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.

FAKE (Vol. 1) by Matoh Sanami

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I picked up this volume at a garage sale years ago.  It’s been sitting in my pile of manga forever, which is weird because I rarely buy manga that I haven’t already read. Most of the tankōbon that I own are of series that I loved so much I wanted to collect them (in order to re-read) and to support the mangaka (Bleach, Blue Exorcist, Bakuman, Full Metal Alchemist, Gangsta., Samurai Champloo… and I think a few early Attack on Titan. Mason has also picked up random copies of One Piece, Toriko, and Naruto.)  So, that single volume FAKE sitting there among those was an anomaly.  It finally bugged me so much to see it there that I read it.

Perhaps not the best reason to decide to read something, but there you have it.

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I can NOT stand the art.  I feel like FAKE has the kind of art that gives yaoi a bad name. The eyes are beyond ‘big’ into disproportioned and a little terrifying, and everything is so… wispy that a strong wind could blow the characters right off the page.  I suspect this is a big reason why I had this manga volume in my possession for so long before I pushed through to read it.

To be fair to Matō-sensei, she was drawing in the mid-1990s into the early 2000s, and I think her style reflects her era.

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So… the story.  Our hero Randy McLean, is a rookie cop in the 27th district, New York City, who gets partnered with the brash homicide detective Dee Laytner. As they solve crime, sparks fly and they fall in love.

Of the two of the characters above, which one would you expect to be INSTANTLY RECOGNIZABLE by everyone he meets as ‘half-Japanese.’ Like, literally, someone will see this person and say, “You’re half-Japanese, aren’t you? What’s your Japanese name?” Yeah, the dark-haired one? No, that’s not him. It’s blond one, Randy (Japanese name: Ryo).

That’s the guy everyone instantly pegs specifically as half-Japanese.

Okay, one, Americans are racists, for sure, but I feel like in New York City saying, “Are you half-Japanese?” is not how this would go down, especially since the clue proffered is “Whoa, your eyes are so dark!”  I think what you’d get from people would be both much worse and far less specific.

Let’s just say that “What’s your Japanese name?” is not likely the very next thing out of people’s mouths. (And, seriously, EVERYONE does this to Randy.) So, I found this particularly… well, I’d say ‘jarring’ but I’ve seen this sort of odd take on American racism before in manga (see: Under Grand Hotel) and so, while it was noticeable and a little odd, I mostly rolled with it (because, let’s be honest, it’s far more culturally sensitive than what would probably really happen in America.)

Speaking of jarring, though, I don’t think that Dee waits more than five pages before coming on to Ryo.  I have to admit that with the back cover copy–“Meet Ryo and Dee, two New York City cops with an attraction for action, and for each other! When Ryo, a soft spoken officer, joins the NYPD’s 27th precinct, he’s soon partnered up with Dee’s a cocky, confident cop with attitude to spare.”–I was expecting SLIGHTLY more of a slow burn: more action and then attraction.  I totally expected that the title would be part of story, too.  Like, that they’d have to fake being a gay couple to solve a crime and then fall madly in love for real.

That kind of happens in one scene, but it’s more like that Captain America/Black Widow moment from Captain America: Winter Soldier, where  in order to evade capture by the bad guys they kiss, you know, because people only see ‘kissing’ and not the droids they’re looking for.

And, in this case, double-plus “eewww-DON’T LOOK” because: gay!

I will say for a manga written in the late 1990s, Dee’s casual acceptance of his own bisexuality is sort of refreshing.  At least here, unlike, say, in 10 Dance, the bisexuality isn’t used as a weird sort of ‘no homo.’ In fact, at one point, one of Dee’s ex-paramours JJ shows up and causes some friction because, despite all the kissy-kissy and the sort of mostly living together, Ryo has not accepted his feels for Dee.

That’s not to say that bisexuality perfectly handled here, however. There’s a very creepy  ‘I’d totally hit that in ten years’ line from Dee, when talking about Carol, a prepubescent/teenage street girl that Ryo has semi-adopted.

