Video Transcripts

Here is a giant storage pile of the video scripts I used in making my video reviews.

They’re not word for word, but they’re pretty dang close.

Purehearted Romance

Cafe Latte Rhapsody

Electrical Delusion

Embracing Love

Cute Devil

Rutta and Kodama

Love Stage

Gravitation

Hinkao Takanaga (Author)

Tyrant Falls in Love

Totally Captivated

Purehearted Romance

Intro:

Good day everyone this is your loveable huggable Yourfaspendhere…..or….for the attractive your fap SEND here. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiink!

As those who follow me know I run a blog making fun of bad yaoi/BL. While my list of yaoi I hate is expansive, at the top of the list is a particular anime/manga which I will be discussing today! That anime/manga being Junjou Romantica or Pure hearted romance by Shungiku Nakamura. I hate it with all of my soul, and when I’m done you will too! ..Actually I don’t care if you still like it when you’re done watching this review, but I hope you will better understand its faults, and problematic it can be.

Before I get into my million and a half reasons why its a putrid pile of poop pellets and does not deserve its popularity a few warnings and a couple of notes about this review.

Warnings:

  1. Trigger warnings! The manga contains molestation, rape, stalking, abusive relationships, and generous Stockholm syndrome. I will be discussing these elements the best I can with dignity because the manga sure as shit does not.
  2. This video is not going to be NSFW. The manga has a LOT of gay sex in it….or at least….I think that’s what they’re doing. So while there are no real panels of graphic penetration, thanks to Japan’s bizarre censorship laws you’ll see some implied sex, convenient leg/head placements,and the Japan staple crops, lantern wangs and inviso peens.

What’s with me?

  1. My knowledge of the Japanese language is lacking, so mistakes will probably be made when it comes to the pronunciations of names. Feel free to correct me on this!
  2. Now I have read all the manga twice, and watched 2 seasons of the currently available anime. Why did I do this? Well 1.) I’m a mascochist for bad media, and 2.) I do my best to avoid criticizing anything without knowing as much as I can about it. I try to give bad shows/comics/books a chance to turn around…but Purehearted never did did so.

With all that out of the way, allow me to quick go over… What the fuck is Purehearted romance? I would like to just say, “WELL IT AIN’T PUREHEARTED OR ROMANTIC” but allow me to explain in a little bit more detail for those who are unfamiliar.

WHAT THE FUCK IS PUREHEARTED!?

So what is Purehearted? Well let me just pop on the anime and….HOLY FUCK JESUS NO!

Okay, if you don’t know anything about Japanese Boy’s Love, that intro has given you a good crash course. Cutesy wutesy, lovey dovey, flowery powery, colorful nonsense that has little to do with how actual homosexual people actually behave or live. Boy’s love or Yaoi is a genre orginating in Japan. Not that gay sex was invented in Japan, but this particular genre has its orgins there. In a story of this nature (typically) a giant abusive dude (the seme) overpowers a delicate effeminate guy (the uke) and it’s supposed to be romantic and sexy. You may be thinking how thinly veiled misgonyistic that sounds, but it is aimed at female audiences.

This is a long running boy’s love/yaoi japanese comic by Shungiku Nakamura. As I understand it (and I’ve only been able to read what’s online) it has at least 15 volumes with 70 chapters spanning from 2003 to now.

Pure hearted romance is EXCEEDINGLY popular not only in Japan where whole manga stands are dedicated to the series, but has had good success in the west becoming the first Boy’s love manga to hit New York Times’s best seller’s manga list. It even has a 2 going on 3 season anime adaption by Studio Deen! ….Not that getting it adapted by Studio Deen is the highest honor or anything….I mean COME ON it’s Studio Deen!

The story in itself follows the blooming romance of three different gay male couples. The main one, whose story is the primary focus and has the most time dedicated to is Purehearted romance is between Misaki a naïve struggling high school student who gets tutored by a possessive successful writer nearing his 30s named Aikikio but goes by the nickname Usagi meaning rabbit.

The 2nd one featured goes by Egotisical or Selfish Romance between a prideful graduate student of literature Hiroki who ends up tutoring the once orphaned calm and collected Nowaki.

Lastly there is the story of Romance terrorist which features Miyagi a listless aging professor of literature, and the willful high school student Shinobu who claims the two are destined to be together.

…That doesn’t sound SO bad faps!


That’s because I was trying really hard to be factual and not bias! Cause the bias is going to come in hard and fast!

How am I going to tear this apart?

Well I am going to focus on 3 categories. Art, Story, and characters. At then end of each section I will have a wrap up and mention what happens to be good here. I will be breaking these categories down further to prove the point that this manga is not of good quality. Art will be the shortest rant, and in it I will be speaking on:

  1. Generally of its deficiencies which include things like poses, screentoning, shading, motion, and paneling
  2. Anatomy which is an embarrassment by even yaoi standards, and I will have a mini rant JUST on the hands.
  3. Lack of character diversity all the characters look the fucking same, which detracts from their supposedly unique personalities and lives but also makes it very difficult to tell them apart.

When it comes to Story another 3 major problems,

  1. The molestation and domestic abusive elements which do not get resolved in something claiming to be purehearted, sweet, and romantic.
  2. The repeat ion/lack of progress! Stories repeat themselves ALL THE GOD DAMN TIME!
  3. Overall bad writing and inconsistencies.

When it comes to Characters there are 2 major problems,

  1. The characters are crap.
  2. The relationships are even more crap.

So let’s start this review but judging this book by its cover with its….quote art unquote. As I mentioned, I will be covering the art in general, the anatomy, and the lack of character diversity.

Da art

So….in general the art is exceedingly lacking.

Let’s hack at it from a general comic view and as we progress get the to details.

Its use of paneling is laughable at best. They don’t make good use of space, and are overly busy making it hard to understand what is supposed to be happening. In particular the sex scenes are incredibly hard to discern for the latter reason. They jam dialog, internal monolog, fluids, moaning, yaoi breath, broken looking limbs, and motion into tight spaces. It simply tries to add too much and ends up ruining it. There are also instances of violent mood-swaps mid-page when it comes to the sex. Such as this…..and this. Jarring much? Screentones are used to add basic texture into comics to make things pop/fade/ or to simply make things easier. Here there appears to be no rhyme or reason to it, and it sometimes just STOPS out of the blue. Speaking of which their use of shading is the same way. Shading is supposed to make things look more realistic or increase the drama. Here it’s half assed and without purpose. This in particular is a great example, You see the left top of his head is dark, while the left top of his shoulder is bright. Is there supposed to be just a strip of light on him? If so than his shoulder should be nowhere near that bright! Motion is laughable. It does not seem to understand how to use lines to indicate movement and ends up looking cheap and confusing. Poses are outlandish looking regularly but seem to get more bizarre the more important the scene. Instead of drawing us into an emotional moment we are left scratching are heads at, “How do they not fall on their asses. That *insert body part here* does not bend that way, that perspective makes me dizzy, are they standing on platforms?, …is he grabbing…his OWN FACE? Right on down to the expressions which are repeated so frequently I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody managed to overlay and find two that match perfectly. These (as is my running theme) are also poorly executed. Lots of giant square mouths without throats, their stunt doubles seem to all be flounders.

A big detractor when it comes to the art is the Anatomy, which is piss poor and has little improvement throughout the manga’s 10 year reign. I have seen probably every anatomy booboo you can make under the sun while reading through Purehearted. Any manner of body parts you will find too long, too short, too thick, too thin, bending too much, body parts coming out of places they shouldn’t, or they’re outright the wrong shape! What has been botched consistently? Limbs are too long and thin, torso are too long and thin, lack of hips, lack of neck, and of course….the hands.

Oh dipping shit christ the hands….if you’ve ever looked up the running gag of Yaoi hands, which are infamous for being too big with spindly freaky fingers, you are BOUND to come across pages of Purehearted art. The hands are the god damn size of CYMBALS! Now I understand the stylistic reason for hands in yaoi to be bigger than anatomically acceptable because they’re supposed to be sensual….but there is a limit folks there is a clearly defined limit which Purehearted has no concept of! Besides the alien SIZE of the hands, there are other screw ups which make them look out of a less-than-erotic nightmare! For instance the knuckles are over detailed which gives the impression of them being gnarly, and emanciated. There is also, what I like to dub, knuckle stairs. A somewhat clenched hand will be facing you by its side either straight on or at a slightly tilted angle but it looks as if the knuckles are several inches apart declining toward you in what looks like steps. Though the art fuck up, which has thankfully mostly been corrected is what I call the mole hand. Where the artist does not seem to recognize that the thumb is lower on the hand than the rest of the fingers. Go on, take a look at your hand right now! Evolution in action, it makes it much easier to grasp things when the thumb is lower on the hand. Perhaps Nakumura is a creationist in the fact that the thumb is right up top with the others in some freaky 5 fingered digging mole claw, where the thumb has to do some alarming contortions in order to behave like a normal thumb……Buh!

Okay okay, let’s finally move on to the last piece of art rant. The character diversity. Human beings are a delightfully varied species, but you wouldn’t know that from the character designs that are churned out here. The differences you see between the semes and ukes are the following: stronger chin, smaller eyes, and taller.

The differences you see between the different semes or between different ukes is: Hair color, eye color, Hair cut, but never varying so the bangs are in or somewhat above the eyes and that the hair is either cropped or dangles down just above the shoulders and umm little else.

What other things can you possibly vary in a person you may cry. Welllll nose, ears, mouths, lips, skin color, body type, eyebrows, proportions, and facial spacing, just to name a few. The things that DO vary, vary very little.

One of the few things that vary, the hair color is often muddled because the author will change the hair tone in order to make things look more dramatic. This is not a case of, “Well you’re just not sophisticated enough to tell these characters apart, true fans know!” Because I have seen numerous sites where it must be explained to fans the differences between characters. I shit you not, when I say I was reading a chapter of egotist where Hiroki had a flashback and I literally thought that the other couple romance terrorist had started up because Hiroki was with someone else and I couldn’t tell if HE was supposed to be a new character or not. To prove my point let’s play a game. Look at the characters on the left and the characters on the right. Are they the same person? No these are all different characters! How about here? Ah a bluff these are all correctly matched…..last but not least how about here? OH so close all of them are different except for the middle one here see?

There is no excuse for this. People cry that the ~anime style~ is similar looking but that’s a huge sack of shit tied up with a bow! Anime and japanese art is wonderfully diverse, and just because you draw in a certain style does not give you the excuse to make all your characters look the same.

Okay with that all out of the way, can you tell me what is good about this art?

The chibis or simplied cute forms can be well done and have some good variation depending on what mood is being struck. There is a good use of chibis but it is not OVER used. Its one of the cheapest compliments I can give since making chibis is so fucking easy, but gotta say something nice! The art HAS improved somewhat with hands and anatomy reigned into normalcy somewhat, but overall not enough for 10 years improvement, and the artist constantly makes sloppy mistakes on things you KNOW they know how to do correctly.

While, like most humans, I can be a shallow creature I can, occasionally look past lackluster art to a story of value, so let’s set aside the superficial aspects and tackle the meat of this beast!

Story!

I can’t decide if the art or the story is more lazy! It’s like comparing a bloody dump a cow took on your face, or a bloody dump a horse took on your face.

I will break down how crap the story is into 3 sections

  1. Abuse
  2. repeation,
  3. and overall slip ups and story detractions in all three couples starting off with the abusive elements.

Please bare with me folks. I’m going to try to make the following section entertaining, while trying to treat domestic abuse with dignity. If I flub up somewhere do not hesitate to call me out.

Abuse: Pure hearted

There’s no use dancing around it purhearted is a poster boy for domestic abuse. Don’t believe me? Here’s a basic list of behavior you see in an abusive relationship. Note you don’t need many of these behaviors, hell one of the more serious ones is enough to classify it as abuse. However for pureharted out of the 23 behaviors connected to abuse the Purehearted couple has shown at least 19 of these behaviors. Let me briefly talk about each of these categories to prove it.

Let’s start with belittlement: Usagi blames Misaki for his own behavior all the time. He says Misaki is unaware of the fact he’s acting seductive but assures him he is, and that he’s at fault for his sexually aggressive behavior. He even once says Misaki is seducing him, WHILE HE’S ASLEEP! That is something that literally happens in the manga. YEAH SNORE FOR ME SLUT! NOTHING MAKES ME HOTTER THAN THE FACT YOU’RE COMPLETELY FUCKING UNCONCIOUS!

Usagi frequently bullies and puts down Misaki as well. He calls him stupid all the time, in fact in the first scene when they’re alone he says nobody will believe he was molested by him because he gets poor grades. THIS IS FUCKING HORRIFYING BUT TOTALLY TRUE FOR THE MANGA I CAN’T MAKE THIS SHIT UP! When Misaki later calls out Usagi on bullying him, Usagi denies it, when Misaki proves it, Usagi claims when he’s saying he’s stupid he’s really praising him. You know what trying to get somebody to challenge their own sanity is called? FUCKING GASLIGHTING AND IT AIN’T GOT SHIT ON CHAINSAW WEILDING SERIAL KILERS WHEN IT COMES TO THE SCARNESS FACTOR! Not to mention that Usagi clearly treats Misaki like a sex object. Misaki himself states multiple times that his body is not a toy for him, while Usagi says he needs to use him to “recharge.”

Next up!

Controlling behavior: This is one where Usagi really shines…okay he shines in all categories really but being a controlling fuckass is his specialty. One of the major cornerstones of his personality is the fact that he’s incredibly jealous. HOW JEALOUS IS HE? He has a tantrum, claiming Misaki “Cares too much” for his (GUESS WHAT) baby nephew when he was made to watch him for an afternoon. He also tried to have sex with Misaki IN FRONT of the child. No guys this is a romantic hero, where are you going? Usagi does his best to control Misaki’s every movements too. He drives him to and from school despite the fact its only a 10 minute walk. He’ll routinely stop Misaki from hanging out with friends by physically removing him and driving off with him. How about something as innocuous as phone use? Usagi will hang up Misaki’s phone if he suspects he’s takling to someone he doesn’t want him to, he’s cut phone lines, and just when you think he’s hit all the psycho shit he can do with a phone, he tracked down Misaki using a GPS function on his cellphone without his knowledge. Hell one thing that’s super controlling but not even on the list is blackmail. If Misaki doesn’t do what Usagi wants Usagi threatens to publish erotic works featuring real examples of his sexual exploits with him without his name changed. Let’s get real here, it’s hardly a threat since Usagi does this all the time anyway. OH HOO THAT’S NOT EVEN THE WORSE! The piece de Resistance on this controlling cake would be the fact that Usagi drugged and kidnapped Misaki so he could take him on a vacation away from the things making him jealous. You could….yanno ASK if he wanted to? Oh he could but he would’ve said no, and we can’t have him saying no, now can we?

Speaking of not listening when he says no, up to the plate is Violence!: While controlling is one of Usagi’s biggest features, his main method of mistreating Misaki falls in this category. That being sexual violence. As we all know rape is not about sex, but is about power and it seems as if Usagi can never get enough power. The first time the two of them are alone Misaki confronts Usagi about publishing erotic works featuring his brother being sexually accosted by Usagi (without names changed). Usagi (no joke) responds to accusations of being a rapist….byyyyyyy raping Misaki. It quickly becomes a pattern. If Usagi feels like it or (more often) if Misaki does something he doesn’t like Usagi pins him down and fucks him regardless of what Misaki does in protest. He even outright says he does it as punishment for making him angry in one scene. While Usagi doesn’t out right punch Misaki, he intentionally hurts him. When Misaki cries out that being pinned down, thrown around, slammed against a wall, or being anally penetrated hurts, Usagi gives no fucks. One of the things a healthy relationship has? A partner who CARES if they’re hurting you. Fuckity shit!

Lastly how does this all effect Misaki? Is he becoming battered? And I’m not talking about dipping the kid in a delicious mixture of semi liquid grains! Misaki clearly feels afraid of Usagi. I quite frankly don’t blame the kid. Chapter 3 of purehearted opens with Misaki confronting Usagi, only for him to back down because he’s frightened of him and Usagi only proves him right but using physical and sexual force on him. Misaki feels as if he has to walk on eggshells around Usagi because it’ll all come back on him. (stop for videoclip) The most foul example of this is Usagi entering a bad mood because Misaki was being congratulated by friends and acquaintances for getting a job that he worked hard for. No no, take your times screaming profanities at the screen, I’ll wait.

Let’s back up here a bit. If we’re talking about how Misaki feels, some people argue that Misaki was never raped. For in one scene Misaki tells Usagi that when it comes to sex, “You haven’t been forcing me, in fact was their ever a time you did?” …Wait are all sex scenes automatically 100% consensual. It is true that only individuals with their personal decisions can decide what is and isn’t consent. I do not believe that is the case here. Even in Misaki’s internal monologs he is frightened, confused, and deeply ashamed of these acts.

 

This is not consent, but rather the author making an incredibly flimsy justification many, many chapters later. One could easily argue that because Misaki didn’t want that (and arguably many other instances of intercourse) that he is rewriting his own history in order to console himself. “Well I like sex with him now, and he’s my boyfriend, and my boyfriend would never do anything to hurt me so any non-con acts he performed on me weren’t REALLY non-con, I liked them this whole time.” The reason I say this is because there are many other OPEN instances of Misaki lying to himself and making excuses for Usagi’s behavior which indicate a pattern of Stockholm syndrome or being “house broken”.

It is interesting because the manga and anime seem to take different routes here. I’m going to go with the anime version because it is the most clear. During the story Misaki has a bit of internal monolog which goes, “If I really hadn’t wanted it (sex) I could have said no, but I didn’t.” This is an outright lie. Every single sex scene in the anime leading up to that announcement Misaki tells Usagi to stop, to which he is ignored. Yet here Misaki says he never told him no? That’s a fucking joke, and frankly proof to me that he’s trying to adapt himself to abuse by lying to himself so it hurts less.

THEREFORE

Misaki isn’t cool with how Usagi treats him but tries to justify it (where there is none) and adapt himself to his behavior, which is typical of abuse victims.

Abuse: Egotist

Egotist has the least amount thank god!

In the egotist story the thing that convinces Hiroki to tutor Nowaki after all was the fact that Nowaki stole his keys and broke into his house while he was sleeping….to prove he’s really dedicated. It should really prove to everybody that he needs the fucking cops called on his ass.

Throughout the story Hiroki will tell Nowaki to stop, and shove him off, when they’re about to engage in sex, but Nowaki has yet to listen to him. Sure afterwards Hiroki will go, “I can’t resist him” or “That was fun” but if a partner doesn’t stop when someone says “No.” That’s an issue.

In a later chapter Hiroki tries to break up with him (for good reason.) Nowaki uses force on Hiroki in order to make him “change his mind” and uses force on another character, whom he suspects may be romantically tied to Hiroki.

Though Hiroki, incidentally, is not entirely innocent. Though I would say that Nowaki is the more problematic of the two, and that neither of their behaviors cancel each other out.

From Hiroki’s side Hiroki stalked and observed Nowaki for months at his place of work without Nowaki knowing. He also uses physical violence on him many times but garsh its wacky slapstick and his boyfriend is bigger than him so it can’t really hurt him ahuck!

Abuse: Terrorist

In a twist of fate the submissive in this relationship could be considered more abusive of the two.

Shinobu’s obsession with Miyagi started at around the age 15 lasted a few years and he immediately stopped what he was doing and flew around the world when he heard Miyagi had gotten divorced. He did this so he could DEMAND that Miyagi take responsibility for Shinobu falling in love with him. You shitting me? He wasn’t walking around like a billboard trying his damnest to get people to fall for him. Hell even if he was do you demand a billboard finger-bangs you if they put up a really sexy ad? You think he sounds like a little shit now? OH JUST YOU WAIT AND SEE! He continuously harasses Miyagi to the point that Miyagi confides he feels as if he’s being stalked. What does his friend Hiroki think about this?

Oh if you’re bothered enough to admit you feel like you’re being stalked than you MUST be in love with the person who is stalking you.

IF I COULD SCREAM FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, IT WOULD NOT ADEQUATELY DESCRIBE HOW FUCKING HORRIFYING THAT IS!

Miyagi is annoyed with Shinobu’s constant nagging for relationship responsibility. I mean I don’t even know how one takes responsibility for that? Saying sorry? Giving out one handy before sending you away?

This bring out in Miyagi abusive behavior of his own.

So what does Miyagi do to make sure Shinobu loses romantic and sexual interest in him?

Rapes him.

Cause it’d hardly be yaoi if there wasn’t a slice of non-con to go with every relationship. This is not something done out of lust, but rather “punishment” and not consensual slap happy BDSM punishment but literal punishment. Miyagi calls his rape a “childish prank” yet later he says it must have been traumatic for shinobu. …However admits he wanted to do something that would inflict harsh emotional damage.

HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT!?

Miyagi is mildly possessive, and sexually violent. Yet even after they end up becoming a couple Shinobu’s demanding behavior does not end. He comes to the conclusion that because Miyagi owns a picture of a long deceased person, that he could not possibly love him. He does not make requests of Miyagi but makes demands many of them are incredibly petty. He gets pissed off left and right at Miyagi for being unable to read his mind.

At least these two it goes both ways. Miyagi uses sexual force on Shinobu, but Shinobu is hugely possessive and an emotionally manipulative little turd.

Sum up:

I understand, and accept the fact that many people vicariously enjoy relationships that are not healthy in their media. It does not make them screwed up, it doesn’t mean they want abusers of their own, or to abuse others, it’s simply is a kink or fascination that people can enjoy. I have no real problem with folks enjoying that as long as they realize that what the couples are engaging in is dangerous.

I will say I take issue that the abuse is framed as romantic, and it is abundantly clear that all three of these couples frame it as such. (clip here) The abusers are seen as desirable, their awful behaviors excused or justified, their expressions of affection are tied in with their manipulations if not one in the same, the manga is overloaded with adorable chibis and bears, and the genre in itself is……*drum roll please* BOY’S LOVE ROMANCE!

For crying out fucking loud the name of the story is unironically named “Pure hearted Romance!”

Now I’ll be honest and say, I don’t believe Nakamura intentionally tried to sell us dolled up versions of domestic abusive relationships. I think this is the same phenomenon that happened in 50 shades of grey and albeit many other romance stories. That (without knowing) the authors wrote realistic examples of domineering unhealthy relationships, out of ignorance. It quite frankly seems to of happened on fluke because both couldn’t write their way out of a paper bag. However I do not think their ignorance absolves them, every instance of romantized abuse needs to be called out and discussed.

I believe it is a symptom of a broken society, that obvious abusive relationships are written and enjoyed by people while not even realizing any of it is abusive.

Now with that out of the way allow me to move to less heavy topic to tear asunder.

Repetition/Lack of progress

The story is formulatic and that in itself isn’t bad…however with its length and its stubbornness to deviate from their formula makes it sound like a talking doll with a broken pull string. Near every story follows this pattern of, “Insecurity, deny insecurity, tension mounts, insecurity revealed, You were dumb for having this insecurity cause I love you, sex, and wraps up with a joke.” It isn’t a bad pattern, but for that to happen near every chapter for 70 chapters in a row is major snoresville.

This is compounded by two other issues that only seek to annoy me faster:

  1. Little gets resolved

Instead of having a new insecurity dealt with every chapter they just use the same ones time and time again.

Big, repeating things that do not get resolution are things like. “Accepting a relationship” because both Egotist and Purehearted have ukes that deny up and down that they’re dating the people they live with. Not out of some, “I can’t deal with my homosexuality” but rather, “RELATIONSHIPS ARE SO EMBARRASING!” I can’t let my live in boyfriend of many years find out I like him back cause…cause UGUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

The other side of this is 3rd parties that make the couples jealous…..never give up. We have a lot of, “Hey dude I know you have a crush on me but I’m dating somebody else so leave me alone.” The other character will seemingly accept this…but show up a couple chapters later with the same brand of assault. With Misaki giving the same, “Sorry I won’t fuck you” talk, another acceptance and WELP NEXT CHAPTER WE HEAR, “I’VE DECIDED TO NOT GIVE UP ON YOU!” Usagi’s step brother is the worse of the lot, his assualts started in pureharted chapter 7, and have been going on, off and on up until purehearted chapter 27 where he mentions that he hasn’t given up on him. Misaki has given him at least 3 full blown speeches about how he will never date him.

That leads us to our 2nd point!

2.) Jealousy is the primary driver for every one of these stories.

So much so that Usagi states that anything that comes near Misaki causes him to become jealous. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to beat up chairs Misaki has sat on because THAT’S NO MY DONG DON’T SIT ON THAT! HOW DARE MY PROPERTY TOUCH ANOTHER PIECE OF MY PROPERTY! HAVE AT YOU CHAIR!

Even in chapters where the THEME isn’t jealousy, jealousy gets shoe-horned in all the bloody time! There are numerous times jealousy is used just to heighten tension but it’s even used when it’s not really needed at all.

In purehearted Usagi’s cousin stays over with him for awhile. The cousin tries to cozy up to Usagi which makes Misaki jealous…but barely. This had no bearing on the story at all. The main point of it is that Misaki is worried about getting a career after college, and a co-worker’s feelings for him (suprise that leads to jealousy). It was perhaps added so the viewer would hate the cousin more, but honestly he is a totally throw-away character so it seems pointless to dwell on at all. Oh and the reason that cousin tries to make Misaki jealous is because he himself is Jealous of the affection Misaki is getting from another person.

HOOHOO FUCK ME!

Jealousy is the breakfast, lunch, main course, the side-dish, the dessert, the drinks, and practically the fucking silverware in this sorry excuse of a story!

Even though they beat the jealousy horse to death with another jealousy horse as a jealousy horse watches, other things repeat themselves in this comic…In fact the author seems to have no shame about copying stories to the letter. Have a few examples:

Misaki meets Usagi’s step-brother by helping him use the subway system and the two both happen to be heading to the same place. He becomes obsessed with Misaki and constantly sends him strawberries and later cherries.

Misaki meets Usagi’s father by helping him use the subway system and the two both happen to be heading to the same place. He becomes obsessed with Misaki and constantly sends him craved bear figurines.

Well that’s just…

This also happens in the Terrorist story where Shinobu and Miyagi both happen to be going to the same place and shinobu ends up obsessed with Miyagi. As a bonus they head to the same hotel that Misaki and Usagi’s step-brother were going to.

I could go into more but I’m going to stop there.

While jealousy reigns king over this comic, I would say the wider theme here is being a….FUCKING LAZY AUTHOR!

Speaking of which let’s chat about the overall bad writing.

Besides this… start with inconsistencies.

The writing uses numerous lazy tricks

  • Everyone around the couples are obsessed with them not as individuals but AS A COUPLE because heaven forbid we talk about anything else. Their obsessions have flimsy to no explanation what so ever. (Misaki’s friend Keichi, Usagi’s father, Usagi’s male editor, Nowaki’s hospital friend, etc.)
  • There are massively outrageously stupid coincidences that have piss poor excuses. (I.E almost any time Usagi’s step brother, father, or ijuuin show up)
  • They uses numerous (and often repeating) cliché romance story-lines, with no deviation leaving any actual suspense out of the story because anyone can guess how it ends. (What do you mean so and so wasn’t actually cheating on what’s his name!? )
  • We also have a lot of internal monolog negating things that just happened in order to stretch out the story and fail to keep things tense. Such as, “Oh wow! Thanks for these flowers I like them” only to be closely followed by the internal monolog of, “Oh no did he like the flowers? If only he’d give me a sign” I UNDERSTAND DOUBT, BUT FUCKING FERRETS ARE YOU DEAF?

