Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai by Yoneda Kou (“Tadayoedo Shizumazu, Saredo Naki mo Sezu”)

I found this chapter “Tadayoedo Shizumazu, Saredo Naki mo Sezu” separate from its collection Seazuru Tori wa Habatakanai by Yoneda Kou at Mangago.

Baka-Updates lists a breakout of the other chapters of Seazuru Tori wa Habatakanai (which appears, if I’m interpreting this correctly, to be the main story that gets continued in further volumes.)  I’m planning on reading all of the chapters I can find scanlated, but because this does stand alone, I’m going to go ahead and review it separately from its volume mates. However, I will tag them all under the volume’s title. (I suspect it doesn’t really matter much to most of my readers here, what constitutes the full volume, but having read a lot of these one-shot collections I’m always curious how the official tankoban would read.)

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So… continuing our theme of sadomasochism, our hero Yashiro is probably what we might label a sex addict.  The summary describes him as “having… issues,” which he deals with by having tons of rough sex with a lot of different people, though lately mostly men, whom he lets (begs to) abuse him.  Which is a bit squicky, as Yashiro is otherwise described as a “normal high school boy.” In fact, we learn he’s a second year, which makes him the equivalent of an American junior in high school.

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The romance in the story, however, is age-appropriate.  The sex, not so much; the romance, yes.

Our masochist hero, Yashiro, gets noticed by a classmate, Kageyama.  Kageyama is the upstanding son of a family-practice doctor.  He notices Yashiro’s rope burns on his wrists and, in a weirdly adorable gesture, brings him bandaids on the regular.

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I guess this is what passes as a meet-cute when you’re a masochist, eh?

Yashiro mostly still tries to avoid band-aid boy until one day, after a particularly rough treatment the night before, he goes to the nurses office looking for relief from a dislocated shoulder.  The school nurse is on vacation, leaving the student nurse in charge… who is, none-other-than Kageyama.

Kageyama treats Yashiro’s dislocated shoulder and then asks to see his other injuries.  Turns out, upstanding Kageyama has his own secret: he has a paraphilia involving scars, cuts, scabs, etc. Yashiro, being almost perversely accommodating to any kink, is like, yay, feel free to let your hands examine everything!

It never goes further than this between them.  Yashiro tells himself he’ll ask Kageyama to stop once the nurse is back from vacation, but instead they find a storage room to keep at it.

They don’t talk, so Yashiro has no illusions that they’re friends, but Kageyama feels differently.  He’s never had anyone accept his weird fetish so easily, but, on the flip side, Yashiro doesn’t make things easy between them.  If he’s ever asked about anything serious he responds with a sexual joke or a come on.  Even the one time Yashiro goes out of his way to support Kageyama after a family member dies, he still tells Kageyama he only did it because the idea of seeing Kageyama crying was a huge turn on. (Note: that seems to be true.)

This is complicated by the fact that, while Yashiro is bi, Kageyama is fairly straight (neverminding his kink.)

A bunch of emotional stuff happens between them, but ultimately the relationship is untenable.

We end with a heartbroken, desperately lonely Yashiro.

It’s a sh*tty ending, make no bones about it, but I kind of liked this one?  Normally, I’m not happy when the queer guy gets the shaft (and not in a fun way), but I don’t know… maybe I related to this one because I’m interested in the addictive personality type, which Yashiro definitely falls into, Yoneda-sensei’s intention or not.

Plus, I actually really tend to like the tension that Yoneda-sensei builds in her writing. I liked a lot of the the stories in the other collection of hers I read, NightS.  She does, in my opinion, a good job with the interesting, twisty relationship stuff.

Plus, Yoneda-sensei often seems to rate a full-color, first page spread:

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So, you know, that’s nice.

And there’s a nice amount of implied (and some on-screen) kinky raunchiness to counter-balance a very sweet, not-quite, but almost platonic romance.

