Cute Devil by Hiro Madarame BL Manga Review


Title:  Cute Devil

Author: Hiro Madarame

Publisher:  BLU

ISBN: 9781427818034


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Akiyoshi Tohru is the picture of an ideal student. Not only does he have perfect attendance and top grades, but he’s the student council president of his all-boys school. But the school ‘princess’, Naruse Futa, takes a shining to Akiyoshi and a princess always gets what he wants. Will Akiyoshi be able to escape Naruse’s sadistic clutches?

When I first sat down with Cute Devil, I have to say that I wasn’t overly thrilled.  The art looked a little creepy, especially Fuuta’s character design.  He looks like a porcelain doll come to life, with dewy eyes and rosebud lips and tousled locks that really need to get to know the caress of a comb and brush.  Animated dolls are creepy!  Fuuta is supposedly so pretty that he overshadows the girls at school, and he has a long line of male admirers.  When he turns his long lashed eyes on the class president,  Akiyoshi is helplessly caught.  Kind of like a doomed fly caught in a spider’s web.  Yeah, that’s an apt comparison, because Fuuta, despite his looks, is anything but angelic.  Heaven help the hapless Akiyoshi.

I enjoyed this romp once things got rolling. Even the art grew on me, especially after Fuuta’s transformation.  The tone is light and the story doesn’t take itself seriously, and it kept me smiling throughout my journey with Akiyoshi as he traveled into his own little Fuuta-themed hell.  Akiyoshi is a self-righteous prig with an ego the size of Texas, and he is no match for the devilish Fuuta.  Fuuta has everyone fooled into thinking he is weak and helpless, and he plays his good looks to get everything he wants.  When that doesn’t work, he resorts to his true personality; this guy is evil to the core, and he always gets what he wants.  Right now, what he wants is Akiyoshi.  Ha!

Cute Devil is a humorous, fast read, and even if the leads aren’t always very likable, they are always entertaining.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Blood Honey by Sakyou Yozakura BL Manga Review


Title: Blood Honey

Author:  Sakyou Yozakura

Publisher: BLU

ISBN: 9781427818003


May Contain Spoilers

From Right Stuff:

Nurse Yuki Akabane is a descendant of a line of vampires. He’s often visited at the hospital he works at by a donor nut named Osamu Mayuzumi, the insatiable cram school teacher. Yuki never really thought twice about Mayuzumi, but when he drinks some of his blood on a whim, it tastes so good to him that he tries to get closer to him to savor more. But what will he do when Mayuzumi suddenly stops coming…?!

Blood Honey is a cute take on vampires.  Akabane is descended from vampires, but he doesn’t really have any of their abilities.  Instead, he just has a thirst for blood. It’s only logical that he would work at a blood clinic, because where else can a modern day not-quite-vampire get a steady supply of blood?  When he drinks the blood of weirdo Mayuzumi, he goes a little nuts.  Mayuzumi has the most delicious blood he’s ever tasted!

After drinking Mayuzumi’s blood, Akabane has to figure out a way to get closer to him so that he can keep indulging in his yummy blood.  What he doesn’t know is that Mayuzumi is hiding secrets of his own.  If Mayuzumi doesn’t give blood regularly, his hot-blooded personality takes over!  At first Akabane just thinks that Mayuzumi is just a donor nut, he quickly learns that the seemingly mild-mannered teacher turns into a raving beast if he doesn’t lose some of his blood.  Perfect scenario for both of them! 

There is a lot of humor in Blood Honey, and it shines through in both the art and the situations the characters find themselves in.  Akabane has to find ways to build up Mayuzumi’s blood so it will enhance the delicious flavor, while Mayuzumi keeps trying to get rid of it.  Mayuzumi’s abrupt personality changes also keep Akabane on his toes, as the two try to define their relationship and what they mean to each other.  Theirs is a confused, muddled relationship that is propelled along  by their unusual need for each other.

My favorite chapter features Akabane’s nephew, Kurosu, an incredibly handsome young man who thinks he is god’s gift to the universe.  It takes a humbling stay at a temple, and the intervention of a no-nonsense monk, for him to find true happiness.  Oh, yeah.

I love the cover, and found that the playful illustration is very representative of the interior art.  There is a sense of fun and silliness throughout, and it doesn’t take itself seriously.  Blood Honey is another great example of brain-candy, and in addition to its sweetness, it looks great, too.

You can check out a preview of the book here.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by BLU

Liberty Liberty! by Hinako Takanaga Manga Review


Title: Liberty Liberty!

Author: Hinako Takanaga

Publisher: BLU

ISBN: 9781427816665

May Contain Spoilers

After fleeing Tokyo in an attempt to run away from his problems, Itaru only creates more for himself.  Passing out on a pile of trash after a night of too much alcohol, he winds up in Kouki’s apartment.  Kouki is a cameraman for a small cable television station, and Itaru ruined his stakeout.  He also destroys the station’s video camera.  Now Itaru is on the hook for the damaged equipment, he doesn’t have anywhere to live, and he’s falling in love with Kouki!  Life is getting more complicated by the day!