Well the story is a broken record…it manages to not even be a consistent broken record. Let me give you a few examples of inconsistencies:

  • Takahiro raised his brother Misaki for 10 years. Usagi has been his best friend for 10 years… however neither of the two meet until the story starts. This is compounded by the fact that neither of these two have met Takahiro’s fiance who is introduced later in the chapter. My suspicion? he’s a superhero with multiple alter-egos.
  • Despite being a professional writer, a whole plot point is devoted to the idea that Usagi has no idea what people (who aren’t gazillionaires) do on a date out. This is exceptionally embarrassing considering he writes and publishes BL romances on the side.
  • When Misaki is sexually assaulted by Usagi’s step brother at the publishing company. He screams it isn’t right because they’re both men….when both of them know very well that Misaki is dating Usagi….who is definitely a man. Who’s going to take that plea seriously?
  • The egotist story opens up with Hiroki crying in a public park. Hiroki is a very private individual who doesn’t like showing other’s his feelings. He would not be okay openly weeping in a park with any public smoe catching a glance.
  • In terrorist it takes YEARS and lots of badgering and pleading for Shinobu to convince Miyagi to be in a relationship with him, but early in the relationship Shinobu breaks it off. He does this over a ~supposed~ issue he knew of before he got in the relationship, and vehemently avoids trying to resolve it.

Things that should have been mentioned but never are:

  • What kind of corporation has made Usagi’s family wealthy?
  • Why is Akihiko’s nickname Usagi?
  • What kind of stories does Usagi write?
  • Whatever happened to Keiichi the best buddy of Misaki?
  • What happened to the tutor that molested Usagi as a child?
  • What happened to the birth mothers of Usagi and his step-brother? Since apparently they’re HUBS for their “issues.”

Even with a broken record of a story it is inconsistent, uses bad writing techniques, and leaves out a lot of information you’d think would be important.

What’s good in the story?

Okay time to get off my soap box and relax a little.

I’ll have to concede that it does not try to overreach its bounds. It knows it’s pointless fluff, and acts accordingly….except of course for the romantized abuse. It doesn’t jump the shark and suddenly go, “NOW I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF THE HIGH RATE OF HOMELESS HOMOSEXUALS!”

I will also say that the anime has polished the story up some, and improved the pace 1000 fold. I wouldn’t call it even good yet, but it is at least better. Another point I should make is that I feel like the relationships are more balanced in the anime versus the manga. It still has many abusive tones to it, but Misaki makes more effort to be a part of the relationship instead of just a toy. There is also less (but still present) physical violence in all the couples.

Perhaps its how insufferable I find the couples, but my favorite parts of the series is when it deals with the back stories of the characters. Such as the episode with Hiroki and Usagi’s childhood backstory, or the chapter where Takahiro is raising his younger brother another Christmas time. While still cliché and sometimes over saccharine, they typically follow a different pattern than the rest of the story and can be quite charming. What!? I love being mean to badly executed fictional media but I still have a heart! It’s in the sink thawing because I’m frying it up for dinner! Hoohoo!

Characterization

I’m just going to talk about each of the main dumb asses and how even a brain damaged bird can see how badly built they are.

First off a little preface on the background characters. They could be replaced with a stick figure painted on a wall, because all they are really there for is to bounce couple insecurities off of, and make the couple jealous. They are about as fun and integral to the plot as used tissues. The only one I can barely give a shit about is the new friend Misaki has made, Shinnosuke, who (so far) is straight, not a rapist, shares his interests, and has been a good friend. He has been used a few times for “teh jelouz” but really there is a bigger threat so he is not used excessively for that and I hope he never is.

Let me also just call purehearted out for its samey cast. There are no characters that are not ethically Japanese, which I can let go since it’s set in Japan. However most of the cast consists of gay cis-men…and I assure everybody people there are a LOT of people in Japan who aren’t homosexual cis-men. For fuck sake there are a grand total of 3 cis-women that have names and they all make the main characters jealous at some point. The Egotist plot line mentions Hiroki’s mother but that’s it. There is one female character who is supposed to be key to the terrorist story but she is unnamed and we learn jack shit about her besides how her death gave Miyagi all the boohoos so I refuse to count her. As to sexuality a lot of the side male characters have come out or heavily imply are gay, mostly for the sake of upping the jealousy ante or to “pair them off.” Sure there are a few straight male side characters, but the gay or heavily implied gay male side characters vastly outnumber them.

With that out of the way, I’m going to talk about each main character

Starting wiiiiiiiiiiith

Usagi

Usagi felt detached from his wealthy as fuck family including his step-brother and had a rebellious phase. His rebellious phase is only mentioned instead of gone into. Apparently didn’t last long because all his grades seemed to be through the roof, never got in trouble with the law, hell I doubt he even bought a CD with a MA rating.

His “sexuality” is explained away in the first chapter by Misaki GUESSING CORRECTLY that his mom had affairs and his tutor molested him. Putting aside the fact that I have no idea why his mother having extra-martial affairs would make him gay, your sexuality is not determined by “who got there first.” The fact they repeat that dumb logic with Misaki ~becoming~ gay after his tutor Usagi molests him is super subtle too thanks. After this chapter we never hear his mother or the tutor mentioned again even though one could argue the whole series is based on his sexuality. Usagi tries to explain his obsession with children’s toys by saying that he wished he was a normal kid, and collecting toys is what normal kids do right. I JUST WANT TO BE NORMAL!

We can all identify with wanting to fit in and be loved by our peers or to be free from pressures we deem that normal people don’t have to put up with but he seems to have no desire for any of that. First off his attempt to be a normal kid came 20 years too late, and has a lot of behavior he cannot possibly mistake as normal. He wears a formal suit all day, on days he doesn’t leave the house, he develops obsessions with random objects such as algae balls, bears, and eels, he uses his fame to act like a drama queen, and doesn’t take care of himself to the point of nearly starving himself…..multiple times. Doesn’t sound like he’s even trying.

If you want to do some better psychoanalyst, one could say he has a fixation on youth because he felt he never had a childhood. Therefore in his adult life he seeks to recapture it by behaving like a child. People have called this Peter Pan syndrome, though to be fair this syndrome is not considered a mental disorder.

If we’re going with Peter Pan syndrome, it does fit better. It explains his obsession with childhood, temper tantrums, and inability to take care of himself. Though it doesn’t all add up. He would cling to anybody willing to pamper him, but he actively despises his editors who try to do so. Those with this disorder adapt very poorly to adult life such as school, and careers both of which he apparently excelled at to an enormous degree.

He also has the ability to behave socially acceptable, when it is advantageous for him to do so despite normally being a fuck clown….Oh that sounds familiar what that aligns with what disorder….

OH YEAH IT FREQUENTLY HAPPENS IN FUCKING SOCIOPATHS

Okay, okay maybe that’s a little extreme to say, but it frankly suits him better than Peter Pan syndrome.

So he’s characterized poorly so what? It doesn’t mean you still can’t sympathize with him.

BRRT INCORRECT!

His past wasn’t perfect, okay sure, but he’s a man near his 30s who won’t take care of himself because he’s too lazy. On top of that he’s super wealthy, never had to hold down a job, and has the well-coveted job of professional writer. However he doesn’t treat the people who got him there with any respect, such as his editors or fans. He has to be dragged kicking and screaming to interviews and book signings and award ceremonies and breaks deadlines all the time. He doesn’t really treat Misaki, he’s supposed true and forever soul twin, with any respect either. Admittedly he seems to have gotten better in some of these areas, but not by much. He considers his needs more important than Misaki’s, and even openly tells him this. He won’t allow Misaki any autonomy, blames Misaki for things beyond his control, and quite frankly doesn’t seem to trust him. Sure his family wasn’t all that trust-worthy but he’s been living with Misaki for years and hasn’t realized the guy has become his totally obedient butt-bitch?

Sure there was that one time when Misaki told him to wait so many hours if he trusted him and Usagi obliged. GOOD ON YOU USAGI! Yet every time Misaki is the unwilling target of somebody else’s affections or wants to go out with friends Usagi “punishes” Misaki for this. Hell in a very recent chapter he stalked him using his phone…and why? I think we all know fucking why!

Yet when Misaki doesn’t feel uncomfortable sharing an insecurity about their relationship, he’s hurt that Misaki doesn’t trust him.

Take a look in the god damn mirror dick for brains!

Misaki

Misaki probably has the best one going. He was raised by his older brother since he was 8 because their parents died in a car accident, which Misaki still partially blames himself for since he asked his family to rush home so he could see them. His back story is there for the angst, and his surviving family his brother is mostly treated as an object of jealousy manufacturing.

Though we do get a reveal that Misaki works very hard to not be a burden on people, because he’s viewed himself as a burden since his brother started raising him. That’s a good piece of characterization which should have been built up a bit more. This bit of characterization seems to be in NO WAY connected for a want of independence/privacy/etc. Which would make sense since he doesn’t like being a burden, young men frequently have rebellious phases, and has been bossed around by folks his whole life ESPECIALLY Usagi, from whom he rarely even gets personal space from. So this piece of his personality is half-hearted not purehearted. Ba dum tish

He’s a bit on the emotionally constipated side and over thinks things. His insecurities build up and up until he explodes in a childish OH SO KAWAII fit. He doesn’t really get much better at handling his feelings either. Like I said with the repetition thing it’s just agitating that he still has to stammer for 8 pages before he can tell Usagi anything of value despite their 4 year relationship. I personally don’t get why this is supposed to be cute. It’s childish sure, but so is pooping where you please, and few would find that kawaii.

Besides that Misaki is something like an Anna Steele if you will. They’re pretty much a doormat that lets their “men” do what they want but every now and again they’ll pipe up on their own behalf but that’ll get shot down,

but hey he voiced his opinion he’s a strong independent person amirite?

Now I’ll admit that Misaki is by far the most sympathetic character out of the lot, mostly due to the way that Usagi treats him. Though let’s get real here the guy is an idiot and has some REALLY screwed up priorities.

He never seems to learn the lesson not to trust certain people. Usagi’s step brother treats him like crap but at every opportunity Misaki will leap at the chance to have long intimate talks with him going so far as to jump into cars and go to unknown places. He does the same thing with his old friend Keichi, he was drugged and kidnapped by him and the day after the incident he goes to hang out with him as if nothing happened. The only thing that seems to bother Misaki about the previous night is that his friend was pinning down Usagi as if USAGI WOULD EVER BOTTOM AMIRITE!?

WHAT THE FUCK KID!? Though honestly, I don’t know if I should blame the character or the shitty writing here….

Nowaki

While Nowaki is one of the best out of this horrendous line-up but I don’t have any feelings of affection for him. He an insecure, stupid, condescending, and seemingly communication-allergic.

1st off, Nowaki’s lack of background is one of the most wasted opportunities in this whole manga. Nowaki was an orphaned boy who was never adopted, he grows up wanting to get into social work but changes that to wanting to become a pediatrician in order to help other children who were less fortunate like himself.

Wow! Imagine the writing opportunities! …..None of his is really gone into. We occasionally see some kids cling to him, but 0 else when it comes to his dedication to little ones. I doubt this will be gone into the story, but can you imagine if Nowaki wanted to adopt and raise children with Hiroki? How sweet would it be for a never adopted orphan to grow up to raise adopted children himself. HAHA never gonna happen.

Early in the series he pisses off for a full year without a word to Hiroki. He finds out his boyfriend is furious about this yet shows up at his house asking to stay over….Yet leaves the next day with a 1 sentence note, and it doesn’t really occur to him that any of this has hurt his boyfriend’s feelings?

stop

There’s stupid but than there’s “I’m just not fucking buying it.”

Nowaki makes up all these grandiose excuses for his shitty behavior, that really he acted like an asshole FOR HIROKI. The reason he dicked off for a year is cause he wanted to make himself WORTHY of Hiroki cause Hiroki is so great. He says he’s so great because he managed to make all his goals but the only goal we’ve seen Hiroki reach is becoming an assistant professor. Hiroki, clearly did not have this “i so much better” hang up. Nowaki did this FOR HIMSELF, NOT for Hiroki. He does this later as well by purchasing a fancy place, to prove he can take care of Hiroki. Though he just springs this on Hiroki, doesn’t ask him if he wants to move just HEY I BOUGHT THIS PLACE AS A SYMBOL OF OUR LOVE NOW PACK YOUR FUCKING BAGS IT’S ON 101 CONDESENSTION LANE!

He seems to recognize the fact he acts irrationally around Hiroki, but he never learns to communicate with or trust Hiroki…..Then again this might just be because the author can’t move a story forward or write a story that isn’t “Wacky misunderstandings and jeluzoies”

Hiroki

His personality can be summed up in one word, “Tsundere.” For those who don’t know what that means, its a person who acts mean but really is sweet. You can sum up this popular Japanese trope with the phrase, “It’s not cause I like you baka.”

Seriously that’s pretty much his personality, no deviations. As a kid he seemed to be an over achiever but he’s not really anymore. We get some of his background, but honestly the vast majority of it is “I’m gay for Usagi but garsh I can’t tell him.”

By the way the whole subplot of Hiroki’s and Usagi’s relationship was stupid as fuck because there is massive build up for it but it couldn’t be more obvious the author only wanted to keep failing to convince us that Usagi is the most desirable fecal stain this side of Kansas ok. I say this because Usagi pretty much never seems part of the relationship. You could have replaced him with a button that plays “whatever, and BTW I’m writing porn of you” any time you hit it.
The culmination of it is just directionless angst, but it does have that coveted bonus of JEALOUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZY!

The only persoanlity trait Hiroki has outside of being tsundere is his love of literature…and we don’t even know what literature he fucking likes. There is nothing else going on for him and that’s a fucking embarrassment, and honestly I find him repellent for it. I could pretty much predict his actions and dialog to the letter, and he’s HORRIFIED about openly treating his SUPER LONG TERM boyfriend with affection. This is supposed to be cute but after 16 mother fucking years it’s aggravating and downright horseshit.

Miyagi

Miyagi, if we’re following the formula, should be a female fantasy character….but….he’s not really. He’s totally bland. He makes a few grandiose romantic gestures, but he’s got no personality, no charm, no smexy bod, no anything going for him.

Miyagi to me has a very interesting piece of back story that is used incorrectly and poorly developed. Miyagi used to have a crush on his forever single female teacher, she ends up getting fatally ill, and he tries to help her through her last days. This could be EXCEEDINGLY powerful but we don’t so much as get the teacher’s name. The only thing we ever find out about the teacher is that she had a bit of a temper (just like Shinobu GASP.) We learn nothing of WHY he became infatuated with her. Though honestly all the romances in this story are built upon ~nothing.~ They spend very little time on the actuality of this backstory, which is mostly just big pages of his weeping and repeating the same dialog.

Let’s try to examine how it impacted him as a person though.

They try to show Miyagi as disillusioned and listless but whenever Hiroki is around he’s bubbly, open with his feelings, flirtatious, and is shown to have frivolous interests. Honestly it is rare to see him look disillusioned or listless, but everybody blabbers on about how he TOTALLY IS. Even in his own chapters, he tries his best to be friendly with everybody around him….except maybe his ex-wife…but for shit’s sake even if he wasn’t really into her, she left him for another man I wouldn’t expect many people to jump up and hug her all over the place.

Not showing character traits but having supporting characters mention it frequently.

What is one of the most bullshit writing techniques Alex? WHOOPS got maybe a whole 5 points for that correct answer.

Speaking of which how has his failed marriage effect Miyagi?

1 thing of upmost importance – Made him single again.

Than why was he married in the first place?

It was stated that he felt pressured to, to get married to someone who could help his career seemed like a good idea at the time. Yet that is not dwelled on in the least, what is dwelled on about his marriage is the fact that it cock-blocked Shinobu.

Wait a sec! Then what’s the true main point of Miyagi’s tragic past with his old teacher.? I would argue it’s two-fold.

1.) To give Miyagi an excuse to hesitate to jump into Shinobu’s pants, but honestly this is not needed because he was divorced recently, and Shinobu acts like an entitled cunt to him. Any human being would not shoving people over in order to get their dick out for the kid.

2.) To make Shinobu feel jealous to a dead woman. THIS IS NOT A JOKE!

While we keep talking about that little shit…

Shinobu

He was studying abroad in Australia, his father is dean of a university, and his grades are good the end. He has no future goals besides getting closer to Miyagi. Oh that’s absurd!

(clip)

…but totally true obviously.

He’s rude, and arrogant. He’s incredibly petty, irrational, and completely emotionally unstable and it’s supposed to be cute. Someone really needs to explain this to me. How is taking all the negative traits children have because they’re undeveloped and applying them to adult makes them cute? He’s young sure, but he’s still 18, there should be no excuse for his shitty behavior. However he still blames others, he shurks responsibility for his own bad behavior by claiming he’s young, and treats (even the people he’s supposed to care about deeply) like clueless jackasses meant to serve him.

His rotten personality is not explained or justified in any way. Now I know somebody doesn’t have to have a tragic past in order to be a shithead, but sometimes understanding how they grew up can give hints as to why people are the way they are.

I’m honestly scratching my head trying to think of positive traits this douche canoe has. Courage? To stand up to Miyagi and push his point home? Uhhh I can’t really say that because later in the series he adamantly claims “nothing is wrong” but tries to run off to Australia and breaks up with Miyagi….without telling Miyagi this.

Perhaps the character just rubs me the wrong way. Though I don’t know any people who think pompous, blame-shifting, nasty little shits are awesome.

Shitty relationships

Oh golly gum-drop gee! What you folks have all been waiting for. The crux of this manga and anime is the relationships, so here I go tackling why even the center pieces of this world famous story is better left at the bottom of a latrine.

Usagi to Misaki:

It seems as if Usagi likes Misaki’s stubborn naivete aka his “pure heart/innocence”. Though really on their first meeting he “punishes” him for doing this very thing right away and continues to do so. He’ll belittle, give the silent treatment, use physical and/or sexual violence on him because Misaki was too trusting, friendly, and kind. Though to be fair its because he was being nice to people besides USAGI. Though its a ridiculous mindset cause if he hadn’t been a nice little push over for Usagi he wouldn’t have him in the first place.

From this one could easily make the case Usagi likes Misaki because he’s easy to manipulate. A big running theme in this Manga is how possessive and easily jealous Usagi is and Misaki is quickly trained to do his best not to upset him in this way. Even though he inadvertently ends up doing so because bullshit writing like, “Oh I just happen to be having a vacation here in the same hotel the same week you are, oh so desirable Misaki.”

This is bonus shitty writing because Usagi is supposed to be a brat, and have this character arc, but all Misaki does is give into him, so Usagi would truly learn nothing from Misaki.

Misaki to Usagi:

Let’s jump to the beginning. The big moment where the two are supposed to fall in love for the first time is started when Misaki gets so upset over his brother being oblivious to Usagi’s feelings. I can buy that he’s sensitive and caring but I won’t buy that he’s into Usagi. Though that couldn’t be more forced. One could argue that Usagi’s “I won’t confess to your brother cause ANGST” started this, but it makes no fucking sense why it would!

Why would he sympathize with a man-child (he’s known for at most a few months?) who’s treated him like an idiot sex toy? His brother may be oblvious but he’s kind-hearted and sacrificed a lot to raise him? Wouldn’t Misaki be GLAD Usagi didn’t pull any moves on his brother? Misaki makes the internal monolog of, “Usagi would never do anything to hurt Takahiro” yet he molested his beloved younger brother OVER him trying to protect Takhiro?

JUST WHAT THE FUCK!?

HE WOULDN’T FEEL MORE FOR THIS FUCKSHITTER WHO RAPED HIS WAY INTO HIS LIFE OVER HIS SELF-LESS BROTHER!

It then tries to grow into some kind of sexual attachment to Usagi from Misaki’s point of view which is also poorly written and in my opinion openly offensive. Moving away from how it started off as rape and I can’t even tell when it’s supposed to legitimately turn consensual…part of it is the ~his hands feel so gud~ trope which is laughable. No need for a mutual build-up of attraction when a smell or feel or voice gives my part tingles. In the 3rd act Misaki ~finally~ makes the confession that he loves Usagi but over what? Throughout this act Misaki talks about how his heart races or feels like breaking when Usagi does things to him. YET from any rationale person’s standpoint he seems to feel this way not because of lust or love but because he is TERRIFIED of this man. The author is ballsy enough to be open about it in the beginning of the chapter, he backs down from an argument because he is SCARED of what he’ll do, and Usagi only goes on to prove him right by using physical and sexual force on him throughout this chapter.

They also shoehorn in some jealousy Misaki has for Usagi’s lady editor in this arc which flat out makes no sense….at all. At least Usagi’s jealousy-over-nothing fits make sense for him as a character cause he’s an insecure, controlling, petty, manchild. Usagi outright says he’s gay and dislikes her. All the jealousy from Misaki’s end in this manga is not something that makes sense for him as a character. It’s there just to show you (without anything to back it up) that Misaki is totes into Usagi and to deflect from the abusive overtones. “I’m not actually upset you won’t let me go out with friends. The real reason I am on the verge of tears is because I self manufactured that you love someone else more than me uguuuuu~”

Misaki has to care for Usagi because he feels bad for him. No joke, we get the deal about a tragic past where his parents didn’t hug him enough. HELLO MISAKI your parents tragically died in a car accident before you were ten and you partially blame yourself for it. HOWEVER YOU PITY Usagi because his wealthy parents just shoved expensive toys at him while they pissed off? It’s not the same thing but COME ONNNNNNNN! The other side of this is Misaki (and others) openly admit that they fear Usagi would (inadvertently) kill himself if Misaki wasn’t around to wipe his stupid ass. Are you shitting me!? Who can sympathize with a mentally and physically capable near 30 year old who is too lazy to prevent his own premature death in a pile of his own filth?

Misaki will occasionally go on about how “kind” Usagi is to him…though christ do I need to even say anything to this? I feel as if I’ve made enough points as it is.

SUM UP!

Its supposed to be the big strong man falls for an innocent that melts his icy heart, while meek blushing girl…i mean boy loves him cause his past is so tragic and she must heal and take care of him. Yet they do not put in the effort to make any of this make sense. Misaki never holds Usagi accountable to show that his “icy ways” are wrong, while Usagi frequently “punishes” Misaki for being too “innocent.” Misaki sticks around because of guilt and stockholm, and Usagi clings to him because he’s this really nifty object that cleans his house for him BUT NOBODY ELSE BEST NOT TOUCH HIM!

Let’s take a breather here from bullshit couple and bullshit couple for a couple that actually makes sense!

Nowaki to Hiroki

This all seemed to have gotten started because Nowaki bumped into Hiroki crying and was like, “Yowza dat hot.” He then jams himself into his life forcefully despite numerous objections from Hiroki. He does say that even though he initially saw him sad, he wants to see him smile. (Though to be honest has he ever really even seen that from Hiroki?)

Nowaki admires Hiroki’s intelligence, hard-working attitude, and loyalty. It makes him happy to know that Hiroki cares enough about him to give up his pride here and there. (Though frankly that’s VERY few and far between.) However not is all well in the land of Selfish romance!

He has this weird mix of putting Hiroki on a pedestal but still being entirely condescending. It has some creepy parallels to chauvinistic ways some men would treat women. He thinks he needs to do certain things in order to be worthy of Hiroki yet at the same time treats him like a vulnerable waif who can’t make their own decisions. He drags him away from Usagi and Miyagi near any time he sees them together, because its not as if he can solve his own problems or have friends or something. He buys a house for him without telling him, and when he’s jealous he accuses Hiroki of dating him as a substitute. That’s not the behavior of some self-deprecating martyr that’s accusing your boyfriend of having no self respect and simply popping dicks in his mouth indiscriminately.

On top of this he makes and breaks promises to Hiroki like its not big deal, and for no REAL reason. In a recent chapter he promised he would spend Christmas with Hiroki. going on and on about how he’s super dedicated to leaving work early, even though he’s needed, to spend this one rare Christmas together. However he totally blows off Hiroki, even though his co-worker INSISTS that he can leave, he makes the extra mile of screaming he’ll take OTHER hospital’s emergency children…even though the responsibility for these children belongs to an entirely different entity. There was no sad looking sick kid, there were no worried parents that tugged at his heart so he had to do this. He says his reason for staying was his dedication to his job….well I mean…that’s great but…YOU MADE A PROMISE and YOU HAD NOT CELEBRATED A CHRISTMAS WITH HIM FOR MANY MANY YEARS BECAUSE OF THIS JOB!

Let’s all note that Hiroki did not ask him to do this he offered this promise of his own violation and broke it without a second thought. Leaving Hiroki standing in the cold for hours. This is proof, that’s about as subtle as an enormous screaming billboard, that Nowaki DOES NOT respect Hirkoki.

He likes to play the matyr but really all of what he does his own insecurities, because he doesn’t respect or trust Hiroki.

Hiroki to Nowaki

This one is a little more confusing because Hiroki tsundere’s so hard, sometimes its hard to differentiate what he legitimately doesn’t like and what he ~PRETENDS~ he doesn’t like. I think it started because Hiroki was charmed by Nowaki. Nowaki is partial to giving speeches of how much he’s into him, some of them actually sweet, most of them piles of porcupine plop.

Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I think he likes Nowaki because he “grounds” him. Hiroki is very high-strung and while Nowaki works multiple stressful jobs he rarely lets it get to him. I also think he allows him around because Nowaki does let him have space. That he respects he has his own life, and even if Hiroki gets tangled up in romantic idealisms, he’ll let Hiroki come around to him on his own terms. (Though this isn’t always true.) That’s the end of the nice stuff let’s get into the grit of the analysis and get MEAN!

Hiroki (cause he’s tsundere) sees having feelings for another as “shameful” and therefore views their entire relationship as “shameful” which, a healthy and happy relationship, it does not make. He does do nice things for Nowaki every now and again but usually he’ll try to cover it up or avoid the subject. Sure a token of affection from Hiroki means more, because it’s rare and it takes more of his willpower to do so, but behaving like its a disgraceful thing to be nice to your partner is libel to make your lover feel shitty.

Hiroki selectively listens and is totally dishonest with himself, and therefore you have to pull teeth to get anything out of him, which does not make for good communication.

(clip here)

This couple has been together 16 years at this point? CAN YOU TELL BY THE RESPECT AND LACK OF FEAR ABOUT BEING OPEN WITH ONE ANOTHER?

Can you tell I really can’t fucking stand Tsunderes? Cause I god damn can’t!

SUM UP!

The only sensible relationship. Even if the story they’re involved in bumbles around, they seem to actual enjoy things about each other. Nowaki admires Hiroki’s strength, while Hiroki is charmed and grounded by Nowaki. Yet Nowaki still kinda treats Hiroki like a turd. Neither communicate, trust, or respect each other.

Oh god brace yourself because Terrorist makes the least sense of all of them!

Miyagi to Shinobu

These two just…make no sense at all…now I would say that for the other couples as well but they don’t even seem to TRY for this one.

Miyagi at first finds Shinobu incredibly annoying because of the stalking, thinking that he’s not serious about wanting a relationship. Is it just me but the stalking, while an awful thing to do, kinda proves he’s dedicated? Does he think that he just carves ANY guy’s name into his arm? (Okay he never went that far but I wouldn’t be surprised honestly.)

Miyagi rapes Shinobu and because he makes a sad face when he forced himself on a high schooler that PROVES the teenager is actually into him?

