Kurose is a weird one, though.

For a long time I wasn’t sure he was really a doctor. There a moment when Shirotani shows up at the clinic when Kurose is working late, and I totally expected the big reveal to be that Kurose was just the secretary or the janitor.

But, apparently, he’s a real therapist, though mostly works with kids.

When Kurose and Shirotani (oh… I see it now, they’re like black & white! D’oh!) meet up, Kurose is like “I see you are OCD. How about, I give you free therapy, and you be my ‘friend.'”

Shirotani is a little taken aback by this, but, dude has the kind of serious medical issue that keeps him from having a lot of friends himself so he agrees.  Cue: romance.

The title of the manga comes from the list that Kurose wants Shirotani to write, a list from 1 to 10 of the things he absolutely hates to do, with one being the least awful and ten being unthinkable.  Shirotani can’t think of the worst thing, but Kurose is very intense yet casual about it, and says, “You can tell me that one later.” This tenth thing becomes a kind of promise between them.

A lot of the early volumes are Shirotani making little break-throughs on the things on his list. Most of them, unsurprisingly, happen because Shirotani really wants to impress Kurose.  Several times, he goes too far, and ends up collapsing, like the time they try to take the train to a restaurant.

4d173a30c332d67d566bbe1000a65f63.jpg

Luckily, you have a strong man to catch you.

At least once, after this point, Kurose leans in like maybe he wants to kiss Shirotani, but then pulls back last minute either citing some bullsh*t reason like, “Oh, I thought there was something on your eyelash” or complete honesty, “Well, since you can’t drink water out of someone else’s cup, no way we can swap spit.” (last part is paraphrasing, of course.)

Kurose has fairly sh*tty boundaries, all while talking the talk of consent.  Shirotani explicitly says, “Don’t, that’s gross,” more than once, and Kurose is like, “Yeah, except, you can keep your pant on so you can’t handle it, right?”  To which Shirotani ALWAYS capitulates and demurs. Since a lot of this stuff happens when he’s aroused and Kurose has already used that classic “If you continue to see me, I can’t promise I can control my desire to touch you” line, this could be very triggering for some people.

superthumb.png

Because… is it “therapy” or is that dubious consent?  You can be the judge.

Of course, being a well known pervert, I liked it.

My only squick in the entire thing is the couple of very odd moments when Kurose says things like, “Oh, with your hair down you look childish.  You should wear it that way all the time.” Shirotani is even like, “Um, childish? At our age, shouldn’t you say ‘younger’?”

THIS DOCTOR WORKS WITH CHILDREN. CHILDREN YOUNG ENOUGH TO GET CANDY TREATS AFTER APPOINTMENTS.  RED FLAG! RED FLAG! CRIMSON! LAVA-COLORED!!! DANGER! DANGER! BACK AWAY SLOWLY!!!

If only Takarai-sensei could have just skipped those couple of moments, I would have been pretty enamored of this series.  You know me, gentle reader, I love me a slow burn with a kinky twist.  Ten Count is totally gearing up to be that.  In fact, when the third volume ends, Kurose is introducing Shirotani to the idea of a butt plug….

AND Takarai-sensei has these asides at the volume endings, which make it sound like she’s studying up on BDSM relationships, which… well, that would be right up my alley.

BUT… I don’t know. Baka-Updates tells me that Ten Count is up to five published volumes.  I suspect that my interest in this is only casual enough that I will read them if the library continues to buy them, but I’m not sure I want to seek out the scanlations.

Anyone else reading this one?  Got any idea why my library thought it was popular or “important” enough to purchase?

5 Centimeters per Second / Byousoku 5 Centimeter by Shinka Makoto/Seike Yukiko

5-centimeters-per-second-l0.jpg

Seinen stories depress me.  Nearly all of those I’ve read or watched have left me wondering if anyone is ever happy in Japan. 5 Centimetrs per Second is no exception.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

My library had 5 Centimeters per Second collected in one big, fat volume which made me even more depressed because I could look at the thick book and think, “Wow, I read all that just to feel like this.”

The manga is billed as a love story between Tono Takaki and Shinohara Akari, but that’s straight-up bullish*t.  Not only is this story not romantic, but half way through, Akari’s story is dropped completely.  Instead, the manga focuses entirely on Tono and follows his “love” (more like lack-of-love) life with various other women he meets after his initial, seventh-grade crush on Akari.