Since it’s pulled out of its context, this is only one chapter. It’s a fast read. You have very little to lose, if this hits any of your buttons.  For those sensitive to rape/non-con, you may want to pass on this one as Yashiro talks about a past rape, which seems to possibly be an on-going family sexual abuse situation with his stepfather, who is mostly absent, though we have hints in the story that his family sometimes makes reappearances in his life (he’s so flippant about it that it’s actually unclear if it’s entirely in the past or continuing.)

Also, there’s something very non-con about addiction, you know? It seems very, very clear to me that Yashiro is a sex addict in need of therapy and a twelve-step program. In the meantime, he’s very much a slave to his impulses, which is fairly explicit in one scene where one of his classmates confront him because they saw Yashiro go to a love hotel with an older man, whom they describe in very unattractive terms. You very much get the sense in that moment that Yashiro, who is explicitly NOT a rent boy, is helpless to his addictive need for sex.  He will literally take anyone.

So, my caveat is that you should be wary if that sort of thing is a trigger or a turn-off for you, dear reader.

For me, alas, it’s kind of a turn ON, so… as I often say, milage may vary.

 

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Ai ga Matteru by Abe Akane

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I found this one by searching under the tag “confinement” on Baka-Updates.  I have no idea why Ai ga Matteru, a sweet, light tale of a bisexual bartender got the tag “confinement.” There is a joke about a monastery… because at one point, our main character, Kiyohito, is so depressed he stops taking lovers and one of the bar’s regulars is like, “I will come here and propose to you every day, because you would be wasted in a monastery!” but that’s like the only even vaguely confinement-related moment in this one-shot.

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Oh, it suddenly occurs to me that I should have done something spooky for Halloween, but, alas.  All you get is a short, cute yaoi about the virtues of shacking up.

The story follows Kiyohito, a long-haired bartender, who likes to play the field. He’s had a  longtime, live-in lover that recently left him acrimoniously and, at the start of the story, Kiyohito is having his first ever pangs of guilt about it all.  He’s decided that if he ever takes anyone in again, he’s going to try to do it ‘properly.’

Enter Hisashi, a clean-cut salaryman wannabe.  We meet him because he’s stumbled into this small tavern on a major bender.  Turns out, he’s just a bit too honest with people and keeps getting fired.  This last time, he pointed out that his boss’s toupee was on crooked, and he got the boot.  Hisashi takes one look at our hottie bartender, Kiyohito, and says, “Mmm, you know what I need? Comfort sex! And you look like my kind of comfort!”

That a paraphrase but even run-around Kiyohito is a little taken aback by Hisashi’s forwardness, but, you know, not so much that he doesn’t accept a little behind the bar blowjob.  Still not satisfied, Kiyohito suggest they move things upstairs, and, you know, so long as you’re already upstairs, why not just move in?

What, are you a lesbian, Kiyohito?  Even we wait until the second date to bring the U-Haul!

Hisashi’s actually currently got a lady friend–we know, because she seems to think that requiring him to wear lacy underwear will deter him from sleeping around… this clearly BACK fires, if you know what I mean… wink, wink, nudge, nudge. But, what self-respecting freeloader would turn down room and board… and an offer to work behind the bar until he can “get back on his feet”? Not Hisashi.

Thus, he an Kiyohito set up house together.  Apparently, Kiyohito’s idea of “doing things properly” this time revolve around keeping things cool and no-strings.  But, you know, they’re living together. Kiyohito falls pretty hard for Hisashi and, one night, decides to kind of have reverse hate-sex, with a constant barrage of ‘I love you’s, despite the fact that it clearly makes Hisashi uncomfortable.

In a surprise to no one but Kiyohito, Hisashi is gone the next morning with a note that says, “Hey, time for me to get a real job!” with the appropriate bunnies and heart that may be required for all Japanese casual correspondence.

Kiyohito is very SAD.  In fact the entire second chapter is panel after panel of VERY sad Kiyohito.

Very.

Sad.

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But, let’s get real. What are the chances of Hisashi not f*cking up another job with too much honesty!  Almost none!  In fact, the first time Kiyohito hears from Hisashi calling drunk because he’s lost a job and is couch surfing. Kiyohito immediately offers him a place to stay, but he says no.