Doesn’t it just prove that rape is bad? Later on Shinobu demands that Miyagi make love to him but quits mid-way through. I guess because Shinobu chicken out he feels like he doesn’t deserve Miyagi? So Shinobu decides that he’s going to fly back to Australia.

SUDDENLY Miyagi is madly in love with Shinobu? OKAY HUH? He makes an allusion to how Shinobu reminds him of himself when he was that age, due to his bumbling affection for his homeroom teacher. So he sympathizes with him, for the first time. Okay sure….but sympathy doesn’t = love. He also talks about how he’s the first person to get under his skin….though honestly who’s skin wouldn’t he get under?

Picture somebody 17 years younger than you, who is obsessed with you, even though the two of you have only exchanged a few words with one another, and acts like its YOUR fault he’s this way. You are then forced to live with him, eat his crappy food, and listen to him whine and make excuses about how destined to be together you two are. When you try to walk away from him he shouts at you for being a coward, even though you told him over and over again you’re not interested.

I don’t have time for that shit, and I apparently have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than analyzing shitty yaoi that makes me angry….Oh crap I’m supposed to be insulting Purehearted not myself!

They try to throw in some shit about how, “Miyagi wasn’t going to allow himself to love again after his last love died.”….but Miyagi frequently mentions about how he finds Shinobu’s mood swings, over sensitivity, immaturity, and temper tantrums annoying.

The fact you can’t stand him, seems like a bigger obstacle than the fact you’re still getting over your first love. JUST ME?

…Despite the fact he goes on and on about everything he hates about the kid he never really mentions anything he likes about him besides the fact that he’s “cute.” I’m not even sure HOW he is but yeah ok.

Shinobu to Miyagi

This also makes no fucking sense. He meets Miyagi under bizarre conditions and thinks that they were both on their way to see Miyagi visit his fiance’s parents is DESTINY, and holds onto this idea for YEARS despite his hope being massively crushed at the beginning, and knowing nothing about Miyagi as a person.

In one chapter he even confesses that he doesn’t think Miyagi is attractive and has nothing really in common with him. He says that he likes Miyagi cause he caught his “virus.” …Yet he doesn’t elaborate further…his virus isn’t his compassion, his sense of humor, his charming character, he’s just in love with him BECAUSE!

SUM UP!

They seem to be together out of a mutual “obligation” to be together. Shinobu decided they were destined to be together, and is too stubborn to back down, and Miyagi feels bad for him. Talk about a relationship we should all be totally immersed in amirite?

What is good here? Out of all these catty cowardly cock-ups they call characters?

As I have stated previously, Misaki is one of the better characters here, and a very good self-insert if you will. His over-thinking makes for good internal narration, touches on a lot of things fans are probably speculating/thinking, and it’s a trait many can identify with. He works hard, and has consequences for his actions which remove him from the INSTANTLY FOREVER INSUFFERABLE brand of gary-stus which are quite common. He is a sympathetic, decently formed character, that can take a mary-sue like role in the story very well. So while he’s is far from perfectly written, he suits his role exceedingly well.

Finale of this Review

Pure hearted follows a lot of bad tropes that both yaoi and cheesy romance heavily abuses. It relies too much on wacky misunderstandings and the couples never grow, or learn diddly-dick. It is not a celebration of Boy’s love but a blight on it. As crappy as BL is, I am a fan of the genre, but I will not make excuses for it. I believe a lot of fans of BL need to follow suit. Even if you love Pure romance from every corner of your heart the excuses need to stop. There is no excuse for the abusive way the couples treat each other, there is no excuse for the lack of art improvement. there is no excuse for the inconsistent cliche stories, and there is no excuse that the author can’t put in the effort to make the romances make sense. You’re are not dumb just because you like something that’s dumb, and the author is not dumb because they wrote something dumb. Yet to truly know yourself, you need to examine and accept why you like the things you do.

As I have said there are little glimmers of good here and there: the chibis, the back story chapters (typically), and Misaki fits his self-insert role half decently. The anime has also improved the series by a great deal. It has consistent art, better pacing, and more active characters. Even with these additions it still leaves it far short of mediocre.

Enjoy what you enjoy and have no shame in it, but be sure to be aware of the problems it has!

I hope everybody enjoyed the review, if this goes over well you maybe seeing more!

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Cafe Late Rhapsody

This time around I will talk about the polar opposite of my boy’s love spectrum. My most hated is Junjou…but my most loved is Cafe Late Rhapsody. I’m also doing this because it is a fuck ton shorter! I just love being really lazyyyyyyy zzzzzzz!

As a warning I will be discussing consent and toxic relationships (as I usually do), warning for spoilers, and my Japanese is still pretty crap!

With that aside, I love the ever living SHIT out of Cafe Late Rhapsody! FUCK!

It’s easy to get cynical when it comes to yaoi. It is known for being cliché, fetishy, and with a less than stellar fanbase….though really what has a stellar fanbase. So contrary to popular belief there are a lot of excellent boy’s love titles out there!

Like every human being I have particular tastes and Cafe Latte Rhapsody is my favorite because it caters to some of my specific tastes. Not kinks mind you the story is sans-sex except for 1…sorta scene. Allow me to air some of my biases out-front: I like dorky characters, gentle giant characters, REASONABLE size differences, older ukes, and the story is fluffier than a goose down pillow! We got hand-holding, we got sharing domestic chores together, we got MOTHER-FUCKING STRAY KITTEN SAVING! OH BE STILL MY AWWS!

Like with every review I do I will be breaking it down into art, story, and characters. What else would be first than that there art.

Art

Admittedly this is the weak point for the manga. Don’t worry though, it’s not nearly as retina abusing as Junjou.

The style in itself is pretty generic for yaoi but it’s competent. It doesn’t overuse screentones, it understands lighting, the action makes sense for the most part. The character designs are kind of generic…but suitable. Sometimes the characters are drawn kind of gangly and stiff looking, and sometimes the panels get super cluttered. Nothing really impressive or awful about it.

The biggest crux I would say would be the same facing. All the characters look the same except for their hair and eyes. For instance at one point in the manga, Serizawa geeks out about Keito’s unique features since Keito is multiracial. The mentions of his head shape, high nose, and other features fall on deaf ears since the two look near identical.

I can go nit-picky and say some of the outfits are silly…though Japan’s fashion is a little more eccentric than I’m used to and it’s not a deal breaker. To go on the positive end of nit-picky I will confess an affection for Serizwa’s freckles cause it is rarely seen in BL and I FUCKING LOVE FRECKLESSSSSS! GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH

So all in all, the art has its hiccups but ends up just hanging on to that mediocre bar like…me attempting to do a chin up.

Story

It’s not a long story, and its not distinctive for a boy’s love. However I think it shows how to do that typical Boy’s love story THE CORRECT WAY!

The story starts as Serizawa, a friendly book shop worker, meets an intimating guy. Despite being initially frightened of this monstrously sized guy, Serizawa discovers that his enormous size hides an enormous heart. This gentle giant’s name is Keito. After some hesitation they two begin a sugary sweet romance. Obstacles that occur, include Keito’s (unintentional and unwanted) affection from surrounding women. On the other end we have Shiraishi, an ex of Seri and a gambling addict, that is frequently pestering him for money. However these jealousies are only symptoms of larger insecurity faults the two have. While Keito’s problems are more obvious, Seri’s are less so because he takes pains to hide and mask his problems…which only causes these problems to escalate. However Seri takes a hard look at himself and resolves himself to be more open and honest. The two repair their relationship and live happily ever after.

Unlike typical Boy’s love the relationship issues aren’t solely steaming from petty notions of jealousy. Rather the jealousy issues bring forth the relationship anxieties they both hold. What a novel fucking concept! Some manga seem to put forth the notion that, “The relationship would be golden…IF THERE JUST WEREN’T OTHER PEOPLE IN THE WORLD THEY HAD TO INTERACT WITH!!!” The fact that other people exist and may behave in a friendly or flirtatious manner to the main characters isn’t the fucking problem. The problem is the distrust of the partner, and the insecurity. Irrational jealousy is a very unhealthy thing in relationships and it’s only a piece of the puzzle!

The story is overall very well paced and believable! I would say Cafe Latte’s biggest strength is its ability to take the mundane and make it entirely charming and adorable while not abusing the same “aww” factor over and over again.

Now Japan’s notion of “cute” means more and has more significance to Japanese culture…but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a boy’s love and each mention of “cute” causes me to roll my eyes. Half the time it’s just not anything cute, and the other half of the time I feel like its a pathetic ploy to convince me that something horrible is actually acceptable. I’ve heard mentions of cute being connected to disparaging and dropping a lover like a ton of bricks, and forcing marriage on another. I can’t be the only one not cooing in adoration like a lovestruck pigeon at these scenarios!

I mean come on! How many Boy’s love readers out there have read a yaoi where the seme justifies his molestation of a character because they’re is just so cute how could they help themselves? I SHOULD SEE EVERYBODY’S HAND UP BECAUSE IT’S ONE OF THE MOST ABUSED ABUSE CLICHES AROUND!

Cafe Latte Rhapsody is one of the few BL’s that truly and continuously deliver sugary cuteness without repeating itself. Some may find it eye roll/gag worthy, but I found it very well balanced. Simple everyday activities such as drinking coffee together on a bench, or making dinner are spun together with awkward energy, joy, deep mutual affection, and a pinch of their personalities in order let their individuality shine through. It is hard not to smile throughout such scenes.

It’s a pretty basic story but I feel as if it brings forth some great positive ideas!

  1. The big theme is “You can’t judge a book by its cover” It may seem obvious from Seri’s discovery that Keito isn’t nearly as scary as first realized…but there’s more to it. That Seri’s seems so out-going and put together…but really it’s all a cover up for his insecurity issues. For instance toward the end of the story Keito runs away from Serizwa for fear he’s going to break up with him. While Keito is normally pegged as a crybaby that is turned on its head when Serizwa trips and hurts himself. When he picks himself up Serizwa is crying…but we can easily infer that he the strain of trying to mend their bond has tipped him over his emotional edge. So we are shown in a very direct way that Serizwa can get very emotional too.You could even say the theme of “You can’t judge a book by its cover” extends into the side characters. While at first Seri’s ex seems to be the typical “evil ex” he is shown to help Seri through a tough time in his new relationship even if he later sabotages it. We also see Keito’s best friend initially seem to be rude and nasty to him…yet she ends up being very supportive of his relationship and she intends to joke not insult Keito when she teases him.
  2. Another great thing is it puts worth a positive message of self-worth. Both protagonists don’t think highly of themselves…yet when they realize how much they mean to each other they begin to understand how much personal value they really have. However it is not the kind of sloppily written romance story where everybody around the super desirable lead is telling them they’re great, but they don’t buy it until it comes out of the mouth of some statuesque Fabio-esque stud. They BOTH come to realize it by empathizing with each other.Let’s give an example from each side: Keito is accused of shop-lifting a book, and when Seri goes to bat defending Keito…Keito begins to realize he’s worth defending.Likewise -Seri feels childish for desiring the kind of pure and devoted romance he hears about in fairy tales, Keito assures him it’s not silly at all that its something he wants to give Seri.

Okay, okay enough of this gushing and over analyzing bullshit! The story is pretty standard and predictable for a slice of life boy’s love story. Boy meets boy, boys fall in love, some conflict involving jealousy shows up, but they move past it and live happily ever after. The story isn’t original, it’s light on conflict, and I was not holding my breath that the two would ever truly split.

However they go about it realistically, they subvert a few hackined tropes like the “SUPER EVIL EX”, they treat the jealousy as a symptom of a deeper issue the two have, and both the characters are enjoyable and sympathetic. So for what it is, I consider it very well executed.

Characters

Speaking of charactersssss we’re going to start with the lead who is the uke or bottom for this story

Serizawa

Serizawa is friendly, kind hearted, and out-going. When Seri sees Keito hunched over a box, without a second thought he asks him what’s up. When it’s discovered the box has abandoned kittens in it, he takes them home and works hard in order to find them a home. Though there’s a darker side to Serizawa. He has poor self-esteem regarding his height, appearance, and expectations on how he should be treated. He believes that he must be subservient to others because he doesn’t have much to offer and asking for basic kindness in relationships is selfish of him. A lot of these issues steam from a series of poor relationships. It is implied he has dated a man who gave him little power in the relationship and disregarded many of his basic requests. He has also dated a manipulative man who has used him for money.

However Serizawa has a good character arc regarding his poor self-image and works to improve himself. He’s a likable and sympathetic person.

Keito

Keito is affectionate, self-less, and sensitive. However he is easily impressionable, clingy, shy, and a total crybaby. I think he is a refreshing breeze for a top/seme who isn’t all scowls, confidence, and predatory dominance. Keito is incredibly thoughtful and respectful to Seri. He asks permission for kissing or holding hands and can take no as an answer. He waits patiently for Seri to be done with work, listens when Seri needs a break, and is shown to be gentle when it comes to intimacy.

Though I will say the implied sex threw me a bit where Keito bit Seri enough to harm him and when asked to calm down he refused. Now the sex was consensual but it felt a bit out of character for Keito to not care that he hurt Seri. It was just an odd blip in the story. Most likely it was there to add a bit of roughness to the sex.

Keito is incredibly clingy. For instance one evening Seri had work to finish but Keito couldn’t stand having to sleep alone so he curled up next to the working Seri. You could also point out that Seri had told Keito to go home after the dinner they had but Keito was not able to he had to go back and see Seri. While I fell in love with the doofus, I will admit this is not a character for everyone. I’m sure many people would find him pathetic and annoying. Hey it’s only fair, some people eat up tsunderes but I can’t stand the VAST majority of them. If I’m allowed to hate stuff people like, people are allowed to hate what I like. We cool right?

Relationship

The two work well as a couple.

Keito’s has an incessant need for affection and clingy devotion which works well in both their favors. Keito needs somebody to hold tightly, and while, many people would find this irritating Serizwa eats it up. It makes him feel loved and appreciated in contrast to how uncared for he has felt in previous relationships. It seems when it comes to dating that Serizawa gravitates toward “projects” (which is something I have seen happen a lot in reality.) This tenancy had put him through the ringer in the past, but with Keito, Serizawa gets to spoil and dote on someone but…not only is he treated with respect in kind but that when needed Keito will do the same for him. His relationship is no longer a give give give give GIVE but a give and take.

On the other end Seri’s patience is what Keito needs. Keito does not respond well to teasing and needs a lot of patience to put up with his hypersensitivity. Serizawa gives that to Keito naturally which makes Keito feel more comfortable and therefore lets him grow and become more stable. (Though admittedly he’s still a big sensitive crybaby even at the end.)

Both have low self-esteem but by seeing how the other’s self-worth negatively impacts their partner, they begin to realize what it does to them and that they’re worth something afterall.

Finale:

The art is competent but could be better it suffers from some typical yaoi art pitfalls. The story is sweet, well-paced, and turns your assumptions on their heads. My only complaint about the story is that some would find it oversaccrine and it’s light on the conflict. The characters aren’t very deep but they make sense and Serizawa has a good character arc. As much as I like Keito, I would imagine many people would find him annoying. Even if you don’t share the same likes I do, it is a technically well executed story and deserves more attention!

Art – 3

Characters – 5

Story - 4

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Electrical Delusion

So I’ve done a manga I hate, a manga I love, and now….one I’m conflicted about, Electrical Delusion by Nekota Yonezou. The title makes it sounds like it’s be some kind of surreal sci-fi acid trip…but nope two dudes banging…as is all the bullshit I rant about.

The comic to me has flashes of greatness…but that’s coupled with flashes of disappointment.

Warnings for bad japanese, spoilers, and mentions of sexual assault and abusive relationships.

Art

Now I must say this is pretty dang good. I am annoyed with the same face and body stuff used…which makes it hard to tell characters apart. However I have no other complaints. I have an affection for pin-stripe (despite it being an annoyance to illustrate) but the author doesn’t disappoint when it comes to that. Despite mostly seeing a school uniform, the author does a good job distinguishing the characters despite the clothing requirement. Such as the sweater-vests and Shunpei’s rolled up pants.

Though allow me a weird interlude.

When I first saw this cover my inner cyncism kicked in. I thought the Author was trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Sherlock Fandom by making the lead characters resembling the head characters from the show….however it appears this manga came out a year before the Sherlock series did. Nekota, lucky or clairvoyant? Only time will tell.

Story

This is a high school romance but we don’t start with a blushing teeny-bopper going, “I hope senpai notices me” but rather that Shunpei is introduced to his best buddy’s (Fumi’s) sexuality because Fumi says he has a boyfriend. Sure the focus of the story soon becomes Shunpei’s escalating sense of jealousy and abandonment at this predicament but this start is a little different form the norm and I appreciate that.

From then I feel like it flip flops back and forth from great to disappointing. Just as I’m thinking this is a wonderful manga suddenly the manga starts rolling around in mud and pissing in my pegonias, and just when I’m thinking I’m going to abandon reading this all together it brings me my newspaper and slippers.

The HOORAHS are relationship communication, compromises, good exploration of sexuality, and the mixing up of the seme/uke dynamic while the boos are bullshit cliches, jealousies out the wazoo, manipulative sexuality, and Fumi being a soggy little wiener.

Uke/Seme:

At the beginning of the manga the author intentionally left you guessing as to who the seme/uke was supposed to be in the relationship. I like that! However later on they seem to get more and more firmly set in this dynamic only teasing us here and there. I love reversible couples but I hate when the notion gets teased but nothing is done about it. It’s as if they’re highlighting how absurd that kind of relationship is (which is by the way super absurd) but they don’t want to lose some reader-base that apparently would shit their britches if the formula was mixed up. I mean I can picture being disappointed in a mixed up relationship if the dynamic had a huge power imbalance. It would be a big jump and that’s part of the kink…however they stupidly refuse to do that in over 98% of bl where many relationships are more balanced to begin with. I mean one person could primarily bottom or top but why is it a death sentence to let a couple switch it up once?

It seems that BL as a genre is (unfortunately) very set in its ways.

With that rant aside, I really enjoyed a particular scene in the beginning how they highlighted how absurd those sex roles were. Shunpei talks about how he’s okay being the receiver. He imagines himself being penetrated by Fumi but on top of him and Fumi is squirming submissively underneath him. Sex roles are not so cut and dry and I’m glad Elektal Delusion recognizes that.

Even with all these positive steps they still indulge in some gross heteronormative hooey! A lot of Fumi’s fantasies are the stereotypical yaoi rape which center on the notion that a man ~cannot~ control themselves. The fantasies that don’t involve rape have Shunpei indulging in typically feminine things and even a scene where Shunpei is meant to be the mother of Fumi’s children. That particular scene ends with the skin-crawlingly gross line of, “I came inside you cause I want more babiesssssssss.” Yet overall this manga is much better than many out there regarding stereotypical roles.

So let’s talk about sex! Let me put on my sexy voice~

Sooooooo, the sex bounces back and forth from trying to more realistic exploration of budding sexuality and the same old creepy dickery you see in typical yaois.

They TALK about sex, they EXPLORE sexuality with missteps (without always needing anal penetration), we have an uke insisting on being emotionally ready, and we even have mother-fucking condoms! All of this gets my hearty applause, but applause isn’t sex so just listen closely while I wink into the microphone. Awww yeah…OW MY EYE!

Eh-heh…

I must point out one particular scene where Fumi recognizes that the last sex act was not 100% hunky-dori with Shunpei due to the power imbalance. Fumi suggests that during fingering that Shunpei be on top, so he feels more in control. How about that shit? Fumi accepting his partner’s discomfort and suggests alternatives to make sex better for him. That’s fucking golden!

Even though Fumi made that golden moment….his guilt-tripping, instant gratification, sexual pressure mucks up the place. Even going so far as to have some near misses with non-con. I get the vibe at times the author is trying to paint Shunpei as part of the problem for being indecisive about what he wants sexually. I’m all about putting the onus on both partners…but yeah not in the case of sexual readiness. Boo on you!

Cliches/Jealousies:

These are big low-points for me. The conflicts can mostly be broken down into JEALOUSIES or PEOPLE ARE SABOTAGING THIS RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE UHHH WHY NOT!
The jealousies range from reasonable to da fuck, such as Shunpei losing his marbles over Fumi getting a puppy.

I love humor as much as the next smuck but it becomes more stupid than funny when literally everybody they know is hell-bent on breaking them up as a couple. I mean the one guy who has a crush on Fumi tries to break them up because obviously he wants Fumi I can get that. However most of the reasons are as dumb as fuck. The one that’s most absurd is Shunpei’s sister (despite being a fujoshi herself) claims she has been so 2nd hand embarrassed by the fact that Shunpei bottoms in the relationship that she must destroy it.

I mean sometimes I get the vibe that the author is poking fun at how overplayed this nonsense is. In particular with Shunpei’s sister the hypocrisy of furiously fetishinzing homosexuality but if they see it in real life they turn into raging homophobes. If that’s what the author is going for I give them props for it….however most of the time I don’t get that vibe. That rather they’re just indulging in these annoying cliches because it’s easier.

The story is half eye-roll worthy but also half excellent. In my opnion.

Characters

I’m starting with Shunpei because he’s the better of the two by far…

Now Shunpei is a brash, obnoxious, stubborn, and petty….Faps you told us he was the better of the two…Okay I hyped it up a bit but really he’s not THAT bad. He has a lot more guts than a lot of ukes and even came out to his friends for Fumi’s sake which takes a lot of courage! Some of Shunpei’s class-clown antics are actually funny and when Shunpei fucks up he gets told off and he can accept it. Shunpei makes a lot of missteps when it comes to the relationships but that is because he legitimately does not get how to go about a relationship this serious and he is out of his depth because the power dynamic is different than what he’s used to. That is totally understandable! For some people High-school is the time to bumble around in your first awkward romances and of course you’re going to get things wrong as you learn how to do it right. I also cannot blame him for this because Fumi is really demanding..

Speaking of which, like a lot of ukes he also has the (oh so hilarious) bad luck to be shit upon at nearly every opportunity. Remember that time when Satonaka socked him in the gut for hooking up with (his at the time) boyfriend Fumi? Even though Fumi told him he’d drop him in a sec if Shunpei was interested? And even though Satonaka expressed no real interest in the relationship or Fumi to begin with? Yeah that was….funny and made sense…sure.

Now I can understand Shunpei’s indecisiveness when it comes to the relationship (though the author sometimes frames this as a downside to him) but what I have a hard time swallowing is Shunpei’s jealousy tantrums. Shunpei is very possessive, and seems to leap at the chance to accuse Fumi of sleeping around with others. I mean the guy buys rope from a hated rival to dangerously crawl around on a building because his boyfriend smiled at his phone. If that’s not worlds of “Holy shit you need to be institutionalized” I don’t know what is!

So Shunpei is sometimes funny, sometimes annoying, but overall kinda meh.

Fumi

I have a really hard time tolerating much out of this prickbag. Now I have run across semes MILES WORSE but Fumi is a impatient, demanding, moody, self-matrying little dickbite. If something doesn’t go his way he pouts like a child and waits around for Shunpei to fix it…and Shunpei has to do the majority of the fixing.

A lot of the relationship is Fumi wants something big from the relationship such as Shunpei being out with his friends about his homosexuality, anal penetration, or the ever-so-vague I want you to desire me with YOUR HEART!

If he doesn’t get any of that right away he’ll heavily pressure Shunpei into it, and if Shunpei doesn’t relent he’ll act like some precious angel that Shunpei has so rudely trampled. Not all is lost here, because Fumi will occasionally realize (sometimes without outside intervention) that he was wrong and apologize. For that I have to give Fumi a hearty slap on the back for, because it is not easy admitting to yourself you’ve fucked up.

I appreciate that out of him, but just as I’m nodding at Fumi’s self-aware faults….he’ll flip around and backhand Shunpei for having his own issues with him. For instance Shunpei was uncomfortable with Fumi modeling naked for a guy they both acknowledge as creepy. However Fumi says he’s going to keep doing it until Shunpei learns to ~desire him from his heart.~ 1st off that’s blackmail and 2nd off you think holding your partner’s requests hostage is going to build a healthy relationship and 3rd off how the hell do you prove that god damn nonsense that dribbled out of your infected pie-hole?

He also selfishly pities the hell out of himself. One scene that severely pissed me off is Fumi berates an oblivious ex of Shunpei’s to the point that she has an emotional melt-down in public. Your psycho jealousy complex is not her doing you irrational shit-swallow, but YOURS! Oh but Fumi one ups this by running off and curling into a ball in a school hallway weeping his nuts off about how, “WHY WON’T SHUNPEI COME CODDLE ME RIGHT NOW! SURE I JUST MADE A WOMAN HE CARES ABOUT SERIOUSLY UPSET BUT BUT BUT I’M SAD THAT I MADE HIM MAD ABOUT THAT WEEEEEEEEEEEEHHH!!!” Not long after that Shunpei tries to get into contact with him but Fumi won’t respond. I guess cause he’s ~too late.~ That is some impressive mental gymnastics Fumi! Tell me do you have to do warm-up stretches in order to selfishly spin you screaming at a woman until she cries about how you’re the real victim?

GO FUCK YOURSELF!

Now I’ll be clear and say I don’t think Fumi is characterized poorly, or that’s he’s a UNSAVABLY bad person…I just don’t like this fucking guy.

Relationship

When you analyze how the two feel about each other…it’s just…meh in terms of writing.

Shunpei to Fumi

Shunpei to Fumi…most of the time it appears that Shunpei is so paranoid of losing Fumi’s friendship that he makes concessions to him all over the place including sex. Luckily for Shunpei he ended up really liking the sex…yet that seems to be just one more reason Shunpei is sticking around.

Fumi to Shunpei

When it comes to why Fumi likes Shunpei it seems sort of like the yaoi cliché of, “I’m really obsessed with this guy!” …Without ever explaining the reason for it. Maybe Fumi became attached to Shunpei because his budding sexuality locked on him as the only male around him he was close to. I personally would have liked to see more of their relationship before the romance in order to see what the two liked in each other.

At the start of a chapter Shunpei does say the two of them have a lot in common and are seen playing video games together…yet we rarely see them engaging in their mutual interests as a couple. I mean it’s hard to make some interests engaging for a comic reader but you can easily spin playing a video game, going to a concert, cooking, exercising, just shooting the breeze about a topic into a cute scene, that doesn’t have to be even 5 pages long. However the manga is very myopically focused on relationship problems. Sure they have cute moments where they reconcile but them being on good terms with each other rarely seems to last more than a page.

If I got to put a polish on this turd the manga recognizes that so much fighting early in the relationship is not a sign of a sturdy bond. Will these guys actually be able to stick together despite their myriad of problems? I feel as if that adds an element of suspense to the story. …Now…call my cynical but I’ll bet they’ll have a happy end…and they’ve managed to survive a lot already…yet it keeps you on your toes. So while the provincial focus on relationship conflict does not make for a well rounded relationship…it does at least hold your attention and keep the tension in the air.

Besides if you wanted a story without conflict just read Rutta and Kodama.

DAMNIT FAPS YOU’LL HAVE A TIME TO DISCUSS THAT LATER! PUT AWAY YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT WITH RUTTA AND KODAMA AND FOCUS!

While I’m practically the viceroy of hate-hate-hating I must admit the relationship itself is the high point of this manga. Unlike a lot of manga they tackle relationship problems like something the TWO OF THEM have to work on rather than some outside source stinking it up, or one person’s responsibility to kiss the other’s ass. They have the pattern of misunderstand/misstep, fight, apologize/concession, and make-up. Believe it or not but it’s not just one of them that makes missteps and/or apologizes but BOTH OF THEM! With compromises and everything!!! GASSSSSSSSSP!!!!!