And that’s the other thing. If all you have ever wanted from life is a gay/bi cop rom-com kid fic, Fake is ready-made for you.  Ryo manages to collect a little family around him, a troubled orphan named Bikky and Carol, the pickpocket.  Not being a huge fan of kid fic, I can’t say this aspect entirely works for me, but I can kind of see how this has been very popular/enduring in BL circles. (And FAKE is not explicit, at least not in the first volume.)

If you’re curious and want to read it, MangaHere has it: http://www.mangahere.co/manga/fake/ .  If you’d rather try to consume this in another way, there was a one-hour OVA produced that’s on KissAnime: http://kissanime.ru/Anime/Fake-Sub/OVA?id=68734, which I watched several minutes of as well, and is based on the second volume.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Datte Maou-sama Wa Kare Ga Kirai / Good-bye World Conquest by Yamada Nichoume

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I absolutely adored the premise of this yaoi, the execution? Not as much.

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Into every generation is born a Demon King.  For each Demon King, there is a hero who must conquer him.  This is almost exactly the same set-up as the anime  Hataraku Maō-sama! / Devil is a Part-Timer, which I likewise adored. Only, in this version Maou (the name literally means ‘devil’) is a kind of hapless storekeeper who doesn’t really want the power to randomly enslave delinquents (it’s awkward to have people falling at your feet all day long.) The hero, Kamiko, is likewise atypical for what you’re expecting of a hero. In fact, when we first met him, it’s because he’s bought the building Maou’s storefront is in and forcibly evicts him.

The hero is kind of an a$$hole.

Not only is he a jerk, but he’s a little bit shady. At one point, Kamiko confesses that he went into the family business (and, yes, he means that in the yakuza sense) because he really just wanted to break-in to people’s houses and knock over vases (like a cat?).  Maou, of course, is like, “Dude! That’s not cool.”

Because, somehow, in these stories the devil is always kind of decent human being.

In Datte Maou-sama wa Kare ga Kirai all of this is really just background for Maou and Kamiko to have a lot of sex–because, you see whomever dominates the other one is the victor in this spiritual/world-domination power play.  Maou keeps trying to top, but he’s pretty helpless to Kamiko’s advances.

This is listed under the tag “dubious consent” on Baka-Updates, and I suppose you can imagine it that way since Maou does say ‘no’ and keeps telling Kamiko he’s a pervert and not to touch him ‘there’–but this feels more silly to me than rape-y. I suspect milage may vary, however.

For me, this was too tame.  (Also the early pages of the manga are badly translated, so it’s probably okay to skim them to get to the sexy-times.)

Shinigami no Koi by Haruno Ahiru

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I bet you’ve been asking yourself, where is all the shinigami yaoi porn, haven’t you?  Well, I found it for you in Shinigami no Koi.

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This manga describes itself as “shinigami x clumsy office worker,” and I kind of feel like that sums everything up quite nicely.  Our hero, Thanatos, doesn’t really like his job. As a shinigami, he’s supposed to watch over human’s lives. He finds humans dreadfully boring… well, most of them.  There is this one he finds amusing: Asahi Shintaro.  Shintaro is a big-hearted, goofy office worker, who has the tendency to act first, think later.  His antics make Thanatos chuckle.

So, of course, the assignment comes down.  Time to take out Shintaro.

Even though Shintaro is a favorite, Thanatos doesn’t figure it’ll be a big deal. Shinigami aren’t human. They don’t have time for all that messy copulating and procreating.  Feelings aren’t really their strong suit.

And yet…

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I have to say I’m kind of enamored with the supernatural imagery in this yaoi.  This is what it looks like when Thanatos steps out of heaven and heads down to the Human World.

Meanwhile, back in the story, Thanatos has tracked down his prey and is ready to strike him dead…i008.jpg

…when all of a sudden, Thanatos remembers a cute story of this guy’s life and suddenly falters.  The boss of the shinigami gets an instant ping (no kidding,) and, believing that Thanatos has been ‘possessed’ by this human,  intervenes to ‘change his fate.’

