Manga Giveaway: 801 Manga Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the 801 Manga Giveaway is…Linda Liu!

As the winner, Linda will be receiving a new copy of Shiuko Kano’s boys’ love collection Affair as published by 801 Media. This giveaway was a part of the Boys’ Love Manga Moveable Feast and so I asked entrants to tell me about a boys’ love or yaoi mangaka that they would like to read more of in English. (See the 801 Manga giveaway comments for all of the responses and juicy details.) I’ve compiled the list of creators who were mentioned along with any of their manga that I know of that have been licensed in English. (Or, in the case of CLAMP, a small selection of their available manga.) A great way to encourage publishers to release more of mangaka’s work in English is to make that sure their current offerings do well!

First, those creators who have yet to be licensed in English:

Nojiko Hayakawa
Akira Kamuro
Neko Kanda
Yonezou Nekota
Hiroi Takao

And now, those creators currently available in English:

CLAMP (a small selection)
Cardcaptor Sakura
Legal Drug
Tokyo Babylon

Lily Hoshino
Alone in My King’s Harem
Chocolate Surprise
Love Quest
Mr. Flower Bride
Mr. Flower Groom
My Only King

Saika Kunieda
Future Lovers

Asumiko Nakamura
Utsubora: The Story of a Novelist
(not boys’ love, but still very good!)

Muku Ogura
Castle Mango
Secrecy of the Shivering Night
Sentimental Garden Lover

Kaim Tachibana
Boys Love
Pieces of a Spiral

Kotetsuko Yamamoto
Blooming Darling
Doki Doki Crush
Love and Trap 
Mad Cinderella
New Beginnings
Tweeting Love Birds

Thank you to everyone who visited Experiments in Manga and entered the giveaway! I hope to see you all again for the next one, too.

My Week in Manga: July 29-August 4, 2013

My News and Reviews

The Boys’ Love Manga Moveable Feast, hosted by Khursten of Otaku Champloo, is in full swing. Khursten is doing a fantastic job hosting the Feast; I highly recommend checking out her posts! I myself posted a couple of contributions to the Feast last week. The most recent manga giveaway at Experiments in Manga is for Shiuko Kano’s boys’ love collection Affair. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Wednesday, so there’s still time to enter! I also devoted my first in-depth manga review of the month to Tomoko Yamashita’s Black-Winged Love. I tried to explain why it’s one of my absolute favorite collections of short manga. (July’s Bookshelf Overload was also posted last week. Although it’s not really a part of the Feast, it does include some boys’ love on the list.) Finally, as you can see below, I spent last week reading a bunch of boys’ love manga by Yugi Yamada. I really enjoy her sense of humor, cranky characters, and bickering (but loving) couples. Oh, and I also watched Gravitation.

Quick Takes

Dry Heat by Yugi Yamada. I don’t think that Dry Heat shows Yamada at her best, but it is still an engaging read. Dry Heat has an odd mix of tones. The story itself is quite serious with a tendency towards the melodramatic, but there is a fair amount of humor included as well. It’s as though Yamada couldn’t quite decide whether the manga should be a comedy or a drama. Sometimes the balance works and sometimes it doesn’t. The plot is a little over the top and stretches believability in places and I can’t say that I was particularly convinced by the romantic interests, but Dry Heat does have some really great moments. Dry Heat is in turns touching, exasperating, and very funny.

Glass Sky by Yugi Yamada. Glass Sky is a great collection of short boys’ love manga ranging from the bittersweet to the almost cheerful with a few laugh out loud moments. The strongest selection in the volume is the titular “Glass Sky.” It’s a rough and intense story, but very, very good. Dealing with bullying and violence, it’s the most sobering story in Glass Sky and is especially shocking since it follows some of the more lighthearted pieces. I was surprised to recognize characters from Yamada’s earlier one-shot manga Laugh Under the Sun in several of the stories in Glass Sky. However, it’s not at all necessary to have read it in order to appreciate their stories. (Although if you have, Glass Sky does provide a little more insight into the characters—Naoki, especially.)