They both thought that because they were excellent as best friends that they would be excellent as lovers as well…not realizing how much more work can be involved in an intimate relationship. It feels MORE like a high school romance than….most of the teenage love-fests you see in BL.

Fin… WAIT WAIT WAIT! Don’t go into the finale yet! Aren’t there other characters you should talk about?

For the most part the side characters all become villains out the sabotage the relationship. Most of them are pretty 1-dimensional but let me take a quick break to talk about the longest running villian in the series Satonaka. He is the person Fumi was dating at the beginning of the story.

Satonaka

Satonaka is a full-blown creep-a-zoid. I can appreciate some of his straight talk, sass, his kinky interests, and the fact for a smaller bookish looking guy he packs a punch. However he seems like another sad case of, “All dudes into kinkery are rapists!” Which is (another) ENORMOUS pet-peeve of mine.

To top this off, most of his rapey antics are played off for laughs. Though I will say, he is not as 1-d as the rest of the side characters, and is MIRACULOUSLY not part of the main couple despite being a fairly stereotypical seme in personality.

Finale

Art – 4 Very good but with same face/body syndrome which keeps it from being a 5.

Story – 3 The story can be painfully cliché but sometimes does so in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. The story is dead set on nothing bur relationship conflict, but there are also glimmers of greatness smattered throughout the story. Such as more realistic depictions of high school romance, sexuality and a more balanced relationship.

Characters – 3 The characterization and relationship is just alright for the most part. A lot of the side characters are pretty 1-dimensional, and I think Fumi is a little turd-jockey. Yet I’ll air on the side of caution here and give this one a 3 as well.

It’s a manga better than the average, but could use some improvement. It depends on what you like, but for the most part it’s pretty decent.

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Embracing love

Now I have a BL that many consider a giant glittering star in a sea of BL puke. But is it a classic or an ASS…ic. Today we have Embracing love in front of this furious feminist Fujoshi for final judgment! Embacing Love is a very long running Boy’s love….14 volumes long is nothing to sneeze at. It is hugely successful, has been made into its own animation, and is praised up and down…but so was Purehearted Romance and look at how that turned out for me.

WARNING! Spoilers, bad Japanese, and discussions of unhealthy relationships and sexual assault.

It is a story about two adult film actors who break into mainstream acting…and each other’s hearts. That’s right porn actors…having sex with each other can you believe that!?

I have been criticized as being a bit of a BL hipster. That if its popular it is usually a good bet I’ll hate it…I even think this sometimes because if I see a most popular BL list I instinctively think, “Bah that’s not a list of manga, but rather a series of rotten stacks of flith populating a fetid trash heap.” I then swish my scarf and consider hating breathing because everybody does it.

Yet even with my dying breath I must announce that said Embracing love breaks that pattern for me. It’s both popular, celebrated, and I ADORE IT! I guess that means I can keep on breathing!

Before I start gushing on the content, let me first look at this bugger on purely an aesthetic level.

Art:

It is obvious to tell this style is heavily influenced by mainstream Japanese art, but I feel it has a more mature take on that style than is typically seen. It does not indulge in giant glittering eyes, shoujo bubbles, or exploding flower back-drops. It does stay true to its roots with its use of copious blushing, highly detailed hair, and exaggerated features like you guessed it HANDS. Yet I never find their use of the normal shoujo/yaoi exaggeration immersion breaking. I would say the most jarring feature would be the be blank mouths that are always screaming and angry in the exact same fashion.

We’re doing pretty good so far but I cannot ignore the elephant in the room….The same face syndrome…again. It is appalling bad and makes many stories confusing. For instance Katou has a stalker and the stalker mimics the appearance of Iwaki in order to get Katou’s attention. Problem is he doesn’t resemble Iwaki, he is fucking indistinguishable from him. Every time he shows up its a baffling game of, “Did Iwaki get kinda creepy or has the stalker taken up acting?”

Sure you can distinguish most characters from one another, but I tell you what it’s god damn annoying to be introduced to a new character and immediately think oh its their one face…but now with bangs…but now with glasses…but now with lipstick.

This weakness is really a downer because the artist is clearly talented and I’m sure capable.

Allow me to end on a good note here, despite the enormity of the series the author does a fabulous job of keeping the cover art and eye grabs diverse. Admittedly they were a bit weak in the beginning and of course they feature one or both our leads looking tender or provocative…but I mean that’s fair enough its gay romance and porn you have to sell yourself. Yet within this structure I have seen minimal to elaborate backgrounds, near every type of setting you can imagine, and all kinds of poses and expressions as well.

All in all the art is better than the average with its mature contained style, and great cover art but giant blank mouths, and same face keep this from being perfect.

Story

General

The story in itself follows the trials and tribulations of a gay couple.

It’s pretty much a group of short to average length stories involving them in a linear order. They use this medium of story-telling pretty well. For one there are a diverse amount of topics covered, and plenty of conflict. That’s right! More than just your, “ARE YOU CHEATING ON ME!? Oh oh you’re not thank god…WAIT A SEC ARE YOU CHEATING ON ME? Oh…oh you’re still not…well okay then. BUT NEXT WEEK I’M SURE I’LL HAVE A GREAT EXCUSE TO REACCUSE YOU OF CHEATING ON ME!”

We see conflicts in their careers

Dealing with directors, rival actors, acting agencies, and challenging themselves to become better at acting.

We see conflicts in their families:

Dealing with homosexual acceptance, taking care of a nephew, and even attempts to repair and maintain family relationships.

We see conflicts with their friends and acquaintances:

Dealing with other couple’s problems, health of friends, and of course some jealousies.

Yeah yeah I know, I’m not a fan of jealousy nonsense since it’s been beaten to a pulp a million times…but this couple deal with even this issue….like adults in a healthy relationship. Feel free to pause this video to put your brains back in your ears.

They may be melodramatic adults but they talk things out, don’t blame their partner for things beyond their control, can accept and work on improving their own flaws, and even understand that you cannot restrain your partner because it HURTS them. HOLY SHIT Can I post a screaming neon billboard outside of every romance author who thinks extreme possessiveness is a ~good thing~ for their partner? I should start a kick starter…
Speaking of dealing with their problems like adults!

Stereotype shitting

One time a man tried to black-mail Iwaki into sex by saying he’ll tell his partner that Iwaki was almost sexually abused him. Yes this may seem absurd but the amount of rape shame circling around this threat is feasible.

However Iwaki doesn’t fall into that dumb trap but tells his partner about that incident right away. He knows his partner will be upset by it but He KNOWS his partner is not upset WITH HIM but upset that someone tried to hurt him. For all the tsundere pouting I have seen this LOGICAL THINKING is a god send.

Subverting asinine annoying romance cliches? HELL TO THE MOTHER FUCKING YES!

It’s one of my favorite things about Embracing Love! That it kicks the crap out of all the overused harmful tropes yaoi and romance use. Remember how I was just explaining about the attempted assault black mail? There are a few chapters dedicated to ripping apart the harmful attitudes and cliches of the rape=love trope so prevalent in yaoi. They slap the shit out of the typical excuses and justifications one by fucking one

“I only did it cause I love him”

They point out that if he REALLY liked Iwaki he would have considered his feelings and not want to hurt him…especially so heinously.

“I can’t give up on him!”

That’s downright stupid! He outright told you many times how he has no interest in you and after what you’ve done he hates your guts FOR GOOD REASON! You’ve only sabotaged your chance…and you never had a fucking chance in the first place. It’s like trying to get blood from a stone and when it doesn’t you drop it down marina’s trench but still think there’s hope.

“It was Iwaki’s fault for not locking his door!”

Not locking a door is not the equivalent of a come-on you dunce. What next? Oh he wouldn’t have lived in the same country I was if he DIDN’T want me to fuck him!

“I stopped assaulting him didn’t I?”

That’s no compassionate self-actualization! He only stopped because Iwaki resisted. If he had done nothing he would have happily raped him.

“I couldn’t help myself I love him too much!”

Then why don’t you let him fuck YOU in the ass? Did you forget that he’s a man himself? Iwaki posed the same “Let me fuck YOU in the ass if you love me so much” to Katou. And you know what? Katou was as pleased as shit to accept it because he TRULY loved Iwaki. Love is not about what sex organ goes where its about caring and accepting your partner FUCK-NUTS!

The failed rapist comes to realize he had unfairly idealized Iwaki while at the same time thought of him as a non-person but more like a notch in his bed post. He realizes what he did was frightening egotistical and wrong. He gives up on his ridiculous obsession with him, apologizes, and works hard to mend their friendship afterwards.

I mean DAMN I could not ask for a better deconstruction of those rape-culture dick-drippings disguised as love.

Beating up on the permissiveness of molestation is not the only thing Embracing love subverts…

One of the big ones is the stereotypical seme/uke dynamic since the two switch between topping and bottoming. They’ve made a couple of playful mentions of Iwaki being the wife in the pair but otherwise shit on that heternormative gabbolygook! They highlight Iwaki’s early view of sexuality as Male superiority and dominance as nonsense. Katou says that he never felt emasculated or ashamed of bottoming, that because he was receiving in a such a happy relationship he never felt anything but “pure bliss.” Iwaki openly explains that bottoming isn’t “the easy way out” in gay sex but rather takes more courage and self-actualization than dominating.

POSTIVITE MORE REALISTIC SEXUALITY IN MY YAOI FREE FROM HARMFUL BALONEY STEREOTYPES!?

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

You hit a fever pitch of joy…that’s all coming crashing down isn’t it?

Okay maybe a little…

While the previous deconstruction of rape culture in yaoi spun my heart into a flurry of uproarious glee….it’s not that politically correct.

We have several situations where Katou is exceedingly possessive or the consent is dubious in nature. Katou will continue to push intercourse on Iwaki even if Iwaki is unresponsive. Katou will say creepily possessive things or become fixated on the possibility of Iwaki not being faithful.

Now I hate relationships riff with jealousy, insecurity, and possessiveness. This is because when I see it, it’s usually a defenseless person who gets threatened, dragged around, and controlled over issues that are not threats even to begin with. When an uke in that situation says, “I secretly like it!” I don’t fucking believe them. It sounds like lazy-ass justifications for really REALLY harmful tripe.

Iwaki is the only case so far, where I can BELIEVE that he appreciates SOME of his partner’s possessive behavior. Before you start slapping hypocrite stickers on me let me explain:

The possessive behavior that Katou exhibits toward Iwaki never escalate beyond a creepy statement. He has never FORCED or FORBAD Iwaki on any account. Katou RECOGNIZES that his possessive streaks are irrational and potentially harmful for the relationship and (sometimes) curbs them. Iwaki doesn’t just sit and take it indiscriminately either. In some abuse glorifying material the victim will pipe up…sometimes frequently but usually they’ll be ignored in the end. Iwaki is not that kind of person, he has called out Katou and Katou has LISTENED and MADE EFFORTS to change that behavior. Sure he flubs up every now and again but Iwaki is not shy about letting him know when he does so.

Most of the time when Katou says something that could easily come out of the mouth of the abuser it feels like just a part of a dominant dirty talk since it’s usually used before or during sex. Iwaki has openly stated that he somewhat enjoys Katou’s jealousy streaks and I am more ready to believe him because he admits that freely, it has never caused serious issues for Iwaki as a person, and he knows himself and Katou well enough to communicate that.

With all that said I cannot excuse every instance of Katou’s possessiveness or self-centeredness some of it is bullshit and is not rectified. There’s no excuse for the dub-con either.

So while some moments will make me wince, it’s probably the best way to go about a couple where one of them enjoys some of their partner’s possessiveness.

Okay let’s get out of that mess and talk more technical.

The story is a mixture of drama and humor…but the humor is just…not very good and easily predictable. The jokes aren’t painfully bad but I had a few eyerolls. For the most part they didn’t even register as humor for me which is a shame.

The melodrama can be….a bit much at points. With both characters totally overreacting to little incidences. OH NO MY BOYFRIEND IS PLAYING AN ILL PERSON ON TELEVISION WHAT IF HE REALLY WAS ILL ARRRRGHHH!? OH NO MY BOYFRIEND CLOSED HIS EYES IN FRONT OF OTHER PEOPLE HOW DARE HE doesn’t he know he looks so good with his eyes closeddddddd! FDJASKLFJASKLJFL OMG I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU FOR A WEEK I’M GOING TO DIE!!!!

Yes those are all incidences in the story. How do I feel about the hyperblown melodrama? Well some of it makes sense and is good but the other stuff…I can’t really bring myself to hate. The melodrama is part of this series charm and even in its most ridiculous moments…it does stay entertaining.

Allow me a weird tangent before I wrap up the story part of this review:

While this series is a melodramatic slice of life, One chapter that took a violent left turn into paranormal What the fuckery. So I’m putzing around reading a bit of Embracing love. Oh look they’re having emotional melt-downs over nothing…that’s normal…Okay so next chapter BAM Katou’s older brother who died as a baby as a result of a miscarriage is POSSESSING IWAKIIII IN ORDER FOR THE OLDER BROTHER’S SOUL TO BE REBORN AS KATOU’S NEPHEW

UHHH UHH UHHH SHITTING FUCK WHAT? HUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH?

They do mention the incident once again and the original chapter was pretty short but its still an odd little paranormal blip on an otherwise sensible slice of life story.

Okay let’s wrap this up.

The things that Embracing love has going for it is a diverse, well-paced story that keeps you on your toes, and it will occasionally pee in the eyes of dumb-butt cliches and common problematic tropes. It is far from perfect because it does engage in a few problematic tropes itself, lacks humor, and can be overly melodramatic.

Characters

The relationship follows the trope of Red Oni Blue Oni. A Red Oni is a hot-blooded, emotional, and spontaneous person while blue oni is an introverted, conservative and typically more intelligent person. The two are opposites and while they butt heads frequently they compliment each other. Yes this is one OLD trope but it is a great trope when used correctly.

Our blue oni Iwaki is going to be the first I talk about

Iwaki came from a very traditional and conservative background. So his view of sexuality is in repressive heterosexual terms and his difficulties expressing himself make total sense. He always had a chip on his shoulder for people to take him seriously, he’s stubborn, overly sensitive, and seemingly allergic to confrontation. As the story progresses his views are challenged and he is made to open up more and more. He doesn’t wallow around waiting for Katou to “fix” him or stays hyper embarrassed of his orientation or sexual/romantic expression. He actually GROWS and has character arcs but is still the same person at his core.

One thing I really enjoy about this series is that avoids being black and white about its subject matter. You know how some stories crone about how great their main characters are and how everybody is out to get them? Not this manga.

During a story which introduces Iwaki’s family we are initially made to loath his homophobic family who did not tell Iwaki that his mother was ill or that she had passed away. Yet as the story progresses we learn that they DID try to contact him, and that their sour feelings don’t stem solely from some irrational hatred of homosexuals and pornographic actors. We learn that it stemmed from a fear for his well-being. That his outwardly nasty brother resents him for causing so much pain for their mother and for leaving him to manage the family without help. At the end of the chapter, despite their best efforts things are not 100% repaired for their family.

Learning a deeper side of a story, and knowing that the character you’re to root for is not without flaws really makes a character and a story compelling!

Katou is our Red oni

Katou is emotional, spontaneous, flightly, stubborn, but open-minded and fiercely loyal. He’s an alright character for the most part…but remember how I said I cannot justify some of his shit fits? Let me give some examples.

  • He moves himself into Iwaki’s apartment without telling him.
  • He has sex with Iwaki while HE KNOWS other people are watching in some piss-ass attempt to prove to these people that Iwaki is his….but doesn’t tell Iwaki they’re being watched.
  • He agreed to have a friend kiss his husband if he beat him in an athletic competition without consulting said husband about it. (Admittedly he doesn’t force him to go through with it.)
  • He cheats on him early in the relationship and when confronted about it he outright says he would never had come clean if he wasn’t forced.

Unlike many yaoi characters he’s usually called out on this bad behavior. Yet there are several instances where something big and reckless (like the above) is treated like Katou forgetting to do the laundry. Iwaki will scold him a little and shrug it off. I don’t hate Katou despite these huge misteps…and I wonder if that’s because in COMPARISON to other semes he’s a fucking angel. Oh yaoi why do you ruiiiiiin me. Though he’s not all bad. He is genuinely dedicated to Iwaki and is kind to him altruistically. Sometimes he even goes overboard in his attempts to prove himself to Iwaki or others but its hard not to admire his dedication.

Relationship

Their relationship is tumultuous but tender. Even with all their hyper emotional melodramatic screeching at each other it is a rock solid bond and one of the most realistic and healthy relationships I have seen in a yaoi. The thing that I found a bit odd about the whole thing is that the start of our Manga is NOT where our two leads meet…and they didn’t like each other at first….that in itself is very interesting.

Iwaki to Katou

I think Iwaki likes Katou because he’s exciting. He’s open-minded, honest, and courageous to the point many would find him obnoxious. However these are traits Iwaki admires since he came from a background where you’re supposed to suppress your feelings and hold back your affections. Yet they do have things in common, they’re both very emotional, passionate, and stubborn. While Katou can be a bit of a idiot at times, Iwaki is more concerned with the fact that Katou works hard and stands up for what he believes.

Katou to Iwaki

Even though Iwaki seems pretty button down I speculate that Katou was initially hooked because he found Iwaki mysterious and their scandalous relationship exciting. In the beginning Katou plays up how if they two were to “fake” an affair that it would draw attention to their projects. Katou never seemed to have problems attracting who he wanted previously but Iwaki’s reluctance and caginess made Katou even more intrigued since he has not encountered that in a partner before. As things progress he eventually begins to enjoy how his other half grounds him, calls him out, but encourages him to go forward. Katou is frustrated but empowered by Iwaki’s rare expressions of affection. It makes him insecure at points but more often than not he treasures the infrequent admissions of love from Iwaki.

Nagisa and Yukhito

Time to talk a little bit about the side couple in this series Nagisa and Yukihito. Nagisa is essential for the couple’s coming together as she brought the two together to fight over the same role which lead to the two falling for each other. Nagisa is a transwoman writer who is a SUPER creep. Nagisa for one, told the two stars they had to have sex as some sort of competition as to who will get the acting role…which they were both uncomfortable with…but she wanted to see them fuck…so…Grossss. Yet on top of that is dating her younger, under 18, extremely introverted (once mute) cousin Yukhito and at one point heavily pressures an unwilling Yukhito into engaging in an open relationship. Ehhhhhuhhh ….Yet later pulls out of the open relationship deal not because they feel poorly for the very shy Yukhito but because of jealousy. Hmph.

To be fair Nagisa is one of the few portrayals of a transwoman who is more than the but of jokes. They’re friendly, very supportive of friends, and extremely dedicated to their passion of writing. Hell I’d like to see Usagi from Purehearted romance or Yuki from Gravitation engage in an open relationship play or pay someone to dominate them so they can see hands on how these relationships work. With that said she also have a big inferiority complex and she seek to punish herself or rush to judge that the people around them are out to get her. I was glad when we got a back story chapter for the two, which helped explain a lot. The problem being the chapter felt very rushed. You don’t get many stories of Transwomen so it was a shame.

The relationship between the two…kinda baffles me a bit. I can get why Nagisa would like Yukhito, he’s a grounding force but also very mysterious for her curious mind. I don’t really get why Yukhito is into Nagisa though. To me it just screams of desperation to move away from their batty family combined with misplaced Oedipus complex.

Though there was a fabulous chapter where, with the help of Iwaki, they rebuild their relationship after Nagisa cheats on Yukhito. Which, by the way, is a more realistic but practically non-existent relationship conflict. Sure people tease jealousy all the time but to ACTUALLY sleep with another person almost never happens.

I’m not a fan of Nagisa or her relationship with her cousin…but there are good points to it.

Conclusion:

The art is mature and well crafted…but stuck with ye olde same-face. The story is super melodramatic and not that funny but far more varied, and realistic than the average yaoi plots. The relationship is positive and healthy (for the most part) and the lead couple is a fabulous watch. The side couple of Yukhito and Nagisa I cannot say the same thing but they’re not all bad either.

Art 4/5 – I can’t give anything a 5 if same-face is still abounds.

Story 5/5 – For tackling a myrid of issues, character growth, and fun melodramtic read!

Characters 4/5 – It deals with realistic character flaws and relationship conflicts like a pro! A couple of less than stellar characters, hand waving of some of katou’s behavior give this a 4

While not perfect Embracing love is a masterpiece of this genre! It has become something of a golden standard by which many other yaoi are judged (at least for me.) Though I must tell you….don’t bother with the OVA it’s too rushed. If you like Embracing love the spirtual spin-off Winter Cicada is a fabulous melodramatic historical read and the OVA did a stellar job. Embracing love is a long read but well worth it!

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Cute Devil

There are a lot of big fish I should fry, but I’m going with a short one this time around. This one is called, “Cute Devil” by Madarame Hiro.

Cute devil is a story about an average student gets caught up with a mischievous and deceptively wholesome looking classmate and his world is turned upside down.

Fun fact! My icon on this youtube is from the sequel The devil in love!

Warnings: As with most of my rants there will be big time spoilers, my japanese is shit, and I will be discussing relationship abuse, sexual violence, and PTSD.

Art

I will say the art style in this story is different than what I usually see in Boy’s love manga. For that in itself I respect it. It has a very stark and dramatic look with lots of solid white and blacks with sparcely used screen tones. The author uses minimualization more frequently and does chibis in a different fashion. The author has…shall we say rougher lines which I enjoy…but…

These cool rough lines are frequently used to over-detail things. Clothing for instances is lousy with wrinkles. It looks as if every article of clothing a character wears was first crumpled into a ball for 2 days before being put on.

Despite some of its deviance from typical manga style it still abuses detail on eyelashes, hair, and lips. Sometimes it can be impressive looking….but most of the time it is not. While the excesses wrinkles is merely distracting, the flamboyant features are flat out ridiculous looking. The eyelashes look as if he crushed a spider between his eyelids and glopped massacre on top to fool us. They are clumpy and inconsistent looking.

The lips (especially in later Naruse) are sore thumbs. It really brings in the eye with how much detail is put into them and in particular the author heavily shades the bottom lip which makes it look as if it is sticking out from the face a couple of inches like a duckbill.

Everybody is squealing about how attractive Naurse is…but he looks as if a poodle fucked a alligator. The resulting mutant was cut up and and parts of itself sown on a blow-up doll that already wasn’t that good looking to begin with. On the back cover the author confesses that her editors didn’t really find Naurse as appealing as she hoped and all I can say is, “NO SHIT SHERLOCK!”

If you remove the absurd features the author is better than average at distinguishing her characters, and in particular I like the diverse styles and textures of hair on different characters. The anatomy is usually fine but has wonky moments usually when it comes to arms. The action and paneling is also sloppily executed making the comic frequently confusing.

As a sum up:

The art has a rougher style, and has perks like better diversity but has downsides like distracting overdetailed objects and features.

Story

The story in itself is saturated in cliché. It’s yet another “Rapes until he loves him.” What turns it consensual is a pinch of jealousy and a scene of insecurity fussing. Its so cliché it practically plays out as a parody. In facy yaoi parody kachou no koi the uke seeks kissing advice and ends up in a sticky situation…in this manga the exact same thing happens.

YAOI! One of the few genres where it fucking parodies itself!

I usually appreciate when pieces of media don’t take themselves seriously…however with the way they apply humor here it is either

Confusing – Due to the way they convey action.

Embarrassing – Due to out of place sudden bouts of over of the top humor.

Unnerving – due to playing off what a unhinged psycho Naruse is. I mean the moment after he nearly shoved a pencil through somebody’s skull he’s giggling and acting cutsy wootsy. That’s not funny, that’s downright terrifying.

The setting is a Japanese high school and the only other thing you need to know is that Naruse is the best fucking thing since sliced bread. The fucking universe seems to shout about how he’s totally super cute, super handsome, and super popular and super great, and uhhh super. It’s super fucking annoying.

Didn’t I just say something about how lazy it is to have background characters squeal about how the leads are so great…instead of showing us how great they are?

Speaking of which the justifications for Naruse’s sociopathic behavior are numerous, yet they make no attempts to mask how manipulative he is.

We have the staples of the genre which are

  1. He was turned on while being raped so it cool
  2. Naruse is so gorgeous why would he say no in the first place!?
  3. See that one time he got really jealous over him! Sure it makes no sense why he would be, but that is a sign of his tsundere love don’t you see!

For sure Naruse has the dangerous ABCs aggression, belittlement, and control! It’s all stuff I have ranted about previously. One thing I had not seen before and is worlds of fucked up and demonstrates how hypocritical is: In the first scene Naruse tries to garter pity from Aikyoshi by fabricating a story of a friend’s unwarranted and aggressive sexual interest in him. Though we can all tell that he doesn’t really believe unwarranted sexual aggression is “unjustified” because he goes on to do it himself. It’s worlds of gross considering this is a story about rape and we start with a false accusation of sexual abuse. It’s like holding up a big sign saying, “RAPE IS NOT REAL SO LET’S TORTURE THE SHIT OUT OF THIS HAPLESS CHARACTER NOW!”

Some of this behavior is framed as Naruse just defending Aikyoshi at all costs…yet we can gleam from his attitude it is not due to some steadfast dedication to Aikyoshi’s well-being. Afterall Naruse will rape him so hard Aikyoshi, he is unable to stand. So he sabotages Aikyoshi’s well-being if it suits him. Rather Naruse views Aikyoshi as an possession of his and he just doesn’t want anybody else touching him.

Throughout the manga Aikyoshi is portrayed as openly hating Naruse and even shows symptoms of actual Post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Aikyoshi’s grades drop and he dreads going to school due to what he expects will happen when he’s there. It’s pretty fucked up.

…Oh god stretch your brain Faps can you think of ANYTHING nice to say?

Well the fact that the seme started out as small and effeminate was a break from the mold. Now I’m not a member of the MRA by any stretch of the imagination but I feel as if Yaoi plays into a negative stereotype that MEN are always violent, aggressors, who can’t control themselves. Here they don’t really go for the typical hard-line super macho domineering stink-beast. That being effeminate doesn’t mean you have to be a docile puppy-hugger…effeminate men can be total dickshits too!

However I feel as if they really blew that potential to shit when Naruse is suddenly 9 feet and drops any female or cutsy tendencies he used to have.

…Ummm while I don’t find it funny it has a different sense of humor from the usual lol pervert/so embarrassing…though sometimes they ride the cliché humor like an obese person on a malnorished donkey.

Characters

Naurase

Now…there is no escaping it Naurse is pretty much the personification of reprehensible.

Wait a sec Faps! You said you hated Usagi too so why should we listen to you when you say you hate a seme!

Okay listen….I really REALLY hate Usagi but…I can at least UNDERSTAND why people like him. He’s suave, sophisticated, wealthy as sin, controlling (which some people have a kink for), and makes Misaki a 24/7 lit up hub for his non-stop attention. I don’t like him because he victimizes a helpless individual, but I UNDERSTAND the appeal.

They don’t even try to give any appeal to Naurse. He’s bratty, arrogant, manipulative, violent, nasty, and even openly refers to other people as his objects. He’s an enormous flaming sociopath if I ever saw one.

