Bachi Bachi by Kuma Hyougo

I went looking under the tag “animal characteristics” at Baka-Update and was promptly inundated by a flood of choices, most of them NOT yaoi.  Alphabetically, this is the first one I found that looked promising.

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So, the guys on the cover aren’t actually animals or have animal characteristics.

In fact, they’re regular high school volleyball players.  They are the stars of the first chapter, “Bachi Bachi,” in which it looks like we’re getting set-up for the little guy to facilitate a love confession between his two senpai. What ends up happening, instead, is that they both confess they’re in love with him.  Very graphic sex ensues and they become a happy-for-now threesome.

The second chapter, “Youth, the Color of Sunset,” which involves another hottie dad….

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I’m beginning to worry about myself, but look at his guy!

In this story, we have a lonely, super-gay hairdresser who is working late one night when a pushy young woman comes in and demands that he make her dad hot, so Dad can find a woman. It seems he’s been divorced for some time and that was all fine when the daughter was still at home, but she’s off for college now, and it’s time for dad to get some action.

Guess where he finds it?

Yep, got it in one.

“Samurai Honeybee” follows a kick boxer who decides to try out a karate class at his local gym.  The normal instructor steps aside and let’s his super-attractive, younger apprentice teach the course. Kick-boxer is immediately smitten, but initially thinks his desire is to surpass the little runt and show him how awesome his skills are.

Instructor-kid is my usual type…. (the one staring stupidly out at us below:)

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As he’s actually an ex-gang member who turned to Karate to get out of the life of crime (I’d say “straighten-up” except… yeah, there’s nothing “straight” about what happens next.)  In his past, he looks even more like my usual sort:

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Playing out the scene we all want in a shounen anime, our kick-boxing main character challenges youthful karate instructor to a duel. If kick-boxer can beat karate instructor, he gets to dominate him.

And… that works out exactly how you hope. Right there in the dojo….

“Nana-nii-san’s dog and cat: 723-1122” is the “animal” chapter.  Here we have a science fictional universe where at some unnamed point in the future a virus spread that made most people infertile. The Japanese response to this, apparently, was to create human/animal hybrids.

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When the virus was cured, the “pets” were tossed out onto the street to perish from neglect.  Our hero, Nana (Seven), who is, himself a clone, has adopted two of these strays.  There is another threesome in this one that is kind kinky, and maybe hot??–I’m not sure I want to admit that, though.

The cat is charmingly cat-like, so that amused me.

The next chapter is called “Hatagaya Lullaby” and follows an old-fashioned, middle-aged author and the young goth rockstar that live in the same apartment building. They meet by accident and start up an intellectual affair–this might be one of the first times I’ve seen this kind of meet-cute.  The rockstar has read sensei’s work and they pass time talking about literature and eventually sensei, even though he really doesn’t fit with the goth scene, appreciates the similar artistry and poetry that goes into song lyric writing.

This, somehow, miraculously, leads to sex.

Clearly, the mangaka does not know any real novelists.  😉

The last chapter, “Blue, the Color of Depression” is a return to hairstylist and hottie dad, who have now moved in together.  Hairdresser is feeling like a bad partner because when he comes home, he finds hottie dad passed out on the couch, sick. Dad refuses to let hairdresser take care of him, but after a call to the daughter, hairdresser finds out that Dad just needs some attention.

Hairdresser takes time off work to be with Dad and everything is good again.

Kinda cute, I guess. It is actually sweet to have a romantic story in among a lot of very graphic smut.

Speaking of all the smut, I totally recommend this one.  I had a hard time finding a place that had all the chapters AND wasn’t totally riddled with spyware/pop-ups (the problem with full-on graphic images, I imagine), but, eventually, I discovered the full version of Bachi Bachi on MangaPark.

Have fun, kids. Read responsibly.

Haikyu!! (Vols. 1 & 2) by Haruichi Furudate

This is another anime that I love that I decided to read a manga.

Cover image of Haikyu!! Volume 1

Sports is not a thing that usually gives me Feels.

In Real Life ™, I tend to find sports very boring. I would rather watch grass grow or paint dry than sit though football or soccer or baseball (live or on TV).  Plus, sports kind of traumatize me, generally. I was a nerd all through high school. Participation in gym was required and so I suffered through it. Gym was always the one class this A-student was perpetually on the verge of failing.  I always the worst at everything, always picked the very, very last because absolutely no one wanted me on their team.  When Calvin of “Calvin & Hobbes” described gym class as “state-sponsored terrorism,” I felt a deep kinship.

Thus, it shocks me how much I love this manga.

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I should definitely hate Hinata, Haikyu!!‘s main character.  Often described as freakishly athletic, he’s nothing like me–well, outside of being short, but his character profile puts him at 5’4″ which is two inches taller than I am. He’s the kind of jock for whom the sport is LIFE.

But, Hinata is SUCH a shounen hero, I can’t help but love him.

Hinata is spellbound after catching a glimpse of a high school player called “The Tiny Giant” in passing on a TV in the window of an electronics shop. After that point, he pursues his goal relentlessly. Very shounen.

Hinata is so shounen, he’s even prone to giving in-game speeches to rally his teammates like this: “Listen, the most important thing to remember about volleyball is that EVERYBODY on this side of the net is your ally. NO EXCEPTIONS!”  Which, because Hinata isn’t actually that smart, is literally something he’d been told by one of the upperclassman not five minutes ago. But, that’s the thing about Hinata: if you tell him a thing, he BECOMES it.

Like a good shounen hero, Hinata (or the entire team) will also get power-ups as needed during critical moments during a game.  When Mason and I were first watching this anime, Mason mocked the heck out of this trope.  He was actually almost a little turned off by how over-the-top some of this shounen stuff gets.  Me? I ate it up!