I’m pretty sure the moral of this story is: having an intense romance when you’re young f*cks you up for life.

That theme is underscored when, after Tono is forced to move to some island he meets Kanae who falls for him hard, even though his heart is still focused on Akari (even though they gave up on even pen-paling after a few months.)  Her life gets completely and utterly screwed up by this devotion, too, to the point that, when, after Tono has gone off college and is living a depressing life as a salaryman, Kanae still won’t date the SUPER HOT SURFER DUDE WHO IS SUPER INTO HER (even though she’s mostly otherwise gotten her sh*t together).

WTH is wrong with these people??

I literally don’t know.  I spent the last half of the book muttering, “OMG GET OVER IT” under my breath.

I guess it’s romantic to wreck your life over some girl you loved in seventh grade?  No, actually, it’s not. It’s stupid. Look, I had some very intense crushes when I was young.  IT DID NOT RUIN MY ABILITY TO GIVE MY HEART AWAY TO OTHER PEOPLE.

I dunno, maybe the cherry tree (of the title, as supposedly cherry petals fall at this rate of speed) is cursed. (Although that doesn’t explain Kanae, whose life is also ruined by young love.)

42033c28b0c692d298bd0f4a6c0bbf4c

My take away: stay away from creepy trees.

Apparently, there is a movie. Probably the movie is not only beautifully rendered, but also POIGNANT–which I think is what this was going for, but utterly failed for me.  Also, could we PLEASE just stop with the message that after the age 15 adventures stop, and that everything afterwards is some kind of soulless compromise?

 

Not Love but Delicious Foods (Make Me So Happy) by Fumi Yoshinaga

41oVtzsqxmL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Baka-Updates tells me that an alternate name for this manga is Even Without Love, We Can Still Eat. I’m a little confused as to why that’s not the official name, because that sentiment perfectly sums up this extremely autobiographical one-shot manga by Fumi Yoshinaga.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

Dude, this manga is so autobiographical the main character is F-mi Y–naga, a woman who is described as “a thirty-one year old female who makes her living drawing men engaging in anal sex.”

Like What Did You Eat Yesterday? this entire manga is an excuse to write and talk about food. In fact, it’s a legit restaurant guide. The beginning gives us the whole this is a work of fiction spiel, but then ads, “But all the restaurants listed in it are real.” Each chapter ends with a location map, hours, and tips on what to order.

Not sure how I feel about this. I love What Did You Eat Yesterday? but not for the right reasons. I’m supposed to love the recipes and food shopping advice, but I actually tune in for the characters and the slice-of-life vague attempts at plot. (I skim a lot.)

I skimmed a lot of this manga, too, only I wasn’t often rewarded with much character. I found out that Yoshinaga and I probably wouldn’t get along. I’m a little like the guy she tries to date in chapter 7 who is like, “Yeah, food is okay, I guess.” (She dumps the guy instantly).

 I mean, I can appreciate a good meal, but I’m not a foodie. I don’t have the interest or the vocabulary to discuss the relative spiciness of any given meal or discern the various levels of… whatever.  Look, I’m already bored trying to figure out how to talk about how people talk about food.

However, there were, as there always is in Yoshinaga’s work, some gems.  Most notably, chapter 4, in which Yoshinaga discovers someone in her circle is an honest-to-god gay man. Literally everyone else knew. Meanwhile, Yoshinaga is all, “Well, I’ve met gay guys, but this is the first time I’ve learned someone I already knew was gay….”  They go get some foodie thing or other and then have this fascinating little exchange:

delicious2

Okay, well… so all my complaining? Turns out, Yoshinaga is well aware that what she’s writing isn’t very true to gay life.  Her friend forgives her saying basically, “Look, if I was offended by misrepresentation, I’d be pissed off 24/7.” Preach it, brother.

Kind of explains my constant state of incandescent rage.  *kidding!*

The back of the volume says that this manga is an “homage to two of the greatest things life has to offer: friendship and food.” And, for sure, it’s about food. Friendship? I guess I’d have been less cliche.  Really, it’s more like that alternate title that implies that even if life is kind of ‘meh,’ good food is a thing.

Very Yoshinaga, actually.

