Acid Town by Kyuugo

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If you like your yaoi full of yakuza and a heavy dose of angst, Acid Town might be for you.

SPOILERS

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Acid Town is the kind of manga I’d write, if I were a mangaka.

It’s both weirdly dark and full of implied non-consensual situations/sex, but also all about honor and angst and young men making stupid choices in the name of love and devotion.

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So. Much. Angst.

The world that our hero, Yukio and his best friend, Tetsu, live is extraordinarily dark.  Somehow the world has fallen into lawlessness and the yakuza reign supreme (and everyone is interconnected by fate and misfortune).

I do a very light amount of research for any title I review here, and I’m always a little surprised (and nervous) when I discover a TV Tropes page devoted to a manga that never got an official English-language release. There is also, should you desire “moar,” as the kids say, a singular piece of fan fic on Ao3.

I understand why someone felt compelled to write in this universe.

There are parts of this story that I really loved–specifically the relationship between Yukio and Tetsu–and a whole lot of stuff I didn’t entirely feel was necessary.  Just as Yukio and Tetsu are being torn apart by cruel fate and misfortune, the mangaka decides to wander into the convoluted backstory of several of the yakuza players for CHAPTERS.  I have to admit to skimming quickly through these so that I could get back to the main story….which only gets a couple of chapters before what is available scanned dried up.

Grrrr.

But if you like your porn plotty and light on the sexy-times, you might really enjoy Acid Town.  For myself, I could have used a little more sex.  Or focus. If the mangaka could have stayed with Yukio and Tetsu more, I might have been more into it, despite the sweeter tone.

Their characters are great. For instance Tetsu makes a really awkward love confession, and has this wonderful conversation with the fabulous guy who owns the restaurant under their apartment:

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“Ha-ha, maybe you pushed him down and kissed him, eh?” jokingly asks the restaurant guy.  Tetsu, says miserably, ” Yeah, I did.”

Good times.

More of this, please.

But, that being said, the writing is good. I read a lot of the yakuza turf battle plot without batting an eye. So would I recommend it? Yes, but with the caveat: BEWARE: PLOT-HEAVY.

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Twittering Birds Never Fly / Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai by Yoneda You

Following long-time reader and commenter AuntyA’s advice, I read the rest of Twittering Birds Never Fly / Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai of which there are 26 chapters available on Mangakalot.com, (linked.)

Wow.

This is a good one.  If you’re the sort who likes a decent plot to go with your hot, hot sadomasochism of dubious consent, this is definitely for you.

Following the events of the first chapter (which I reviewed separately), Yoshiro and his straight-laced doctor friend, Kageyama, are all grown up.  Yoshiro has fallen in with the mafia and has taken to bringing his underlings in need of an off-the-books hospital visit to Kageyama’s clinic.

It’s here that Yoshiro brings “Mad Dog.”  Kageyama who has previously been mostly straight, falls instantly in love. The first few scenes involve their getting together. Meanwhile, disappointed that he doesn’t get to keep “Mad Dog” (or, probably more accurately, that he can’t get Kageyama to fall in love with him,) Yoshiro goes about his very slutty business.

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So. MANY.

Until he meets Doumeki, a former cop, who was imprisoned for nearly killing his own father.

Doumeki is also impotent.

Yoshiro seems to take the latter as a kind of a challenge and he hires Doumeki to be his bodyguard.  Their relationship is the core of the rest of the story.  And, ah, what a story! There is intrigue! Angst! Tragic backstories! Smutty sex! Sexual tension!  ROMANCE! And really broken people being stupid to each other in a way that I really, really enjoy reading, particularly in my m/m slash and yaoi.

I actually like this one enough that I don’t want to spoil any of it for you.  I highly recommend you read the rest and/or support the official publisher.

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1-en no Otoko / One Yen Man by Monden Akiko

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One Yen Man  (not to be confused with One Punch Man) is a collection of yaoi one-shots by  Monden Akiko. So many of my guilty-pleasure buttons got hit with this one, it isn’t even funny.

SPOILERS

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Guilty pleasure #1: Sex workers.

I will pretty much read any story featuring sex-for-hire.  Give me a sympathetic gigolo and I’m golden.

The first story doesn’t exactly center around a gigolo, per se, but ‘getting paid for it’ is part of the whole meet-cute, if you will.  So, what happens is that we have a detective, Sanjou Keisuke.  He’s a classic tough guy sort, who will do any job for any one. In fact, when we first meet him, he’s dog sitting for a client.  But, he returns to his office one day to find a brusque, icy investment banker waiting for him. They exchange the usual insults: “What kind of detective leaves his door wide open? Though clearly there’s nothing worth stealing here!” / “If you don’t like me, try another detective agency.”