This is the point at which Kiyohito’s friends start to worry that he’s going to join a celibate religious order….

But, Hisashi can’t stay away from that sweet, sweet deal at Kiyohito’s place and, just in time for the story to end, he’s back on Kiyohito’s doorstep ready to move back in.

HEA?  I mean,  is it romantic?  I… don’t know.  If this were Real Life ™, I would be telling my dear friend Kiyohito he’s being a FOOL.  Hisashi is super-cute and everything, but dude is a playa. Has anything really changed?  You always liked him better than he likes you. I mean, SURE, he told YOU that you’re the one for him (suddenly when he needed a place to move into and even confessed that that other time he called? He was actually fine, hadn’t gotten fired and was living in a company dorm, and was just kind of checking to make sure you’d take him back), so…… are you absolutely sure he’s not just saying that because you can literally feed and house him?

The sex in this manga was okay.  I kind of enjoyed the love-hate sex, and it’s short. You could read it while waiting in line at the post office, so there is that.

 

Yotsuba&! / Yotsuba to! (Volumes 1 &2) by Kiyohiko Azuma

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I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking: “Lyda, where is the porn? We depend on you for all the yaoi porn. Why are you reading this sappy drivel???!!”

I don’t know. My only excuse is that I’ve READ all the yaoi my library has and I had another very sloooooow shift at Maplewood when I picked up Yotsuba&! / Yotsuba to!.

When I hunted around on the shelves, I saw a bunch of other things that I could read–like Hellsing, should I read Hellsing? But, for whatever reason (*cough*Trump*cough*), I have lately gravitated towards simple, sappy, slice-of-life stories about absolutely NOTHING.

Because I’ve read a bunch in a row, I’ve been thinking about slice-of-life for awhile now.

I know why it appeals to me, as a Western reader.  For me, obviously, so much of daily life in Japan is mysterious, foreign.  Just going to the grocery store is kind of an adventure.  I’m not at all familiar with how grocery stores in Japan are laid out, what you can find there, etc., etc.  Because it’s all new to me, all the mundane things have a subtle sort of inherent drama, like the kind of excitement that travel to another country brings.

What do you suppose the appeal is in Japan?

I’ve been wondering how these would read if they were American.  Like, is part of the appeal the ‘wholesomeness’ of these adventures?

Yotsuba is an odd, enthusiastic five year old girl, who is terrible at drawing and invites herself over to her neighbor’s apartment.  The family in Yotsuba&! do the sorts of things you see a lot of in anime and manga, particularly in these kind of slower paced, slice-of-life oriented stories, like a cicada hunt on the wooded grounds of a local shrine. Bug hunting is a thing, apparently.  But, summer bug hunting seems to be somewhat more associated with “life in the country.” So, then, what would that even be in an American story?  What’s the analog? Going fishing at a creek?

When I think about it that way, it all suddenly seems so very… Mayberry.

Which makes me wonder, are there essential Japanese values that are being promoted in these manga?  Especially since there is a tendency in these stories that involve young kids, to have little life lessons about being polite, expected behavior, etc.

….

WTF. Am I reading Japanese propaganda?

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Despite the sinister specter cast by the fact that I might be captivated by what is probably some kind of “conservative/traditional blueprint for the perfect Japanese lifestyle as determined by The Powers That Be/magazine publishers,” I enjoyed Yotsuba&! / Yotsuba to!.

I mean, maybe I’m overthinking this. Maybe the appeal to the Japanese audience is similar to the stories we have here in America about the young professional who goes to live in New York. That’s very much an equivalent, I think. There are life lessons learned along the way… I mean, outside of the fact that maybe part of why this feels a tiny bit more like propaganda is that Yotsuba is shounen.

That’s right, this story about a young five year old girl was marketed to the same boys who read Bleach and Naruto….

Mmmm, back to my propaganda theory then.

ANYWAY. Even though I picked up the first two volumes on a lark, I went ahead and requested volume 3 because there is a tiny bit of a mystery going on about who Yotsuba is.