At first I misread the pronoun and thought that the shinigami-boss was interfering on behalf of Thanatos, but it becomes obvious that it’s Shintaro that the boss is after.  Since Thanatos hesitated, the boss plants what looks like a kitten drowning in the river. Shintaro is halfway over the rail to save it when Thanatos pulls him back. It’s only a stuffed cat.

And… here’s where things get… weird, or maybe badly translated.  Shintaro and Thanatos have a back-and-forth about which one of them was trying to commit suicide and Shintaro seems to be under the impression that Thanatos is either an escaped mental patient or trans (and/or a cross-dresser).  Irritated, Thanatos gives Shintaro a laundry list of all the ways he’s been kind of stupid and nearly died in his life, and Shintaro decides Thanatos is a stalker… but invites him back to his place anyway, to which Thanatos basically replies, “You moron, this is why you’re going to die young!”

Which is cute.

When Thanatos tries again, Shintaro is half asleep.  Shintaro wakes up a bit and sleepily mistakes Thanatos for a dream wife and kisses him.  That’s it for Thanatos, all hope of murdering this guy is out the window.  He stumbles his way out…. and gets his ‘pink slip.’

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Thanatos isn’t exactly fired. Let’s call it a semi-permanant transfer to the human world and a human body.  He’s now going by Tanato Subaru… and is working at Shinato’s office.

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The second chapter is a whole series of ways in which  Thanatos keeps saving Shintaro’s life. He keeps doing this ostensibly because he wants to be the one to kill Shintaro. It gets very silly. Though there is some serious implication that because Shintaro has outlived his due course, his body is breaking down and is now more vulnerable to death in all its forms.

Then, there’s a left turn.  While Thanatos is watching over Shintaro when he has the flu, Shintaro suddenly remembers the dreamy kiss. The memory of having kissed Thanatos triggers a desire to try out gay sex before he dies.  Only Shintaro can’t get away from Thanatos in order to try it out.  Apparently, masterbating to the gay videos isn’t the same (which we never see ‘on screen’ so this feels completely out of the blue), and so he contrives to sneak out and hook up with a pro.

Thanatos stalks Shintaro, of course, and confronts him about all the STDs he could catch… and then offers to “mimic sexual reproduction.”

They’re just getting to it when the chapter ends.

According to MangaHere, the final chapter is coming out soon.

I think I’d like this better if it wasn’t for the sloppy writing. The art is alternately very cute and very spooky.  The humor… almost works for me in the way a lot of translated Japanese humor nearly does, (that is to say, I can often see where I’m supposed to find things funny even if I don’t.)

But, I had to really think to parse what the hell Shintaro was doing with the gigolo and then we got the whole confession of how the doing it solo to the videos wasn’t working because real life was somehow hotter… and while I liked the IMPLICATIONS of that, I was like, “Wait, when did Shintaro have any time alone to even try this?  Also, hot? Couldn’t we have seen that on screen???”

Probably my issues have to do with humor, in general.  I much prefer serious stories, so, for me, the silliness got in the way of a potentially hotter storyline.  Milage may vary.

Futouhen Sankakkei no Teiri by Agata Ito

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Sometimes when I’m trying to write a sexy scene for my fan fiction, I end up looking for inspiration by meandering down the yaoi hashtag on Tumblr. I came across a rather, shall we say, intriguing (very NSFW) image and I thought I would take a chance and check this one out.

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Futouhen Sankekkei no Teiri is basically a porn movie set-up.  I guess that’s intentional  since our hero, Onose-kun works at a video store.  It’s closing time, and a cute guy, Ikumi, wearing one of those surgical masks people put on when they have a cold brings up a hard core gay porn movie to  check out. His rental card is expired, so there’s some bureaucratic hoops to jump through before he can just walk out with his pick.

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Ikumi stands there, the more ‘sick’ he seems.  Onose is both concerned about him, but also, you know, takes the opportunity to check him out.

Like you would.

 Onose is totally straight, of course, TOTALLY, but, you know, how it is in these things–just one whiff of Teh Gay and, suddenly, you’re considering things you never thought of before.

And, there’s a bit of hurt/comfort going on here, because look at this poor guy!

