August Reading List

Hi everyone! This is the first of many posts where I’ll be reflecting on the BL/shojo/LGBT manga I have read or am currently reading. In the future, I’ll aim to post these lists at least twice a month and also track/discuss unlicensed manga I’m reading through scanlations. Definitely let me know if there are series you want to see me pick up–especially licensed works available through the library.

This list is not a collection of summaries or formal reviews, and it’s definitely not spoiler-free! That said, enjoy these thoughts and feelings and take from them what you will~

Thanks so much for all your support, and be sure to check out my Patreon if you want to help me pay my rent and keep writing!

Local Library
Go For It, Nakamura! (v. 1)

  • Fun! Feels quintessentially BL but also very modern
  • Inclusion of an unambiguously self-identified gay protagonist is a nice touch, makes for some excellent jokes and contributes to the modern sensibility of the book
  • The whole chapter about Nakamura picking up BL and becoming a fudanshi was incredibly charming, I loved it.
  • TENTACLES

I Hear the Sunspot (v. 1)

  • Gentle, tender romance
  • Thoughtful portrayal of disability; at times Taichi’s role in the narrative toes the line between advocacy and saviorism, but the inclusion of a girl who wants to date Kohei in order to fulfill a shallow fantasy about caring for a helpless ‘other’ helps bring that into contrast and emphasize how Taichi’s protectiveness of Kohei comes from an appreciation and respect for his dignity and humanity, rather than a paternalistic denial of it
  • Gave me heart palpitations

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2018 Boys’ Love Anime Announcements

Via AnimeNewsNetwork:

Yarichin Bitch-bu

TOHO began streaming a promotional video on Saturday revealing an anime adaptation of Tanaka Ogeretsu’s boys love Yarichin Bitch-bu (Playboy Bitch Club) manga. The anime’s “first episode” will be an original anime DVD (OAD) that will bundle with a limited edition version of the manga’s third compiled book volume on September 21.

Ten Count

The wraparound jacket band on the sixth and final volume of Rihito Takarai’s Ten Count boys-love manga revealed on Monday that the manga is getting an anime adaptation.

Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu

Aniplex opened a website on Sunday to announce that Hashigo Sakurabi’s Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu. (The Most Huggable Man Has Threatened Me) manga is getting a television anime adaptation that will premiere this year.

Clearly it’s an exciting time for BL anime adaptations! Still, although we could get adaptations that toss the bring out the best in both series while minimizing their flaws, I’m pretty apprehensive about Yarichin and Ten Count in particular. I would love to see the anime throw out the consent issues in Yarichin while maintaining the manga’s irreverent, unashamedly explicit tone, and for the troubling romanticism of Ten Count to be forgone in favor of something darker and more intentional in its depiction of a relationship based in manipulation and unequal power. It’s also possible that these adaptations will be perfectly faithful to the flaws of their source material–we’ll just have to see!

“Things We Forever Pursue”: Excerpt from Comic Natalie on Akimi Yoshida

Hey everyone! Comic Natalie ran a really interesting article promoting a book about Akimi Yoshida’s work and creative influences over the course of her career, which was released around December 25th in Japan for the 40th anniversary of Yoshida’s debut as a mangaka. Based on what I can muddle out from google translate, it looks super cool, and features answers to fan questions, dialogues between Yoshida and other prominent Japanese artists and critics, and more! The article itself runs a couple of interview excerpts from the book, and I found this bit from a 1994 conversation Yoshida had with Kaoru Kurimoto (AKA Azusa Nakajima) especially neat:

Yoshida: “California Story” is based on Yutaka Mizutani and Kenichi Hagihara’s “Battered Angel,” isn’t it? “Midnight Cowboy” knew without saying that. It was the influence of the American New Cinema of the 1970’s that first inspired me to draw things.
[…]
Nakajima: Is that not just the origin of “California Story,” but the origin of Akimi Yoshida herself?
Yoshida: All origins.
Nakajima: That’s it (laugh)
Yoshida: In this case, I will do my best. Because of this, when relationships between men appear in my drawings, physical relationships are not absolute. That is the origin, so I can not imagine.
Nakajima: Surely.
Yoshida: A kiss or something comes out but it does not contain any homosexual physical relationship…
Nakajima: Because the image is of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.
Yoshida: Yeah. So it does not lead to bed. In other words, it seems that the baby chick looked first at what she saw as a parent.
Nakajima: “Imprinting,” right?
Yoshida: That’s why it is something that I will pursue forever.

It’s super intriguing and illuminating to me that Yoshida was so strongly influenced by American New Wave cinema–one of the most striking things about Banana Fish is how much texture and character New York City has as an environment! It also shows us how she was able to imagine possibilities beyond the heteronormativity of her influences while still being constrained by them; she was able to write deeply intimate, and even romantic, relationships between men, but these relationships were still ultimately non-sexual and distanced from “homosexuality.”

Please take this translation with a huge grain of salt, as I really just lightly edited google’s translation, and can’t guarantee that it’s super accurate or reliable–I absolutely welcome any corrections! That said, I hope this is an interesting, informative little highlight, and really encourage everyone to check out the article and the book for more information about a genuinely fantastic mangaka.

Yuri!!! on ICE and Boys Love?

Hey, everyone! Someone over on tumblr asked me what I thought of Yuri!!! on ICE, the imitable, the incredible, the sensation that rocked anime fandom, and I’m pretty happy with my reflection on the relationship between the series and the BL genre, so, crossposting! Let me know in the comments if you have any additions, fact-checks, alternate perspectives, or if you just enjoyed the post! Thanks so much everyone.

yoi ask

Hi! Thank you for this question–I adore Yuri!!! on Ice. It’s a little embarrassing how much I love it, actually. Since I’m answering this question on this specific blog, it’s important to me to be clear that I don’t think YoI is BL; the anime is TV-original, so it’s not marked for a specific demographic the way most manga are, and neither Sayo Yamamoto nor Mitsurou Kubo have previously worked on BL projects. Also, Yamamoto in particular has depicted same-gender sexual and romantic attractions/relationships in her previous directorial works Michiko and Hatchin and The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, so to me it seems more likely that she’s continuing in that vein rather than having…suddenly developed an interest in BL.

Matt Thorn, an awesome translator and shojo manga scholar, has actually said that YoI feels more like yuri than BL to her. I can’t say whether I agree, as I just…don’t read yuri (I wish I did!) but I think it’s a fascinating take on the series.

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Scarlet Beriko’s Jackass! Licensed by SuBLime

Very excited to see Scarlet Beriko getting an official English-language release! Jackass! is definitely not without its faults, but it’s also one of the few BL manga I’ve found that not only features a gay character, but a gay character who engages with gay culture. I am not at all an authority on Japanese youth gay culture, but Katsumi’s characterization does feel funny and honest to me, and the inclusion of both his lightly unconventional gender expression and his job working with other gay people in a gay district as more than a throwaway joke is kind of remarkable.

The main story, featuring the characters pictured above, has less feminist points of interest, but is also less problematic (no teacher/student relationship.) It’s a really fun romp, with lots of very teenage emotions and hormones, and a little bit of kink positivity. Definitely something to look forward to and consider purchasing if you can!