Saturday, July 3, 2010

Yaoi Review: Love Knot

Our manga today is Love Knot written and drawn by Lemon Ichijo.


Like many yaoi volumes, this is more a collection of short stories than a graphic novel. Since yaoi doesn't have as big an audience as other genres, its safer for publishers and creators to operate this way. They have more of a chance to sell the volume if it contains a range of stories that will appeal to several different types of fans. This can either be a good or bad deal for whoever picks up one of these volumes. If your lucky, you like all the stories. However, there is a chance you'll only like one or two, or worse, none of the stories.  That's why it always aggravates me when a volume like this is reviewed as if there is only one story. I may not like the review of the main story, and end up passing up the volume, but there's a chance I passed on a volume that contains another story that I would really love. So, in an effort to keep one person out there from making the same mistake, here's my review of all of Love Knot.

The first two stories, Love Knot and Re:Start, features Tomoya, a rough and tumble delinquent with a reputation as one of the toughest guys around. The only guy tougher is Kazuki, but he disappeared two years ago. What no one else knows is that Kazuki confessed his feelings to Tomoya, and Tomoya turned him down, saying he won't go out with anyone shorter than himself! Tomoya comes home after a day of fighting to find a tall guy he doesn't recognize sitting on his steps waiting for him. You've probably guessed who the mystery guy is, but I guarantee it will still be fun. The characters have a cute loving relationship, and there are even some fight scenes mixed in. Warning: there are explicit sex scenes and nudity.

I give the first stories 5/5. Like I've said before, I love cute delinquent boy-love!

The next three stories, Loveliness, In Your Arms Again, and That's the You I Love, features a set of twins and their different love lives. The first story opens with Shogo meeting an artist he respects, Otsuka-sensei. Otsuka is everything Shogo imagined: graceful, refined, and extremely polite. Shogo later gets a chance to work for his hero, only to find out he's loud and extremely rude! It turns out the man Shogo met first was really Otsuka's twin brother, who likes to pose as his famous artist twin in order to pick up hot guys. So who will Shogo really love? The man who behaves the way he imagines his hero to be, or the real thing? We also get to see more backstory for the imposter twin in the second story, but this is where the manga loses me on this particular storyline. It contains scenes of non-consensual sex, and that is a huge turn off for me. I know it is common for one character to continue saying "No, stop!" in yaoi, but it is usually presented in a playing-hard-to-get-but-both-partners-can-easily-tell-that-consent-is-actually-being-given. This one actually depicts one man being tied up and the other man forcing himself on him. Even though the victim actually wants a relationship with the attacker, he clearly doesn't want to have sex at that moment. The third story also shows the same man being very controlling and having a violent temper. I understand that some may find this exciting, but I just can't stand it personally. Again, there is graphic sex scenes and violence.

This next group of stories wasn't as fun, so I have to give them a 2/5.

The last two stories are one-shots, but they're pretty cute. Captive features a young man who is often teased for having redish hair and lighter eyes. He is saved from some bullies by the school nurse, and he quickly falls head over heels in love with him. However, the nurse is a huge flirt and constantly brings other young men to his office for sex. A cute love story with some really good looking guys. Graphic sex and some violence from bullies here as well.

Captive was really entertaining and cute, so I'll give it a 4/5.

The last story is very short, and is basically about a waiter and a chef who are having an affair at work. The waiter is younger and insecure about their relationship, especially once the chef starts flirting with other guys! One graphic sex scene and lots of relationship angst in this one.

Blindly Love was pretty standard, but it was good enough for a 3/5.

The artwork is very clean. It's easy to see what is going on, and not a line is out of place. The facial expressions are really well done and really convey a lot of complex emotions.

I give the volume overall a 4/5, even though some of the stories were only so-so, the good ones were really good.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yaoi Review: Love Skit

Ok folks, here's my first ever yaoi review for you all. Fair warning, if you have never read yaoi before, it is about romantic relationships between men, and can often include graphic depictions of sex.

Love Skit drawn and written by Rie Honjoh.


This is just about perfect for me. The two leads don't hook up right away, but it isn't drawn out so long you get sick of it either. While sometimes yaoi can be nothing but pure fluff, this one has a weighty story filled with real emotions without getting too melodramatic or corny.

Our main character is Aoto, a handsome young man who has gone through a lot in his life. His parents died when he was very young, and he and his older sister lived with some relatives until she married Takashi. The three of them lived together as a family, until Aoto's sister tragically died. Now Aoto and Takashi are trying to help each other with their grief. As if that wasn't bad enough, Aoto has a secret, he has been in love with his brother-in-law since the day they met. Dealing with the guilt of loving his dearly departed sister's husband has almost become too much to bear: Enter Masayuki Kitano! Takashi's friend who falls for Aoto at first sight. Masayuki senses Aoto's pain right away, and uses his energetic personality and caring heart to finally get Aoto to open up to him.

Well, that's one way to wake somebody up XD

Even tough the subject matter seems heavy, it is perfectly balanced with humorous antics (including someone mistaking a bedroom for a bathroom and Masayuki's "hands-on" approach to solving the crisis). There are also some beautiful moments too, in particular a phone call between Aoto and Masayuki that takes my breath away every time.

Say it with me now, "Awwwwwwwww" <3

There is a second story about one of Aoto's school friends who likes to cosplay as a gangster, but is actually a really nice guy. (He has a particular hairstyle popular in the 80s for punks. Think Kuwabara from Yu Yu Hakusho). The only problem is that he's also very strong, so despite his kind nature, he is constantly challenged by gangsters who want to make a name for themselves. I have to say, I'm a huge sucker for the gangster-with-a-heart-of-gold cliché, so it's no surprise I loved this part too.

Hard to believe this look was cool at one point.

I give this one 5/5! It doesn't get much better than this.