Normally, in manga, because of the way they’re drawn, you can’t easily tell the “foreigners” from the natives until someone tells you.  There’s at least one scene, early on, in the first tankōbon, in which one of Yotsuba’s new neighbors see her in the playground, seemingly baffled by how swings work.  The neighbor thinks, “Is she just weird or is she foreign?”

A lot is made of Yotsuba’s “weirdness,” even her own father describes Yotsuba as weird when asked for a description of her when she goes missing.

This, by the way, is a very curious moment, since, despite the fact that they are clearly in an urban space, dad is super not worried that she, a five year-old, has wandered off, and keeps insisting to the worried adults around him that “she’ll turn back up. She always does.” This, and the later cicada hunt, made me think that Yotsuba and her family are from the country. Especially since the urban adults were all ??? about her being missing and a lot more worried about it, and no one in the urban group had ever been bug hunting before.

So, I started to think that Yotsuba was just “not from around here” which is a different kind of foreign.

Until.

Until we find out that Yotsuba is an orphan.  Not just a girl being raised by a widower, but an ORPHAN.  Dad adopted Yotsuba… wait for it…. “on his travels.”  Dad is a translator for a living, so apparently this job takes him to the places where this other language (it’s sort of presumed by everyone around him, though it’s not explicitly stated, to be English) is spoken.

In an omake that is entirely from the point of view of the neighbors (a household of all women, which contrasts Yotsuba’s family which seems to be made of her father and his… best friend?… Jumbo, who is JUMBO, as in super tall), we hear them speculate that maybe Yotsuba was adopted in Hawaii, since all she has revealed about where they lived previously was ‘far away, very, very far….’ and ‘left’ (as in the direction).

It’s kind of amazing to imagine a single, young Japanese man just randomly picking up an American orphan and taking her home. I mean, maybe this happens? A quick Google search tells me that this does happen IRL, though most of the adoptees are black.

So, I’m kind of intrigued. I doubt it’s going to be revealed that Yotsuba’s dad is a kidnapper, but I’m curious about how the story of Yotsuba’s adoption is going to be played out. There’s always this assumption that slice-of-life stories attempt to be as realistic as possible (I mean, there are supranational slice-of-life, so…), but there’s often this blindspot when it comes to Western culture/practices.  If she is American, I’m curious if that’s also why Yotsuba, at five, seems to have a lot more trouble pronouncing things and seems to know fewer words than, say, the young girl of approximately the same age in Sweetness & Lightning….

I might just keep reading this for the amusement of reading about how someone of my “ethnicity” is portrayed in a manga.

Porn soon, I promise.

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life / Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou by Kouduki Hinowa / Miyama Waka

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I blame Trump and his administration for my changing taste in manga and anime. I’ve been so stressed out that what I want from my fiction these days can be summed up thusly: GIMME ALL THE FLUFFY BUNNIES WHO LIKE EACH OTHER THE END.

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life / Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou is EXACTLY what I want right now, so I don’t know if it’s something I can recommend in good faith. I love it, but you might be bored out of your mind by it.

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Our hero, Inaba Yuushi, is an orphaned high schooler with moderate goals.  After graduating middle school, all he wants is to get into a business school high school and be a salaryman.  Actually, what he wants more than anything is out of his uncle’s house. His aunt and uncle are nice enough, but he’s always felt like a burden there and he can not WAIT to get the f*ck out and start his own life. As it happens, the elite school he was aiming at has a live-in dorm.

Until it burns down about a month before move-in day.

Now, poor Inaba has to scramble.  Of course, aunt and uncle say he can stay, but it’s clear that no one wants this, and so Inaba, who has a job as a delivery boy, is like, “I WILL SOLVE THIS” and desperately tries to find alternate living arrangements.  But, it’s a month out and a bunch of other students were also displaced…. it seems like there’s nothing to be had.

Except, you know, for that ghost child who approaches Inaba while he’s despairing on a park bench, who points to a shady-looking realtor, who just happens to have not only an open place, but it’s cheap and comes with three squares a day.

What’s the catch? Inaba wants to know. Because, this place seems too good to be true.

Oh, well, it’s haunted.

Dun-dun…. DAH! Cue: adventures!