Sure it will sometimes laugh at the gap of how Naruse is perceived and his actual personality…but Naruse does not see anything wrong with his own behavior and nobody besides the lead ever seems to clue in on what a cockdick he is. Those who find out about his violent tendencies are too scared to protest or even openly admire it. Instead of having any sort of consequences for his heartless behavior people will instead heep more praise or respect on him.

Akiyoshi

Ugh he’s a pretty typical bookish tsundere. Though at least he has a little meat on his personality bones. He doesn’t like attention, he’s sometimes full of himself. Though I must admit any kind of flimsy respect for him I lost entirely when he is so distraught that his seme joked he wasn’t good at kissing that he has to do research on it and fretts like a insecure pre-teen who’s doesn’t understanding sexuality. Flipping through catty magazines about, “HOW TO KISS” “HOW TO PLEASE A MAN” It was supposed to be funny but all I could do was lean my head back and go Uggggkk REALLY!?

Relationship

As a couple? There’s no love or even anything remotely tolerable to watch about this pairing. Naurse saw Akiyoshi as a challenge. He wanted to knock down the guy a peg as part of a fucked-up power trip. Once he does so he treats Akiyoshi as an object. Any “kindness” is steeped in violence and really just macho posturing to prove to everyone that he is Naurse’s possession.

From Akiyoshi’s perspective he just flat out hates most of everything about Naruse. Yet we’re supposed to believe this is some kind of tsundere posturing due to *insert cliché of your choice*. Even when Naruse beats up some kids that picked on Akiyoshi he has to let him know the fact he’s picked on is his own fault and he’s stupid.

Again I gotta really pull it apart to get anything nice here.

Akiyoshi is tad arrogant which is kinda nice?

Conclusion

Out of the sea of same-face that most yaois crawl out of, this style was a good change of pace. However it goes so gaga with over-refined detail it often becomes distracting or unintentionally hilarious looking.

The story is so overdone and pathetic it hits poe law. Though the fact that Naruse starts out as girlish and delicate was a decent change of pace…until they ruined it.

Naruse is one of the most wretched assholes every to be scribbled onto paper, and Akiyoshi is nothing to write home about…except for him being a braggart on a couple of occasions. The relationship is straight out abusive.

You may be thinking, “wow that sounds crappy but at least it’s just one volume.” If so you thought like an idiot because Cute devil has two sequels, beloved Devil, and the devil is in love. Ugh what the hell, is this trash going to get OVA next too? Without going into much detail about the sequels…they only really dish out the same cliché jealousy dribble. The devil in love has Naruse’s personality turn into that of a bratty toddler due to an injury. (So his personality doesn’t change much) except it adds 50 tons of unfiltered annoying to his character. I’ll be bald from hair ripping before I can finish a chapter of it.

Ratings out of 5?

Art – 3 – Fresh style but over detailed

Story – 1 – Same old cliché dribble

Characters – 1 – Vapid tsundere and textbook socipath? NO THANKS!

Unless you have a kink for rape and possessive violent men do not bother.

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Rutta and Kodama

Remember how in my Elektrical Delusion review I make a reference to my disappointment with Rutta and Kodama? Well it’s about time we get to that, now isn’t it!

On first glance Rutta and Kodama by Fujitani Youko seems like a fitting meal for me! Ah how I love a sugar-sweet equal relationship…yet all is not well after I savored this dish…let’s find out why!

Ad nauseum warning: Bad Japanese, spoilers for the series, some NSFW…ish pictures but this time no talk of any unsavory sexuality or relationships! PHEW!

Rutta and Kodama (as the name would suggest) is a boy (Rutta) meets boy (Kodama). It’s a high school yaoi romance with the classic bad boy and naïve darling set up!

Though allow a quick rant out front. Having the name of a romance…be the two names of the couple is super lazy and tells us 0 about the story…don’t do it!

Let’s start with an appetizer…the art!

Scanning this art…it’s underwhelming. The style has a cute simple flavor that is well suited for this kind of story. But the backgrounds are practically non-existent, the character designs are not unique and the anatomy is just okay. Though it does get one huge point in its favor and that is the fact that the two leads have different chins!

I’d rate this one…average.

Oh but that’s just the art! Let’s move onto something a little more…how about a salad of story!

Despite the art the story shows some promise early on. It’s pretty much the opposite of the average BL romance. Instead of a simpering uke praying that one day that mysteriously alluring senpai notices him. Volumes of tension later ukey stammers out a confession of his feelings! Instead we have the bad boy seme confess to the uke…pretty much right out of the gate. That gets big points in its favor right away from me.

We also have that lead accept that confession…as his new target of affection is punching out other delinquents. (Frankly that was a really awkward scene.) From here on out it’s 95% of concentrated pure fluffy cute sugary wonderfulness! …And oh is sugar one of my major vices…It’s right up there with sex and trolling for me! ….but this story does not satisfy me…why?

Our characters’ flaws and any semblance of conflict fly CLEAN out the window after the first volume.

The story started with Rutta having a meddling and troublesome family and I thought this was going to be the main driver of the conflict throughout the story but…the family up and disappears without much of a fuss and to only really be mentioned in passing in future chapters. Also Rutta’s delinquency just vanishes around the same time. They mention what a bad boy he is all the time but he doesn’t so much as return a library book late. It’s akin to seeing a dude hold a joint once and after that everybody clamors as to WHAT A JUNKIE that character is even though that’s the only drug use we’ve seen. After this 1st volume it’s just straight continuous sugary-sweet fluff stuff.

While the cute stuff is well legitimately cute and sweet it’s hard to become invested without downsides to these couples.

We have some VERY minor conflicts such as being sick, jealousy worries, getting ready for a school festival and one (unfounded) concern about a partner going abroad…Now don’t get me wrong…the story is somewhat realistic in that respect. If we broadcasted the interactions between REAL LIFE cute, healthy couples we’d all be bored to tears…Oh look they’re snuggling up and watching a movie…again. KILL ME!

I know, I know I was just complaining about how Eleketal Delusion doesn’t spend any time on the pair doing well…but I’d rather have constant bickering than pages upon pages of snuggling in slightly different positions…For a TRULY great story you have to balance it of course…but I’d rather have more conflict than less. High points make us want to see the two together, the conflict makes us worry they won’t be.

Let me rag on perhaps the biggest source of post volume 1 conflict to highlight the problem.

The sorta climax of this story is a REALLY forced bout of jealosuy. On the upside Kodama realizes it’s irrational and deals with it like an adult. On the downside it really makes no sense why it even happens. Kodama is jealous that Rutta has a friend…but Kodama has had 0 issues with several of Rutta’s other friends. Yet for SOME REASON this new guy has Kodama hysterically weeping at a possible infidelity? There was no reason for it besides the fact the author wanted an easily solved drama to wrap the story up. This whole speal has 0 consequences and is entirely in Kodama’s head.

There are some other worries such as Rutta getting sick, or Rutta meeting Kodama parent’s, or an old deliquiant friend of Rutta’s showing up but they get incrediably easily solved and the worry to begin with wasn’t that strong. None of these issues get hot enough to even be considered tepid!

A major part of getting invested in…any story is relating and sympathizing with the characters. Perfect angels who just zip around giggling and giving each other hand jobs is….BORING! This story is pretty much the equivalent of staring at a poster of an adorable kitten sleeping in a bed of tulips….for 3 hours.

Okay what else about this story Faps? ….Well it has a pretty good sense of humor and can laugh at itself. The pacing is slowish but fine. The big perk is the sweetness the big flop is the lack of conflict.

So let’s move on to the main course of Characters!

Characters

Rutta

Well let’s start with Rutta who I have more of an issue with. Rutta used to be a delinquent who gets in fights and skipped school but stops it all together when he’s with Kodama. We’re not talking Kodama encourages him to stop and step by step he does so…he just suddenly has 0 interest. Well shit I guess the way to fix education issues with disinterested and destructive youths is simply to set off a LOVE BOMB in every male lockeroom!

Besides his past he’s simply a nice person who I guess you could say is kinda emotional…but he doesn’t really have much personality. I mean he’s a great seme SOLELY because he’s not a terrible human being but he’s not getting on my best seme list due to his lack of characterization.

Oh but I’m sure Kodama is different!

Kodama

He’s also…just a nice person…but I mean at least he has interest in becoming a cook. I mean I was mildly interested when Kodama mentioned he wanted to top…it’s mostly used as a joke and just when it actually looks like it’s going to happen they just switch and totally fucking forget about it. Talk about a fucking tease!

Yet it does take that joke in a different direction than the norm. The norm would be what you see in love stage, that he’s being a dumb uppity uke and having delusions of grandeur. The seme than does a double standard dance. “God it would be so awful if I bottomed, now let me slam your asshole until your lower half is entirely incapacitated.”
Rutta and Kodama make a joke that Rutta misunderstands what Kodama wants when Kodama asks to penetrate, Rutta thinks Kodama wants to have sex with a woman and tearfully allows it because he’ll sacrifice his want for monogamy if it’ll make Kodama happy. Honestly that was a decent joke…but they just totally forget about this. Kodama just never tops and it is never brought up again.

Otherwise Kodama is a little dishonest with himself but is a rationale human being when it comes to any (albeit incrediably minor) issues with his significant other. Not very deep but at least he’s likable.

Relationship

R to K

Why does Rutta like Kodama? Well I must admit they put this on hyperspeed by having Rutta confess to Kodama without a week of knowing him but Rutta likes Kodama because Kodama is a good person. Rutta talks about how he despises his family because it’s filled with selfish people and that the reason he found himself so drawn to Kodama was because Kodama is a very thoughtful unselfish person. That’s not bad, but not very deep. It’s better than a LOT of couples I’ve seen but not awesome if you ask me.

Unlike a lot of semes Rutta has implicit trust, a deep sense of respect, and carefully listens to his uke which really helps me enjoy this couple more and makes the sexuality of this series (while lacklusterly drawn) incredibly positive!

It’s sad that I have to celebrate it, but FUCK IT’S FABULOUS!

K to R

Why does Kodama like Rutta? I have a feeling he kinda took him on as a bit of a project. That he felt as if Rutta was a good person but dealing with his personal issues in a bad way and wanted to encourage him to do better. This BY THE WAY is a super bad way of looking at a possible relationship. Everybody wants to help their partner but don’t go into a relationship banking on the idea that you’re going to ~change~ someone….even if this story is a poster-child for it. But overall Kodama truly falls in love with Rutta…because he is a good human being. Again it’s not very deep but it at least makes sense.

Side couple

Hiromi and Akihiro

Shock of shocks this is a heterosexual side couple that are mutual friends with out main couple. While their appearance is brief and is mostly used as a push off point for certain issues our main couple has…I found them pretty damn cute. Hiromi is a lovely little character and is a great friend and supportive to both Rutta and Kodama. It made me wonder why more BL doesn’t have more mutual friend side couples whether they be straight, gay, or lesbian.

Conclusion

It’s a less than engaging but sweet little high school romance. The art isn’t great, the story lacks conflict, and the characters are kinda bland….but it is not overtly poorly written, it’s as cute as a puppy parade, and it certainly has it’s heart in the right place.

Rating

Art – 3 – average execution of pretty much everything but different CHINS Oh YES DIFFERENT CHINS!

Story – 3 – No conflict, no investment, but has charming moments and a good sense of humor.

Characters – 2 – Rutta’s forgetting he was a bad boy and it’s overall shallowness are big dips in this series. However they put effort into making it make sense and the relationship is as adorable as can be.

Even though as an overall BL meal I wouldn’t rate as much above average. I would certainly recommend it to BL fans. In particular if you’re a sucker for some mindless pick-me-up fluff!

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Love Stage

Those who follow yaoi know that recently a BL called love Stage has well….taken center stage. When it comes to how the Furious fujoshi feels will it mirror my feelings on the popular embracing love? ….or the even more popular purehearted romance?

Love stage is a manga and now an anime by Eiki Eiki and Zaou Taishi. It is about a college student Izumi who despite his showbiz family has become something of an Otaku. A boy he met on a set when he was a child comes back into his life and things change wildly for the two of them!

Warnings: I’m bound to mispronounce Japanese names/place, this will be rampant for spoilers, and I will be talking about dub/non con and abusive elements in this relationship.

Allow me to take some time for a special section of Anime vs. Manga

I perhaps should have done this for Junjou Romantica…but really…did that thing need to be any longer?

I’m going to start out positive by saying I like the scenes where Izumi lapses into a fantasy lalalelu (aka he’s favorite magical girl) land. It parallels the struggles that Izumi is going through…just with some magical color explosions and dramatics. Now of course it’s a lazy gimmick to highlight Izumi’s internal struggle…but I believe it was a good touch. It added some flair to the slice-of-life story and it makes sense that an otaku sees the world through an anime lens. I think it was a great addition!

The anime takes some artistic licenses the manga does not take and for a lot of the goofy exaggeration…I like it.

Though I have two complaints about the artistic differences between the anime and manga. For one the hazy flowery, sky, effects they used for the first two make-out scenes were just ridiculous and confusing. OH BABY HE IS SO TURNED ON HE’S…HE’S the sky? Ugh fuck off with that confusing,over-arty bullshit! It does not suit this anime at all.

For two the continuous over insertion of the author’s commentary and personas I found obnoxious. In general I do not like to see the author’s comments while reading manga. I get easily pissy if I feel as if an author is trying to directly sway my thinking and it feels very TELL not show. However in manga it’s very easy to ignore…it is NOT easy to ignore in an anime. If you didn’t know they were the author’s inserts…you would be entirely confused as well.

So I rambled a whole lot about art…so we might as well switch to the art section.

Art

The lovestage art is not bad but I wouldn’t hazard to call it great either. …It’s pretty generic start to finish. While the character design are not awful they’re kinda samey and why not another helping of same face everyone? I mean look at these two fuckers. I roll my eyes a plenty at the exclamations that the characters are so hot and cute because they are pretty much look like every other anime boy…and I’m still baffled as to why taking off glasses makes people sexier….it doesn’t.

The scenery is lackluster, the anatomy is okay with overly long too-thin gangly limbs…like typical yaoi. The screentones and shading are pretty good though. I must admit I have never seen a pair of artists work on a manga together so closely and that is very interesting. In an extra they describe how they share….pretty much every step of the art making process which is impressive in itself and comes through positively in the work. I appreciate that aspect of this work! Not gonna lie, I totally ship Eiki Eiki and Zaou Taishi (though let’s get real here they ship themselves so its not a stretch.)

One last nice note, the one thing that Taishi does exclusively is the cover and splash art coloring. This style of coloring is very stark: muted colors for the characters combined with a bright color background and dramatic text really grab the eye. It really stands out and suits the flashy show-biz content of the story. While I’m disappointed that many of these backgrounds for these covers are minimal…I can let it slide because it is a very catchy style of art.

Story

This story had something of an arc for me. What I mean by that is, it started off shitty, got pretty good and then nose-bombed into shit again.

The manga starts off with our lead as a child. He is forced to dress in drag in order to replace a child actor who could not make it to a shoot for a marriage magazine commercial. Izumi looks and behaves 3 but is supposed to be 8. (Pro-tip: Children have a WIDE range of development and to paint it all with one cutsey brush is moronic and insulting.) Izumi is very uncomfortable by this and wets himself. Yet everybody coos about how hilarious and cute it is so they give fuck all about how Izumi feels about it.

Why yes this has set the mood for how Izumi will be treated throughout the manga! How did you guess!?

So through a series of very forced bullshit events young adult Izumi is made to kiss the boy he interacted alongside during that first commercial. That boy, Ryouma, is mortified to find out that Izumi is a cis-man but despite this later goes on to nearly rape him regardless.

So yeah it starts off on a VERY LOW POINT for me.

However after this rage quit I went back to the manga and it…shakily starts to get better.

If you set Ryouma being a creep to the side for a moment (I’ll rant about that more later) there is a lot of good that begins to happen in the manga. Ryouma expresses true, unselfish kindness toward Izumi but accepts that the relationship may not become romantic or sexual. Izumi has a wonderful character arc regarding his artistic overconfidence and taking advantage of Ryouma feelings. Izumi’s earlier harsh (but justified) feelings toward Ryouma begin to melt and form into feelings of affection in the face of Ryouma’s kindness.

There! THERE! THAT’S SOME GOLDEN STUFF!

….but as I hinted at before it takes a turn for the worse again.

Izumi takes up acting…though everything in his characterization screams he would never do so. Izumi also suddenly decides that he and Ryouma have to have sex because he was nearly gang raped by strangers….yeah okay. Ryouma then gives him a god awful first time because he’s too sexually selfish. To top that all off the story goes back to its painfully forced attempts to get our couples closer…and that includes FUCKING HYPNOTISM INDUCED AMENSIA AND THE TROPE OH NO MY CLOTHES ARE WET WE BEST TAKE THEM OFF…TWICE!

God fucking damnit!

Okay sit down, pull out your binoculars because we’re going to talk about what’s creepy in this series.

So the sexual politics in this bad boy….phew. This yaoi heavily abuses the ~i couldn’t control myself so rape had to happen~ trope. Sure this is a popular one for women’s erotic material…however bodice-ripper rape stuff…should not be in a cutsey romance story. At least this story mixes up the formula by having both the seme and uke divulge in this fetishy cliché…but that only makes it worse in my opinion. You guessed it….at one point the uke realizes it was wrong to be mad he was almost raped because he goes on to almost rape.

Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

You know what I don’t want in my cute sugary goofy romance? Where both partners are trying to out rape each other. Though I will say Ryouma is a repellant hypocrite for ducking out of chances to talk about the possibility of him bottoming. Sure Ryouma fucked Izumi so hard he was in massive amounts of pain because Ryouma cared more about his gratification than his partner’s well being…but if Ryouma were to bottom….HE COULD DIE!? HOW COULD YOU NOT THINK OF POOR RYOUMA IZUMIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!! EVEN RYOUMA ADMITING HE DOESN’T WANT TO BOTTOM OR TRYING TO TALK ABOUT IT WOULD BE TOO HARD FOR THIS POOR COWARD BABY!!!!

Ryouma engages in some seriously shitty stalker-esque behavior including obsessive texting, guilt tripping, showing up at his school, and of course touching and photo taking of an unconscious Izumi. Yet in the next breath he’ll do something nice for him or whine that he’s being ~tested.~ No Ryouma you don’t get a free pass because once you had the opportunity to rape somebody and you didn’t take it. Not raping somebody does not make you a fucking saint. Blue balls have never killed anybody you sad sack.

The backstage couple is vastly better in this territory…but of course we couldn’t get through the whole manga without a chapter where one rapes the other in his sleep. GOD FUCKING DAMNIT!!!!

So in my opinion one big problem with this series is it’s problematic sexuality in such a cutsey setting…what’s another big problem?

Slash Syndrome

Something I like to call slash syndrome.

As many of you know slash is when people pair a couple together (that typically isn’t canon.) They write stories about the two getting together and usually these stories take some artistic liberties because it makes no logical sense the two would be together. However we’re taking these same outrageous mis- communication, plot holes, characters who do nothing but push them together, and bouts of out of character diarrhea….for a canon couple. News Flash authors they’re YOUR characters you can write them HOWEVER you want if your main goal is to shack these two up…then why not make that fucking feasible to start out with?

I don’t want to read a story about two dip shits where nothing except shitty writing can get them together. I want them to WANT to be together and the more natural it is the better. Perhaps viewing this as a slash or yaoi parody would improve it for some but I still can’t find enjoyment in it. The humor is stale, problematic, and annoying. The characters unlikable, and their relationship a forced and shallow jamming together of same polarity magnets. It is all the worst things about shipping culture cheaply packaged.

Wrap up

The story isn’t ALL bad we have a good character arc around the middle…but most of it is contrived, unfunny, and has piss poor characterization. As you may have noticed this yaoi is as cliché as can be. 2 straight boys magic there way into being gay for each other, constant reminders of how desirable the shitty behaving leads are, feminizing the uke against his will, possessive jealousy, stereotypical anime humor, and it’s littered with sexual assault.


Characters

Now we can’t talk about sexual assault in this manga without talking about Ryouma

I can’t really stop seeing Ryouma as anything more than a homophobic hypocrite. What are you talking about? Ryouma can’t be homophobic anymore, because he’s accepted he’s in love with Izumi…TWICE! I’d argue that Ryouma is still living in a comfortable little delusion that Izumi isn’t REALLY a man…He’s…he’s an UKE so Ryouma doesn’t have to treat him as his equal or respect his sexual wishes. It’s one thing when you think its hot your boyfriend crossdresses…cause umm duh gender play is hot…it’s entirely another to pressure, manipulate, and force them to do so. He continues to sexually assault Izumi but of course Izumi topping is a JOKE because he’s short and cute…isn’t it physically impossiable or something for them to top? …Ryouma reverts back to his original LOVE BETWEEN TWO MEN IS WRONG homophobic screeching very easily. You can be homophobic and still do the same-gender tango just look at USA republican politicians. Tee motherfucking hee!

Besides the above he becomes wildly possessive of Izumi getting attention…even though he himself is a national darling…OH YEAH and the two weren’t dating or anything…so it was way appropriate that Ryouma drags Izumi away from a crowd to pin him against the floor and scream at him that he’s being unfair to Ryouma by…interacting with other humans. We also have the problem of Ryouma ~forbidding~ Izumi from interacting with their director…which I understand the impulse. Since that guy is disgusting rapist pig that Ryouma caught molesting Izumi…However it is ultimately Izumi’s decision as to who he interacts with…and while it’s preposterous that Izumi is on good terms with a man who nearly raped him the day after the incident occurred…isn’t that what happened with YOU RYOUMA YOU FUCKING HYPOCRIT!

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Ryouma is a disgusting human being and the sexual politics of this manga are brain-burningly offensive.

Though this isn’t the whole picture. Ryouma does do some amazingly kind and selfless things for Izumi and some of his gestures of affection are very sweet. Ryouma has made Izumi breakfast, broke his back helping him on his manga, let Izumi crash at his place when he was having a hard time, he even had Izumi’s favorite comic creator critic Izumi’s manga…that’s all very sweet but his obsessive, possessive, non-consensual antics just make this null and void for me. So while I want to smile at these cute situations all I can think of is the awful Ryouma has done. Can I just add how its sad that the fact that Ryouma expresses altruistic kindness toward his uke is a rarity? I have seen plenty a manga where the seme will appear to do something nice…but really it’s just to serve the seme’s own purposes in the end.

Siiiiiiigh so at least he’s a bit better than some garbage semes.

Izumi

So this Izumi guy…he is potentially fascinating and a fresh style of uke…but it is utterly wasted. I have never heard of an otaku character in yaoi or a character in yaoi from a famous family who shuns their performance and flashy personas to quietly make manga! I was also hanging on with intrigue when Izumi’s overconfidence is crushed by reality and how destroyed he is by it.

Yet the culmination is he ends up an actor just like his family and an unnerving scene where Izumi attempts to whore himself in order to avoid his family. I enjoyed the character arc but it just ends in bleh. He doesn’t really resolve to keep working on manga. I can picture him working on another career but everything in his past and current life would dictate him being violently opposed to acting…he’s run away kicking and screaming from most opportunities in the past, only when he’s forced does he do so. And he has every right to hate it since each time has been a wretched experience. Hell even izumi calls the childhood acting traumatic. But why stick to your characterization? Just like his relationship with Ryouma he just shrugs into a showbiz career too.

Speaking of relationships!

Relationship

Ryouma to Izumi

He became obsessed with an ideal he projected on a girl he briefly knew as a child. Against all reason he stays obsessed with his ideal despite it being far, far, far off from what he originally envisioned. His attachment to him now is solely placed on the kawaii and even that is a big pile of lazy bologna. He doesn’t have genuine interest in Izumi’s manga…or even his personality…he just thinks he’s cute…the end.

Izumi to Ryouma

Beats me! The trope, “Well I guess I’m in love with him” is invoked in all its annoying sloppy glory. I mean we are thrown a little sexual curiosity and ~oh he was so nice to me.~ However a couple of nice gestures will not take Izumi’s platonic annoyance to BATTLE AGAINST ALL OBSTACLES TO PROVE MY LOVE…love. As I said before, it feels like a lazy shipping fest instead of a real or enjoyable couple.

Backstage couple

Rei

He is something of the “jeeves” of the Izumi household and plays a big role in the family and the story. The problem being he’s pretty much reduced to a prop to push our leads together in the main story. I find it astounding that everytime Rei gives advice to Izumi it is PERFECTLY tailored to shaking him up with Ryouma. This is to the detriment of Rei’s character because he’ll make characterization U-turns to justify bringing these fuck faces closer. Rei is protective…sometimes overprotective of Izumi. So while he’ll make flying kicks from a football field away straight into a pedo’s face…he’ll go out of his way to convince Izumi, his attempted rapist is a ~good guy~ he should be with…while in the same breath admitting he would probably cause him a great deal of pain. He is pretty much an atrociously written Izumi/Ryouma fanfic with glasses.

I will confess I’m intrigued how this stuck-up, moody, hypocritical piss-body started off as a delinquent…but at the same time with how he’s written previously I’m not expected a wonderfully developed character arc to be revealed.

Shougo

SUPRISE! I also don’t like this fucking guy either! He’s pretty much a 1-dimensional air-head who is AGAIN used to push our leads faces into smooch territory. They at least act as if Shougo would be pissed when he discovers his brother being molested by Ryouma…however Shougo gets over his hatred of Ryouma in record time…once because Ryouma was JUST SO SAD MURRR.

Though I would argue that Shougo is WORSE than our dick-stink of a seme. He is 7 years his baby brother’s senior and acts SEXUALLY INAPPOPIATE with him…but not just when he was 18…but when he is 8 and when he is a fucking infant.

This is only compounded because the author/artist Eiki Eiki has a younger pop singer brother who goes by Diago whom Shougo is based off of…So she made a character for erotic material based on her brother…I guess creeping on younger siblings is something she can relate to.

NOW TO VOMIT MYSELF IN HALF!

Backstage

Oh boy Faps if you HATE Shougo and Rei you must hate them as the backstage pairing right?

….Actually they’re mostly…meh. The stories in their side chapters are cheesy and not very interesting. Rei who is the bottom of this pair shows more agency than many ukes and actively enjoys sex…also unlike many ukes. Though to make sure you know he’s an uke he’ll pout about sex on occasion. …This may sound weird but the pair has no real chemistry together. Rei doesn’t seem very interested in the relationship as a whole, and Shougo’s would fawn over a cute Mr. Potato head doll if it would put up with him. The pairing overall feels very much like they just want to pair off loose ends.

Character wrap up

Izumi is the only one that has anything of value going for him…which would be an otaku uke trying to avoid getting into showbiz…but he ends up forgetting that part of him…Though he did stand up to Ryouma trying to control him so fuck yeah for that. Ryouma is a creeper, Shougo is a bigger creeper, and Rei is there only to grease the wheels of the plot. The main pair is super forced and just degrades into the two trying to out rape the other, while the bonus couple is also….very forced but at least Rei isn’t a simpering wilting flower uke.

Finale

Lovestage is a mediocre overplayed little diddy. It takes some fresher concepts but they just saturate them in overused tropes so…what was the point of Izumis artistic overconfidence being crushed again? It shows promise at points but just doesn’t want fully crawl out of the hole it dug for itself. Izumi is a decent character…and has a decent character arc…but the world just unleashes wave after wave of creepy behavior as jokes. Rapey seme, and bad touch older brother? NO THANKS! The relationship is forced, the story contrived, and the humor stale.

Score

Art – 3 - Workable but not great. Same face, samey character designs, and everything else is just…okay.