Plus, look at these action shots!

Interior panel: Haikyu!!

 

Aitsu! (That guy!) Am I right?

But, what I love about Hinata is that, outside of these natural bursts of athleticism, he’s not actually very good at the game. He doesn’t really even understand all the rules, and certainly doesn’t have any sense of strategies.  Hinata has mostly been practicing on his own, because no one in middle school was as into volleyball as he was.

A classic rivalry is set up when Hinata manages to get enough of a team together to play in a middle school tournament.  It’s a disaster.  Especially since they’re up against the team who has a naturally gifted “setter,” Kageyama.  Kageyama has the nickname “King of the Court,” but for all the wrong reasons. It should mean that he’s the star, but his teammates all see him as a greedy tyrant who wants everything done his way. Even so, Kageyama’s team wipe the floor with Hinata’s.

Hinata vows to get better, because all he wants is to spend time in the game!

Of course, when high school rolls around, Hinata and Kageyama find themselves as teammates.  A good portion of the first volume is them figuring out how to be allies, instead of enemies.

Can I admit something?

I’m enough of a sap that when we learn Kageyama’s origin story (basically he became such a tyrant that no one was there when he set up the ball) and Hinata vows to ALWAYS BE THERE, I might have teared up a little bit.

What?

Look, I sign up for shounen because this is what I want. I want people fighting together, for each other, and giving it their all, and making vows to ALWAYS BE THERE, and Haikyu!! might be a little over-the-top melodramatic in its shounen-ness but that’s LITERALLY what I want from shounen.

Bring it!

Ace no Kyuujitsu by Nishida Higashi

I’m staggering these posts, but I’m STILL cooking. So, while I continue to slave over a bubbling deep-frier, I’m reading manga. This time I decided to hop over to my old favorite, Mangago and see what appeared in the “popular” sidebar.  I saw Ace no Kyuujitsu and could NOT resist this cover….

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I mean, am I right?

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Hidaka Tohru is the star pitcher for the Blue Seas.  The season is over and so he’s off for a cruise with his girlfriend… only she cancels on him last minute.  Seems Hidaka-san is kind of a player and boasted about it in some tabloid or another.  Since Hidaka got on at an earlier port, he’s now stuck on the cruise ship without a playmate.  Worse, he’s constantly hounded for autographs and photos.  He loses his patience when a little brat comes up to ask for his autograph and can’t even pronounce his name right. Even though the kid is no more than 8, dude gets up in his face and tells him to bug off.

Generally in a foul mood after that, Hidaka gets drunk at the big opening dinner and has to get escorted off by security.  Not letting that stop him, he moves to the lounge and attempts to set up his own ‘hostess club’ with all the ladies there.  Security is not amused and contrives to trick him into going back to his room for ‘an urgent message.’

The ‘message’ he gets is in the form of a late night visitor.

The visitor tosses him around and eventually pins him, face down on the bed. Hidaka is then told, ‘shape up or get off the boat at the next port of call.’  When Hidaka continues to be belligerent, the masked stranger sticks his fingers up Hidaka’s butt. Like, yeah, just kind of finger rapes him.

Well, well… off to a good start, I’d say, eh?

Yeah, I know. But look at these two:

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A scuffle ensues and Hidaka manages to scratch the assailant’s arm with the edge of a broken lamp.  The guy runs off leaving Hidaka bewildered (and, because this is yaoi, vaguely turned-on.)

The next day, Hidaka is still weirded out by what happened, but he’s out and about.  He sees the annoying kid playing by himself.  The kid accidentally goes over a railing and Hidaka uses his baseball sliding skills to catch the kid.  He saves the boy, but gives himself a concussion.  As he’s passing out, a man thanks him for saving his son—in the very voice of the guy who assaulted him last night!

Of course, it turns out that the assailant is the captain.

Hidaka’s bravery complicates things because even as the captain wanted him off the ship, now it’s kind of not cool to have kind of raped a guy to coerce him into leaving the ship.  Hidaka makes it clear that he knows that the captain is his assailant. The captain mostly avoids dealing with that awkwardness by thanking Hidaka profusely for his son’s life.

What’s kind of amazing throughout this manga is that the captain never is entirely remorseful for his actions. Oh, he apologizes at one point, but he’s kind of unabashedly skeevy and rape-y.  I guess that’s his version of being a seme.  It’s explained that he can overpower this trained athlete because he was in special forces and is some kind of war veteran (though what war Japan has been active in lately, I’m not entirely sure. But, who cares. He’s seen things.  And… maybe got kicked out for being a huge homo?)  The idea that the captain is just the kind of guy who ogles ikemen‘s hot butts is a given all the way through to the HEA.

Also there’s a side character, the security guard/steward, who was apparently the captain’s adjutant during service who is very odd and fussy and weirdly kick-ass (implications make it seem as though he was once a crack sniper, too.)

How the two guys finally get it on is a semi-baffling series of one-upmanship challenges and random ‘hey, so maybe I’m gay and horny?’ moments from Hidaka.  But, when they do get together it’s kind of hot and I found myself sort of deeply amused by the end omake in which they appear to be off on an extended holiday celebrating Hidaka’s retirement from baseball and sending home videos back to teenage kid. Although it says “20 years later” so maybe this is young adult kid, although he seems to still be living with the steward.

The love confession is a pretty good moment too and involves the captain launching himself off the side of the cruise ship to run after Hidaka.  So, I mean, all the rape-y-ness aside, it’s kind of a good story?

I don’t know. It might be the exhaustion kicking in.