Except Elegant Yokai Aparment Life / Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou isn’t a horror manga. It’s a comedic slice-of-life manga, whose only real nod towards typical shounen themes revolves around ‘what it means to be an adult.’

Stuff happens in this manga.  There’s magic and some drama around things that happen at school, but, really, at it’s core Elegant Yokai Aparment Life / Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou is a celebration of old-fashioned communal living.  There are a lot of scenes of eating amazing food in the communal dining room, hanging out with the other apartment denizens (who are, in fact, ghosts, ogres, oni, kitsune, yokai, and mystics,) you know, just celebrating and living life. In fact, there are a lot of deep philosophical discussions about what life is for… (Major spoiler: Life is for living, seems to be the prevalent theme.)

I love this crap.

For the record, I’m mostly watching Elegant Yokai Aparment Life / Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou  as an anime. Cruncyroll is simulcasting it, and have, at the time of this review, seventeen episodes of it available to stream.

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I did, however, read the first chapter of the manga and it follows quite closely.  Wikipedia tells me that Yokai Apartment was originally a light novel, which might explain its pacing (when I first started watching this I immediately felt a Free! vibe, right down to the ‘how gay is this guy?’)

You don’t HAVE to agree that Inaba reads as gay, but the relationship he has with Hase Mizuki is very explicitly (albeit jokingly) ‘family’ oriented.  Hase basically adopts a child ghost whenever he visits Inaba at the ‘apato’ and refers to himself as ‘papa’ and Inaba as ‘mama.’  They not only sleep in the same room when Hase visits, but in the same bed. Early on, Inaba is very intent on keeping up with Hase and even writes him letters, but they have a ‘you need to be honest with me’ moment when Hase realizes he’s not getting the full story of what goes on and who/what exactly lives at the ‘apato.’

Yes, actually, I do imagine this all as quite innocent, much the way I thought of the boys of Free! as innocent, but, just because I don’t imagine them sexual, doesn’t mean it’s NOT gay af.

Which is probably the other reason I crave this kind of thing. I love stories where not a lot happens beyond everyone getting along and eating good food, and I double-plus love them if they’re gay.

In a side note, anyone who’s known me for any length of time will instantly recognize (probably in the credits, like my son did,) which character I secretly like best of all.  That would be the scruffy redhaired, Akira Fukase–a character we’ve barely even had the usual backstory episode about, who kind of does nothing more than drink and smoke a lot.  Yeah. I just have a type, and that type is inevitably voiced by someone like Kazuya Nakai, probably best known for his role as Muken in Samurai Champloo (and my boy Ryuji ‘Bon’ Suguro from Blue Exorcist).

So, yeah, if you want a story with not a lot at stake but still tremendous fun, try Elegant Yokai Aparment Life / Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou. There is a link to MangaReader in the first paragraph or Crunchyroll, if you prefer to watch.

Sweetness & Lightning / Amaama to Inazuma (Vol. 1-7) by Gido Amagakure

I should probably start a tag set for “cooking and eating,” so that if I ever want to go back and look at just HOW MANY of these types of manga I’ve read, I can do it easily.

The back cover copy of Sweetness & Ligtning / Amaama to Inazuma reads thusly:

“Inuzuka Kohei is a teacher who has been caring for his little daughter, Tsumugi, on his own since his wife’s death. He isn’t good at cooking, so they’ve been eating packaged meals from the convenience store. A series of events lead him one evening to a restaurant run by the mother of one of his students, Kotori. Her mother isn’t there, but Kotori does her best to feed them both. It turns out that Kotori is often alone, since her parents are divorced and her mother is frequently not around. The three of them begin to meet and cook tasty food together.”

I read all the collected volumes (a.k.a. tankōbon) that my library had which takes the reader up to Volume 7, Chapter 34: “Favorites Lunch with Shumai.”

Mangakalot, which I linked to in the title above, has up to chapter 40, “Cool Milk Coffee Jelly,” which I’d guess to be another volume’s worth. Baka-Updates suggests there are 9 volumes available in Japan.

