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
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.
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.
The Boys Love Book Club is back with our latest video highlighting the work of Hideyoshico. She has an expressive, atypical yaoi art style in which she highlights the manly features of her men. Hair legs, tough skin, even her character's body language steps away from the typical bishounen look and gives breath to Hideyoshico's own unique style. In this week's BLBC, Gracie covers books one and two of Hideyoshico's "Apple and Honey" series. Watch the video below, read her books, and let us know what you think of this wonderful series!
What's better than the gift of yaoi? (◞ꈍ∇ꈍ)◞⋆**✚⃞ྉ Spread the holiday cheer with some long awaited Juné manga restocks. These BL classics will go fast so be sure to grab a copy for you and a friend!Natsuki sees the world through a lonely haze. So, why is strange and popular Komano suddenly circling him with a sly smile? Is his attention a cruel joke…or is something delicious bubbling just beneath the surface? Apple and Honey mixes summer heat and sweet desire into the perfect treat. Will the beach bring a secret couple closer together? And can the end of the world mark the beginning of lasting love?
Yorozu lives at Castle Mango, a "love hotel" where couples pay for a few hours to themselves. But his quiet life is violated when Togame arrives to shoot an adult film! Soon Yorozu's being "mistaken" for an actor, having his pants suddenly removed and watching his little brother get hit on. Togame eventually agrees to stay away from Yorozu's brother, but there's a catch - and it's not something Yorozu's going to like!On his very first day at a brand-new job, shy Shima is trapped in the elevator with a hungover mess of a guy…who turns out to be his boss! Togawa’s prickly exterior definitely puts the rookie recruit on-edge, but it doesn’t take long before Shima’s every waking thought is invaded by his overbearing yet totally thoughtful superior. Will Shima put aside a history of disappointment in order to take a chance on a complicated relationship? No Touching At All is the main story featuring the couple Onoda x Deguchi in the side story; "Even So, I Will Love You Tenderly."A New Season of Young Leaves
Cool, friendly Mariya is the undisputed king of his year! But why does he always hang around with shy and painfully awkward “Mr. Mannequin” Nachi? Can these boys withstand the non-stop judgment of a school filled with jealous rivals and confused classmates? A New Season of Young Leaves follows every sweet high and lonely low in the growing relationship of unlikely best friends. How will the most popular guy in class deal when his wallflower confidant suddenly steals the social spotlight…and a beautiful girl’s affection?
When Sakurai's small world is taken over by a strange and otherworldly young painter, he can't tell if the fascination is mutual. Will a man with a battered heart welcome a mysterious new friend with open arms? Does the Flower Blossom? mixes curious attraction and feisty friendship to create a picture-perfect tale! Can two men with wildly different histories put their pasts aside and grow in the light of new love?
At the end of S volume 3, detective Masaki Shiiba was last seen running away from the hospital room of his injured S, Keigo Munechika. Now, Shiiba has turned in his resignation, bought a gun of his own, and is bent on only one mission—to kill Takanari Godou. He vows to get the truth from Godou, even if he has to throw away his morals and life to do it. But can he do it? Can he shoot another person and commit cold-blooded murder for revenge?