No One Loves Me by Yugi Yamada. I really enjoyed No One Loves Me. It’s  one of my favorite manga by Yamada. Katsuhiro is a subdued and awkward book lover and used book store owner with a particular interest in Czech literature. The much brasher Masafumi is in the sales department of a publishing house but is thrust into a translation project as Katsuhiro’s editor. Their relationship, professional and otherwise, has its ups and downs and is wonderful to watch unfold. No One Loves Me isn’t as outrageously funny as some of Yamada’s other manga, but there’s still plenty of humor. Plus, the incorporation of the love of books into the story is a nice bonus and something that I particularly appreciated.

Open the Door to Your Heart by Yugi Yamada. One of my favorite Yamada manga is Close the Last Door, a short two-volume series. Open the Door to Your Heart is a one-volume side story which slightly overlaps, following the two older Honda brothers. I didn’t like Open the Door to Your Heart nearly as well, but still enjoyed parts of the manga. It was nice to get to know the Hondas better, both the brothers as individuals and the family a whole. What Yamada captures particularly well in Open the Door to Your Heart is the struggle that Sho, the oldest brother, continues to go through trying to fully accept that he has been adopted. This is complicated by the fact that he is in love with his younger brother and that those feelings are returned.

Picnic by Yugi Yamada. Once again, the titular story “Picnic” is probably the strongest manga in this collection. Or, at least it’s one of my favorites. Granted, most of the manga collected in the volume are well done. Picnic tends towards the sillier and sweeter side of things, but there are some genuinely touching moments that balance out the goofier ones quite nicely. Two of the stories feature characters from an earlier manga by Yamada which at this point hasn’t been licensed in English. (They may have also been spun off into their own series, though I’m not certain about that.) The focus of the short manga collected in Picnic is less on the plot more on the characters themselves.

Spring Fever by Yugi Yamada. Spring Fever collects two unrelated stories by Yamada: the titular “Spring Fever” and “Wildman Blues.” The beginning of “Spring Fever” is delightfully funny before taking quite a serious turn. Yusuke is constantly falling head-over-heels for the most unlikely candidates only to be rejected again and again. This time the object of his desire happens to be an older man—a divorcé with a young son. “Wildman Blues” ties in with “Glass Sky” (and by extension Laugh Under the Sun.) Yamada once again turns her attention to Naoki. Despite all the heartache and anguish she puts him through, Yamada seems to have a fondness for the character. I’ve come to really like him, too. “Wildman Blues” provides a very satisfying conclusion to his story.

Gravitation directed by Bob Shirohata. The thirteen-episode Gravitation anime is much more even-keeled than Maki Murakami’s original manga series. The darker moments aren’t quite as dark and the humor, while still ridiculous, isn’t quite as outrageous. The anime adapts a little more than half of the manga series. I personally preferred the manga’s earlier storyline anyway, so I didn’t have a problem with the anime stopping where it did. The anime compresses and streamlines the plot of Gravitation. As a result, Shuichi and Yuki’s relationship seems a bit rushed, but for the most part the adaptation is really well done. I did wish there was a little more variety in the music, though.

Black-Winged Love

Creator: Tomoko Yamashita
U.S. publisher: Netcomics
ISBN: 9781600093241
Released: October 2009
Original release: 2008

So far, only two of Tomoko Yamashita’s works have been released in print in English, both in 2009 and both by Netcomics: Dining Bar Akira and Black-Winged Love. I’ve read and enjoyed both volumes a great deal, but it’s Black-Winged Love that has really stuck with me. In fact, Black-Winged Love, originally published in Japan in 2008, is one of my favorite boys’ love collections and contains some of my absolute favorite short manga. (Though, as with all collections, some of the pieces aren’t as strong as others.) When the subject of the Manga Moveable Feast for August 2013 was decided to be boys’ love, my mind immediately turned to Black-Winged Love. I’ve actually been meaning to review the volume for quite a while now. As a lesser known work from a lesser known publisher (which tends to specialize in manhwa rather than manga), I personally feel that both Yamashita and Black-Winged Love are deserving of more attention and I wanted to share my love.

