30 Day Yaoi Challenge, Day 23: A Cock of Peerless Beauty

Yeah, you read that blog title right.

Thank goodness for this crack. I was starting to get really, really bored.

I’ve Seen It All volumes 1 & 2 by Shoko Takaku

Chihiro is a doctor specializing in male health (The term is andrology, apparently,) and has to see a lot of nasty-ass dicks as part of his job. He’s feeling a little bit down because of it, until he sees (through someone’s pants) a cock of peerless beauty.

Oh yes, folks. Not only did he lay eyes on a cock of peerless beauty, but he recognized its brilliance underneath layers of clothing. This is apparently what happens when you are an andrologist and you look at a ton of dicks all day.

Chihiro’s pursuit of Ayumi (he of the most glorious cock in Japan) begins to read like any old romantic comedy. Chihiro’s colleague screws up his confession of love; Ayumi feels super self-conscious about Chihiro obsession with his dick; Chihiro and Ayumi have trouble getting intimate; they screw up dates; they get jealous of other people and go to wild lengths to please each other.

This would all be very ordinary if it weren’t for the focus on dicks. Ayumi starts comparing his dick to porn stars’, Ayumi gets erectile dysfunction because he’s worried that Chihiro is into a guy who might have a prettier cock, there are weird penis-related haiku up on the walls of the clinic, colleagues gush about getting to work with pretty cocks, dates get cancelled because someone broke their dick…

But despite all the crack this was a solidly written series. Chihiro has reasons to love Ayumi beyond his dick, those who are not gay are solidly not gay, there’s no non-consensual stuff and you actually see the doctors (and a dentist) doing their jobs. Gotta love a yaoi manga that doesn’t ignore the outside world.

The one thing I didn’t like was Ayumi’s character. I wanted him to be some kind of amazingly handsome and fierce guy with a wonder cock, but he’s a really drippy guy that I’d probably find annoying in real life. He just doesn’t have enough backbone, and Chihiro doesn’t quite have enough personality to make up for it when he’s not obsessing over cock. (And that includes the dick involved in his chosen profession.) I just could have done with more powerful personality from both of them, even though Chihiro is quite the understanding, wonderful boyfriend and that makes me go “d’aawww.”

The art is very wispy and sketchy, which does fit the main characters better than if they were fierce. It’s so innocent-looking though, that it’s hard to believe there’s so much cracky and raunchy action behind the sweet blushing faces and the honest eyes.

Anyway. I’m tired and this review is going nowhere, but I’ve Seen It All is worth it and I’m going to check out more of Shoko Takaku’s manga, which all seem to be published by June. Today’s lesson: if your boyfriend is an andrologist and he tells you that you have the most beautiful cock he’s ever seen, YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT. He’s seen it all, gurl.

(I’ve been watching too much RuPaul’s Drag Race. Sorry.)

Edit: Now that I’m slightly more awake, why haven’t we seen a manga with this premise before? A manga about a gay man with the most gorgeous cock in the world and his adventures would really work! (Especially if the character was more interesting than Ayumi.) The closest I think I’ve ever seen is Ono, the gay of demonic charm, from Antique Bakery, who was hilariously good at seducing men.

Seriously. Someone get on this. This manga needs to happen.

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30 Day Yaoi Challenge, Day 22: A Case of the Blahs

Yeah, I kind of purposefully forgot to post yesterday. I needed too. I was just too spaced out. I can’t say this next manga did anything to inspire my inner writer…

Love Circumstances by Aco Oumi

This manga comprises of four stories about four different couples.

First off there’s two teenage boys who went from being best friends to lovers. While Takagari is all-in, Yamaguchi is much more self-conscious and hesitant to mess with their relationship. They go through the ups and downs of high school life, Takagari must force Yamaguchi out of his shell. (And Yamaguchi does have quite the shell.)

The next story is about two co-workers, one who came into the company through ordinary means, and the other who is part of the rich elite and landed the job through connections. Through sheer coincidence, the ordinary joe finds out that the elite dude is working as an escort to pay off a tremendous debt. Throughout the course of their conversation, the elite dude determines that all the stuff the ordinary joe knows about him must mean that the ordinary joe is in love with him. Cue sex.

The third story is about two boys who live together in a dorm room. One boy has a girlfriend, but swiftly gets dumped. The other has had a long-time crush on his friend. Of course, they get together and have sex.

The final story is about a lingere company salesman and a lingere store manager who slowly fall in love, but find that aspects of their work relationships getting in the way of the romance. Just as they fully realize their feelings and hold hands, the story ends.

