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Saturday, May 3rd, 2008
7:48 am - Has it really been so long?

kastra
Oh geeze, I am sorry I have not updated in a while. As some of you know, I relocated to Japan recently so the move took up a lot of time. I promise to put up a new review in the next week. Unfortunately it will be for a Japanese language book as I have little access to English translations now so if anyone can do English recs that would be awesome.

*bows down in apology*

current mood: discontent

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Thursday, September 20th, 2007
5:45 am - "Othello" is love

kastra
Othello by Toui Hasumi



Oh yum, Another book bought because of the cover and the art inside is just as good! Something about it really made me notice details like her use of shadows to denote mood and expression.

pretty boys )

The main story is about a twin, Ayumu, who has separated from his brother when their parents divorced. Ayumu's brother stayed with their mother and essentially lived a happy life whereas Ayumu was forced to live with an absent father and an abusive stepmother. Ayumu is forced to fend for himself, essentially moving out by the time he was 16. Thus when his twin is killed in a car accident, Ayumu jumps at the opportunity to move in with his real mother. Realizing how wonderful his brother's life was, Ayumu decides to take his brother's place.

Although I initially thought the whole idea of good twin, bad twin had been way overdone, it is still a very interesting story. The author is able to elicit real feeling from the reader with her sad portrayal of Ayumu. His conflict between his own natural character and the idyllic persona he is trying to maintain creates a depth of character which is heartrending yet beautiful.

In general the translation of the story is well done, although it could have been smoother. This lack of normality to some of the language is also be accentuated by the almost poetic feel of other bits of dialog and inner musings of the characters. It is really a case of "when she was good, she was very, very good and when she was bad she was horrid." The good is so pretty that the bad really stands out.

Unfortunately, I don't feel terribly inspired to write about the three other stories in the book, but all of Toui's stories have a level of angst to them. The last story is definitely more of a horror and, although short, is very striking. If you are looking for cutesy love and pink ponies, you may want to give this one a miss.

Overall, Othello is a mix of beautiful artwork and a poetic script which makes this book stand out on my bookshelf. Definitely re readable and an inspiration to artists.

current mood: relaxed

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Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
1:18 am - Alcohol, Shirt and Kiss

kastra
And now for something in English.



Alcohol, Shirt and Kiss (ASK) by Yuko Kuwabara was the first true BL manga I ever bought in English. It is this book's fault that I now continue to be persuaded to purchase BL books in English even though it is the junk food of my Japanese study. It is still not truly regretted. It fulfilled all of my markers of a good BL manga. It was funny, sweet, beautifully drawn and without the whiny uke (*) or abusive seme. Life can be very good.

The main story is about two cops who are partners. One, Naruse, breaks up with his girlfriend and, to forget her, he gets completely drunk and wakes up in his partner's bed. And he is not alone. Confused Naruse immediately thinks they have slept together, but he can't remember anything. Kita, his partner, decides that rather than coming clean about what exactly happened that night, it would be more fun to tease Naruse and lets Naruse continue to believe they had sex . Thus the fun begins.

As seme's go, Kita is not the jerk many are. Although he plays with Naruse, it comes across more like a little boy on a playground pulling the girls pigtail to get her attention. There is no malicious intent or assumption that being a jerk makes you cool. Don't get me wrong, Kita is a bit of a jerk, but it is not the kind of jerk that you want to knock out the front teeth of. Kita does have his emotional complications but they are surmountable.

It is truly a love story without any tears (well not the inappropriate ones), pain or the favorite "I say no, but I really mean yes!" crap that turns up too often in BL. It also has great pacing so you never feel left behind. There is also a great secondary cast of characters who provide more humor to the story as they watch the relationship between Naruse and Kita develop.

The art is really pretty. On the humor side, Kuwabara draws great stuff. One of my favorites is the reaction of Naruse to Kita's teasing.

because Naruse is funny )
Then there is her more serious moments. I really loved Kita's sweet look in this scene. You can just feel how completely he cares for Naruse.

because Kita is love )

Kuwabara has a really unique ability to really show complex emotions in her characters. Other artists are good, she is a master.

Anyway, all I can really say is buy and read this book. Even the english translation is good. Lacking in awkward lines and ridiculous colloquialisms it is a smooth read even in the sweet parts.

I am sure I could babel forever over this one so I shall stop here. :)

(*) Something makes me feel uncomfortable using the terms "uke" and "seme". Maybe it is the inherent imbalance of power in the words. Until I find something that agrees with me better I shall stick to these but please understand that although I use the words to delegate the stereotypical roles to the characters, I do not feel that it is right to trap them in such stereotypes. Hell I use them so infrequently I am not really sure if I am even spelling them right

current mood: chipper

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