Kuma Miko / Girl Meets Bear – vols. 1 & 2 – by Yoshimoto Masume

kumamiko-2

Comedy is a hard sell for me, but I found myself paging through Kuma Miko at Shoreview the other day. I know next to nothing about Shinto shrine maidens (miko) and I’m endlessly fascinated by other religions, so I thought I might as well take this one home and give it a try.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

I find it interesting that at some point this got translated to Girl Meets Bearsince even with my limited Japanese I know this says “Bear Shrine Maiden.” Possibly, though it’s not obvious to me by looking at the Mangahere site, that “Girl Meets Bear” is actually the title of the first chapter.

The back cover flap reads: “In the deep mountainous regions of the Touhouku area, the comedic story of the miko of bears, 14-year-old Machi, and her childhood friend, the talking bear, Natsu, takes place as Machi struggles to qualify for city-life with Natsu’s assistance.”

What’s important to note is that, while Machi really, really wants to go to high school in the city, the story actually never gets her there (at least by the ending of volume 2, BakaUpdates seems to think it’s on volume 7 in Japan and still on-going.)

Given the set-up, I initially thought we were going to leave shrine life and the humor would be all about a fish-out-water/country bumpkin lost in the big city (with a bear companion.)  But, no.  The joke is that Natsu tells Machi that she COULD go to the city, but she has to pass a series of tests to prove that she’s prepared… so we end up with jokes about watermelons (a homonym for the JR rail pass, apparently,) that go so far over my head that I’m thinking I should be studying this book myself, before I consider heading to Japan.  I almost wonder if some of the native appeal of this manga is that a lot of people can relate to how baffling life in the big city is.  As an American, unfortunately, the jokes are mostly just baffling.

Even though it’s comedic, you get a sense of life in the deep recesses of rural Japan.  We find out, for instance, that there might be electricity in a mountain village, but not gas.  There’s also another scene where the town councilman finds out that the old people in the town are expecting a ritual, but no one is exactly sure what it’s supposed to be.

Also, it’s just pretty:

84FBMyI.jpg

Wikipedia tells me that there was an anime of Kumamiko (as one word) that aired from April to June of 2016.  The only place I can find to watch it is a fan site, KissAnime. However, there also appears to be a controversy around the ending episode.

I’m not sure I’m going to actively pursue this manga, but I would probably pick up the third volume if it showed up at the library.  If for no other reason that I’m fascinated by the in-jokes I won’t get and the details of life we see.

Doushitemo Furetakunai by Yoneda Kou

doushitemo_furetakunai_c01_01cover.jpg

I found Doushitemo Furetakunai by using the search terms ‘straight seme’ on Baka-Updates. I sorted the results by release year, under the assumption that maybe things produced more recently might have decent art and a more modern sensibility.

What this does have, however, is a live-action movie that pretty much goes line-for-line (though having watched several minutes I feel like the manga does a better job with the initial characterization).  But, so, with this one, you have your choice: you can either watch it: http://kissasian.com/Drama/Doushitemo-Furetakunai/Movie?id=22485 or read it: http://www.mangahere.co/manga/doushitemo_furetakunai/.

SPOILERS

.

.

.

Doushitemo Furetakunai is a slice-of-life office romance.  Apparently, straight male Japanese office workers are very susceptible to Teh Gay.  I don’t know if it’s all that nomikai, the after-hours drinking, or what, but you really have to be on your toes or a drunken meeting in an elevator might make even the straightest of the straights change their tune.

Enter Togawa, drunk at 8 am, into said elevator, where he meets shy, vaguely-autistic Shima.  Apparently, as late as 2008 it was still pretty common for Japanese businesses to allow smoking in the office… sort of.  Or at least when Togawa smokes in the office, people put up with it, with only the most mild, “use the smoking area” admonishments.  (As an American where smoking is pretty much banned in most public spaces, it’s very off-putting to see both in the manga and the live-action movie.)

But, this gross drunken meeting is Shima and Togawa’s meet-cute.

I’m not exactly sure what about this we’re supposed to find charming, but Togawa does grow on a person.  Maybe we’re supposed to be shocked and turned off, so that later when he’s shown to be sort of a nice guy, he seems that much MORE amazingly nice.  But, Togawa is a classic red oni–loud, aggressive, fun-loving, and crassly charismatic.  I think I tend to personally gravitate towards characters like this (see: Renji from Bleach, Mugen from Samurai Champloo, Jin Tadokoro from Yowapeda, and a half-dozen others,) because they give me hope that my own personality wouldn’t be absolutely horrifying to the Japanese.