Much to my rage.

Seriously, the cutest story in the book, the one that induces the most feels in me, ended before there’s any real satisfaction!! (And it’s in an unusual setting that doesn’t ignore women!)

The other three stories in the book were overly melodramatic and the line between consensual and non-consensual was often fuzzy at best. The dominant males were more reminiscent of that jerk boyfriend one usually has in high school than that special someone with whom gender wouldn’t matter.

The art wasn’t much better. The bodies were too large for the faces that accompanied them. Yaoi hands were rampant, and there was too little difference between characters.

I just can’t find anything else to talk about other than that the last story was the saving grace of the whole book. I wish it had taken up the whole of the book, but alas.

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30 Day Yaoi Challenge, Day 21: I’m Not Gay, But…

Hi everyone! I’ve returned to the 30 Day Yaoi Challenge as promised! Only slightly late because yesterday I spent the time I meant to be blogging on dealing with back pain instead. (I am having terrible luck with my health lately. =.=)

Good Morning by Ritsu Natsumizu

One day Hayashi, a salesman, wakes up naked next to a known-to-be-gay client/friend named Shinohara. Hayashi got too drunk the night before to remember how he managed to get into bed with Shinohara.

Shinohara decides to play like they actually slept together, but Hayashi quickly discovers that they didn’t, making Shinohara blush in shame. Hayashi finds this adorable, and this propels the story into a lot of Hayashi questioning his sexuality.

Hayashi is so confused by his feelings for Shinohara that he gets jealous when Shinohara meets an old gay professor of his. This eventually causes Hayashi to try and pressure Shinohara into various sexual acts, all of which go nowhere and setback their relationship instead of moving it forward.

Finally, Hayashi figures his feelings out, but Shinohara is so upset that he ignores Hayashi and runs to his old professor for comfort. This causes Hayashi to literally pull him away from the guy on a busy street and confess his feelings for Shinohara as he bickers with the professor about who Shinohara should be with.

Of course, the two of them have sex and everything’s great. Shinohara even gets back at Hayashi by trying to play the “you slept with me and forgot everything” trick again, even though Hayashi is more than happy to have done so now.

The second story is about two co-workers, Fujino and Kuraki, who have never really spoken to each other until Kuraki puts down Fujino for liking plain melon bread (with no filling) a lot. Fujino is upset, thinking that Kuraki finds him inferior, and Kuraki starts a challenge to find an interesting melon bread that Fujino will like.

The tense air between Fujino and Kuraki begins to clear up when Kuraki acknowledges Fujino’s dedicated work ethic and tolerance for putting up with his boss’ scapegoating. This allows Fujino to discover Kuraki’s feelings for him, and the two begin dating soon after a steamy mutual masturbation scene.

The next chapter is about Fujino and Kuraki trying, for the first time, to have anal sex, but fumbling because Kuraki is harebrained enough to immediately whip out the sex toys. Fujino isn’t prepared to get that kinky yet, so it causes him to think that Kuraki is only interested in sex, a mind-trap made worse when he discovers Kuraki about to embark on a group “date” with some girls. Turns out though that Kuraki was forced into the group date by his boss, so he could get the time off to have a more intimate date with Fujino and the two finally get it on.

Good Morning is cute and even humorous at times, but I can’t get behind Hayashi and Shinohara’s relationship. Parts of it are annoying (“I’m not gay, but…”), kind of offensive to gay men (“I may be a homosexual, but I’m a well-behaved homosexual!” among other awful lines that implying that gay men are predatory) or just downright abusive (the way Hayashi pushes Shinohara into awkward sexual situations, which cause Shinohara some emotional trauma, not to mention Hayashi’s jealousy over Shinohara’s relationship with the professor.)

Thankfully, Kuraki and Fujino are a way better couple. The only problem with them is that their second story is ridiculously melodramatic and it winds up playing more like they’re in a male/female relationship sometimes. Still, there are some good parts like when Fujino decides that the more stylish Kuraki is a “strawberry custard danish” and proceeds to call him things like “strawberry custard danish asshole.”

There’s just nothing in this manga that grabs me enough to care or to seek out more works by this mangaka, even though there feels like there should be something. Ah well, can’t win ‘em all.

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30 Day Yaoi Challenge Going on Hiatus

Hi everyone,

Thank you to all of you who have supported and enjoyed my 30 Day Yaoi Challenge thus far. It has been a great success for me in terms of getting an education in yaoi manga and making me get back into the blogging game in a manner that I find engaging.