Story – 2 – Has glints of positive story like character arcs…and unselfish behavior…but it’s head is just too far up its contrived, rape-joke ass to be worthwhile.

Characters – 2 – Nothing to write home about. The relationships are forced, without chemistry, and are not fun to watch. The characters are either creepers or decent ukes.

If you’re not a jaded old yaoi tart who has a less picky sense of humor and isn’t bothered by creepy tops? You may like it….but this series is just another disappointment for me.

Gravitation

Now I would be sorely remiss if I didn’t review the infamous Graviation by Maki Murakami. Gravitation is a manga that came out in the 90s and was one of the first few that got published English releases. For me it was one of two yaois available to purchase at a local mall. The other being my first every yaoi Fake. Though Gravitation is by far the more successful of the two, getting 2 ovas, drama CDs, it’s own 13 episode anime series, and another enormous manga sequel entitled Gravitation EX or extra. Is such popularity deserved?

Well allow me to state out front that I think the name Gravitation is a GREAT name for a romance. It conjures a notion of a powerful force that draws two people together like a natural phenomenon. There are plenty of bad or simply unable to translate well manga titles so I have to praise it when I see it. However my praise is going to get very scarce from here on out.

How am I going to start eviscerating this comic catastrophe? With some totally necessary personal backstory to my relation to Gravitation!

I purchased the first two volumes of Gravitation back during my first yaoi phase back when I was around 16 years old. Even my young self was so infuriated by the unlikable characters and weak story that I became disenchanted with yaoi and didn’t get back into it for about another 9 years. I’m not embittered by Gravitation giving me a giant yaoi gap but coming back to it years later has not softened me on my opinion of Gravitation’s quality. But now that I am smarter, more rationale (haha maybe), and have read the whole thing front to back I hope I can deliver to you a more thought-out and mature response than what my 16 year old self could give you…..Which probably would be something to the effect of, “It’s DUMB!”

Soooo this Art

Yeaaaaaaaaaah this art is not good. Let’s start off with the sorest of thumbs…

SAME FACE!

This same face is LITERALLY the worst same face I have EVER EVER EVER EVER run across! I have been enduring identical fuckasses and assfuckers for years. That’s right! We relay on eye size, eyelash length (no joke), and (sometimes) hair shade. If someone is squinting or lighting is used for any kind of effect we are FUCKED as to figure out who the hell is talking to who! The fact that some characters change their hair color/style mid-comic JUST HEIGHTING THE GUESSING GAME TO YOU BETTER BE ABLE TO READ THE AUTHOR’S MIND LEVELS!

I feel bad ever complaining there were two similar characters in embracing love…because this comic oh my shitting cocks!

Moving beyond the face the settings aren’t very good and more often than not are completely forgotten. The anatomy is straight blek. Without a good understanding of how spines work, and chubby hands. And that’s not to mention that the (same) face look moronic in profile because of how wide their heads get. It looks as if they all have puffy mouths. Dental surgery, storing food for the winter? NOPE IT’S JUST GRAVITATION’S ART!

One thing that I found severely irritating in the beginning of the manga is HOW HARD the author tries to make Eiri look sexy. All the smoldering and hair-tossing just makes him look like a pompous ass trying out for a shampoo commercial and not like…a human being. Thankfully this is curbed somewhat in later chapters.

The perk here is that the author is really good at silly exaggeration and doesn’t use the same techniques over and over and over again. In particular around when you hit volume 5 the author starts getting damn good at the goofy techniques they use to highlight a mood or a person’s feelings. The style changes throughout the manga, but it is never jarring….however note how I say the style changed…not the quality of the art.

Good silliness, bad pretty much everything else, and the worst fucking case of same face imaginable. I will french kiss anybody who shows me worse. (Though that’s not fair because I’d pretty much smooch anybody….without open sours.)

Story

Gravitation is goofy overly long diddy about a high school student (Shuichi) who wants to rocket his band Bad Luck to stardom. Along the way he falls in love with an abrasive and mysterious man (Eiri). It follows Shuichi’s rise to fame and his difficulties in trying to decipher his aloof lover.

As you may have gleamed from this review already I think this manga is BAD. So it’s time to really dig in to the furious part of my name!

Humor

There are two major camps for things that are bad….That’s hillribad…and just plain bad. The main difference between the two is PLAIN bad is boring, and predictable while hillirbad is at least entertaining and/or ridiculous throughout its poorly plotted, poorly characterized mess.

Gravitation is (without a doubt) in the hillirbad category. At the start of the story I certainly didn’t find it very funny. However, I feel as if the author starts to diversify the humor and as the story progress it widens its scale and embraces the outrageous. While I’m glad that the author clues in that the only thing she’s doing decently is making jokes….a lot of the time it feels desperate for a laugh. Two men standing on inflight aircraft having a rock paper scissor match over our lead…..oh and one of the aircraft is a giant panda robot. Even though the comedy changes a lot throughout…it always feels like it’s trying too hard. Though, even me certified queen of pickiness did find a good amount of the later stuff funny.

One aspect of the humor I like is the hyperbolic way it portrays Americans. It portrays them as happy-go-lucky, weapon loving, violence obsessed looney tunes through such characters as K and Reiji/Rage. It’s okay for me to laugh at this, because I’m an American, and I am currently pistol whipping my neighbor for….no good reason really.

I wouldn’t call it smart humor, but it develops some good goofy off-the-wall, over-the-top humor as it progresses! It also is self-aware enough to pick at its own faults and characters every now and again!

Hey that sounds as if the series is actually funny! Being ACTUALLY funny doesn’t make it hillirbad.

…oh but it is bad and let me count the ways.

Dramu

One thing that adds to the manga’s hillirbad quality is Gravitation has enough tonal whiplash to snap an elephant’s neck! We go from beaten people over gangraping a partner…to wacky drag hijinks….or from flamboyant characters failing on a cooking show to a guilt ridden murderer crying over the tombstone of one of his victims….or an executive encouraging someone to act flamboyantly to the press…to nearly pushing this teenage executive to her death… all within the span of a fucking page or two.

Even without violent swapping from comedy to tragedy the drama portion of Gravitation are the fucking pits. To me I think this comes down to the fact that you need to MAKE SENSE with your drama for it to be effective but making sense is optional for the funny fluff. The motivations for the characters are changed at the drop of a hat and without reason. Many events of the plot are cliché, nonsensical, tacked-on, and sometimes downright preposterous. Blackmail gangrape, Eiri being engaged at the start of the manga, a new york woman becomes obsessed with Shuichi and has him kidnapped, Eiri randomly bumps into the younger sister of the hub of his tragic past while wondering through New York so on and so forth.

When a scene is meant to be funny the preposterous event can be great, such as a battle with a giant robot panda…but again if it’s meant to be serious like having a lover apologize for his misdeeds…but can’t do so without a sniper rifle trained at his head and being forced to read from cue cards than it’s fucking sad.

Let’s take a moment to piece apart the biggest dramatic portion of this comic to prove my point.

That is Eiri’s TRAGIC PAST! It comes down to this…

Eiri’s beloved and trusted tutor gets paid by a group of sexual predators to hand over a young Eiri for gang-rape. Despite implications that this tutor was grooming Eiri for his own sexual purposes he allows other men to have him first for only 10 dollars in a move that was clearly premeditated. That really makes no sense. When attatcked Eiri’s is able to take a gun from one of these men and kills all of them despite never handling a gun before. Also SOMEHOW Sugehi shows up even though Sugehchi could not have known where he was or that he was in danger. Also it’s never even brought up if he was ever under investigation for killing 3 or so people?

Fucking stop it Gravitation you don’t know what you’re fucking doing.

(Warnings for this video include: Group sexual assault, dubious consent, child abuse, post tramuatic stress disorder, really backwards ways to attempt to allievate PTSD, and mentions of violence.)

Oh but it only gets better! Because not only did the author not know how to construct his wangsty past, they don’t know what to do with it when it’s officially in the story. Is rape really awful and tragic or meh whatevahs? Was Eiri in love with his rapist or not? What’s the right way to handle Eiri due to his tragic past? Does a hands off approach work best or should they obsessive attempt to analyze him and shove absurd attempts to cure him down his throat? The most insane of these would be getting his rapist’s younger sister to dress like the rapist and force Eiri to relive his sexual assault.

WHY DID YOU THINK THIS WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA!?

I understand trying to keep a little mystery to Eiri and how he ticks…but the use of his backstory feels painfully drawn out and written in contradicting ways depending on the author’s mood. While I’m glad they attempted some complexity with this serious issue…they should have I don’t know have a passing knowledge as to how trauma actually effects people before attempting it.

Gravitation can be massively cliché…but I’m going to give credit where credit is due. It doesn’t read tvtropes like it’s their fucking script. We have events we think are going to be cliché subverted. Such as instead of Ryuichi being a bastard rival to pump up Shuichi he’s actually a good dude who likes Shuichi. We’re built up to think that Sugechi is going to be a 3rd party in a love triangle but that’s subverted as well. We also get a later reveal that the hub for Eiri angst, actually isn’t 100% super evil. When our villain’s younger sister remembers said villian fondly.

My best explanation for my feelings on Gravitation is as follows:

Gravitation feels as if somebody made a dumb joke that was kinda funny. Because they got a laugh from that joke they cannot let go of it and they keep trying to expand upon it or use it as a running gag. How desperate they are is accidentally kind of funny sometimes but it’s just mostly just cringe-worthy second hand embarrassment.

It can be very funny but any structure the story has is pathetic at best. The enjoyment you could possible squeeze from this series is severely dampened by the fact that the majority of the focus is on the couple. This couple features two jack-offs that are beyond liking and their relationship is forced to fuck

Yes that means we’re going to take a peek at the characters!

Characters

Before I start I must admit there are more female characters in Gravitation than the vast majority of long-running BL. Now some of them are stereotypical or play out overused roles but some do not, and there is a good variety to the women in the manga. I have to give it a reluctant thumbs up for that.

To contrast that I have to point out that the only person of color we see is a nameless child rapist in Eiri’s flashback in the anime. A+ MOVE ANIME A+!!!!

Now onto our main pair!

Shuichi

From looking at the art of the series I was under the impression that he was going to be one of those flamboyant, effeminate, sugar-pop kind of ukes. Instead of being effeminate, flamboyant, and fun at the risk of stereotyping….he’s just a moody, self-important dipshit who is ridiculously pridefully stubborn but flippant at the same time. He also becomes (sniffs his farts) obsessed with Eiri without any kind of reason for it.

His character is salvageable and only for the reason that the universe takes the piss out of him all the time. Unlike many manga, this series doesn’t pretend that he’s some pristine amazing adorable end all of ukes. They make fun of his faults regularly…and he does go through some serious conflicts.

Eiri

Eiri is the ~every~ smexy, tragic-past, bad boy, smoldering, chain-smoking, jerk-ass, romantic lead. The main difference with Eiri is that he’s honest about what an unlikable fuck he is and he doesn’t pretend to even change. On one level I can respect the author for that…but I find it impossible to like him no less ~lust~ over him. He is an unhinged, poorly-written, hypocritical, soul-less, bullying, Gary-Stu, garbage, seme and no one can tell me otherwise.

He torments a man in love with him for fun and even as late as the very last volume says he’s only using him for sex and even calls him “fuck hole”. All his bad behavior is swept under the tragic-past rug. Even when he does something HUMAN he is forced and takes back the shred of kindness as soon as he’s able. Throughout all of this we’re meant to think he’s the sexyest shit that was ever shat and want Shuichi to grow old with him.

Fucking nopity nope nope!

Now the author makes fun of Eiri for his heartlessness…but it’s not nearly as brutal as the treatment that Shuichi gets. I’m not a fan of Shuichi because he’s annoying but I can hardly call him a bad person. Eiri is the human equivalent of a mouth sore the size of a tennis ball but he get’s probably a third of the shit that Shuichi gets when he should get 20 folds.

I think all of what Eiri really boils down to is that he’s just 2 kool. He’s too fucking cool for everyone and everything on this planet including any kind of emotions, relationships, or even fucking human decency. Acting like you’re TOO COOL doesn’t make you cool in fact quite the fucking opposite. It makes him an arrogant turdfucker who should be licking poop off of shoes instead of flipping his hair like he invented sexuality. Eiri you’re not hot shit, you’re just PLAIN shit.

Other characters

Now there are a LOT of side characters in this mess. In fact the author confesses to throwing in new ones when they’re stuck as to what to do. Thaaaaaaaaaaat made the comic suffer heavily especially in later volumes. You know what makes it worse? The fact that many of the names are pretty similar. Sakano, Seguchi, Suguru, Shuichi, and Ryuichi are all major players? FUCKING HELP!

Even though there are so many of them I’m going to give you a smattering of two important ones that hopefully give you a generalized feel for the supporting cast.

Hiro is Shuichi’s best friend and band mate. The manga (while not beating us over the head with it) does imply every now and again that Hiro may have unrequited feelings for Shuichi. Despite this Hiro has been incredibly supportive of Shuichi and his rocky relationship with Eiri. Hiro doesn’t mope around waiting for Shuichi to come back to him and is eventually paired off with a GASP woman! Hiro doesn’t indiscriminately take Shuichi’s shit though, and he is expanded upon as more than window dressing for Shuichi. Since Hiro has tried to quit the band for personal reasons on a couple of occasions. He’s frankly a great little character in this disaster who fits his role like a glove.

Seguchi is a former rock star and head of a musical label NG that Bad luck (Shuichi’s band) works for. Unlike Hiro I cannot call him a well placed balanced side character. Seguchi’s motivations are horribly inconsistent and a lot of his decisions seem based on ~for shits and giggles~. For a lot of the manga he goes out of his way to keep Eiri and Shuichi as a couple but later completely flip-flops but forgets that he flip-flopped.

Despite being friendly for most of the manga at the end he’s revealed to have a scary side…for some reason. Despite being a founder and head for an incredibly influential music label…he doesn’t give a flying shit about music, the company, or really anything NOT Eiri. Sure you need some luck to become successful sometimes…but how do you get that powerful when you’re utterly apathetic about your own company? His main corporate building is flattened and he THANKS the man who did it. SERIOUSLY MAN SERIOUSLY!? Though it gets even more stupid because later he gets pissed off at the same thing happening and punishes those involved. Are you mad or thankful when people destory your property dipshit!? WHICH FUCKING IS IT!?

He’s pretty much used to inject drama when the author feels stumped…BUT he ends up with the best character arc in this sorry mess. He realized he shouldn’t stay fixated on Eiri (who’s a grown ass adult) due to mislaid guilt. The scene where he realizes that is a touching one between him and his wife when they’re discussing their future child. Honestly I would have killed to see more between Seguchi and his wife. We see them together I think 3 times throughout the 12 volume manga and could have been an interesting side couple to watch. Especially considering that his wife is Eiri’s sister and the siblings have a decent amount in common. We could have Seguchi sympathize with Shuichi’s one-sided affection for Eiri because he too is in love with a cold, beautiful person. HAHA yeah we don’t get anything like that.

I feel as if most of the other characters in the series aren’t worth mentioning. I think it pretty much boils down to them being bland but their roles being preposterous.

Relationship

Shuichi to Eiri

Let’s flip over to why Shuichi would like Eiri first. Shuichi fell for Eiri when Eiri spies some lyrics Shuichi has written and brutally trashes them.

OH! So Shuichi admires how Eiri isn’t afraid to tell him off, and likes having someone who doesn’t mindlessly pat his ass.
HAHA NAH! Because he already has plenty of friends who refuse to kiss his ass and berate him for his faults. Besides later on in the relationship Shuichi is usually upset (and somehow shocked) when Eiri doesn’t praise and support him.

On my kindest possible evaluation I deduce that Shuichi likes Eiri because he thinks he’s sexy and cool. For a one night stand? Sure but YOU CANNOT BUILD A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP ON THAT ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT AT BEST EIRI IS A HIGHLY DISAGREEABLE PERSON!

As stupid as Shuichi’s affection for Eiri is, the other way around is even worse.

Eiri to Shuichi

How can it be worse!? Well Shuichi being in love with Eiri is idiotic but Eiri even tolerating Shuichi for more than 10 seconds at a time flies in the face of Eiri’s characterization.

Eiri is full of himself and has no patience for much of anything. When forced to see his family (who try to help him) he just snidely insults them the whole time. REMEMBER HE’S TOO COOL!

So why would he put up with a clingy high-schooler squealing about how in love with him he is? At first he mercilessly teases him for shits and giggles, then he uses him for sex, but ends up confessing his whole sordid history to him through tears?

The events that are supposed to build Eiri’s affection for Shuichi are like everything here incredibly forced and ignore even the barebones of Eiri’s characterization. The biggest offender would be when Shuichi is taken in by a rival band member who is just ~jealous~ of him. They give him the option of either breaking up with Eiri or being blackmailed into quitting his musical career with video footage of thugs gang-raping him. Shuichi chooses the gang-rape. Jealousy naturally leads to blackmailing that person with videos of an orchestrated gang-rape, right? JFKLASJDFSKLJ FUCKING HELL!

It is beyond obvious that this scenario was precisely constructed to make Eiri sympathize with Shuichi which makes it all the worse because it just screams to me that the author isn’t even trying. I wrote myself into a corner where I need a very exact thing to happen and I’m going to disregard the universe in order to make it happen! YOU’RE WELCOME!

Need a third layer for this puke parfait?
Shuichi being blackmailed to quit his beloved job with footage of multiple men sexually abusing him is quickly forgotten BUT Eiri ALMOST being assaulted IS SO MUCH WORSE AND MUST BE MENTIONED EVERY 2 PAGES FOR SYMPATHY POINTS RIGHT GUYSSSSSSSSSS? GUYSSSSSS?

OH IS THAT NOT HYPOCRICIAL ENOUGH FOR YOU? Then allow me to add, while Eiri’s tragic past involves sexual abuse, and Eiri rides in on his white horse to beat up the people who assault Shuhichi….Eiri’s own sexual relationship with Shuichi at the beginning is highly dubious to downright non-consensual. Yes we get the 10 volumes later uke confession of, “Actually I kinda liked it” but you folks know how I feel about that writing backtracking. I understand the rape kink thing, but the absoulate last place we should see it thrown around frivliously in our main pair is when everywhere else they treat it tragically in plot points.

FUCK THIS FUCKING HYPOCRITICAL WRITING TO PIECES!

Okay so Eiri’s near assault and Shuichi’s assault are different and unlike many yaois the author treats Shuichi’s assualt with some gravity. Eiri was younger (but by only 2 years mind you) and was betrayed by a man he trusted, respected, and liked. Eiri also ends up murdering that man in a moment of terrified panic. However this situation turns Eiri into a despicable human being we’re supposed to want to coddle, but what happens to Shuichi is just a thing that happens and has no impact on his personality? Uhhh fuck you.

Moving aside from all that nonsense. Eiri’s own view of the relationship and Shuichi is the pitts. Eiri pukes blood at the thought of having to go out on a date with his long term boyfriend. If you’re laughing cause I made a funny joke you can stop now because that is not a hyperbole that is a event that actually happens. No other medical condition involved he just straight up vomits a quart of his own blood when it is revealed to him he has to take his live-in partner outside WITH HIM. The whole world knows they’re going out at this point, he just doesn’t want to owe up to a god damn date he promised.

I mean the intended effect is to make the audience feel conflicted about wanting the relationship to bloom but Eiri’s well-being hinges on them breaking up….What the real effect (for me in the very least) is to make Eiri look worse than Satan and their relationship look like a stupid-ass farce.

To sum up my character section

Eiri and Shuichi’s relationship is a stupid-ass farce. Shuichi is annoying but tolerable by self-aware humor, Eiri is the personification of having bloody diarrhea….sprayed in your face…as you’re having bloody diarrhea.

The side characters are mostly nothing to write home about. Hiro is the best out of the supporting cast but most of them are inconsistent and poorly characterized.

Anime vs. Manga

While the character are more easily distinguished because we now have the bonus of COLOR…the animation is…wow bad. Though I will say the pacing and story is tightened up considerably. I mean jesus fuck it did not deserve or need 12 volumes.

A major difference between the two would be the side characters are heighten to farce levels beginning on episode one. We have Mr. Sakano, whom is a busybody obsessed with proving his worth to the higher ups in both series in the Anime he’s a total neurotic farce of his manga self. We also have Ryuichi who is portrayed as naïve and kinda childish but in the anime (despite being a rock star covered in piercings) seems to have the mental functionality of a 4 year old.

OVA?

The animation is a better in the OVA (except for the music scenes which get super repetitive.) The OVA is a different story than what you see in the manga or anime and it’s the most straightforward and linear you’ll find. Not well written but it gets to the point. It does have a bad habit of flashback and exposition barfing every chance it gets. Though Eiri acts like he’s at least god damn human so that’s a big plus.

Out of the Anime, Manga and OVA? Fuck, marry, or kill?

Kill the manga it’s fucking garbage, fuck the anime because it’s slight better, and marry the ova because it is the best of the 3….though I wonder if I say that in part because it’s the shortest.

Score

Art – 2 – I’m tempted to give this a one but because there is some improvement and the exaggeration ends up pretty good I’m going to be kind and give a 2

Story – 2 – The ACTUAL story is in pathetic shambles…but it’s not boring and has a good sense of humor

Characters – 1 – The relationship and characters make no sense and are unlikable so a 1 you get and I’m not even sorry.

Overall

While it isn’t pure evil. (No piece of media is.) I personally find it a blight on yaoi and it has probably helped influence repugnant bullshit like Purehearted romance. For that crime alone it should be purged.

If you like really cheesy funny yaoi than maybe you like it but be sure to turn your brain off beforehand and I by no means recommend this.

 

Takanaga Hinako review

THIS JUST IN! There’s a LOT a fucking LOT of yaoi out there. If you’re looking for titles to avoid or engage in…one off manga can be tedious at times no? Let’s waste less time and talk about a notable yaoi author and artist.

Takanaga Hinako is a fairly important figure in yaoi. She has created a few popular manga. Her two most popular stories would be Little Butterfly and The tyrant falls in love but her newer series Awkward Silence has gain some good traction as well. The tyrant falls in love is the star out of all her work. It has its own OVA, it is her longest running, and has been very influential.

Warnings: I’m going to do my best to avoid spoilers but there are a couple of vaguely spoilery things mentioned here and there. To avoid it all you have to do is skip over the section where I talk about the manga you don’t want spoiled. As per usual I will be discussion abusive and other toxic relationships and rape. There will be some talk about child neglect and mental illness

The reason I have picked Takanaga Hinako is because I am personally conflicted on her work. Little Butterfly is one of my favorite yaois, but the tyrant falls in love is what I consider a farce of everything wrong with yaoi. What I’m going to do is first give quick summaries of her different works and then talk about her work overall in sense of art, story, and characters.

I’m going to go in a linear order starting with her oldest work and moving to her newest stuff.

As a note I am focusing on her written work so I have omitted The guilty verdict because she does not write that story, and do not include Hana no Chau because it’s only 1 chapter long.

Her first work is

Challengers

Challengers is about a flaky guy who ends up rooming with an older man who develops a crush on him. The flake has an overprotective homophobic brother, and a persistent American who becomes the older man’s love rival. We also have a nosey and disruptive mother on the seme’s side and a woman convinced she’s going to “cure him of his gay” to up the ante in this story.

As you may be able to tell, the story is all over the place and lends toward a humorous side. The humor is mostly really preposterous embarrassing scenarios, which I mostly find cringe-worthy. Embarrassment comedy I find annoying, and most of it is as cliché as can be. It gets a bit off-the-wall at times but simply cannot override the frustrated facepalms this kind of comedy induces. So the humor certainly isn’t enough for me to forgive the scattershot delivery of it all.

I really did not understand the appeal of…really any of the characters. Flake’s homophobic brother and the moron with a crush on him, were the most interesting and you’ll see from my Tyrant falls in love speal how well that fucking went. I cannot find any appeal in the uke, seme, or relationship in this situation. It’s just…just…DULL! Neither have much personality and they both just shrug their way into being together. Nothing dramatic, tender, passionate or fun anywhere in there. It all feels like shallow puppetry to string together some outrageous humor scenes. I hate to break it to you but people are read BL for the couples, not the humor, and the humor sure as shit doesn’t save it. SO HOW THE HELL DID SHE END UP WITH A YAOI CAREER HERE!?

Study Hard

Is kinda unique for her works. For one, It’s a story about an vain, free-loading, promiscuous ass pipe and his doting friend in love with him. For two it’s a reversible couple which I like but as it progressed a lot of the sex becomes dubious in nature. The character arc of d-bag seemed forced and worst yet it tossed aside pretty quickly. While that choice sets this story apart, the ending doesn’t feel satisfying because of it. The other character pathetically tries to hold him accountable but his attempts are pretty laughable and in the end just enables his shitty boyfriend.

It’s pretty much a shitty relationship most people have seen a friends/relative suffer through that’s played to a wacky soundtrack where the awful human being wins in the end. It doesn’t sit well with me. The sense of humor is good, and it appears self-aware but it’s just a shameless manipulative relationship that makes you feel cheated at the end…but hell it’s not toxic in the usual way. This form of BL BS is not the regular violent, possessive psychopath but rather a manipulative, man-slut, mooch. So I do have to give it a couple of points for not being the usual unhealthy donkey dung but I did not personally enjoy it.

Little butterfly

It may sound like sweet fluffy whispyness like cotton candy made out of cuddles…because it is.

 Is a sweet story about helping a vulnerable high school student with a neglectful family grow past the neglect to become a happy and stable young adult with the help of his boyfriend. The story captures the nervous energy of one’s first relationship excellently and the despondence of teenagehood. This series isn’t overly melodramatic, and has just little pieces of humor here and there instead of having the story ruled by it. It is wonderfully peppered with realism and cute moments. The story stands on the precipice of becoming hugely tragic but never quite goes over the edge. It keeps one on their toes but overall you walk away feeling positive. It’s idealistic and a bit cheesy but heartwarming.

 While the characterization is on the shallow side the leads are very sympathetic. Our seme (Nakahara) doesn’t use his tragic past a crutch but isn’t cured of its influences by the end of the story. He’s understanding, gentle, shy, and awkward. I like the heads of my BL to be sweeties and it’s much better suited to a cute slice-of-life teen love story than his more aggressive and plentiful breathen. Our uke is simply a little guy with a huge heart. His nervous romantic feelings and embarrassment over his blooming sexuality make a lot of sense for this age but feel more genuine and realistic in this story than the million of other yaois.

 As much as I like this story…it could be better. One of the big detractors for me is Nakahara’s mother. Nakahara’s mother is mentally ill and unintentionally contributes to Nakahara’s issues of unworthiness and abandonment. Yet, like mental illness in Japan, she’s brushed aside. She’s more of a bullhorn of convenient angst and her mental illness is not portrayed realistically or sympathetically.

 I shouldn’t expect mental health commentary in this light BL story but it was a wasted opportunity. One can easily just label his mother a brainless remorseless villain and that’s absolutely the wrong way to portray this tricky and emotional issue. This whole portion of the story could have been better executed to be thought-provoking, and given an extra layer of relatable emotional impact.

 Yet even with this flaw it is a wonderfully charming coming of age romance story and by far Takanaga’s best work.

Liberty Liberty

Despite the name this story is not about American pride.