Black-Winged Love collects seven unrelated short manga by Yamashita along with some fun bonus material to close the volume. The collection opens with “Drive a Nail into Love,” unusual for a boys’ love story in that it is told from the perspective of a gay high school student’s older sister. Next is “It’s My Chocolate!” which captures being the oldest sibling in a large family exceptionally well. “A Villain’s Teeth” shows the relationship between the daughter of a mafia boss and his former second-in-command and explores his devotion to the both of them. In the titular “Black-Winged Love,” a man’s masochistic tendencies and fetishes get in the way of his feelings. Next is “Jump Across That Fire” which follows two students as they become closer in the school library over summer break. “Fool 4 U” features a problematic relationship between two long-time friends. Black-Winged Love concludes with the shortest piece, “Photogenic,” in which a man doesn’t quite get what he was expecting from a male escort service.

None of the stories in Black-Winged Love are tied together by plot and they are all quite different from one another, but many share similar elements. One of the recurring themes in Black-Winged Love is the importance of family—”Drive a Nail into Love,” “It’s My Chocolate!,” and “A Villain’s Teeth” in particular feature atypical families and family situations. As someone who is a queer oldest sibling, I’m especially fond of “It’s My Chocolate!”—never have I come across another boy’ love manga that I so personally and closely identify with. I also happen to read and enjoy Japanese literature, so I appreciate the literary references in Black-Winged Love and how characters connect (or try to connect) through books and reading. In “Jump Across That Fire,” both the title and part of the story are references to Yukio Mishima’s The Sound of Waves. And in “Black-Winged Love,” short works by Edogawa Rampo and Kenzaburō Ōe play a small role.

So, what exactly is it about Black-Winged Love that works so well for me? I like that all of the stories are a little unusual and unexpected while still be very realistic in the portrayal of their characters and their relationships. Black-Winged Love explores hidden feelings that are often forced out into the open. The characters must first come to terms with themselves before they can attempt to come to terms with those around them. Black-Winged Love tends towards the more serious, introspective, and melancholy, but all of the stories and many of the characters exhibit a quirky, dark sense of humor as well. I like that the stories have funnier moments to balance out the morose. Not every one is treated to an ideal happy ending but some of them are. To me that makes Black-Winged Love feel more authentic. Black-Winged Love is a collection that I have read several times already and it continues to be one of my favorite volumes of short manga, boys’ love or otherwise.

Manga Giveaway: 801 Manga Giveaway (Affair)

Not only is it the last Wednesday of the month—meaning it’s time for another manga giveaway here at Experiments in Manga—it’s also the last day of the month. Tomorrow begins the Boys’ Love Manga Moveable Feast, also known as the 801 MMF. Keeping with the theme of the Feast, I decided to coordinate this month’s giveaway by offering you all a chance to win Shiuko Kano’s boys’ love collection Affair from Digital Manga’s imprint 801 Media. Now, this is a mature title so entries are restricted to those who are eighteen and older. The giveaway is open worldwide, but if boys’ love or yaoi is illegal in your country, please refrain from entering. (Sorry!)

My introduction to Shiuko Kano’s work was through Affair, one of the earliest to be released by 801 Media and Kano’s second manga to be released in English. Since then she’s had a pretty good run of it. Her boys’ love manga has been published in print by 801 Media, Be Beautiful, Deux Press, Juné, and SuBLime. It’s quite impressive, really. Seeing how much of and how frequently her work has been licensed, I think it would probably be safe to assume that Kano has a fairly strong following.

So, you may be wondering, how can you win a copy of Affair?