As the manga progresses, Shima is slowly bullied into liking Togawa. Togawa basically inserts himself into Shima’s life, inviting himself to share lunch with him, taking him out to eat… and then finally there is kissing and the classic straight guy excuse, “What? You were so cute I couldn’t help myself!”

The romance kind of sucks.  There’s only implied sex in the manga (didn’t get that far in the movie yet), so I guess the real heart of this story is Togawa’s backstory.  His whole family is dead–there’s suicide and houses burning down, it’s all bad.  Due to this, Shima doesn’t think that their relationship can be more than physical, but it’s very clear that Togawa wants a family, particularly kids (the Japanese have NOT figured out adoption and I swear to all the gods this is the only thing that makes me want shake my computer screen and shout ‘come to America, boys, you can adopt!’ Or Canada!  Get out of Japan and this won’t be such a f*cking deal breaker for you idiots!”)

But that would deflate the angst, so that doesn’t happen.

They do at least work things out and we get a love confession from Togawa at the end.  I’ll be curious to finish watching the movie version of this because, Togawa and Shima’s story is basically over in two chapters.  The rest of the manga follows people who seemed like side characters, Onoda (a bespectacled bestie who is the ‘straight’ best friend who is sympathetic to the gay romance) and a salesman guy from the place Shima used to work, Deguchi.

Helping Togawa and Shima hook up makes Onoda think about his own attraction to Shima, and he talks to his drinking buddy Deguchi about it, without realizing that Deguchi is a flaming homo.

bthe_world_with_color_ii_pg000a.jpg

I liked their story a bit more than Togawa/Shima, if only because Shima was a bit of a crier, and that’s a turn off for me, as has already been discussed.

Anyway, in the Onoda/Deguchi storyline we finally actually get the scene I’ve been craving where the straight guy actually READS THE INTERNET for clues on how to do Teh Gay and pushes Deguchi to take him to a gay bar so that he can actually sort of absorb a bit of gay culture before instantly hopping into bed and being converted by magical yaoi sex.

Magical yaoi sex is a pretty powerful conversion tool (as it were!), but it’s nice to see gayness acknowledged as something a bit more than just sex.  I mean yes, for some people, the Gay Agenda is living a normal life with 100% more gay sex, but to pretend there hasn’t been an actual culture that goes beyond the mainstream house with the picket fence is disingenuous as well.  I mean, I’m fine not always having stories match reality, but that just means when I do find moments like this, small though they may be, I cherish them.

So, yeah, this one was interesting.  We’ll see how much more of the live-action movie I can handle….

Ato Hitoiki de Ai by Masao Sangatsu

ato-hitoiki-de-ai-1755722.jpg

Ato Hitoiki de Ai is a collection of yaoi/shounen ai one-shots, which I didn’t realize at first.  I had actually been hoping for a longer manga. However, it is complete in one volume (7 chapters.)

SPOILERS

.

.

.

The first story follows college student Morimiya who hurries home every day after class to his boyfriend, Keiichi.  Morimiya and Keiichi have been living together for three years now in domestic bliss.  One problem: they haven’t had sex yet.

This situation is played for laughs, but there’s actually something very serious going on.  At first I assumed Keiichi was just asexual, but, by the end, it seems pretty clear that Keiichi is experiencing gender dysphoria.

When a frustrated Morimiya thinks maybe Keiichi has been dating him this whole time out of ‘kindness’ and asks to break up, Keiichi is in tears because Morimiya saw Keiichi naked the other day and assumes Morimiya is horrified by what he saw. I hit “horrified” and thought, is this extreme internalized homophobia or what?  It kind of seemed like that was the case because when Morimiya is all, “No, I love your body.”

So, they manage sex, but afterwards this happens:

eato_hitoiki_ch001_p036.jpg

Seems Keiichi’s been reading up transitioning!

At this point, my ears perked up.

All of Keniichi’s hands-off, stay away from my ugly body stuff is making more sense suddenly.  And, I’m like, ‘awesome! gender/body dysphoria really isn’t something you see covered a lot.

In fact, there’s not a whole lot of manga that I’ve found that are slice-of-life/serious about being transgender outside if Wandering Son.

But, no… turns out that was the end.