Unfortunately, I have to put the 30 Day Yaoi Challenge on hiatus for now. You may have noticed that I missed the past two days already because I managed to get sick after WonderCon. I didn’t notice anything was wrong except a bit of fatigue until Sunday night and by Monday I could tell I had to do some serious resting if I was going to recover in time for my trip to the Bay Area on Wednesday. I’m doing better, but most of the time I feel too woozy to get any blogging done. (This is a rare moment of relative clarity.)

So, I’m just going to cut my losses and say that the 30 Day Yaoi Challenge will resume on April 12th, a few days after my trip, so I can recover properly.

Thanks for understanding!

Daniella

 

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30 Day Yaoi Challenge, Day 20: Male Models Everywhere!

Restart by Shouko Hidaka

Tadashi is a male model who is feeling very down on his luck. In addition to being rejected at a bunch of auditions, one of his fellow models, Aki, is ignoring him after they had drunken sex one night.

Tadashi feels totally inferior to Aki, who has just begun to land international gigs, and doesn’t feel like giving his all to his work because he can’t compete with the popular Aki. But it turns out that Aki is just mad that Tadashi never returned his confession of love! (Tadashi was too drunk to remember.)

As they reconcile and begin their new relationship, Aki is able to inspire Tadashi to work harder and not give up.

The story is then retold from Aki’s point of view as he recalls how long he’s had a crush on Tadashi.

The rest of the volume consists of two unrelated stories about a young model and the photographer who falls in love with him; and a college student who can’t let go of a now-deceased old flame, but finds solace in his younger brother instead.

This volume was going so well for me until the last two stories. Both were about May-December couples, in both cases the younger person was almost ready to graduate high school. I’m only giving this book a pass for that reason, although it still made me a bit unhappy. Also a photographer hitting on a model like that sounds like every model’s worst nightmare.

Tadashi and Aki’s story was really good though. I felt like the reader got to see a good chunk of the modeling world and that Tadashi’s insecurity and the resulting depression he faced was real. And his reaction to Aki’s advice was well-written too. Instead of just cheering up immediately, Tadashi only began to recover when he realized that Aki’s advice was right, and even then he still didn’t escape his insecurity immediately. It was a relatively slow process that built Tadashi up into a more confident person.

It was also refreshing to see a BL/yaoi manga about someone in a profession other than businessman or yakuza (or yakuza-related.) Too much we see the generic office worker doing something that makes their job look only like mountains of paperwork and hours spent impressing clients, but that’s really just mangaka shorthand for “I was too lazy to do any research about what my characters do for a living, so here are some stereotypes!” Boooring! With this book, you can definitely see that Shouko Hidaka did some research on what models do on a day-to-day basis and used that in her manga. Bravo, I say! I wish more mangaka of all genres did that.

I don’t have much to say about Hidaka’s art other than that I liked how she used different hair lengths and textures on her characters. Wispy short hair with long bangs can get rather boring. (Especially after 20 days of yaoi!)

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30 Day Yaoi Challenge, Day 19: You Call That Shy?

Shy Intentions by Syouko Takaku

Yoshiyuki, a middle school art teacher is visiting his dying mother in the hospital when he runs into the enigmatic Kaoru, who is taken by his beauty.

Yoshiyuki is in no mind to start a romantic relationship, but when Kaoru’s grandmother passes away and Yoshiyuki’s mother dies soon after, he finds himself running into Kaoru’s arms.

The two start seeing each other, but Kaoru struggles with emotional intimacy until his friend Akira points out just how hard he’s fallen for Yoshiyuki. Unfortunately, Yoshiyuki mistakenly thinks that Kaoru is cheating on him with Akira. It takes a major declaration of love for the two to reconcile.

Months pass and Yoshiyuki accepts a head teacher position and agrees to tutor one of Akira’s friends for a teaching examination. As he does so, he begins to suspect that Kaoru and Akira are cheating on him again. But then it’s revealed that Akira’s friend is Akira’s boy friend and all is well (Aside from the boyfriend failing his teaching exam.)

Now this was a good manga. It wasn’t great, it’ll probably never make anyone’s top 5 manga list, but it was a solid read. The characters struggled with real emotional issues, they didn’t stop to ponder whether or not they were gay, and there was the depth to back everything up for the readers. They also had things that struck them in existential ways, like something poetic someone said to them or the color of a rock. It’s stuff like this that really helps a yaoi manga become something worthwhile and not just another formulaic book made to sell sex.