There is also a full season of the anime (12 episodes) available on Crunchyroll: http://www.crunchyroll.com/sweetness-lightning, which I haven’t watched yet, as I’m currently watching Elegant Yokai Apartment Life.

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As I have mentioned here before, I’m a sucker for slice-of-life stories, but particularly ones about cooking and single/widowed dads figuring out parenting.  So, the conceit of this manga was right up my alley.

Lately, too, I find I’ve been craving low-risk stories.

I don’t know what this craving is about, entirely–maybe growing older? Being emotionally drained by the awful of the Trump administration?  But, for whatever reason, I have been seeking out happy, easy, non-dramatic manga/anime.

I mean, the biggest drama in Sweetness & Lightning / Amaama to Inazuma so far has been about  Tsumugi’s sadness about her mom and fears of death and Hell.  Mostly it’s Dad trying to figure out how preschool works, getting along with the moms, and trying not to act untoward towards his student, Kotori.

Yeah… about that–the attraction between Kotori and Inuzuka is, so far, above board. I am a little worried this is going to go somewhere awkward, but, at least by volume 7, we’ve had several moment of of “I like him” / “I like spending time with her,” but nothing more romantic than that. In fact, at a sleepover school trip in one of the volumes, one of Kotori’s friends reminds her that it’s okay to like someone and not know what to do about it. That seems to be where they’re leaving the attraction, which is okay with me.

Least you think I’m a total hypocrite, I’m NOT entirely comfortable with teacher/student relationships in yaoi, either. I have read them, and I will read this.  As I’ve long said–hey, fantasies are fantasies, so I’m not gonna judge, even if that goes in this direction.  My one and only hard-no squick is incest, and I’ve even read several of those… so, you know.

That being said, I still will put in my vote that I hope that Sweetness & Lightning / Amaama to Inazuma sticks to the platonic vibe it seems to currently have going. I am cheered by the fact that this was published in the category of seinen, rather than say, shoujo, so there is hope for a non-romatic ending.

There sure are a lot of red faces, though.  I mean, maybe cooking just makes people flush?

And Inuzuki and Kotori go to some lengths not to be discovered being together too often…. which bodes ill. I do hope that this isn’t the kind of seinen that ends with sh*t hitting the fan and everyone’s lives ruined and no one happy. (Maybe I’m thinking of josei…)

Anyway, if you’re looking for something with good recipes and ZERO drama, I highly recommend this series.

Now I’m going to go back and hunt through my reviews to tag all the “cooking and eating” manga…..

I may be here a while.

 

Not Simple by Ono Natsume

Ono-sensei has such a distinctive art style, it’s too bad that, most of the time, I find her jumpy storytelling hard to follow–the sole exception being House of Five Leaves, (although looking back at my review, I had some of the same problems with the writing there).

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At least, Not Simple is intentionally set up as a frame. It starts with….

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…the main character’s death.

The whole story is told as a ‘how did we get here?’ kind of tale.  I don’t necessarily hate that kind of set-up, but I find it more rewarding when it’s not so unrelentingly grim.

Ian (he’s an Australian) has a really terrible life. You know his life is sh*t, when one of his happiest moments is VISITING HIS SISTER–who is actually his biological mom–IN JAIL.

Ian’s life is so awful that he can be traumatized by bubblegum… and you don’t even really want to know why, and, yet, Ono-sensei tells you all about it. TWICE. (It involves sex work, when Ian is SUPER underage.)

Like much of what I’ve read so far of Ono-sensei’s other work, I spent the whole time waiting for things to get better, which was especially dumb with this one given its frame. I KNEW Ian was literally doomed to die as he’d lived–used by other people for their selfish gain (with a tragic twist of connectivity).

I guess I kept hoping for some kind of explicit relationship to form between Ian and his New York writer/reporter friend, Jim.  Jim is implied to be gay, and seems to have a on again/off again relationship with a (trans?) person named Alex. Jim follows Ian around because he says he wants to make Ian the subject of his new book, because the crap that happens to Ian is almost unbelievable it’s so awful.