When Onose finally closes up for the night, he sees Ikume clinging shakily to a lamppost.  There is some discussion about what’s wrong and Ikumi let’s slip that maybe he’ll be fine, if he could just get used to the the vibrations. Onose is all, “???” but suggests maybe he could help Ikumi get back to his place, since he just happened to notice his address on the renewal form and it wasn’t far from the shop.

Ikumi lives on the top floor of a swanky apartment and, much to Onose’s surprise, someone else is home when they arrive.

Roommate suggests Onose come in for a while, maybe have a cup of coffee or beer as as thank you for helping Ikumi home.  Onose is feeling a little weird about it all because, well, for one, he kind of hoped to ditch and run, but also Ikumi’s heavy breathing and flushed face in the elevator on the ride up was kind of turning him ON.

Things, of course, are about to get a lot weirder (or, depending, a lot hotter.)  Yes, it’s nice of you to help Ikumi out of his suit so it won’t get wrinkled, Onose, but, no, no one thought that buzzing at Ikumi’s backside was a phone ringing, except you.

So yeah…

Sexy times ensue.

We do find out that Ikumi is doing what he’s doing as a dare, but that’s because roommate knew that Ikumi had a crush on Onose.

One warning, in case it’s a squick of yours, the “roommate” turns out to be older brother.  Normally, I don’t read incest, but I got suckered into this one as the reveal isn’t until the very end (though I kind of figured… it was easier to pretend they just happened to look a lot a like until the confirmation at the end.)

The sex is explicit, fairly hot, and to my taste (which I think has been established is fairly perverted.)  So, if you can get over the whole ‘they’re brothers’ thing, I would recommend it to you.  After the amazing art of In These Words, Futouhen Sankakkei no Teiri seems flat, but it’s decent-to-good art–certainly more than tolerable for a one-shot.

In These Words Vol. 2

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I couldn’t stand not knowing was was going to happen next SO MUCH that I actually ordered the second collection of In These Words directly from the publisher.

It came today.

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The story picks up just where it left off in volume 1.  Serial killer Shinohara has cornered our psychologist hero, Asano Katsuya.  There is tazering.  There are threats and fondling. Sexual torture ensues.

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In the middle of it, we discover that the ‘dreams’ Asano has been having are based on reality.  Shinohara takes a picture of the scars on Asano’s back and shows them to him.  Much, “This can’t be true” is said.

Then, Shinohara takes Asano back to the very warehouse where he was tortured in all his dreams, where we discover….

…Shinohara isn’t the same guy that tortured Asano.

Similar looking, but no. Not at all.

Here’s where things get weird and a little confusing. Because, all of a sudden we get flashbacks to where Shinohara recruits Asano to work for the police. That’s right Shinohara isn’t even a bad guy. He’s just been play-acting one, in the hopes of triggering Asano’s proper memories.  In fact, this entire prison thing has been a ruse to try to get Asano over this massive mental block he had over the true identity of his torturer.

The last two-thirds of the book is devoted to the meet-cute, which involves going to a love hotel in order to look through case files in private. (Don’t ask. It actually kind of works, though.)

We also find out that Asano totally deserves his campus nickname “Ice Queen” because after their first VERY VANILLA hook-up Asano lays out the rules and they’re basically, “Look, this is just f*cking, don’t fall in love, don’t tell anyone about us, and don’t ever touch me in public.  I make the appointments and you show up if you want some. Otherwise, it’s all off. And I bite your dick off.” (Seriously, he demonstrates on a piece of steak.)

So, I’m guessing this is an on-going thing and I’m just going to have to wait until there’s a third volume completed before I can get to the end of this thing. Because from what I can tell the ACTUAL serial killer is still at-large somewhere and just being f*ck buddies isn’t USUALLY where these sorts of stories end — although maybe? Still, there’s been no plot resolution whatsoever, and I kind of have to figure they’re at least going to try to catch the real villain at some point.

Was it worth the $ I spent to have it shipped? Totally. This thing is GORGEOUS. There are amazing pull-out ‘posters’ and every page is very well-drawn.  I’m a little disappointed it’s not wrapped up in two volumes, but I can wait.

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