Liberty Liberty! takes a while to get rolling, and it never does set anything but a leisurely pace.  It’s dawdling pace didn’t keep my full attention, which is sad because I enjoyed the art.  Kouki and his ponytail are cute!  The story just never really takes off, relying on restrained personalities to carry its forward momentum.  While very likeable, the characters just aren’t compelling enough to bear the weight of the plot.  The beginning was ho-hum and didn’t feel fresh or imaginative.  The romance elements are also lacking here.  There wasn’t enough tension between Itaru and Kouki, leaving a lukewarm courtship.  The daily activities the characters are engaged are mundane at best, failing to grab my interest.

I did like the characters very much, and wished that they could have been involved in more exciting pursuits.  I didn’t feel that the resolution to Itaru’s personal issues were fully concluded, and the introduction of Kouki’s vision problem just didn’t make much sense.  If he could see well enough to become a cameraman for the cable station, it didn’t make sense that he would have to refuse to take a job offer in Tokyo.  As a personal obstacle to overcome, it didn’t seem convincing and didn’t have that much of an impact on the overall story.

Liberty Liberty! suffers from a case of dullness.  This is worth a rent from the library, but there are much better BL books out there.  If you are a huge Hinako Takanaga fan, at least the art won’t disappoint, even if the story fails to shine.

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by BLU

Tea for Two Vol 2 by Yaya Sakuragi Manga Review

Title: Tea for Two Vol 2

Author: Yaya Sakuragi

Publisher: BLU

ISBN: 9781427809582

May Contain Spoilers

Klutzy Tokumaru and graceful Hasune are back, and now they are dating.  The odd couple have hardly any time to spend together, as Tokumaru gives his all to baseball, and Hasune must help with his family’s business.  Just when things start to look up, Tokumaru’s friend, Goh returns, causing some friction between the two lovebirds.  Will Tokumaru and Hasune be able to work through their differences?

This is a very cute series.  Both of the leads are likeable, and they are so different from each other.  Tokumaru is impulsive and he lives for the day, hardly giving a thought to anything other than the here and the now.  Hasune has been groomed from childhood to be graceful and polite, and he is expected to take over the family business.  Tea is the name of the game for him, and his parents take it very, very seriously. 

Hasune has always done as expected, but he starts to rebel, suddenly feeling like he’s being suffocated.  Tokumaru is just the opposite.  He realizes that all of his friends have plan and goals, and he’s just drifting along through life.  This puts a huge strain on their relationship, because suddenly Hasune is using Tokumaru as an excuse to neglect his duties, and Tokumaru doesn’t care for that one little bit.  Instead of giving him the comfort that he’s seeking, Tokumaru gives Hasune a piece of his mind and refuses to see him until he gets his head screwed back on straight.  Oh, the angst!  I never thought Tokumaru would ever be mature enough to take a stance like that, and even he seemed a little surprised with himself.

Tea for Two has a surprising amount of depth, and the artwork has really grown on me.  I can hardly wait for volume three!

Grade: A-

Rated for Mature

An Early Look at Tea for Two Vol 1 by Yaya Sakuragi Manga Review

Title:  Tea for Two Vol 1

Author:  Yaya Sakuragi

Publisher:  Blu

ISBN:  9781427809575

May Contain Spoilers

Madoka is a klutz, constantly breaking things, much to his sister’s irritation.  In an effort to help make him more graceful, she forces him to join the Tea Ceremony Club.  The president of the club, cool, composed Hasune, isn’t so thrilled to have such an uncoordinated member, but he finally relents and agrees to teach Madoka how to be more elegant and in control.  As  Madoka learns more about the tea ceremony, he finds himself thinking more and more about the aloof Hasune.  Is it possible for such an elegant guy to fall for an oaf like Madoka?

I loved the backdrop to this story.  Hasune looked so cool in his kimono, as he skillfully taught Madoka to appreciate the elegance of the tea ceremony.  At first shocking everyone with his lack of decorum, Madoka soon learns the complex ritual of preparing and serving tea.  Though he’s less than thrilled to be part of the club, he develops a fascination for the reserved Hasune.  Hasune is so unlike anyone else he knows – Hasune’s family maintains tea ceremony traditions, which he was required to learn from a young age.  He is much more mature than the childish Madoka, but the two are drawn to each other despite their differences.

Madoka is a bit of a dunce, and he starts to think that Hasune has fallen in love with him.  True, it’s Hasune’s fault, for that ill-advised method of waking Madoke from a catnap.  Madoka is unsure of how he feels about Hasune, so he throws himself at him, hoping that since his head can’t figure out if he loves Hasune, maybe his body can.  This is Madoka’s usual method of problem solving, to impetuously throw himself into what situation he’s presented with, and to somehow come to a solution.  Where Hasune keeps a tight lid on his emotions, Madoka just lets his consume him, and that’s what makes him such a great character.

The character designs for Tea for Two are a little awkward, as the long, angular faces feature impossibly pointy chins, and at times the characters look like clothes pins, with lanky bodies and tiny heads.  The faces are very expressive, but the exaggerated proportions of the characters were distracting.  Overall, I did like the art, but those trowel like chins made me want to go outside and start working in the garden.

Also included is a bonus story “Sweet Life” and the hilarious “The Unfortunate Gene.”  There’s also a nifty interior color page with the handsome, kimono-clad protagonists on one side, and the cover illustration on the other.  Madoka’s pose, as he’s set to go to battle with his tea making implements, and Hasune’s slightly pained expression, is really cute.

Tea for Two Volume 1 will be available May 13.

Grade:  B

Rated for Mature

Review copy provided by BLU