For himself, Ian portrayed as ‘simple.’ Everyone who meets him remarks on how weird he is, and he rolls with situations that I suspect most people would react to by yelling “RED FLAG!  RED FLAG!” and running screaming in the other direction.

I’m not sure what the point of Not Simple is.  Because, the story seems to be: sh*t happens to Ian and then he dies.

It’s possible that Ono-sensei thought she was being more subtle with the sister-is-actually-mom-by-incest “mystery,” but that seemed clear to me the first time Ian suggests that he thinks maybe his sister is his mom. Even if the Ian/sister relationship supposed to be the point of the thing, it’s deeply unsatisfactory.  Ian, who made it his life’s quest to reconnect with his sister/mom is thwarted by the fact that, just before he arrives, she dies of pneumonia in jail–actually a complication of AIDS, which Ian also contracted (from the same man, as it happens).

I guess it’s not bad enough that Ian ends up shot to death by a mobster in a case of mistaken identity, but he was already dying of AIDS, given to him by his bio mother’s boyfriend who had been pimping him out at fourteen at the behest of his ‘adoptive’ mother (his father’s wife).

Just even writing that plot point out shows how ridiculous this thing is. The amount of preposterously AWFUL circumstances that have to connect to make this work are unreal (–I didn’t even get to how the “mistaken identity” is actually part of a whole contrived thing where this seemingly random girl wants Ian to pose as her boyfriend because her mob father is going to kill her actual boyfriend, only, it turns out? Random girl isn’t so random.  Her mom is a woman that Ian actually had one nice date with years ago and he’s come back to this particular diner, three years later, in order to meet up with the mom again…).

Slice-of-life, my a$$. This is tragic magic. What can go wrong, will go wrong, and it will all sh*t on Ian in some kind bastardization of “fate.”

Hmmmm, I guess I didn’t really enjoy this manga. It made me sad.

As a bonus, as far as I can tell (and Baka-Updates reports) no one has scanlated it.  You can, however, read a sneak-peak via Viz Media’s official site for the manga: https://www.viz.com/not-simple (looks like you have to have flashplayer to read it, though, so be warned.)

 

Bunny Drop / Usagi Drop

On Wednesday night, it was very, very slow on my shift at the library.  I was on “the machine” (a book sorting automated thing) that requires enough attention that it can’t be left while you go off, say, shelving books or something.  So I looked around the backroom for any manga that had a first volume…

And I found this:

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Bunny Drop / Usagi Drop. The back cover copy reads thusly: “Going home for his grandfather’s funeral, thirty-year-old bachelor Daikichi is floored to discover that the old man had an illegitimate child with a younger lover! The rest of his family is equally shocked and embarrassed by this surprise development, and not one of them wants anything to do with the silent little girl, Rin. In a fit of angry spontaneity, Daikichi decides to take her in himself!”

SPOILERS

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I’m a sucker for stories like this–the ones that are sort of fish-out-of water fatherhood tales.  Kind of literally nothing much of consequence happens in the first volume, though. Our hero, Daikichi, gets to know Rin and does a lot of fretting about daycare.  It’s only by the very end of the volume does there seem to be a mystery brewing about the identity and whereabouts of Rin’s mother.

Even so, I enjoyed it in the same way I love all slice-of-life manga.  Daikichi’s worries about taking on a job that doesn’t require so much overtime just underscored how different Japanese office culture is from American.

Speaking of work, the lights are hardly even all the way flicked off before most of us library workers have bolted out the backdoor and are in our cars, revving the engines.  I can’t imagine living somewhere where I was not only expected to work after hours, but also hang out drinking and socializing with my co-workers.  Sounds a bit like hell, to me.  (Maybe this is why the office ladies in these manga always quit when they get married and have babies? I think I would FAKE pregnancy to get out.)

Daikichi is likable in that he seems to take his new role as caretaker very seriously, even though little girls clearly baffle him.

usagi_drop_c004.pngI give it a thumbs up.  If you want to read Bunny Drop / Usagi Drop, MangaFreak has it.  If you get super into it, there appears to not only be an anime, but a live-action film, as well.