Liberty Liberty is a manga where a guy picks up another young man from rock bottom. The man who has hit rock bottom accidentally breaks the other’s camera and dedicates himself to paying him back. They bond by finding out that both of their dreams were sabotaged and end up falling in love. It’s simple, sweet, and the seme not being freakishly obsessed with the uke is a nice break from Takanaga’s usual. The highlight of this series is Kurami who is the best sidecharacter I’ve seen in all of Takanaga’s work!

This story also features the best side character I’ve seen by Takanaga that being Kurami who is quite the little fireball and a positive portrayal of a transwoman.

A Capable Man

Is a short story about two teenagers. One reveals his long-term crush on the other with a bout of violent rape but because he was embarrassed and “cute” afterwards his victim caves and they end up a couple. As you maybe able to tell, this caused me a great deal of rage. His victim does seem to be traumatized after the event and he says it was a horrible thing for someone to do…but they throw the typical “Yaoi rape is okay” excuses on the flame and somehow that gasoline puts out the fire instead of causing it to blaze.

The one that gets me is the “he didn’t mean to he was just so caught up and spur of the moment” uh huh then how comes he took pains to tie him up and gag him as well? Putting that kinda effort into subduing someone…but you didn’t mean it? MMMHMMM! The uke in this scenario is not meek like most of Takanaga’s other ukes but that’s the only thing I can mention in positive here. It’s a very short story so I have nothing else to add.

Croquis

Croquis is a short-little diddy with the main story being about an art model and an artist who fall for each other. It’s a very upbeat and goofy story. I found charm in the fast-paced, awkward, joyful feel of the comic. Overall it’s pretty ordinary except for it’s negative inclusion of transwomen…but oh I’ll talk about that later.

Love Round

Love round is about an effeminate looking guy (Kaoru) who can pack a punch…quite literally. When another student (Kubo) becomes a victim of this punch he falls to the floor and in love. Our love and punch struck man convinces him to join a boxing club. Kaoru has a complex about proving his masculinity and an admiration for Kubo’s muscular build while Kubo is enchanted by Kaoru’s natural ability and determination.

It feels as if Takanaga was trying to capitalize on the common trope of uke’s punching their boyfriends in embarrasment to the extreme…yet she doesn’t poke fun or comment on it just indulges in it like every other comic. All in all it’s cheesy and kinda annoying with the constant tsundere punches.

You will love Series:

The “you will love series” is coming up next and it’s Takanaga’s attempts at more soap-oprea styled stories. Melodramatic romances mostly devoid of humor but certainly not deep or dark. I wouldn’t call the series great but the writing short-comings are more forgivable when it comes to stories that are pretty much just ham and cheese between two slices of gay sex.

You will fall in love

This is just a dumb love triangle soap opera with 0 characterization and very cliché yaoi roles. The only good thing about it is it’s not rapey and thankfully short.

You will drown in love

This is a pseudo sequel to You will fall in love. Cliché like it’s predecessor but it has more characterization, a sense of humor…and the relationship is more possessive/controlling/and dubious in consent. It does seem to be more aware of it’s content. Such as having the jealous fodder out to molest the seme. Though I’d hesitate to even call it mediocre.

You will be thrown into chaos by love

Somehow the spin-off of the spin-off ends up being the best of the three. Go figure! This one is about a heart-broken man who finds himself falling in love with an artist he’s trying to convince to work for his clothing company. The story is less derivative than the previous two and the relationship is more balanced. The seme is suave and protective without going overboard and while the uke is meek; he is honest with himself and steps up to challenges when he needs to. That makes this typical dynamic less cliché and overbearing and vastly more enjoyable.

Ughhh Faps you’re just drudging through them at this point! Where’s the embittered pandantic sass that Ilove? Oh I will dear reader because here comes

The Tyrant falls in love

It’s a story about a pissant of a man (Morinaga) friendzone rape revenging his way into his homophobic’s darling’s (Souchi) heart. I know this is a very bias way of looking at this story but this particular work of hers really gets under my skin. This is because the lead is made out to look like a lovesick puppy squirming under the scorn of a man who will commit a gay hate crime is he hears one more sassy comeback. I can’t read it as anything other than the opposite.

Souchi has every reason to think gay people are Satan’s rape demons because they’re sexually assaulting those around him including himself. Morinaga AFTER CONGRATULATING HIMSELF ON PROVING ALL GAYS AREN’T RAPISTS to this homophobe…goes on to rape him. HOW ABOUT DROWN IN A FREIGHTER LOAD OF SEMAN YOU VILE HYPOCRITICAL FUCK!

Their relationship is not only toxic but it’s poorly written. Morinaga’s obsessive infatuation with Souchi is downright nonsensical. When he is confronted as to why he likes someone who’s so unhinged and violent all he can admit to is that he only likes him for his ass and cock….oh really? This vanishing ass and a cock you’ve never seen is all worth it huh? In the beginning when Morinaga finds himself drawn to the Souchi for certain traits, but later he finds out that the traits Souchi thought he had were actually something he doesn’t like at all!

I want to know why yaoi authors think that a one sided sexual attraction can build a sustainable relationship that would be interesting to watch outside of the porking. Their first kiss ends with our uke puking his guts out. I just…WHO WANTS TO SEE THAT?

The lead’s abusive and while the uke is supposed to be tsundere…the hints of his “secretly liking it” are so few and far between and when they show up it feels out of character. I have a hard time believing he’s tsundere at all. Even at the end of the story the uke seems very unhappy and victimized in the relationship. It makes little sense why they keep putting up with the other despite the sexual assault or the homophobic rage and I’m surprised it’s made ANYONE invested in their romance. To me this romance is another case of Slash Syndrome.

While rape-filled abusive romances are pretty common in yaoi at least this one mixes up the formula by having the uke be a violent homophobe and the date rape to be “initially” unintentional. Problem being the hammy writing Takanaga uses seems incredibly lazy in this type of story since it’s trying to drive itself in a more original direction. Especially since she’s using the annoying yaoi trope of “Well I could have their relationship build and for Souchi to really second guess his sexuality but that would need writing skill and patience so WELP RAPE INSTEAD!”

It isn’t boring, it’s pretty original, and Souchi is a very notable character….but yeah it’s not fucking worth it by a long shot.

Awkward Silence

Awkward silence is about a guy who has a hard time expressing himself. Not the usual embarrassment stuff but he doesn’t talk much and his face is 98% of the time totally deadpan. It involves his difficulties navigating a new romantic relationship because of that.

I like this idea because I feel it’s poking fun of how so many yaoi stories revolve around characters being unable to express their true feelings, by taking that trope to a new level. Love round failed in it’s use of an exaggerated trope simply because it did nothing new with it. Awkward Silence succeeded because our lead KNOWS how he feels but worries if he is coming across the way he intends. (I also really enjoy how enthusiastic the uke is about sex.) Out of all of Takanaga’s work I think Awkward Silence has the best sense of humor. In particular I love the jokes involving the uke’s mother getting really romantically excited but her face is entirely deadpan throughout her excited exclamations on love.

It’s pretty cute but the writing is kinda stupid and a bit cliche. I can forgive it because the content isn’t serious to begin with, but it keeps it from being GREAT! The side couple…unfortunately ruins the whole series for me. It is a very stereotypical tsundere relationship with sexual assault. You were doing so well Takanaga why you gotta poop the bed like that!?

Turning Point

Turning point is about a jaded writer who meets a manic pixie dream boy who becomes instantly obsessed with him. Manic pixie dream boy solves all of the jaded writer’s problems hooray. This is unique to Takanaga simply because this seme is more upbeat and outgoing than her usual. He’s also very obsessive but at the same time not abusive so that’s a plus! Overall though, It’s nothing to write home about.

The Devil’s secret

A story about a Incubus and a priest who are banging. This is Takanaga’s only fantasy story…I mean hell it’s her only story that’s not a straight forward slice of life. In any case this story is goofy, straight-forward, cliché, and kinda rapey. Nothing much to write home about either.

Knocking on your door

This is a continuation of a previous short story. Where a man who was sexually assaulted ends up obsessed with his rapist. However unlike every other yaoi I’ve read…the rapist is stunned and appalled that the man he brutalized wants to be his lover after the ordeal. Eventually the rapist crumbles under the extraordinary persistence his victim displays and they end up in…what we’re supposed to believe is a totally cute little romance. Besides the obviously bullshit sexual politics going on here, it’s confusing and the pace is too fast for one to become invested in the characters.

Now that I have read, digested, and regurgitated bite sized chunks of her work for 5 people’s enjoyment…let’s talk about wider themes. And without a doubt all of Takanaga’s comics….feature her artwork.

Art

Her art isn’t great and it certainly has its hiccups. Takanaga does have a downright terrible case of samey character designs. While I don’t mix up characters in the same story…(Which is a god send in comparison to others I have to put up with.) …but if you showed me a context-less picture of one of her characters I probably could not tell you which series it belonged to. In fact look at this collection. These are all entirely different characters, and what’s more they’re ALL SEMES FROM MAIN RELEASES! JESUS CHRIST TAKANAGA GIVE US A BREAK!

As she progresses she becomes better at using the monochrome medium and her artwork looks less…dated. The anatomy has the typical short-comings lanky limbs, too thin bodies, no asses, and etc but it’s usually not so bad you’re ripped out of your immersion. There’s nothing else really to add for me.

One thing she has going for her is the fact that her style is identifiable in the way she draws faces. It’s hard to describe but the width of the heads, the hair, and the facial spacing make it distinctive enough (for me at least) to be able to pick her art out of a lineup.

Unlike her art I couldn’t pick her stories out of a line-up since most are pretty cliché.

Stories

Takanaga doesn’t have much variety. The vast majority of her works are ordinary upbeat slice of life romances that don’t last very long on the whole. While the characters involved have the limited age group of late teens to young to mid twenty somethings she at least tries a few different settings. Local TV Studio, theater, and kimono shop to name a few. College or high school settings are most common.

As I said before, her series usually don’t run for long. Tyrant being the longest at 9 volumes, which is considerable don’t get me wrong, but is a big exception to the rule. Due to short lengths we don’t get much characterization, side-characters, depth, grey-areas, complexity, or plot outside of romance. Which is fine if you’re just in for some short fluff. Her one shots are nothing of note to be frank. The only one worth remembering is “My first love” from the croquis book. It involves an unrequited romance on both sides that tragically never comes to fruition.

Despite how Takanaga seems aware of her own writing and exploits some overused tropes she usually just sticks to barfings cliches and cheesy nonsense. Which hell doesn’t have to be all bad, but it certainly doesn’t take her work above and beyond. Especially for me, who loves reading about unusual yaois instead of the norm. Though Little butterfly I would say is a guidebook on how to do a cheesy high school yaoi romance the correct way.

The most surprising thing I found about Takanaga’s writing is that her writing isn’t so entrenched in yaoi rules that she acts as if rape is just “suprise sex.” The semes that engage in it don’t blow it off as something they do daily and without consequence and the ukes don’t shrug it off either. Now of course it’s not treated with the gravity I believe it should be, but it’s better than most…and that’s pretty fucking sad in itself. If you have rape kinks but are sick of the characters raping willy-nilly and forgetting that’s it’s a shitty thing to do, this might be more your speed.

So what about her writing made Little Butterfly so good but many so bad? One aspect is the humor. While I wouldn’t call Takanaga unfunny her humor is more miss than hit by a wide margin. So sprinkling a little humor instead of saturating the story in it helps balance it out. The other side is, and I hate to say it because it’s mostly speculation on my end, but I get the distinct impression that Takanaga had planned Little Butterfly in advanced and did not do the same with several of her other stories. I can sympathize with her because from a business stand-point you’re never sure what series is going to take off, so why bother putting in a lot of effort on a fuller story if you can’t write anything after the first volume? Challengers is very slap-dash, Tyrant’s plot meanders everywhere, and Awkward Silence running out of conflict and divulging into a terrible side-couple feed into my point.

Oh but we all know that characters can make or break a story. I’m going to talk about some patterns we see in Takanaga’s ukes and semes but before I do so I’m going to talk about what kind of representation we see in the side characters. What can I say? I’m one of those 3rd wave feminist jack-offs who gets off on quippling about minorities in media almost as much as I get off on buying overpriced snake oils from Trader Joe’s.

Characters

Representation:

To start off let me say that her female characters are pretty lacking. There are a few female background characters but they rarely show up for more than a couple of pages and even in their short roles can be very stereotypical and negative. Jealousy fodder, catty friends, sexual objects, nosey mothers, and so on. Oh but that’s just cis-women, what about the trans community?

We actually have a mixed bag on this front. It was brought up in a very negative light in Croquis. The lead’s transwomen friends have every negative trait associated with women. His trans-women friends are shown as hyper-emotional, catty, jealous, petty, and back-stabbing. The lead character only wanted to transition into being a woman because he thought his boyfriend would “prefer it.” Yet in Liberty Liberty our major side character is a transwoman who doesn’t take anybody’s crap and is widely respected. So one step forward and one back it seems.

How about people of color? We have Richard Coldman from Challengers…who’s just a walking stack of bad jokes but hell just by having this one character Takanaga is running laps around many of her peers.

The only other people of color we see are in Devil’s secret and they’re incubi. Instead of being actually people of color I feel as if the tone of their skin was thrown in for exotic’s sake and that’s…just annoying.

So how about our regular casts!

Semes

Now the semes don’t seem to sport much machismo or arrogance if you’re into that. There are plenty of shitty semes but none of them relay on physical violence, THANK GOD. The shitty semes are fueled by ridiculous obsessions and use emotional manipulation, stalking, threats, or drugs. Their personalities are never taken to any kind of extreme (except perhaps the seme from Turning Point who’s more outgoing and bubbly than most.) A lot of them are mild-mannered folks who are pushed to an emotional intensity due to some sexual or romantic obsession. The seme from Liberty liberty is an exception to this by not becoming instantly obsessed with his romantic partner and playing it off cooler than the rest.

My favorite seme of hers would NO SUPRISE be the seme from Litte butterfly Nakahara for being understanding and not ruled by a tragic past.

My least favorite seme is ALSO NO SUPRISE Moringana from Tyrant for pretending to be a sad puppy when really he’s a shitdick.

Ukes

Her ukes? …Conversely to the semes was don’t see much effeminacy from her ukes. We see wilting flowers in the you will love series as well as tsunderes in her school work such as awkward silence, love round, and tryant. They usually don’t hit every stereotypical trait however. The ukes come in a bit more variety than the semes. We’ve got serious, depressed, dull, but I’d say bubbly is most likely. They also come in a sliding scale of super sex enthusiastic to sex embarrassed.

My favorite uke of hers would be Ichikawa from You will be thrown into chaos by love because despite being effeminate and meek he can hold his own when he needs to.

My least favorite uke of hers would be Yuji the 2nd uke from Awkward Silence because he’s a text-book tsundere and I fucking hate tsunderes.

Reversibles?

There’s only one couple MAYBE TWO if you stretch it that are reversible…but I simply don’t have much to say on them. The reversible nature of the Study Hard series was nice and I like a promiscuous guy who doesn’t mind topping or bottoming…but the rest of the relationship was very stereotypical.

TL;DR

Her stories are typically light-hearted romances that are self-aware but overabuse cliches. The humor can get irritating in stories that are heavy on it. Some of her stories simply don’t seem well planned and they suffer for it, but those that are planned can be wonderful. Her semes are typically obsessive but not violent, and her ukes are usually easily embarrassed waifs. Though she has exceptions on both ends.

So of all her works:

I’m going to break them down into

Awful – bad – meh – good – awesome

Let’s get the worse out of the way.

Tyrant I’d consider god damn garbage and should be burned in a trash fire.

What’s bad?

Challengers – bad

A capable man – bad

You will fall in love – Bad

You will drown in love – Bad

Demon’s secret – Bad

Knocking on your door – Bad

What’s meh?

Study Hard – Meh

Croquis – Meh

Love round – Meh

Awkward Silence – Meh with a bad side couple

Turning Point – Meh

What’s good?

You will be thrown into chaos by love – Good

Liberty Liberty – Good

What’s the best?

Little Butterfly

This author manages to hit every single one of my categories which I doubt I’ll see again. However the vast majority skew poorly.

TL;DR

A main reason I went back into Takanaga is because I wanted to find more great works like Little Butterfly. In the end I found myself overall disappointed. Now I didn’t find another Tyrant my most hated of her works and there are a couple of decent titles hidden in here. I would categorize her manga overall as a mediocre. It sometimes is better than average or great but more often than not average or below. While there are a few breaks from the mold in story and characters it is not enough to make her distinct. Her art is identifiable but certainly falls in the average category as well.

If you like thoughtless cliché school romances I might suggest her because she’s more self-aware than most writers of that breed. However as a final judgment I would probably just tell you to read little butterfly and skip the rest.

A tyrant falls in love~

Hold the fucking phone here faps. You just talked about this in the last episode on Takanaga!

That’s right! But you’re not the boss of me….ME! The reason I’m dragging my sorry patoot through this one is because it’s one of my most railed against manga…and I actually had most of a script to do a full episode on the back burner anyway. So I’m polishing off that review to give you guys the first BONUS ROUND! A more than 3 and a half minute look at the tyrant falls in love! (Without an art blurb because you already got that in the previous review.)

WARNING! TRIGGERS FOR RELATIONSHIP ABSUSE, BLACKMAIL, NON-CON, DUB-CON, AND DATE RAPE! WARNING SPOILERS! WARNING BAD JAPANESE! WEE-OOOO WEE-OOOO

Despite being an on and off fujoshi for 13 years and running a die hard blog of yaoi for the past few years. I still feel as if I have a lot to learn about the genre. When I said that Tyrant has been an influential manga…I’m not entirely sure if I’m right about that. I have not seen any story that is noticeably derivative of it besides one popular western webcomic. I mean sure it got it’s own OVA but so did beautiful popa, Fish in the trap, and after school in the teacher’s lounge which…yeah.

So perhaps I’m putting all this weight on Tyrant falls in love but it’s actual importance to the genre might not be able to match what I think it is. I think what it comes down to is my misprecieving it due to an actual positive the series has.

The story holds on to the tried and true dynamics that fangirls eat up (non-con, tsunderes, jealousy, etc), but it executes its story in a unique way. In some ways…it’s kinda ingenious..and while I moan and groan that how can Takanaga make a turd like this since she is a competent writer…when I put my biases away I can tell a writer who understands the genre wrote this.

It is…perhaps the best made manga that sits on my worst of lists. So I have to begrudgingly admit that.

With all that said the plot meanders everywhere because it is obvious the author was grasping at straws to stretch out an unplanned story, every character is a mouth full of latrine liquid, and the core of it this is a relationship meant to reform and share love with embittered prejudiced man….but it ends up a hastily made poorly executed offensive joke.

HANG ON TO YOUR BUTTS LOSERS BECAUSE I’M DONE BEING NICE AND AM GOING FULL BLOWN FURIOUS FUJOSHI ON THIS ABOMINAL ABORTION!

Story

LE’TS GO!

It’s a story about two college students. Simpering Morinaga has a long-suffering crush on his temperamental best friend and classmate Souichi. Their relationship is moved forward through a night of date rape and the two struggle through their own issues before eventually coming to live together in what Morinaga pretends (unsuccessfully) is bliss.

Okay so…it’s me…Mr. Poop-on-your-rape-fantasy-faps so I gotta talk about the sexual assault in this manga. Let me explain the specifics. Morinaga’s friend gives him the date-rape drug because he feels as if he needs to do something to move the relationship forward. Initially Morinaga is horrified that his friend would offer him this. You’d think he’d be horrified that his friend is pretty much telling him to rape his love-interest but no Morinaga states outright that what he’s worried about is Souchi killing him the day after and not that yanno drugging and raping someone is super shitty thing to do. Even though Morinaga contemplates throwing it away he doesn’t. Though he totally insists he would never EVER EVER use it he still keeps it. Yeah alright that’s not suspicious.

One night Souchi is over drinking and when Morinaga is gone getting more alcohol for their 2 man party Souchi drinks the drug thinking it is some booze that Morinaga just doesn’t want to share. This I find pretty suspect because Souchi KNOWS Morinaga was going to be back in like 5 minutes with more booze and thought that drinking an unlabeled mysterious drink in a house of a student who practices chemistry was a good idea.

RIGHTO! I’M GOING TO RECINDE THAT COMPTENT WRITER COMPLIMENT I GAVE YOU BEFORE TAKANAGA!

In the middle of the night Souchi is hot and bothered and goes to take care of himself in the bathroom but of course his legs have stopped working because that’s how date-rape drugs work. Morinaga wakes up and takes advantage of Souchi while Souchi begs and screams and does his best in his diminished state to defend himself. The next morning Souchi tries to kill Morinaga but is so hung-over he is unable. Morinaga screams that Souchi is being unfair because he keeps “letting his guard down” in front of him. Because Souchi has the gaul to stay friends with Morinaga even after Morinaga tells him he has a crush on him. Souchi counters that he had trusted him but Morinaga says it wasn’t trust but rather that he was looking down on him.

So this whole…whole…WHOLE thing is a pure crystallized victim-blaming. This is so bad, after a quick snort I felt as if my skirts got shorter and the police stopped caring about me.

To start off we have the excuse that Morinaga didn’t INTENTIONALLY drug him. So yeah people who mess with the unconscious bodies of drunk people are in the clear because they didn’t tell tell them to drink that much booze right? The whole “letting his guard down” business is such victim blaming piss soup it’s fucking embarrassing. You treated me like a friend, instead of a sexual predator how fucking dare you! Lastly Morinaga saying it wasn’t trust but rather Souchi being condescending blows my fucking mind. He’s pretty much saying, “YOU DIDN’T THINK I WOULD HAVE THE GUTS TO RAPE YOU! NO ONE CALLS MARTY MCMORINAGA NOT A RAPIST! PROVED YOU WRONG DICKSLAVE!” I just….HRRNGGGGH!!!

Allow me to end this just send a giant fuck-you out there for implying that rape is a “manly” action as well. It is not. It is a cruel but mostly just incredibly pathetic. It is disgustingly offensive to paint men as ~one convenient situation away~ from being rapists. Lastly beyond this point and throughout the manga one of the big “tells” that souchi is actually into it is they keep saying well “he doesn’t fight back harder” and hasn’t murdered Morinaga. It’s like I keep trying to turn away but Tyrant will grab my head and force my nose right back into that ziplock baggy full of crystalized VICTIM BLAMING!

Eh-hem! With that out of the way let’s continue on with dissecting this story.

Afterwards Souchi says he never wants to see Morinaga again and Mr. friendzonerevenge vanishes. His disappearing act is so convincing Souichi begins to think he has completed suicide. Ooooo, If only he fucking did!

Okay Morinaga you’re back and Souchi is glad you’re not dead! After the heinous thing you did Souchi STILL wants to have you around! Hallelujah! Even if his feelings never go beyond platonic for you you need to try to make up for the wrong you committed. Afterall you love the guy! Go on and do what’s right!

Don’t worry folks, while the music was playing I relieved the cranial pressure I was building up by jamming screwdriver into my temple! I’ll ALLL BETTER NOOOOOW!

Souichi reluctantly agrees to this. Though he cannot put up with this for long because uhhh it really looks like he doesn’t like having sex with the guy.

I mean jeez I can get rape kinks, but how much Souichi despises Morinaga and homosexual sex seems counter-productive for your gay porn dude.

Come on there’s more going on in this story than rape isn’t there?

NO! NO THERE’S NOT! FUCK YOU!

….okay okay yes there’s more going on.

Now comes some other odds and ends drama that is meant to bring our couple closer together and I will talk about that in more detail in the relationship section. Hell my reviews are long as hell as is, you don’t need me going into every event in the comic. Let’s bring up one that’s a bit more interesting for a ya OY

At one point Souichi breaks a dude’s cell phone because that chatty cathy was going to kill a woman with it. Apparently it was messing with her pace-maker but honestly this plot point is pretty dumb to start out with and it ends moronicly too!

This dick suddenly becomes obsessed with ruining Souichi’s life going so far as to burn down his fucking house. They tried so fucking hard to make this guy a villain it makes me roll my eyes! I mean to start out with his phone call was more important than a woman’s life but he of course never asks Souchi to pay him back or like sue him which seems more apt for that characterization. He just starts mysteriously vandalizing his property and creep-dialing him without saying a word.

For a little while they played up the fact that maybe the two are not connected. That douchy mushy is minding his own business and a wacko third party is causing these problems. I thought that’s an interesting way to go about it. That way we don’t KNOW who did it or why?

Hold on a moment just got to cut this plot point off at the knees HERE WE GO! Because turns out it was cell-phone douche THE WHOLE TIME! Fucking great! Well that is at least some neat suspense…what was it’s larger purpose?

Morinaga comforts the rattled Souichi…since he lost his house and he and his little sister nearly died in a fucking fire. The comforting leads to the first time Souichi kinda sorta initiates sex with Morinaga. Apparently the fire not only literally lit his loins a flame but also in the metaphorical way.

You know what trope I wish would die? The “Something really scary just happened so we better have sex right now for comfort!” trope. Yaoi doesn’t use this trope much but god fucking damnit who the hell is like, “Wow I nearly died and that was super unsettling for me. My chest is pounding!….but do you know what else needs a pounding? EH EHHHHHHHHHHH?” This has to be the fucking worst place to put the, “Now Souchi is cool enough to go with it” sex.

Okay the terriable sex scene isn’t the only reason for this plot point. This pushes forward the idea that Morinaga and Souchi are to live together. That gets danced around a lot but eventually comes to fruition. Though it’s around this time that one of my least favorite scenes happen. I bring it up to both rant and to keep driving home the unnerving and victim-blaming vibe of this manga.

Morinaga gets some kind of bug up his ass to bang Souichi. When he finds out that Souichi is in the shower…and that it’s a cold shower this is somehow proof to him that Souichi so wants his D. So he bursts in in the showering person. (Which you should never do in general) but then drags him to his bed and rapes him.

If you ever enjoyed a cold shower for WHATEVER REASON be on the fucking look-out because every man’s dong in 5 mile radius is going to lock on to your location like a god damn scud missile.

So that was a pretty pathetic and creepy justification on Morinaga’s end. Oh but Morinaga isn’t done he’s gotta hit “Your parent is your date at your prom” level of pathetic and creepy.

Morinaga has a fit after Souichi ejaculated along the lines of, “THAT’S NOT AS MUCH CUM AS USUAL OH GOD OH GOD OH MY GOD YOU’RE CHEATING ON MEEEEEEEEEEE!!! MY LIFE MIGHT AS WELL BE OVER! OH SWEET ANGEL OF DEATH EMBRACE ME NOW!”

LISTEN HERE YOU DUMB FUCK YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH WITH SOUCHI 24/7, SOUCHI DOES NOT CONSIDER THE TWO OF YOU DATING, AND A MILLION FUCKING REASONS COULD ACCOUNT FOR A DECREASE IN EJACULATE ANY-FUCKING-WAY! So how about you find something else to stake your sorry fucking life on than calculating his fucking seaman level down to the individual sperms YOU OUT OF TOUCH FUCKING SHIT SUCKING SPUNK PUDDLE!

HAHA I REALLY FUCKING HATE MORINAGA! BUT MORE ON THAT LATER!

It’s also around this time that they try to build into a sexual attachment to Morinaga from Souchi’s perspective….yanno the thing that happened in volume two of purehearted…started happening in volume 6 of Tyrant….That’s a pace alright!

