Monday, September 19, 2016

Yaoi Manga Review: TEN COUNT Volume 1

SUBLIME MANGA (Shinshokan) – @SuBLimeManga

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Rihito Takarai
TRANSLATION: Adrienne Beck
EDITOR: Jennifer LeBlanc
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8802-5; paperback (August 2016); Rated “M” for “Mature”
186pp, B&W, $16.99 U.S., $19.99 CAN, £10.99 UK

Ten Count is a yaoi manga from mangaka, Rihito Takarai.  Yaoi manga is a subset of boys' love (or BL) manga, which depicts amorous situations between male romantic leads.  Yaoi manga usually features explicit depictions of sex between those male leads.   Ten Count focuses on a corporate secretary who is a germaphobe and the counselor who tries to help him.

Ten Count, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 6) introduces Tadaomi Shirotani, the corporate secretary for The Tosawa Company.  He has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and wears gloves so that he does not have to touch people or things.  He does not eat at restaurants, nor does he even take the train.  He washes his hands so much that they are raw and covered with scars.

One day, the president of The Tosawa Company is in an accident.  One of the people involved in the accident is Riku Kurose, a clinical psychotherapist at Shimada Psychiatric Center.  Kurose immediately recognizes Shirotani's OCD and offers to take him through a 10-step program to cure him of his compulsion.  As they begin the program, Shirotani realizes that his attraction to Kurose grows, causing complications even as he starts to get his compulsion under control.

[This volume includes the Ten Count bonus story, “Kurose, Shirotani, and Hay Fever.”]

There is nothing wrong with a little bump and grind as R&B nasty man, R. Kelly once sang.  But neither is there anything wrong with no bump and grind in an oh-so-slow building romance comic book.

In her afterword to Ten Count Volume 1, author Rihito Takarai says the she almost worried that readers would complain about the leisurely pace of the chapters that comprise Vol. 1.  I have no such complaints.  Considering the concept and central plot of this manga, having the characters quickly engage in sex would seem unrealistic.  There is something about the glacier pace of two people who know little about each other slowly falling in love that is super-sexy.

I found it hard to take a pause in reading Ten Count.  It is like watching the birth of romance and true love – step by step.  There is powerful dramatic tension and good reading in that.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Manga Review: GOODNIGHT PUNPUN Volume 2


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Inio Asano
LETTERS: Annaliese Christman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8621-2; paperback (June 2016); Rated “M” for “Mature”
432pp, B&W, $24.99 U.S., $28.99 CAN, £16.99 U.K.

Creator Inio Asano (Solanin, What a Wonderful World!) has a new manga.  Entitled Goodnight Punpun, the series is a coming-of-age story that focuses on Punpun Onodera, a boy in middle school and his adolescent trials and tribulations.

VIZ Media is publishing Goodnight Punpun as a seven-volume graphic novel series.  Each volume is an over-sized manga paperback containing two individual volumes (called “parts).  Goodbye Punpun Vol. 2 contains Part 3 (Chapters 24 to 34) and 4 (Chapters 35 to 46).

In Part 3, Punpun agonizes over former elementary school crush, Aiku Tanaka.  They have had no contact for two years and now Aiku seems to be dating Mamoru Yaguichi, Punpun's teammate on the badminton team.  Yaguichi, rumored to be well-endowed, also has his own doubts, about both Aiku and badminton, so he is ready to bargain with Punpun about Aiku.

In Part 4, Punpun's uncle, Yuichi Onodera, his mother's younger brother who lives with them, is also going through a crisis.  He has seemingly had a reunion involving Midori Okuma, a 25-year-old.  She resembles a 16-year-old girl with whom Yuichi once had a trouble/edgy relationship.  Meanwhile, Punpun has a chance to be with the girl of his dreams...

The Goodnight Punpun manga is bold and adventurous.  It is a teen drama that goes where only the best teen drama comics dare to go.  Teen angst, family dysfunction, sex and sexual tension, and social politics bubble and toil under the surface of what looks to be straight-forward adolescent drama and melodrama – but is more..

Truthfully, Goodnight Punpun Volume 2 defies description.  It deals with the turmoil and struggles of early teens, of course.  However, creator Inio Asano digs hard into the dread that is the uncertain future.  The stress of the now always seems to coexist with the unknown shape of things to come.  We could always tell the characters to not worry about tomorrow – to simply live in the now.  But where is the fun in that?  We wouldn't have the wonderful Goodnight Punpun and its constantly agonizing characters if they didn't worry about next year.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Review: 7th GARDEN Volume 1


[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

MANGAKA: Mitsu Izumi
TRANSLATION:  Tetsuichiro Miyaki
LETTERS: Susan Daigle Leach
EDITOR: Annette Roman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-8721-9; paperback (July 2016); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
236pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

7th Garden is a shonen dark fantasy manga from creator Mitsu Izumi.  The series focuses on a gardener who finds himself caught in the middle of a struggle in which angels, demons, and humans fight for control of the world.

7th Garden, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) opens in the Age of A.N. (Annu Nuntius), year 78.  It is set in Exive, one of the seven great continents, specifically in the village of Karna.  There, Awyn Gardener protects his beautiful mistress, Mariphiel “Marie” Fiacre, and lovingly tends the beautiful gardens on her estate.

However, there is a female demon hiding in the garden.  Named Vyrde, this demon is bent on world domination.  In order to save Marie and the village, Awyn makes a deal with Vyrde and gains the ability to wield a powerful demon sword.  But there is much about Vyrde that is unknown to Awyn.

The 7th Garden manga is a comic book full of beautifully-drawn art.  In some ways, it reminds me of the art featured in the shonen fantasy series, Rosario+Vampire.  7th Garden is like a black and white paperback art book with page of page of manga illustrations that dazzle the eye.

From a story perspective, 7th Garden Volume 1 is slow to develop.  Honestly, I don't care for its internal mythology at this point because it seems like just another angels versus demons concept.  It takes about 200 pages to suggest otherwise; by then, we have to wait for the next volume.  I wonder if creator Mitsu Izumi was quite sure where she was going with this narrative early on.  She teases a lot of intriguing plot lines and subplots, but the best stuff seems to come after the last-page cliffhanger.  I think 7th Garden has possibilities, but those will become obvious in future volumes.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2016 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog for reprint and syndication rights and fees.