Technically, we get a very weird passage in the next page in which Keiichi tells Morimiya that the reason he was reading up on transitioning is because Morimiya always uses feminine adjectives to describe Keiichi’s beauty, and–this the part that was odd–that Morimiya shouldn’t think he’s the only one worries about their relationship.

??

I guess this was the mangaka’s attempt to bring things full circle since Morimiya was a worrywart about whether or not Keiichi truly love him or not…?  I’m not sure.

Because, then we get this panel…

eato_hitoiki_ch001_p037.jpg

Wait! Is it bad that I wanted more chapters so we could meet the trans librarian and find out if Keiichi is serious about transitioning???

The second love story in this collection happens between twenty-year old salaryman, Yoshimi, and his boss.  Yoshimi’s boss is a pain in the ass.  He’s forever skipping out on overtime in order to go out on dates with women he insists are just his friends.  But there sure are a LOT of them, much to Yoshimi’s dismay.

Finally having enough of this crap, Yoshimi tells him off.  After that, the manger actually starts to work harder and spend more time with Yoshimi at the office.

One night, by chance, they run into each other on the street after the last train has gone for the evening.  The boss invites himself over to Yoshimi’s place.  You’d think this would be the cue for hot sex, but actually the two men end up having a heart-to-heart.  Yoshimi suggests to his boss that maybe he’s having so much girl trouble because he needs to pick one.  Women like to know they’re special, not one of many, Yoshimi points out, while thinking ‘even I know that as a gay man.’

The boss slowly comes to realize that his special person is actually not a woman at all, but Yoshimi.  Smooching begins in earnest.  Hurrah!  The end.

The third story is a romance between two college roommates.  Ichisake, the upperclassmen, makes an arrangement with our hero, Suzueda, to share an off-campus apartment.  Suzueda dotes on Ichisake as a ‘sempai,’ and Ichisake shares his home cooking skills honed at the Italian restaurant he works at. It’s all going along very bromancey, until some of their classmates bring up how awkward it all must be for two guys to be living together and, like, what do you do when one of you wants to bring a girl home?  This gets Ichisake in a snit and he randomly decides to leave one night.  Suzueda tracks him down and during the course of hunting him down realizes that Ichisake is gay.  This, of course, proves to be a relief to all parties and smooching ensues. The end.

The last story was the weirdest one, in my opinion.  In fact, it made me start to research how Aspergers is viewed in Japan.  The love interest in this one, Amasaka, is certainly not the first manga/anime character who has made me wonder if they were on the spectrum.  (I’ve always thought perhaps Haru from Free! Iwatobi Swim Club was a candidate.) Amasaka, however, seems almost textbook Aspergers.  A prime example is, when Sashiki finally works up to making his love confession, Amasaka doesn’t get that it’s normal to reply in kind because “the fact that you love me really doesn’t have anything to do with me.”

And, you know, he’s not wrong, but there’s clearly a disconnect there.

Just like with Keiichi potentially being trans, no one really discusses Amasaka’s possible Aspergers.  Instead, Sashiki just kind of stumbles around figuring out how to love Amasake despite his “being weird.”

I really don’t know what to make of that.

Especially since the romance centers around how Amasaka really can’t take care of himself and needs Sashiki to make sure he eats regular meals and stuff like this.  Ummm… hmmmm….. yeah, just not sure how I feel about that as a basis of romance, especially when Sashiki feels as though maybe he’s raped Amasake the first time they have sex.

Yeah, that one is awkward.

The final chapter is a series of ‘wrap-ups,’ where Keiichi’s body dysphoria is played for laughs (hmmmmm… would rather have met the trans librarian, thank you, anyway), the gay sempai is a bit of a prude even though he’s the experienced gay one, Yoshimi’s boss’s idea of a first date includes booking them a suite in a hotel (kind of a player you have there, Yoshimi!), and Amasaka’s Aspergers is also kind of played for laughs though when asked if he was gay before he and Sashiki hooked-up, he says, “I liked you, isn’t that how it works?” which is both…. I don’t know, and actually pretty awesome, you know?

So, like with any story collection, I’d say there were hits and misses here.  I really would have liked more about Keiichi and some explanation for Amasake, but, all and all, the stories were sweet and a little bit sexy.

I should say that these were all clearly intended as ROMANCES, not hot guy-on-guy action.  What sex there is in this collection is very sparse, though there is ton of kissing and cuddling.