“'I’ve killed a woman.' The overbearing voice on the phone was that of a high school classmate named mitsuo ichikawa. Buried memories from the past resurface within the heart of a man who carries the same name, Mitsuo Ichikawa. Events drag him right back into the passions of the past. The two reunite as accomplices, yet their relationship as master and servant slowly changes into something different…"
Last fall Anime News Network revealed it was going to be taking Asumiko Nakamura's dark BL drama "Double Mints" to the live action silver screen. They have now since released movies stills and teasers of their cast. The characters have really started to take shape from their uniquely stylized 2D forms into the ruggedly handsome Mitsuo Ichikawas portrayed by Shunsuke Tanaka and Yasushi Fuchigami.
Asumiko Nakamura was interviewed about her now second work being made into the film and was quoted:
"When they first approached me about the movie deal, I tried not to get my hopes up too high because I knew deals like this fall through all the time. However, thanks to the hard work of the the cast, crew, and staff, it became a reality. I also thought it would be difficult to get serious actors to be a part of the film, but we were able to acquire such a talented, passionate cast; we were so fortunate and privileged. And our great director--I sent over so many nitpicky corrections to the script, and the director never got sick of me, and always responded to me with such strong conviction. I think my readers will be very pleased with this movie. I really hope they enjoy it."
Director Yasushi Okifumi has truly embraced this emotional tale of murder, passion, and psychological disarray into what may be the BL world's darkest live action yet.
Desirable Swimming Boys does what it does very successfully. And what it does is boys doing boys. This is a lovely, smutty little romp that fails in its cursory attempt at psychological tension, but delivers in spades elsewhere. The story follows swim team members addressing their sexual obsessions in all sorts of complicated and counterproductive ways. Finally, a tall and dark deus ex machina turns this “love” triangle into a rectangle and brings our group to its symmetrical and rather moist climax. It is all highly enjoyable.
Here we find a very nice array of fetishes and tags, from rape to incest to group sex. While there is censorship, the filth level is still plenty above average. The art is good. The toning is blocky and very liberally applied, and there are some noticeable instances of Yaoi Anatomy Syndrome, but really nothing distracting. I was very impressed with the expressiveness of the faces, which are really beautifully and effectively rendered, and of course the aforementioned anatomical shortcomings are nowhere to be found in the sex scenes. Panel layout is frenetic but flows very intuitively, creating a complimentary feeling to the emotional tone of the story. Composition in general is tightly pulled in, so there is very little background to speak of.
What elevated this volume from one I was glad I had been able to enjoy one afternoon to one I was glad I own is the bonus story, Untitled. This one shot is really beautiful and I look forward to revisiting it. Untitled takes place in a single room in a vaguely dystopian context, where we watch as the routine of the lone character, a sex worker whose entire world is the plain room with the two-way mirror in which he lives and works, is interrupted. Each page floats on an offset border of lace screentone, deepening the effect of the decadence we feel from the world outside the room, and contrasting garishly with the stark minimalism of the panels. The common thread between Desirable Swimming Boys and Untitled is definitely their considerable explicitness, and I’m glad they’re in the same volume.
Overall, as long as what you’re looking for is a very high smut-to-story ratio, this book is a winner and I definitely recommend it!
Review By: Dot Ringo
"The Imperial Army’s Love Academy" was very disappointing. In keeping with Mizukami’s general style, this is a very smutty piece of hard shota, set within an historical context. All of this is well and good if that’s what you’re looking for, and Mizukami is a champion at it. Where Love Academy breaks down, however, is its attempt to have a plot. What we have here is a threadbare framework of what attempts to be story, character, and relationships, attempting to support a porno, by an artist who is very good at the porno thing.
The arc of the “romance” at work here is definitely cringeworthy, and this is by yaoi standards. Unhealthy relationships are nothing new, unexpected, or even necessarily objectionable in our genre, but this one really takes the cake. We watch an adult, Onizuka, not only prey relentlessly on a child in a sexual sense, but also break him down on a personal, petty level. The child, Yamato, becomes more and more isolated until rather abruptly coming to “love” Onizuka. Handled more competently this could make for an interesting psychological story, but it’s all played totally genuine and without nuance, so the resulting relationship seems tacked on, absurd, and boring. In addition, it’s a bit offensive the way Yamato’s pain seems to dry up suddenly along with the last of his personal boundaries and the self respect he has doggedly clung to throughout the story. Again, I realize this is nothing at all unusual, but in the case of Love Academy, this trope is especially poorly handled.
Love Academy essentially opens with our hero Yamato, an underdeveloped teenager, being raped by his adult superior officer in a pitch black room. This is the first of several highly explicit and well rendered sex scenes, which are hot despite censorship. This is where Mizukami Sensei really shines; In the depiction of young boys being brutalized. Their style is very unique and quite lovely, one can tell Mizukami’s work immediately. The characters have interesting features, though there is one mustache that needs to be killed with fire, and if you look at some crowd scenes everyone’s identical. This is not the only time Mizukami has used a vaguely period military setting. The world building in this book is generally unsuccessful, though the uniforms are very nicely rendered, as are the human forms in general, and the toning is great. Visually this is a very good work.
Overall I can’t recommend The Imperial Army’s Love Academy. Yaoi fans have high levels of patience for ridiculous relationships and terrible plots, but in the case of this book the “story” is actually bad enough to negate the good things about it.
Review By: Dot Ringo
“A murder in New York. Manny Morrison, a transgender woman working at a LGBTQ help center, is left dying in her own blood. Between the apathetic police, charlatan activists, hostile politicians, and hate-fill populace; there's no hope for justice, but there's a chance for revenge.
