Dog X Cat by Yoshimi Amasaki BL Manga Review


Title: Dog X Cat

Author:  Yoshimi Amasaki

Publisher:  801 Media

ISBN: 9781934129296

May Contain Spoilers

Atsu has always wanted a big dog of his own to cuddle, but since he lives in an apartment, he has to make do with his  friend, Junya.  Buddies since childhood, the college students are about to re-examine their relationship when Junya recklessly confesses that he loves Atsu and wants to have a physical relationship with him.  Atsu is taken aback, and though he is a bit reluctant, he agrees.  What he’s having a hard time with is telling Junya how he really feels.  Will he be able to tell his dog how much he loves him?

I’m torn over this title.  I was enjoying the light-hearted comedy until the last two chapters.  They were so different in tone from the rest of the book that they seemed out of place and didn’t belong here.  Every other chapter was fluffy fun, but the wrap up to the title kind of ruined it for me.  Junya turns into an inconsiderate ass and rapes Atsu, and this unpleasantness is shrugged off because Junya intercepted a drink meant for Atsu.  The drink is spiked with alcohol, and since Atsu is such a lightweight, some jealous classmates are trying to mess him up.  Looking beyond the fact that Atsu would have ended up in the hospital if he had downed the contents of his “non-alcoholic” beverage, I still detest this particular plot device.  I don’t find it romantic or titillating; I find it upsetting and degrading.

Moving past what I disliked about Dog X Cat, what I did like was the rapid pacing and the non-stop humor.  Both Atsu and Junya are rather unique characters, and considering how comfortable they feel around animals, it’s only natural that they would eventually realize that they can get some comfort and love from each other.  When Junya needs a sympathetic ear and Atsu isn’t there for him, he cuddles up with his chubby cat.  Atsu is always chasing after dogs, which gets Junya jealous.  Yeah, these guys are kind of weird, so it’s a good thing that they have each other.

Being a 801 Media title, there’s plenty of steamy scenes worked into the panels.  The art is very attractive; the character designs are lean and angular, and both Atsu and Junya look good in and out of their clothes.  The cover didn’t really grab my attention, though, but I think it’s because Junya’s hand is so awkwardly proportioned. Either that or he’s got a lobster crawling through his hair. 

If this book had been two chapters shorter, I would have given it a higher grade.  Once the abusive, demeaning behavior was introduced, my enjoyment level tanked.  What a disappointing end to an otherwise fun book.

Grade:  C+

Review copy provided by 801 Media

Love Skit by Rie Honjoh BL Manga Review


Title: Love Skit

Author: Rie Honjoh

Publisher: 801 Media

ISBN: 9781934129395

May Contain Spoilers

Aoto’s not a happy guy, and he has every reason to be unhappy.  First, his parents died, leaving him and  his sister to fend for themselves.  Then, his sister Ryouko dies, leaving him broken hearted once again.  Aoto takes comfort from Takashi, his brother-in-law.  Takashi has promised to take care of him, so the two are living together.  When Takashi’s friend, Masayuki, accuses Aoto of being in love with his brother-in-law, will Aoto be able to admit the truth to himself?

I liked the art better than I enjoyed the stories in Love Skit.  The illustrations are clear and detailed, and facial expressions drive the story forward.  The character designs are attractive as well, and everyone has a distinctive look.  The cover is very appealing, as Aoto curls underneath an attentive Masayuki,  who wears a slightly teasing smile on his face.  The interior artwork shares the playful mood of the cover, but the actual plot contents didn’t do much to  impress me.

Despite the likeable characters, I felt like I have read this story about a dozen times in the past.  There isn’t anything unique within the covers to make much in Love Skit memorable.  All of the usual plot devices are here; an older, more experienced guy discovers that the young, innocent main character is harboring a forbidden love, the older guy chases after him, the younger guy is left even more confused because of his conflicted feelings.  It’s usually a cute formula, but it doesn’t rise above the crowd in this setting.  The story progresses at a solid clip, Aoto and Masayuki go through the motions of falling in love, but there isn’t much sexual tension between them, and the details are quickly forgotten once the book is closed. 

Despite its appealing look, Love Skit is light on substance, and it doesn’t leave much in the way of a lasting impression.  

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by 801 Media

[PR] 801 Media’s Nabs Under Grand Hotel by Mika Sadahiro

Gardena, CA (December 7, 2009)-801 Media, Digital Manga Publishing’s adult yaoi imprint, is excited to announce the acquisition of the heavily fan-requested title: Under Grand Hotel by Mika Sadahiro (creator of Pathos)!  Controversial, explicit, yet ultimately fascinating, Under Grand Hotel takes place in a prison that the prisoners have nicknamed the "Under Grand Hotel". A two-part series, the story revolves around two inmates, Sen and Swordfish, and the power politics involved to survive a prison that houses the most dangerous inmates around!

