Junjo Romantica #1 by Shungiku Nakamura Manga Review

Title: Junjo Romantica #1

Author: Shungiku Nakamura

Publisher: Blu

ISBN:  1598167197

May contain spoilers

Misaki needs help – he’s getting terrible scores on his college practice tests, and he needs a tutor.  His brother’s friend, Akihiko Usami, agrees to take the job.  The youngest winner of the Naomori Literary Award, he also graduated Magna Cum Laude from T University’s law school.  To his utter horror, Misaki stumbles across one of Usami’s other manuscripts, one that stars his brother as Usami’s lover.  It seems that Usami is also a famous boys’ love novelist, and he’s harbored a 10 year secret love for his brother, Takahiro.  Despite his revulsion for the older man, Misaki soon finds himself helplessly drawn to Usami.  Now Misaki has another worry; is he just a substitute for his brother?

Despite the ugly, ugly art, this was a rather fun story.  Usami, drawn totally out of proportion, was a unique character, rude and jealous and tough to get along with.  Misaki just gets caught up in a wave of passion and is powerless to fight against it.  The two of them made an entertaining couple, and I’m interested enough to pick up the next volume when it comes out to see where story goes.  In spite of the ugly, ugly art.

There were two chapters about Kamijo Hiroki, who is secretly in love with Usami. Crying in the park one day, miserable because of his unrequited feeling, he’s swept up by Kusawa Nowaki and dragged along to meet his friends.  So begins their romance, which had a few too many similarities to the Misaki/Usami story, right down to Nowaki asking that Kamijo tutor him and accusing Kamijo of using him for a substitute for Usami.  The humor made these chapters worth reading, and allowed me to overlook the not so original story backdrop.

Grade: B-

Recommended for Mature readers

Man’s Best Friend by Kazusa Takashima Review

Title:  Man’s Best Friend – Inu Mo Arukeba

Author: Kazusa Takashima

Publisher: Blu

ISBN:  1598163574

This was a collection of short stories, which included 3 Inu mo Arukeba chapters, two chapters featuring Kasumi and Kentaro, and a last chapter entitled, "Princess Goldfish."

In the Inu mo Arukeba chapters, Ukyo saves a stray dog from some miscreants, and feeling sorry for the mutt, takes him home.  Little does he know that Kuro has admired him from afar, and has prayed to moon to be human. When Ukyo gives the filthy beast a bath, he discovers Kuro’s amazing ability.  Whenever he’s excited, the dog turns into a hot guy, complete with dog ears and a tail!  And he can talk!  Will love blossom between the two heroes?  Of course it will!  This is yaoi!

In "Summer’s Here Again" and "Pinpoint Lovers" Kasumi and Kentaro are re-united after 10 years.  When Kasumi’s parents divorce, he moves away with his mother, but not before the two promise to wait forever for each other.  Though the two don’t quite get off on the right foot, they soon make up for lost time.

In "Princess Goldfish," Keisuke saves a goldfish, a festival prize, from certain doom, and is treated to a night of bliss when the goldfish transforms into a beautiful boy.

How can you not like a guy with a provocatively posed pistol, dog ears, and a tail?  I liked the Ukyo and Kuro chapters the best, mostly because both characters were both so stupid.  These chapters were cute and silly, with Kuro transforming into his human form at the worst possible moments.

The Kasumi and Kentaro chapters were a tad more serious, with Kentaro having to work beyond his jealousy of Kasumi’s tutoring student.  He was a bit of a butthead, but Kasumi was really hot, and that made up for Kentaro’s shortcomings.

The goldfish chapter seemed like a repeat of the Kuro story line, with one difference; Kazusa Takashima portrays goldfish as being smarter than dogs.  I don’t necessarily agree.

Grade: B 

Recommended for Mature readers

Gorgeous Carat #2 by You Higuri

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Title:  Gorgeous Carat #2

Author: You Higuri

Publisher: BLU

Ray has to save Florian from the clutches of the evil Black Hand gang.  Though he has the real teddy bear in his possession,  Noel threw the jewels that were hidden in it into the river! Will they be able to trick the gang into believing they still have their treasure, so they can trade the bear for Florian?