Eden, a crime boss with big ambitions and even deeper pockets, promises to avenge his old friend by putting his men on the case. Vince, Eden’s top fist-fighter, is fresh out of jail and eager to work again, if only to prove his worth. One dead-end after another, and it's clear to Vince and Eden that this is more than just a hate crime.
Rumors are swirling around the homeless man Manny had opened her home up to. Some say he's a killer, a drug addict, or even a pedophile. In the end, the only thing that's clear is he's the key to understanding why Manny was killed.”
Set in a modern metropolis city, gangs have become the ruling authority. Separated by race, religion, and even sexual identity, no bad deed goes unnoticed or unpunished. Eden has his hands in every market from drugs and firearms to underground fights and disputed territories. He is the leader of a new category of gang in which all members are male and all members are homosexual. In a world plagued by hate and discrimination, homophobia is no exception. Eden and his gang have overcome much and aim to be on top, holding nothing back in this thrilling and erotic new series.
Velvet Toucher has teamed up with Juné manga to launch her new series under the new "yabara” genre. Juné is known for being a publisher of the yaoi, or “boys love,” type of comics. This genre is dominated by women; its origins established in the drawing of slender, beautiful men with common themes of forbidden love and dramatic romances. Yaoi’s counterpart, “bara” come about to appeal to the homosexual male comic reader with depictions of heavy muscled men and explicit content.
The two audiences very scarcely overlap, but at their core they come from the same mutual love of male-male driven stories. Steering away from older stereotypes from both genres, yabara will appeal to a much broader audience. With heavy American influences, Velvet Toucher is the best to showcase this new genre with her diverse cast of masculine men ranging from slim fit to large and rugged.
Not only does her art style appeal to both fujoshi, the LGBTQ communities, and even mainstream comic book readers, but her storytelling is vast and deep with meaning. Underlying plots, current social issues, and an understanding of the human psyche, Velvet Toucher tells the story of “identity.”
Juné will be launching a Kickstarter campaign starting February 22, 2017 to bring this new series to life. The campaign will help fund the initial printing for volume 1 of “Eden’s Mercy,” along with plenty of swag and gifts for every pledge level.
Velvet Toucher’s upcoming mafia drama promises to thrill, shock, and entice. Whether you are a yaoi fan, part of the LGBTQ community, or an indie comic book lover, readers across all spectrums are assured to be hooked to this new class of underworld gangs full of sex, violence, and mystery.
With Juné Manga's upcoming "yabara" kickstarter project, winter anime hits like "Yuri on Ice," and psychological online manga like "Killing Stalking," the definition of "yaoi" has become much more of a grey area.
At its core, yaoi is defined as romantic relationships between two male characters. These stories are predominantly made by women for women. Beginning in the 70s, the boys love genre would depict "bishounen," or pretty boys, having platonic relationships with one another (what some would consider "shounen ai" today). These would progress into more explicit contents in fan made doujinshi, slowly becoming regularized in the manga form as well.
For many years yaoi was not considered "gay manga" as it did not depict homosexual relationships in realistic ways. Intending it to be a fantasy, mangakas would create overly dramatic plot lines, features, and content that would never be found in the real world. These fantasies appealed and catered to the female aesthetic and desires much more than males, thus male readers grew to have a distaste, and even offense, for the genre.
"Bara" was created as the male counterpart to yaoi, made by males for males. Instead of having feminine features, these men are extremely muscular and hairy. Exchanging less plot for more sexual fantasy, the contents are mostly explicit.
In more recent years, the blending of the two genres has been occurring more and more. Moving away from stereotyped plots like dubious consent or overly feminized men, modern changes such as this have started to resonate with both fujoshi fans and the LGBTQ community. Many authors are now exchanging these known yaoi tropes into more realistic human relationships with plots such as traumatic pasts and less social taboo. Works by artists such as Sakira, who draws very muscular bara men with plenty of sexual content, have grabbed the attention of both sets of fans for her ability of comedic storytelling and unique art style.
With modern streaming and subscription services, the ability to watch and read online with same day releases has caused anime and manga fans alike to flock to these digital sources. The blending of cultures and fans has caused both positive and negative effects for the yaoi, LGBTQ, and general otaku communities.
Last season's hit anime "Yuri on Ice" caused a rift with these communities and sparked debate on what the definition of yaoi truly is and where does one draw the line. Modernizing the yaoi genre and getting rid of social stigmas can cause people to argue "is it yaoi?" or "is it just a relationship that happens to be homosexual?" Some have come to define modern yaoi that if the relationship between the two males is the main plot source for the story, then yes it is a yaoi. If there are much larger plot points and two characters happen to be homosexual, then it is just a subplot romance, thus not a yaoi.
It has truly become a definition in the eyes of each personal reader. Where someone draws the line may vastly vary to someone else based on their upbring, lifestyle, or even just their personal taste. The best part about having an expanding grey area are the debates themselves, if done in healthy open minded settings. Talking about issues and social awareness can be massively helpful and healthy when done under the right circumstances. Now while this is not always done in the most positive ways, as most any disagreement can lend itself to, the community itself still encourages everyone to be as respectful and open minded to any and all.
Whether you spell it yaoi, yai, yoai, or simply yaoi, the big question is: where do yaoi comics go from here? With an ever expanding yet smaller world, there are thousands of plots, artists, and genres to choose from. Whether you enjoy the beautiful bishounen, muscular baras, or even a blend of both, chances are there is a story out there just for you.