In a new first, 801 Media will preserve the special trim size of this title (4 1/8" x 5 7/8"), and it will hold a special price of $24.95 for each volume for their large volume count (over 320 pages for each book!)

Read more

Don’t Rush Love by Mio Tennohji Manga Review


Title: Don’t Rush Love

Author: Mio Tennohji

Publisher: 801 Media

ISBN: 9781934129289

May Contain Spoilers

Morino is the new kid at an all-boys prep school.  From the moment he first sees Kusama, he’s instantly smitten.  When the athletic student turns out to be Morino’s room mate, he has a hard time keeping his love a secret.  He knows that Kusama is in love with their teacher, Kanzaki, and the prospect of Kusama returning his feelings are about zilch.  Still, if Morino can convince Kusama to use him as a substitute for Kanzaki, he’ll get spend precious time with his love and stop Kusama from sleeping around.  Can love bloom between Morino and Kusama, or will Kusama just take advantage of Morino?

Don’t Rush Love is a typical high school BL romance, full of all of the conventions that you’d expect.  There’s a shy, timid student who falls for a more self-assured and outgoing classmate, and lots of unrequited love to add angst to the tale.  Morino is instantly infatuated with Kusama after watching him play volleyball, and he can’t believe his good luck to learn that they are roomies.  He’s not so thrilled when Kusama sneaks out night after night, returning near dawn after spending the evening with different lovers.  Kusama can’t get Kanzaki out of his head, and he’ll use anyone to help soothe his frustrated passions.  Enter Morino, no longer content to admire Kusama from afar.  Instead, he proposes to be Kanzaki’s stand-in, so that Kusama isn’t out all night, every night, sleeping all around town.

The premise is fairly by the book, without too many surprises thrown in to cause additional emotional grief for the characters.  There is a great deal of drama as Morino and Kusama work through their feelings for each other, and it is further complicated with the introduction of Kusama’s family.  Still, there isn’t anything unique about the story to set it apart from the rest of the pack.  Throw in some very awkward art, where the characters resemble clothes pins, and you’re left with a momentarily distracting, though undistinguished read.  

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by 801 Media

His Arrogance by Takashi Kanzaki Manga Review

Title:  His Arrogance

Author: Takashi Kanzaki

Publisher: 801 Media

ISBN:  9781934129258

This title contains Mature Content 18+

May Contain Spoilers

Ryou’s older brother Tomohito is a famous model, and he’s the pride and joy of their father’s agency.  To support his brother and the family business, Ryou lives in the company dorm, taking care of the up and coming models.  When the arrogant Kazuto moves in, all he brings to the mix is a bad attitude.  He doesn’t get along with his co-workers, he’s not above trying to steal another model’s gig, and he has no respect for anyone.  Will Ryou be able to get along with this obnoxious guy?

I really wanted to like this book, but Kazuto is such a jerk that it’s hard to believe Ryou would fall for him.  He doesn’t really treat Ryou poorly, but he is so blunt and harsh in his mannerisms that it’s difficult to buy into their romance.  Kazuto is jealous and has a temper, and he doesn’t hesitate to let others know how he feels, which is usually pretty cranky.  He doesn’t even hesitate to try to steal another model’s job when he starts to think that he is spending too much time with Ryou. 

Ryou has a huge brother complex, and he is just nuts about Tomohito.  He lives for his older brother and all of his successes.  This also sets Kazuto on edge, because he pales in comparison to the popular model.  Tomohito isn’t a knight in shining armor, though; he’s just as nuts about his cute little brother, and he’s not about to let some upstart steal him away.  The two men treat Ryou like a pull toy as they wrestle to win his affections.  This would have had more impact if I actually cared about any of the characters.  Alas, even Tomohito is a cad, and he wants to keep Ryou all to himself.  He was even willing to seduce his naive brother so another man couldn’t snatch him away.  No brownie points for you, Tomohito!  Taking advantage of your little brother is just not cool!

I like Takashi Kanzaki’s art, but with so many unpleasant characters milling about in His Arrogance, their good looks were in vain.  Together with the brainless plot, this tale left me unimpressed.

Grade: C-

Review copy provided by 801 Media

ZE Vol 1 Review Posted at MangaCast

I just posted a review of Takashi Kansaki’s Falling into Love over at MangaCast.  Please drop in if time permits.  Please click here for the review.