Then, it’s off to Morocco!  Ray’s childhood friend, Azura, has asked for his help, the good thief rushes to his aid.  While strolling through the gardens of Azura’s estate, Florian sees his host meet with members of the Black Hand gang! Caught eavesdropping, Azura threatens to kill his friends if Florian breathes a word of what he overheard to Ray. 

The plot starts to get rather muddy at this point.  Florian is once again held captive, this time by Azura.  Forcing the poor boy to do all sorts of nasty things, Azura is determined to use him and kick him to the curb. This is all a part of his plan to destroy Ray, who is still under the impression that Azura is his bestest buddy.  So mislead is he, that he strikes Florian when he dares to voice his dislike of Azura, leading to another fit of Florian tears. 

After this volume, I have decided that this series is not for me.  While I enjoy You Higuri’s art, I find the plot rather tedious.  Both of our heroes need a seminar on communication skills, and Florian needs to grow a spine.  The story arcs aren’t very compelling, and the dialog isn’t holding my interest. 

Grade:  C-

Black Knight #1 by Kai Tsurugi

 

Title: Black Knight #1

Author: Kai Tsurugi

Publisher: Blu

When Chris, prince of the kingdom of Aran, arrives at a mercenary training school, he has no idea what’s in store for him.  Incognito, he’s there for some lessons in soldiering, but ends up with falling in love with Zeke, a fellow student.    Until he met Chris, Zeke’s only goal was to earn the title of the Black Knight, but now he only wants to serve the young prince.  As they journey back to Chris’ home after his father is poisoned, plots start to swirl about them.  Will they make it back to Aran alive?

This book was so disappointing!  I found it rather slow paced, and it was difficult to keep my attention on the pages.  I had pretty much given up on yaoi, because I can’t think of one title that I have enjoyed, but the setting in this one caught my eye.  Soldiers, uniforms, sword fighting, how could it go wrong?  Hmmm, let’s see – first off, I didn’t find the romance between the characters very convincing.  It was too rushed.  Second, I found the overall story boring.  The plot is presented in such a dry, emotionless way, that it’s hard to become caught up in the story.

The art wasn’t bad, with some decent action scenes, but overall, I thought the panels were a little cluttered.  

Grade: C-

Gorgeous Carat #1 by You Higuri Review

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Title: Gorgeous Carat #1

Author: You Higuri

Publisher: Blu 

Florian Rochefort, the son of an impoverished noble family, is "sold" to Ray Balzac Courland in exchange for paying off the family debts.  Ray is actually Noir, a mysterious jewel thief who has designs on the Rochefort treasure, the Flame of Mughal, a 120 carat diamond.  He also has designs on poor Florian!

When Florian learns that his family home has burned to the ground, and his mother has been murdered, he’s determined to discover the identity of the murderer.  He confides to his uncle the location of the Flame of Moghal, only to learn that it was his uncle who was behind the attack on his mother.   Will he be able to escape from his uncle’s evil clutches??  Of course not!  That’s why Ray’s in the book!

I didn’t think I was going to like this book when Ray continually spoke about whipping Florian, and then proceeded to do it.  Yuck!  Thankfully the tone of book shifted, and it became more of an action adventure tale than a sick S&M yaoi story.  The emphasis of the chapters were on locating jewels, with Ray’s fascination for pretty boy Florian forming the back story.  This was nothing earthshaking, and Florian was a bit of a baby, but overall it wasn’t a bad read.  Not destined for the keeper shelf, but entertaining enough to pick up the next volume.

Grade:  B

Shinobu Kokoro – Hidden Heart Review

 

 

Title:  Shinobu Kokoro – Hidden Heart

Author:  Temari Matsumoto

Publisher:  Blu

Remarks:  

First:  No spoilers!  You need an actual plot to have spoilers!!

Second:  Yuck!  No story, no character development, none of that delightful tension that makes you actually want the lead characters to get together.  Nothing!  This was a collection of pointless short stories, originally published by Biblos.  I should have known better!  I guess I’m not enough of a fan girl to sit through pages of meaningless moaning and straining.

Grade:  E-bay!!!