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Boys’ Love Reads – March 2016

"Boy's Love Reads" is a series of bite-sized yaoi and shounen ai manga reviews. This is its second instalment, and you can check out the first one here.

Ani No Chuukoku (兄の忠告) by Asada Nemui

Sharp-tongued and brash, Tsuzuki is your classic rough-around-the-edges young lad who also happens to dabble in call girl *cough* scam *cough* operations. With his brawn and street smarts, he feels like he can take on anything and challenge anyone – and win. That is, until his older brother, who deserted him and his mom years ago, suddenly reappears in his life with the intention to support and take care of him. But Tsuzuki is more perplexed than happy about the reunion.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I absolutely adore the way Asada Nemui draws dudes. They’re really masculine yet elegant, rugged but still sophisticated. I could cry legit tears because her art makes me that happy. The dialogue in the story is awesome as well; tons of bickering and subtly flirtatious bantering. Like, manly bantering. You know how conversations between yaoi characters can sometimes feel like o(*>ω<*)o? This one is just plain ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

Plus, did I mention their age gap is twelve years? Goodbye ovaries.

Close Your Eyes (目を閉じて) by Hidaka Shoko

Two childhood friends grew distant when they entered high school. Why did one suddenly decide to push away the other when they were so close before?

Rating: 3 / 5

Extremely open-ended ending which is frustrating when the plot is as angsty and good as this. It has so much potential to be made into a successful continuing series, and it almost felt like the author took the easy way out by ending it so… Openly. If it has been developed more, it would definitely warrant a higher rating. Overall, I liked the way the controversial situation was portrayed and how their attraction to each other was conveyed as vexing and complicated.

Smells Like Green Spirit (スメルズライクグリーンスピリット) by Nagai Saburou

With his long silky hair, slender figure and pretty face, Mishima is constantly bullied for his feminine features. He likes boys and secretly cross-dresses. As the days pass, he becomes more aware of one of his bullies – a popular, good-looking guy who gazes at him with the same deadpan expression.

Rating: 4 / 5

I thought it was going to be some generic tale, but the author dropped this huge plot twist I was not expecting. Combine that with weird facial expressions and eccentric characters, and you get this oddball of a manga. The story is nothing heavy; it’s very comedy-oriented but… weird. Good weird.

Ninii no Mori (兄の忠告) by Shoowa

A series of oneshots based on the lives of animal-human hybrids and curious creatures dwelling in a quaint forest called Ninii, where eating red meat is forbidden and all species live in harmony. In the first story, the fisherman’s frog boy brother meets a mysterious, soft-spoken rabbit boy who carries a pig everywhere and gazes at the sky from the treetops. The second tale is about a cat boy with star-shaped marks and his adoptive parent, a wolf-turned-human. The third is about beetles and a hopeful promise between lovers.

Rating: 2 / 5 | 4 / 5 | 4 / 5 (rating for each individual story)

Another lovely, and very different, work by the talented Shoowa. I usually don’t like this style of fantasy premise, but the mangaka makes it authentic and sweet. Due to the whimsical drawings and graceful prose, the chapters have a charming bedtime storybook atmosphere. Personally, I found the first story flat, messy and borderline boring, but the second, beautifully heart-wrenching and the third, very unconventional in its narrative and topic, while being thoroughly enjoyable and memorable.

Nobody Knows (无人明了的) by Shoowa
*Note: This is a collection of stories. Review is only for the first story, which then continues in the last two chapters of her other book, ‘Non Tea Room’.

A top secret factory, where workers operate under aliases, produces surreally beautiful artificial intelligence doll robots that are purchased for private companionship as well as prostitution businesses. Modoru takes up a job there and and is assigned to work with Susumu in the same room. Modoru finds himself slowly falling in love with his mysterious colleague who, despite his emotionless disposition, handles the dolls with remarkable gentleness and affection…

Rating: 3 / 5

That’s right, it’s a double appearance by Shoowa on this month’s list! I have to say, she really does have a knack for experimenting with plots and this story is no exception. And I’m about to drop a “major spoiler” so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Susumu is basically a robot too. And yes, that’s him in the picture. Do you need any other reason to pick this up? But in all seriousness, I think that the whole concept of whether love is possible between a machine and a human is very fascinating, and it’s kind of a bummer Shoowa didn’t delve into the philosophical aspect of it and make it as complex and dark as it could be. Still, it was interesting with a fluffy feel-good ending so even though it didn’t appeal to me that much, it’s nevertheless an above average read.

Fukouchuu no Shiawase (不幸中のしあわせ) by Enzou

Yaotomi is an unnaturally lucky man. Everything goes smoothly for him, all situations turn round to work in his favour and he basically wins at life. One day, his blissful world is turned upside down by a series of unfortunate mishaps and his colleague suggests trying exorcism as it might be the work of an evil spirit. After praying to a random jizo statue, Yaotomi returns home to find a stranger in his house who claims to be the God of Calamity whose purpose is to restore the balance of luck.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

On the surface, it’s a plot that seems to have lost its ingenuity through various rehashings using the gag approach. But what saved this story from being underwhelming was its good balance of humour and substance: the god has an ironic love for humans, which comes from witnessing people’s strength and ability to overcome adversities in the face of misfortune. Even though he naturally brings disaster and pain to those he possesses, he finds joy in seeing them happy instead. Which, as you can guess, causes a lot of problems and the story escalates into something more complicated and interesting.  

Written by Faelan

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