Monday, March 12, 2012

Manga Monday: Yaoi

This week, I tried out a few different yaoi titles on my nookcolor.  I'm a fan of yaoi manga, but I do find that there are very few that meet or exceed my expectations.  The only recent example I can think of before the manga I just read is Black Sun, and even the second volume of that, I found to be lacking. 


So one of the book I tried out was Kaname Itsuki's Interval, about a cocky athlete (Sawatari) who discovers that the protagonist of the story, Ayumu, is gay and has a crush on a classmate, and exploits him to keep his secret.  Sawatari forces Ayumu to do things for him sexually, at the same time as he develops feelings for him.  Nothing particularly interesting happens here, as this is kind of your typical high school yaoi romance.  The sex scenes are decent, but overall, this is a rather forgettable tale, I'm sorry to say.

Next, I checked out the first volume of Makoto Tateno's Blue Sheep Reverie, which has a decent fan base.  In this story, Kai gets himself a position as a bodyguard to the gang boss Lahti, who he believes to be responsible for the murder of the love of his life, a doctor named Maria.  Kai does everything he can to uncover the truth and get close to Lathi, even sleep with him.  Inevitably, the two develop feelings for each other in a story that's full of mystery, action and romance.  And sure, there were some plot twists in there, but nothing you could really guess based on the information you were given, which I feel is kind of a cheat.  Also, the characters are stock characters, and what good is a romance if you don't feel anything for the characters involved?  I felt this was pretty sloppily-contructed and I just couldn't get into it, so this was another disappointment for me in the end.

Thankfully, the third book that I checked out reinvigorated my love for yaoi.  Under Grand Hotel is from Mika Sadahiro, creator of Pathos, and has a pretty basic, but rich premise for a yaoi manga.  It's about a prison.  Sen is sent in for life for murder, which was basically a way to save the woman he loves from being prosecuted, but he learns to enjoy life in prison, and sex with men, when he becomes the partner of Swordfish, the proclaimed leader of the prison.  I was actually pretty amazed at Mika Sadahiro's skill here.  There is a lot of sex in here, and explicit sex, so anyone looking for yaoi with that sort of material, this is for them.  Sadahiro draws men beautifully, and makes the steamy scenes hot, and the dramatic scenes equally as interesting.  Because there is so much sex in this book, I was surprised that it never got stale.  Sadahiro presents enough different scenarios and circumstances to keep things fresh and exciting, and keeps up some pretty riveting plot threads that string one sex scene to another.  This is probably the best yaoi manga that I've read period, but it's definitely not for the shy reader.  It's kinky and can get pretty over-the-top.  But you can't say it's ever dull, and there's a surprising amount of depth in here, that I find to be rather lacking in most yaoi manga.  This is a solid book.

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