The characters even did some things, sexually speaking, that was more like what real couples would do instead of what usually gets shown in yaoi. Even better? There was nothing non-consensual!

The art is sketchy, and reminds me vaguely of Honey and Clover, but somewhat appropriate considering the delicate feelings that are discussed in the first part of the book.

Shy Intentions is a book I’d recommend to readers who really like to root for the main protagonists in their BL/yaoi, and it’ll work for those who like the sex scenes too. :)

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30 Day Yaoi Challenge, Day 18: Kizuna vol 3

Kizuna… You almost managed to stay away from rape. Almost…

Kizuna volume 3 by Kazuma Kodaka

The last volume left of with Kei being knocked out by some thugs, one of whom is impersonating his half brother, Kai. The thugs decided to see how Kei knows Kai, just in case they can glean anything out of him, and take him back to their headquarters.

Meanwhile Ranmaru gets worried and calls Masa and Kai to let them know what’s happening. Masa tries to mobilize his men, but when Kai hears the news, he sneaks out from under his body guard and joins up with Ranmaru to save Kei.

They get there, but Kei’s identity as the heir of the Sagano family has already been discovered. As a result, he’s been beaten, shot and painfully strung up by his arms.

Kei is too hurt to be moved, so Kai attempts to call an ambulance, but is captured by the enemies. His bodyguard/assassin, Tashiro shows up, but can’t get a good shot without killing Kai in the process. This causes Ranmaru to take up the sword again in order to bring down the ringleader and his men. As Ranmaru is about to charge, despite Kai and Kei screaming at him to stop before he taints his hands with blood, the volume ends and we’re treated to a short story about two lookalike angels that visit Kei and Ranmaru.

The next volume continues as Masa and Tashiro manage to divert Ranmaru’s sword just in time for him to remain innocent. But unfortunately, the ringleader turns his gun on Masa and almost has him killed by Tashiro’s mentor, J.B., who has been waiting outside to make shoot his target. Kai manages to save Masa and the ringleader dies, but only because J.B. doesn’t want to kill children.

With that, it’s a mostly happy ending as Kei recovers in the hospital and successfully proposes to Ranmaru. The unhappy couple winds up being Masa and Kai, as Kai tries to apologize for his earlier reckless behavior, but winds up getting rejected by Masa instead.

The story then switches back to Tashiro and J.B., whose complex relationship has been hinted at throughout the last two volumes. It starts when J.B. meets Tashiro for the first time at a church he frequents. As the church is threatened by thugs who want the land, Tashiro wishes he could protect the church and its orphans with physical force and begs J.B. to teach him how to kill. It isn’t until one poor girl gets raped (yup.) that J.B. gives in to Tashiro’s requests. They wind up living together as J.B. teaches Tashiro the basics, but Tashiro becomes increasingly desperate. They sleep together, but J.B. leaves the next morning, which causes Tashiro to become the cold-blooded killer we see in the main story.

I would be upset about the rape of the poor girl (who is painted as a very, very tragic figure both before and after her attack,) but it’s hard to be. This isn’t a gratuitous rape where it’s played to titillate the reader (probably because it’s hetero rape) or done just because. Despite the fact that I *suppose* something else could have happened to make Tashiro desperate enough to become an assassin, I think it would have been just as violent. And Tashiro reacts very strongly in favor of the victim, which is better than some past rapes we’ve seen in Kizuna. So I suppose that could all be worse, aside from the fact that it turns Tashiro into a ruthless assassin.

I liked the writing in this volume a lot. I was really expecting non-con and other stupid shit to happen in the main story what with Kei being kidnapped, but it didn’t. Kei’s proposal was cute, and Tashiro’s back story was also appropriate considering the amount of screen time he and J.B. got. If they had just faded into the background, it would have been disappointing.

That being said, the Kodaka’s art is turning out to be a big disappointment for me. Whereas the last volume seemed to hit the right style notes, this volume is awkward, like Kodaka was transitioning between the art of volume 1 and the art of volume two. It doesn’t make any sense. Plus, whenever Kodaka tries to draw someone that’s not a smooth-faced pretty boy, she winds up putting too many shaded spots on their faces and it just makes her art look like it belongs to a style that is not her own.

It just struck me, but I think I’m getting really sick of this manga being about these young men being pulled into crazy yakuza-related shenanigans. If I didn’t have two more volumes of Kizuna to read for the yaoi challenge and if I was collecting each volume one by one, this is probably where I’d subconsciously decide to collect other manga before buying the next volume of Kizuna.

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