Classic.

Destined for sex, wouldn’t you say?

Well, except, of course, our hero is presented as fairly straight.  I say ‘fairly’ because the client he’s walking that dog for is a super-queer–queeny, even, guy–he gets called ‘mama-san’ and I don’t think he’s also a pimp, (though….more on that in a bit).  Anyway, Detective and super-queen are clearly friends, so, like a lot of straight guys in these yaoi, it’s not like it’s completely foreign to him.

Anyway, Banker wants to hire Sanjou to find his sex friend, a rent boy who has ran off with a briefcase full of several million yen.

At this point, I kind of thought the story might get plot-heavy and we’d spend some time chasing after rent boy.  But, no, Sanjou is a good detective, and finds him right away.  He let’s the banker know where the rent boy has holed up and is about to take his leave when banker is, all, ‘I’m worried I can’t confront him. Will you help? I can pay.’  Our hero, being a gentleman is very, “No worries. I’ll do this gratis.” Banker is very insistent. We start to get the sense that paying for things is a THING for him.

Maybe you can see where this is going?

Well, it takes awhile to get there, because, of course, Sanjou needs to figure out he’s bi, first.  Luckily, an opportunity presents itself fairly immediately.  When banker and Sanjou go to confront Rent Boy, Rent Boy is out. Banker convinces Sanjou to break in to the apartment because he really just wants that briefcase back, even if the money is gone.  As they’re looking for the briefcase, Rent Boy returns. They hide in a closet.  Rent Boy comes back with company.  Sanjou tells banker he shouldn’t watch this, so he covers banker’s eyes, watches the whole thing, gets super turned on to the point where, banker very prissily says ‘this is ridiculous’ and starts giving Sanjou a blowjob on the spot.

This is all very awkward, but they manage not to be discovered. The banker is suddenly, ‘it’s fine, I don’t care any more’ and Sanjou figures, well, that was weird, but whatever the client wants, *shrug*… until he runs into Rent Boy.  Then, things get interesting. Turns out, Rent Boy stole the money in an attempt to get the banker to chase him.  Rent boy was kind of falling for banker, but banker was very insistent that theirs was a PAID relationship.

Sanjou makes it his mission to uncover why banker is so cold and focused on the paycheck.  Meanwhile, of course, he starts to fall in love with him. When Rent Boy returns the money and briefcase to Sanjou, Sanjou discovers a picture of banker as a young boy looking adorable. Later, Sanjou finds out there’s a tragic backstory with the picture–banker’s mom was a single mom, cold and calculating, the kind who gave receipts after paying allowance, etc., and banker had the picture taken in the hopes of trying to win her over with sheer cuteness. It doesn’t work, so this is part of banker’s brokenness, apparently.

Now Sanjou wants to fix this, and in the way of rough-and-tumble meets Ice Queen, basically Sanjou bullies the banker into falling for him.

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Also a trope I like. (Guilty pleasure #2? Probably.)

Then we switch gears and we have the story of two childhood buddies.  One of them is a stereotypical easy-going, charismatic lady’s man who is the rising star of his company, and the other is a nebbish food critic, who specializes in alcohol.  They meet-up regularly for drinking dates, because Food Critic doesn’t want to drink alone.

Cue: drunken sex.

At the love hotel, Food critic drunkly tells Lady’s Man that the reason he can’t settle down and find a wife is because he’s barking up the wrong tree. Food critic decides that a bit of seduction is the ticket to get salaryman to wake up and smell Teh Gay, as it were.

It works.

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And literally the rest of the two chapter story is salaryman trying to figure out how to be better at the gay sex thing, because he REALLY LIKES the gay sex thing.

I found this story adorable.

I also really loved that the first thing salaryman does is rent all the gay porn and tries to study up. He also starts asking his ex-girlfriends for blowjob tips (ha!) and even tries out a little bondage because he gets obsessed with making sure his partner is as aroused as he is.

Then we return to Rent Boy, who, it turns out is actually secretly the son of a yakuza boss and the gang needs him back.  Rent boy doesn’t want to, so he tells his lieutenant, I’ll come back if you can seduce me so hard I cum.

Cue: random hot tattoo sex.

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Works for me! (Bonus Guilty Pleasure #3 AND #4 — Yakuza and Tattoos!)

I honestly enjoyed this one pretty well, but, I’m not sure how you will feel about it, unless some of your guilty pleasures align with mine. The art, as you can see, is hit and miss. I felt like the writing was pretty good in that all the straight-turned-gay guys did, at least, attempt to do some research, so that makes me happy.