1) In the comments below, name at least one boys’ love or yaoi mangaka whose manga you would like to see more of in English and tell me why you enjoy their work.
2) If you’re on Twitter, you can earn a bonus entry by tweeting about the contest. Make sure to include a link to this post and @PhoenixTerran (that’s me).

Pretty simple, no? For this giveaway, each person who participates can earn up to two entries. As usual, you have one week to submit your comments. If you have trouble leaving comments, or if you would prefer, you can e-mail me your entry at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on August 7, 2013. Good luck to you all and enjoy the 801 MMF!

VERY IMPORTANT: Include some way that I can contact you. This can be an e-mail address, link to your website, Twitter username, or whatever. If I can’t figure out how to get a hold of you and you win, I’ll just draw another name.

Contest winner announced—Manga Giveaway: 801 Manga Giveaway Winner

Loveless, Omnibus 1

Creator: Yun Kouga
U.S. publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421549903
Released: October 2012
Original release: 2002-2003

I initially read Yun Kouga’s manga series Loveless after it was released in English by Tokyopop. I was surprised by how much I liked it, finding the story to be oddly compelling and engrossing if occasionally confusing. Tokyopop only released the first eight volumes of the ongoing series and so I was exceedingly happy when Viz Media rescued the license. The quality of Viz’s release is much better than Tokyopop’s, as well. Viz re-released the first eight volumes as two-volume omnibuses based on the special limited edition of Loveless published in Japan. The first omnibus, released in 2012, collects the first two volumes of Loveless as well as additional material previously unavailable in English. In Japan, the contents were released between 2002 and 2003. Since July 2013’s Manga Moveable Feast focused on Yun Kouga and her work, it was the perfect opportunity for me to revisit Loveless.

Ritsuka Aoyagi is a new student at Yano Jonan Elementary School. Though he can’t be bothered with his classmates, the withdrawn sixth grader does his best to at least put up a good front for his teachers. At such a young age, Ritsuka has already been through a lot. His older brother Seimei, who he adored, was brutally murdered and he suffers from physical, mental, and emotional abuse at the hands of his mother. Even Ritsuka’s past is obscured—his memories and personality from two years ago are lost, the amnesia brought on by what is assumed to be some sort of trauma. Ritsuka is alone and has nothing that he can claim as his own until he is approached by Soubi Agatsuma, a college student with a mysterious connection to Seimei. For never having met before, Soubi shows an unexpected and disconcerting level of devotion and affection towards Ritsuka, something the younger boy desperately needs but is hesitant to accept.

One of the most peculiar things about Loveless is apparent within the first few pages: many characters have cat ears and tails. Later it is revealed that this is a physical sign that those individuals haven’t had sex. It’s an admittedly strange addition to the manga but Kouga uses it quite well. The presence or absence of ears and tails impacts characters’ interactions and relationships, how they think about and act towards one another. The cat ears and tails also serve another purpose in Loveless, allowing many of Kouga’s characters to be particularly expressive. Tails bush out when they’re startled; ears fold back when they’re upset or perk up when they’re attentive. Actually, in general I find Kouga’s artwork to be beautifully expressive and emotive. It creates a mood and atmosphere that captures the story’s darkness, intimacy, and barely subdued sexuality exceptionally well without being overwhelmingly oppressive.

The beginning of Loveless is a story of intense yearning and loneliness with characters who have been broken, damaged, and twisted. But even when they despair they still cling to hope. Ritsuka has trouble accepting himself and difficulty trusting others; the attention he receives from Soubi is both welcomed and feared. Loveless is also a story about the power of words. In part because of his association with Soubi, Ritsuka is pulled into a world where battles are waged with words and spells are cast that can cause considerable pain and physical damage. Whether he realizes it or not, Ritsuka is already quite familiar with the even more insidious psychological agony caused by words uttered in everyday contexts—such as when his mother continually denies that he is even her son. The first omnibus of Loveless raises more questions than it provides answers, but it does establish an intriguing tale and characters. Even having read it before, I still find Loveless to be a strangely enthralling and compelling manga.