quickie reviews, take 5

Yamanaka Hiko | Marusumiya no Yometori

Recently I finally completed my Yamanaka Hiko collection by purchasing her two earliest books. Before, I just had the scans on the computer and I really really prefer to read Japanese comics in actual book form (English ones, too, for that matter but I unfortunately have less of a choice in that category) as opposed to squinting at the computer screen for an hour. So now I’m finally able to read her complete collection properly, which is really exciting!

As for Marusumiya itself, I liked the first story but I loved the second one. It starts out with a man who lives by a very strict, lonely schedule until he meets another man at work whom he can open up to more. But in the end, after they’ve opened up ‘too much’ to one another, could that be the end of their relationship? This was just one of those stories that really gave me that amazingly bittersweet heartache feeling—it was just the right amount of angst and longing, balanced well with some really adorable romance. Also, I just generally love when characters are just straight-out gay in BL. Usually it’s that whole “I’m not gay but I fell for this random guy” thing, which is also okay. But idk for some reason it makes me smile when the mangaka makes their character sincerely gay and shoulders them with the realistic troubles (in this case, not being able to get close to anyone in case they find out) that people can relate to a bit more.

Minazuki Akira | Noboseru Karada

This is another one where, though I really really liked the first story as well, I really enjoyed the second story. Though this time around it might be more because I was excited to get some new content from a book I was originally thinking I bought just to complete my collection of Minazuki’s works. The first story is about a breadshop owner named Suzumi with a very pretty face, and then a young, accomplished man, Kusaba, who meets Suzumi when Suzumi bathes at his bathhouse. While he’s initially attracted by Suzumi’s face, in the end he falls for Suzumi due to his hard work and determination (shown outward by all the burn scars on his arms that tend to be synonymous with people in cooking/baking professions) to achieve his dreams and sets out to make Suzumi his.

The second story is then about childhood friends who promise to be together forever when they’re young, but then a wrench is thrown in their plans when one considers moving abroad to study after high school. It’s a fairly simple story about the unsure feelings of parting with people you care about and the consequences that follow, and it’s yet another ones of those great stories with a perfect dash of angst to make the feelings of the characters really shine through. Also, it has some pretty delicious H scenes. :9 My favorite. Thank you, Minazuki, for another really great story!

Yamanaka Hiko | Hatsukoi no 70% wa,

And here is my other Yamanaka Hiko book. This is actually her debut comic and the one that really caught my eye re: her artwork, so it feels kind of special to go full-circle and really read it and give it the attention it deserves. I truly liked it, once again—I’m kind of a sucker for those types of stories where a guy will date girls over and over and wonder why the hell they’re never really all that special to him or never make him fall passionately in love, and then suddenly he’ll fall head-over-heels for another boy. That’s pretty much the premise of Hatsukoi: Kasukabe has spent much of his teenage life not really caring about anything—not his schoolwork or the people he dates or his future. He’s more of a ‘drifter’, finding people who work hard to achieve things confusing and weird. But that’s until he meets Sugiyama, the star runner for the school track team. Sugiyama is so passionate about track that he cares little about anything else, his mind always on practicing and times and stretching and figuring out how to improve. This astounds Kusakabe, and he finds himself oddly attracted to Sugiyama. And then before he knows it, his attraction has turned into something of a ‘schoolgirl crush’.

idk it’s just a really all-around charming story—not very deep but still a tiny bit thought-provoking in some aspects with very cute and relateable characters and a fairly realistic (by BL terms, of course) plot that is quite emotionally involving. I really liked it and am super glad I finally caved and bought the book and was able to read it to completion.

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