Shiuko Kano’s loveable roughnecks are at it again this solid spinoff of I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone. The central stories in this book follow Kousei Mogi, a blue collar single dad. Mogi’s dirty coveralls hold a heart of pure honey, and he’s a perfect pivot for the other characters.
The overarching theme of all four parts of the central story and the side story is love of dubious origin. Be it blackmail, drunken hate sex, or just plain hijinks, the first time any of these couples falls into bed together is hardly romantic in a traditional sense, and the reader spends significant portion of the story unsure, but not too worried, whether these are healthy relationships at all. In the end however, it really is a sweet book, full of sweet stories as only Kano Sensei can deliver them.
The scope of the relationships in this book are quite broad and interesting. We do not focus myopically on the interactions within the couples, but are privy to witness the greater social context in which they occur. There are graphic accounts of abuse and trauma, and real depictions of sadness. There are women and children in somewhat real development, beyond their usual roles in Yaoi as foils, and the characters’ stories intertwine in natural and interesting ways. Overall the pacing is excellent.
Kano’s art style is very unique and Maybe I’m Your Steppin’ Stone is no exception. Her characters have an interesting elongated morphology and an unusual facial frame, which it is easy to either love or hate. To be sure there are some jarring examples of Yaoi Anatomy Syndrome to be seen here, but overall the composition and rendering are good.
The aforementioned women and children also display exaggerated physicality, and are just as well drawn as the men. Unfortunately it can be a little hard to differentiate characters at times because their faces are so similar, which muddies the story.
During the plentiful, hot, and creative spicy scenes, anatomical missteps are nowhere to be found. The action is uncensored and juicy, including foot worship, toys, femoral penetration, and more. Run-of-the-mill this is not, I enjoyed the sexiness of this book the most of just about anything I’ve read recently.
I definitely recommend Maybe I’m Your Stepping Stone for its engaging characters, interesting plots, and delicious sexiness. It is not necessary to have read I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone for this high quality to serve as a great addition to anyone’s collection.
Review by Dot Ringo
In the little town of Warwick, Rhode Island, yaoi and LGBTQ communities united to create a memorial and overwhelmingly successful first year BishounenCon!
BishounenCon was the brand new, classy, east coast counterpart to the long running California convention YaoiCon. Like YaoiCon, BishounenCon is founded on embracing the Japanese subculture of "yaoi', or "boy's love," manga, anime, and fandoms with fancentric programing. Juné, the sponsor for both conventions, brought over veteran staff, official bishounen, panels, and main events to really give east coast a taste of what YaoiCon is all about.
Not to be an exact replica of YaoiCon, BishounenCon also embraced LGBTQ culture and communities, giving a safe space for both groups to thrive and interact. Panels like Gay Life: Fact vs Yaoi, But We're Both Guys: Unplacking BL Cliches, and LGBTQ+: Going Beyond Gay gave amazing presentations on gender and sexual variations.
BishounenCon's goal was to become the classier younger brother of YaoiCon, starting with its sharply dressed mascots by Tatouji to new programming events like the Host Club and Masquerade Ball.
Our veteran bishounen truly dressed to impress and entertain at the Friday night Host Club. Here attendees made reservations with their favourite bishounen and got to have a relaxing date with them. Each bishie brought out their unique charm for their guests and even put on skits for the entire crowd to enjoy.
Saturday nights Masquerade Ball was a nice change up from the usual convention rave. With of local dance studio Twirl the Girl, free formal dance lessons were held an hour early to teach attendees a move or two. Attendees showed up to impress and got to dance the night away to Yuri On Ice hits, participate in a cosplay contest, and even win big prizes in a Juné sponsored raffle!
Our special guest Fox E., amazing cosplayer and drag queen, hosted a Drag Show during the Masquerade Ball with some of the bishies. She stunned the audience with her Final Fantasy X/X-2 Yuna performance, costume change and all! This was many of the audience's first drag show and they had an amazing experience between Fox E.'s spirit, bishies in spandex, and even a shirtless lip sync battle.
Guest of Honor, Velvet Toucher, had a busy weekend of signings, panels, and taking in the BishounenCon spirit. She was overjoyed to meet fans of her previous work, Lost in the Snow, and encourage everyone to check out her newest work, Eden's Mercy, currently on Kickstarter.
Overall, BishounenCon's first year was a great success! Final count of attendance was 492!! The attendees were wonderful, courteous, and gave great feedback for us to improve on. A second year has not been confirmed just yet, but keep checking in on the Juné blog for updates for another wonderful year full of even more great programming!
We would like to thank once more our staff, volunteers, bishounen, special guests, and of course our attendees!
Lies are a Gentleman’s Manners gets full marks, no question. This odd little volume and all that makes it unique is immediately one of my all-time favorites. This story, which feels much more full than its 200 pages would suggest, follows Dr. Paul Thomas Haskins, a waspish Ivy League professor, and Jonathan, a student of his. Both these men are manipulative sociopaths, though whether that is in their nature or whether they are so deep in the closet that skeletons and old sweaters are suffocating them and giving them brain damage is not clear.
The characters choose not to see it in each other, and the narration is so successfully ironic that the audience could miss it too if they blink. This is hardly a love story, and the truth is, it’s hardly about Jonathan at all. This book could easily have detailed any of Paul’s many trysts, most likely with a scrappy cutie from the wrong side of the tracks, because that seems to be his type. This story is amazing in that it is a day in the life, rather than a snapshot of some defining, sweeping, meaningful romance. This affair may or may not be remembered, there is no real resolution, and everything will be the same tomorrow.
This book stands out in relative realness. The ongoing theme is that of the dreaded Closet. Our “hero” Paul is a 37 year old gay man who inspires no sympathy whatsoever, and never feels he deserves any. He is New England royalty from the oldest money and the highest position of privilege in the country. His life has been one of connection, nepotism, and leisure. As he says himself, his biggest problem is his receding hairline. Yet one can’t hate him because he is sentenced by his station to never truly be fulfilled in his own identity. The same syndrome is reflected in his lovers, though it manifests differently in each.
Socioeconomic stratification is touched upon. Even HIV is acknowledged. The setting and cultural context is very well researched and fleshed out, so the way the tight social web surrounding the school and the region seems to have all roads leading back to Paul feels natural.
Lies are a Gentleman’s Manners is a story of complex motivations in a complex context. It is also a story of smex. Good old fashioned hot stuff in most satisfactory quantities. The sex scenes are not explicit in the traditional pornier sense I usually gravitate toward, but they are objectively excellent. The faces are expressive enough to make one blush and the anatomy has tension, weight, and volume in all the right places.
The art is just as good throughout and the style is totally unlike any I’ve seen. The style also noticeably changes between the first and last panels, which is fun to watch. The art is minimal yet communicative with a high efficiency of line and very effective toning. From the settings to the outfits, the world building is tight and beautiful, and each character has their own unique features. Not every character is perfect either, something not often seen in yaoi. Of course they’re all attractive, but the basic bishounen mold is not at work here.
If you’re in the market for a terrifically crafted little human drama with truly interesting characters and lots of hot action, rooted in a relatable reality (hard to imagine someone NOT being in the market for that), this is a great score. I look forward to revisiting this treasure many times. I also have the feeling that the next time someone insists I give them a peek into the world of my special secret bookshelf, this is the one I will show them. This is a great yaoi, and also just a great book. I hope you enjoy it.
“'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