In the following volume of Tyrant Morinaga does a couple of pretty shitty things, breaking a promise, lying, and withholding important information about Morinaga’s future situation (which directly impacts Souci). Souchi calls him out HARD about all the bullshit in their relationship. Souchi states that none of the times they’ve had sex have been consensual and that Morinaga feeling as if there is any kind of mutual affection/romantic feelings is all his convenient interpretation. That was the most erotic part of the whole series. Hoo momma!

This cues a million fucking bullshit side characters flood in to chastise Souchi about how wrong he is. The most outrageously stupid one would be the fact that one character follows the two of them home after realizing they’re in a fight, walks RIGHT INTO THEIR FUCKING HOUSE WITHOUT THEM KNOWING and listens in. Not only that when it’s over he goes in and berates Souchi on how wrong he is. Sure he’s not a stranger to the two of them…but dude the only thing you know about their relationship is the 1 that’s right 1 conversation you just heard but clearly he knows enough to lecture this guy he barely knows about it. Even ignoring the fact that he IMMEDIATELY doesn’t believe Souchi when Souchi says he was raped. This level of nosey is just jaw-droppingly astounding! Is this guy’s fetish just interrupting arguing strangers and arbitrarily picking a side to shit on?

“Hello folks I saw you bickering and I thought I’d solve all your relationship woes myself! Now you see here Mabel clearly you’re in the wrong because you are being too demanding of Gertrude and everything will be fixed if you simply apologize….What’s that? Gertrude has a serial cheating issue? Well that’s not true but even so Mabel you could solve that problem by dressing a little sexier every now and again. ANNNNND FIXED! YOU’RE WELCOME!”

Guess what dipshit side character? That’s none of your fucking business, you invasive, moronic knob waffle and Takanaga that was super fucking lazy writing.

Souchi never apologizes or says he was wrong when he said that their whole relationship has been a giant delusional rape lie. Even in his own head he cannot come to admit to anything but eventually says that he wants to stay by Morinaga’s side and prompts sex with him. That’s the first time that ACTUALLY felt 100% consensual to me and we hit fucking volume 8. Holy shit right? Though of course up into the latest fucking volume Souchi still has to ~pretend~ like Morinaga is always out to rape him. Since Morinaga has actually done so in the past it is really hard for me to cuff Souchi on the shoulder and call him a minx for being so prideful.

This is one of the many reasons I fucking hate tsunderes. When most people write them they’re not allowed to fucking grow. They still have to ~put on airs~ pout, and stomp their feet that they don’t like their partners…after they admit they fucking like them cause people don’t want the toxic dynamic to change. I’m not saying that Souchi’s temper has to disappear or that he hast to act outwardly shameless about sex but he’s still a snarling homophobe who threatens Morinaga to not dare touch them…after they’re living together and having consensual relations…I just what the flippity fuck.

The last volume Morinaga thinks it’s a great idea to take his homophobic buddy to a gay wedding without telling him it’s a gay wedding. SUPRISE! Souchi freaks the fuck out, threatens Morinaga that he dare not tell them about their relationship and headbutts him in his mouth before storming off. Immediately after Morinaga tells them about their relationship cause like why respect Souchi’s wishes? The gay couple there all give him a big high five for betraying Souchi’s trust and think that Souchi headbutting Morinaga in the mouth must be indicative of a beautiful relationship.

CUNITY FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

 So we’re up to 10 volumes (after it was intially supposed to stop at 9) and while it’s framed like a cutesy romance both of them still seem super miserable. I mean in that very volume Morinaga goes on about how great it is that he’s on this trip with Souchi but the best thing that’s fucking happened is that they ate a little food together without getting into a fight. Yeah move over Gomez and Motrica, these guys are my new relationship goal.

 Alright so I did a play by play of the shitty scenes in this series. Now I’m going to go a bit more abstract and talk about 4 big writing problems this manga has.

  1.  Immediately starting the sex in the relationship. Why is starting the sex right away so bad!? Sex is awesome! GO PORN!  Souchi is violent homophobe who became this way in large part because he was a victim of sexual assault. If Souchi is gay and into Morinaga (which the author wants us to believe) than one SHOULD FUCKING SHOULD take their time breaking down Souchi’s barriers so that it can happen organically. Instead (after Morianaga praises himself on teaching Souchi how not all gay men are rapists) a 1 ton box of rape gets shipped straight up Souchi’s ass right in chapter fucking 2. Souchi already started off at a place of deep distrust and now you’re going to confirm all his fears regarding homosexuality in a relationship we’re supposed to root for!? So if you break a glass is it your first instinct to crush the shards underneth your boots and wondering why that’s not fixing it? Shitty fuck fuck!  From here on they don’t take a break from the sex either so it feels like you keep digging a hole deeper and deeper for yourself. I also take issue with the notion that this is the ONLY way for their romance to bloom. I mean do you fucking hear yourself there. There’s no way this man could come to realize he was gay if he wasn’t raped? NIPPLES ON TOAST! I think it would have taken less time for Souchi to admit his feelings because the blackmail and rape is just shooting this relationship in the fucking foot so many times it looks like swiss fucking cheese. Souchi can easily AND DOES hide behind the idea that it was never his choice to have sex. SO KNOCK IT THE SHIT OFF!
  1. Takanaga’s hammy writing. I will admit a lot of this story is semi-original and self aware. There are some plot points you don’t normally see in yaois. So it makes it all the more obvious when Takanaga pulls a dues ex machina out of her ass. Yes everybody on the planet has to think that Morinaga is a fucking angel regardless of what he gets up to. Yes everybody has to tell Souchi how wrong he is all the time. Yes we’re not going to flesh out these side characters they’re just going to announce to Morinaga what the next piece of drama should be. Oh yeah and toss in some really fake feeling jealousies! Yuck!

  1. The legitimate joy in the relationship is few, and far between. The good points in this relationship are so scattered and many of the ones passing themselves off as moments of tenderness aren’t anything the two of them do together. Instead it is Morinaga taking some event and explaining how it’s actually super cute and great even though it looks like it’s just Souchi being a short-fused or frightened for his ass. It makes him look delusional and the relationship appears really cheap and sad for it.

  1. A barf smoothie with hamster turds for sprinkles is more tasteful, pleasant, and enjoyable than Morinaga. Morinaga…I sympathize with Ghangis Khan better than I do with fucking Morinaga. So that means we’re going to talk about these fucks.

 Normally I’d take a moment to talk about the side characters but they are shallow plot mouth-pieces so I’m not even going to bother with them.

 Characters -

Morinaga – is what I consider the most insidious of all fucking rapist types. He’s the sad-puppy rapist. I don’t mean he exclusively rapes sad puppies but he might as fucking well with what an wretched soul he is. When it comes to semes like say Mookyul the violent possessive mobster from Totally Captivated it’s obvious that he’s a fucked up mess that you’d put yourself at serious risk to associate with him. (Not that I’m a fan of his character either.)

 It’s not so clear what a shitty human being Morinaga is and that’s the fucking problem. I would say most ACTUAL rapists are like him. They excuse and justify their own behavior all the time and they drizzle kind acts or dopey smiles on top to keep you fooled. They might legitimately think they’re nice guys but go on to commit the same heinous acts (they know is wrong) over and over again. The people around them also vouch for what a good person they are so you’re the crazy one for thinking he’s less than perfectly snuggable. For fuck sake his best buddy calls him fucking ANGEL-KUN and in one scene the rest of Souchi’s family exclaim that because Morinaga keeps their shared housing clean that HE’S A FUCKING ANGEL FROM HEAVEN! How hard the author goes to make us want to praise Morinaga his every move and cry over the smallest injustice done to him is downright sinister.

 At the beginning Morinaga was his most repellent. At every fucking turn his dick was more important than Souchi’s mental and anal well-being. For fucks sake Morinaga cannot cut Souichi’s hair without molesting him but OF COURSE it’s Souchi’s fault for fucking closing his eyes during it.

 NO NO NOT THE VICTIM BLAME BAG AGAIN SSSSSSSSSURRRFFF!!!

 Now I will confess Morinaga has a character arc. He moves on to be more aware and considerate of Souchis feelings…but in my opinion hasn’t changed much. For instance instead of outright raping Souchi he asks if certain sex acts are okay. That sounds good…if you didn’t factor in that he ignores when Souchi says no to these sex acts by claiming he’s lying about it. Or Morinaga claiming that Souchi doesn’t love him enough because Souchi was talking to a group of people….when oh yes Morinaga was doing the exact same thing. So even though he makes progress he is still a deeply selfish, hypocritical, and insecure toad tit.

 OoOoooo if it were possible Morinaga I would personally drown your blubbering butt in that freighter load of seman I threatened in my previous review.

Souichi

You know how this story is called “The tyrant falls in love?” Yeah the tyrant is supposed to be Souichi because he doesn’t like getting f-ed in the A by the previous walking stack of lacrimal glands.

Now I don’t want to treat him like a perfect angel because he is not. He has a short temper and is physically violent with Morinaga on numerous occasions. I’m not talking ye olde, “OH YOU!” and a playful cuff to the shoulder but punching, kicking, headbutting, shoving, and even threatening him with weapons like a broken bottle. The uppity uke who smacks their partner trope is not one I like because it downplays actual physical abusive relationships. The worst thing about it for me, is that in a relationship like this with a shitball like Morinaga I actually cheer when Souchi beats the snot out of him and I hate that. Looks as if you actually did it Tyrant you made me cheer on a physically abusive partner with how shitty the relationship and seme are. I HOPE YOU’RE FUCKING PROUD!

Now the tsundere aspect of Souchi….ugh…well I’ve complained a lot about tsunderes already…but…if I didn’t whine about tsunderes I wouldn’t be faps now would I? For Souchi the tsundere aspect of him feels forced. For a lot of the manga the dere side of him felt like Souchi being a friend but Morinaga deludes himself harder than a incest shipper that he and Souchi are OTP 5lyfe. Some of the few legitimate dere moments leve me scratching my head.

Let me explain:

Let’s get an example of being a friend. There is this huge drama explosion about Morinaga’s family and an ex of Morinaga. Souchi tells Morinaga he should stop dwelling on his ex because it’s clearly given him a lot of baggage. Morinaga frames this as Souchi is totes jealous of his ex….right.

When it comes to the confusing? Well what’s kinda supposed to turn this couple consensual is this night in a love hotel that Morinaga drags Souchi into over really dumb bullshit jealousy fit I won’t go into. That whole scene is best described as a clusterfuck and highlights a huge problem with tsunderes and consent. Okay let me try to piece it out. Souchi without saying he wants to have sex with Morinaga says that Morinaga is bad at finding the RIGHT MOMENT. Morinaga points out that Souchi never appears as if he wants it. (With this classic line of “WHAT DOES NO EVEN MEAN!?”) Souchi counters that he can object sometimes. (Even though objecting is all he does.) Morinaga begins to put the moves on Souchi, continuously asking if a certain sex act is okay. Throughout Souchi complains and specifically objects to certain sex acts but Morinaga doesn’t listen. Morinaga monologues that it is totally consensual and I just…IS IT??? I DONT’ THINK SO BUT I MEAN…WHAT IS EVEN!?!?!

The total confusing nature of what is and isn’t consent for a tsundere fucking baffles me to no end and is one of the main reasons I fucking hate them. No means yes…okay sure but they’ve got no safeword or way to communicate a true no. I have yet to see an uke say no and appear coy or flirtatious about it, they’re also usually shoving, complaining, crying, or looking frightened. So it doesn’t look consensual and I refuse to just go “WELP EVERYTHING IS CONSENSUAL WHEN IT’S TSUNDERE” because that’s not true but also a gross oversimplification and sexual politics deserves more credit than that. OY! I’ve got no god damn patience to sort through a tsundere’s bullshit.

Souchi can’t even admit to anything in his own fucking mind. At least some tsunderes can admit internally they like their partner even if they find themselves unable to say it out loud. So when we actually see something legitimately dere it’s once every two volumes or so and it feels out of place. (Also I don’t believe that any time Souchi blushes he’s being dere because people’s face’s flush when they’re angry too and boy howdy is Souchi angry a lot.)

Here’s a thought-provoking statement, Souchi is the more rationale of the two. The hell do you mean Faps!? He’s always losing his temper! For the most part Souchi is more honest, forgiving, grows more, and doesn’t get hung up on petty things in the relationship like unreasonable jealousies. Now Souchi is of course not honest with himself, but he’s usually able to at least admit to Morinaga that he doesn’t know how he feels (which is the truth). Souchi had to go through a lot more dickish things from Morinaga than vice versa, and had to change a core part of his beliefs and self in order to make this relationship work so he had to forgive and grow more. Now in the relationship Souchi (despite how he’s still on the constant look out for wangs in his bum) seems to be overall the more content of the two for not getting hung up on really trivial nonsense.

The tyrant is really the better half in this relationship which should be an interesting twist but instead it feels unintentional.

Relationship

Okay what draws Morinaga to Souchi?

His ass and cock. That’s all that Morinaga can admit to in the beginning and even says other traits he thought were desirable in Souchi turned out to be totally wrong. Sure we get some more later in the series but Morinaga had a 4 year long unrequited love going on for a man he worked with near every day and he got nothing more to attach him to Souchi than the tingles in his peepee. That’s how to write okay!

As the manga continues Morinaga falls further for Souchi because he’s direct and takes no shit. That’s good! I like to see that kind or relationship development and it’s certainly present in this series! However up to the very latest chapter Morinaga is not fulfilled in their relationship. It is very obvious that Morinaga feels stifled with Souchi’s inability to express affection and wants other things out of the relationship like an openness of sexuality and more possessiveness. These are things he could easily get from other partners but with Souchi he is frankly never EVER going to get.

 This is no Iwaki and Katou from Embracing Love where Katou is sometimes frustrated when Iwaki isn’t all hearts and flowers because Iwaki does express affection he just doesn’t do it as often as Katou sometimes wants. What we have in this manga is a few fundamental relationship needs in Morinaga that will never get met so it feels as if Morinaga is just making himself increasingly miserable by sticking it out with somebody who is just not compatible to his needs.

 It is hella depressing seeing somebody put in tons of time and effort in a relationship that simply cannot be fixed. Well it would be depressing if this wasn’t booger-brunch Morinaga we’re talking about. But remember they’re supposed to be our ONLY TRU PAIRING but not in a TRAGICALLY INCOMPATIABLE way but a WE’RE GOING TO IGNORE THE IMCOMPATIABLE PERSONALITIES SO WE CAN PRETEND THIS IS PERFECT WUBBY-DUBBY GOODNESS!

 Why does Souchi like Morinaga?

A part of me just wants to say, “HE DOESN’T!” but let’s be an adult this one time eh, faps?

I mean there’s that incredibly late sexual attachment but you folks probably know how I feel about that.

LAZY!

Part of it might be that Souchi may begrudgingly enjoy how affectionate, doting, and drinks-his-pee-obsessed Morinaga is for him. Though I think overall Souchi would rather Morinaga would stop sniffing the pit stains on his shirts. I feel as if a lot of this comes down to the fact that Morinaga hasn’t gone running to the hills yet. Souchi is very abrasive and cagey with his feelings. One needs patience and understanding to be able to put up with that and honestly I don’t think Morinaga is that person.

After all Morinaga’s skin is not that thick and has lost patience with Souchi on numerous occasions and their relationship is worse off for it. It’d be one thing if he was simply calling him out but when Morinaga loses his patience it usually just ends up in forceful physical attention all up ons. For the majority of the manga Morinaga is just too selfish to give Souchi much needed time to digest their relationship. When it comes to understanding even up to the very latest volume Morinaga ignores what he knows of Souchi for the sake of his pathetic ego. Remember that gay wedding? yeaaaaaaaaaaaaah

Just like how I feel as if Souchi cannot be Morinaga’s partner in the long run, I don’t think the opposite is long for this world either. Souchi to this day has a deep-seated distrust of Morinaga (for obvious reasons) that (regarding how stubborn Souchi is) will never get absolved. Most of the time it seems as if Souchi finds Morinaga pathetic and selfish…which is uhh actually pretty spot on. This continues to erode Souchi’s respect because those values are very important to him.

TL;DR Relationship

They both are not what the other partner needs and there is a lack of trust and respect from Souchi’s perspective nurtured by Morinaga’s impatience and delusions. This is not a well-balanced couple who are meant to live happily ever after. I will confess seeing their relationship grow was interesting but in the end all they’ll have to show for it is psychiatric bills regarding trust issues.

How about the OVA? Exactly like the manga so I have nothing more to add.

But is there anything salvagable here?

I must admit they have gone about this story in a unique and genre-savy manner. Takanaga knows what yaoi fans love and plays them like a fiddle with an excessively pathetic rapist and a hot-tempered tsundere. While it’s problematic abusive crap, it’s a different kind of problematic abusive crap that many are made to swallow. It’s rare that I’ll be shouting TSUNDERE YOU SHOULD SAY A BONER DOESN’T MEAN CONSENT OR SAY THAT HE’S DELUSIONAL FOR THINKING THE FEELING IS MUTUAL and the uke will actually voice what I’m saying. That shows a deep understanding and good writing skills if one is able to pull back the veil enough to be able to see what the detractors would think instead of mindlessly squealing as you write. I’m heavily biased against the rapist/tsundere kind of pair up but despite all my rants this is probably one of the best titles you can find on it.

Overall Rating -

Art – 3 - The art is average as I’ve stated before in my giant review of takanaga

Story – 3 – Stupid, hammy, bad decisions for character growth, and low on any kind of legitimate fun or joy. Yet this gets a two because some of the things it does are different, it doesn’t repeat itself incessantly, and I never found myself bored with the story.

Characters – 1 – Sorry Souchi you can’t bring this out of the hole because you’re also a fuckwit. But Morinaga is one of the most repellent semes I’ve had the displeasure of having my eyeballs glance upon for being a woo-is-me rapist. The side characters are so important they might as well not be there in the first fucking place.

Now I will say if you want to understand yaoi better this is kind of a staple of it. You may also like this if you’re into possessiveness/rape but don’t like outwardly violent, macho, or intimidating semes. If you like tsunderes you’re a crazy person but this might also be a good fix for you. If your tastes are at all similar to mine? Avoid this like uhh…like HOW I AVOID LEAVING THE HOUSE!

Good night and good luck you crazy BL fans!
Totally Captivated
Oh here comes a comic I like to call Totally Decapitated! I speak of no other than Totally Captivated by Yoo Ha Jin! With my reputation on hating on abusive semes…there’s no way this comic was going to get a pass. By the way, this is my first Manhwa or Korean comic I’m doing for a video review! Sorry I picked something so crappy to start us off…I’ll do a good Manhwa…eventually.

 Warnings: Spoilers, bad pronunciations, NSFW, and triggers for pretty much everything you’ll see in an abusive relationship. Stalking, isolating, hyper possessiveness, belittling, threats, physical violence, sexual violence, and more!

 This story is about a promiscuous man who cheats on the wrong boyfriend. In retaliation this boyfriend forces our lead (Ewon) to work for his new boyfriend. His new boyfriend is a dangerous and short-tempered mob leader named Mookyul.

 It is very reminiscent of a smackjeeves comic with its god awful art, slip-shod execution of story, and painfully unfunny wackiness. Yet this was made by somebody over 18, was given approval by a group of editiors, and was published with the intent they’d make a return on their investment, and not only did they do so but it has become somewhat popular. So this is by far significantly more embarrassing than that yaoi comic you tried to create when you were 16. As expected Mookyul is an unhinged possessive lunatic that tries to keep Ewon under his thumb. However there’s a fly in the rub of this stereotypical sounding yaoi.

 The fly is the more self-aware portrayal of a toxic relationship and an abuser. Now before I get into all that I’m going to be breaking down this review a bit differently. I’m going to make this a good, bad, and the ugly break down. I’m going to start off with what’s good in this story, then I’ll talk about the bad aspects of the story, characters, and relationship, (Why yes there is a lot of bad going on here) and finally end on the ugly note which is the art.

 The Good

 The good as I say before is the more aware and slightly less fetishistic and glamorous portrayal of an abusive man and their relationship.

 We see Ewon’s friends actually are deeply concerned for the troubling relationship Ewon has found himself in. Ewon himself calls out Mookyul on his hypocrisy, egotism, and tendency toward violence. We even get to see police show up when Mookyul makes a scene.

 In particular one scene had my hopes so fucking high for the series because it really looked as if they were doing an abusive relationship right.

 That scene is as follows….Ewon confronts Mookyul about the possibility that Mookyul is sleeping with his own adopted father. Mookyul has denied that aspect of their relationship up and down to Ewon previously. However this time when Ewon prods, Mookyul confesses to it. Mookyul says he has no intention of stopping it and that he doesn’t consider it a problem that his father-figure has been sexually exploiting him since he was a child.

 This is a great scene because it really pulls back the veil of how fucked up Mookyul is, and how hypocritical he was for accusing Ewon of sleeping with his friends. This open acknowledgment of what a shitty person Mookyul is was a god-send to me. Instead of this being used as vulnerable baby fodder to excuse his behavior it’s treated for what it is. This Marty-Stu isn’t a flawless badass but rather he’s a liar, a hypocrite, and his sexuality is so fucked up he’s practically sex-negative radioactive. It seems like a no-brainer idea not to excessively coddle a twisted romance hero but it is so rare in media I practically squirted. I was so euphoric I was hoping that Mookyul would actually get a GOOD character-arc or that the whole affair would end tragically instead of OTP 5lyfe!

 While the author tried, it did not live up to even low standards. Now Mookyul decides to split from his disgusting father-figure and thus has to give up his fortune. Mookyul gives up the only life he ever knew, fabulous wealth, and his only family for the one he loves. It seems as if he’s sacrifcing a lot but what he is ultimately distancing himself from is violent organized crime, the dirty money gained from preying upon vulnerable people, and his adopted father who’s been raping him since he was a child. IT’S A GIANT WONDERFUL MOVE THAT MEANS DIDDLY-DICK!

 After a series of contrived events it’s revealed that Mookyul never intended to leave crime, his giant gobs of sweaty cash, or even the human waste that is his father. The only thing that changes is that he no longer has sex with his dad.( Which looks as if it was something he was planning anyway.) Now this is better than nothing but Mookyul never seems to recognize that his daddy-dearest is a reprehensible human being or acknowledge the sexual abuse as abuse that has caused him a myriad of issues or even accept how hypocritical it was to scream at Ewon for imagined infidelities while at the same time fucking his dad in the bed he and Ewon share.

 Mookyul went through all that trouble just to be monogamous with Ewon. It feels as if that not only did the point of that scene go over Mookyul’s head…but also over the author….or maybe I’m a gosh darn idiot for thinking that Mookyul’s double standards were bad instead of thinking that he is so smexy that he can do no wrong.

 Regardless openly showing that a character is cheating on their spouse and not treating his adopted father as another misunderstood seme gives this manga a few points…but it’s the only points it’s going to accumulate.

 In fact this manga loses points like a bucket loses water…when there’s no bottom to the bucket. Let’s start off on what’s bad with the story.

 The Bad (Story)

 The story starts off with a lot of unfunny wacky Korean Mob antics. It eventually bleeds into a melodramatic action story with a playful side. The transition wasn’t great and the humor was so bad I wish they had done without it entirely. The only time I laughed out loud was when Mookyul dramatically showed up to take the antagonist to task in all this badass glory. He immediately takes a drugged drink they offer and passes out. GOOD GOING YOU! The intrigue portion of the story aren’t well thought out which is pretty much the opposite of what you want to do when it comes to intrigue. The action and suspense is neutered due to this sloppy writing.

 The foreshadowing and symbolism is the kind of quality I expect to see a 14 year old deliver. Mookyul is refereed to as a beast and is sometimes drawn as a wolf….it’s because he’s VIOLENT AND SEXUAL!~~~ OOOO THAT’S ABOUT AS DEEP AS A PUDDLE!

There are also a couple of sigh and shake your head scenes at the beginning where Mookyul tells his child molester father that HE WON’T BE HIS PET FOREVER! Oh stop my fucking heart no shit huh? Oh but don’t tell Mookyul the fact he still works for his father at the end kinda contradicts his hard line independent criminal boss badass mantra.

 Ewon’s tragic past just made me annoyed at this writing. His mom was shitty to him and she is not redeemed in anyway even though she became pregnant at 16 due to a priest’s sexual abuse, had to support him on her own, and suffers heavily from depression. Yeah we shouldn’t feel as if she was a woman thrown into a really bad situation and reacted understandably negatively to it, but rather she’s just a mean awful nasty slutty bad person weh weh weh. Paging 50 shades of grey, paging 50 shades of fucking grey you’re not the first story to pin a tragic past on the wrong person out of misogyny.

 Speaking of misogyny this story has a clear undercurrent of it.

 Characters are insulted throughout by referencing how they’re ~like women~ and adhere to outdated gendered double standards in dating despite being in gay relationships.

 How so? Mookyul insults Ewon by calling him a whore, yet claims that his virginity (on receiving) makes him more valuable, and his primary concern about Ewon regards his own personal sexual jealousy. Going so far as to say that it infuriates him when he even LOOKS at over men. This even extends to Ewon’s side when he tries to get back at Mookyul by sleeping around.

 This goes beyond the main couple as well. A side character is berated for behaving like a “jealous wife” for suspecting his boyfriend Mookyul of cheating on him…when he was actually cheating on him. Yet if the submissive harbored feelings for someone else that he DOES NOT ACT ON he deserves to have his ass kicked.

 Why is Mookyul cheating a non issue but his ex even thinking about it so much worse? That’s cause Mookyul is the man in the relationship and wouldn’t it be unfair if we held him to the standards we set for women or submissive men? HAHA fuck this writing!

 But for me the creepiest thing about all of this is when Ewon cooks food for a group of gangsters. The gangsters than say they love Ewon for his ability to cook and would kidnap him if he was a woman. I know they’re gangsters trying to play off a joke but that is not flattering or funny, that’s GET YOUR ASS TO THE PANIC-ROOM CREEPY!

 I mean people do hold these beliefs. So it’s not unrealistic but the author at no point seems to even recognize herself that she’s flinging around enormous double standards like beads at a mardi gras parade.

 For now we’re going to put our boobs back in our shirts and talk about the Bad (characters)

 Any side characters of note? No just the usual, “You realy should be with this guy instead.” best friend. And the two leads share an ex who’s characterization is horribly inconsistent.

 Oh don’t tell me you’re going to rant about how shitty the seme is? I may be predictable but gotta stick with what you’re good at right? Eh?

 Mookyul felt like drowning my family, loved ones, and myself in expelled enema water. I could really really REALLY do without how each page has a reminder about how fucking gorgeous he is. As if his poorly drawn good looks balance out the rest of his negative traits. Okay so he’s sexually and physically violent, possessive, insecure, distrustful, socially inept, condescending, hypocritical,and has a hair-trigger temper, but I mean he’s got all his teeth so it evens out! He is given very Marty-stu like properties in the fact that not only is he super good-looking with the biggest wiener but he’s SOMEHOW the best fighter in a violent gang, and SOMEHOW the smartest, most bestest gang leader there is.

 In particular how he’s supposed to be da smartest gets me. He is supposed to have engineered this plot in order to get rid of this gang rival and better enter his adopted father’s good graces after he snubbed him. He did this by allowing his gang rival to take control, but he has a spy gather dirt on this rival in order to get him arrested. (Which honestly cannot be that hard considering they’re in organized crime.) But you know what FINE! It’s at least A plot point. Yet but it takes a turn for the inconviably stupid when Mookyul (without any proof) hears that Ewon was captured (he wasn’t) goes into the heart of his murderous rival’s headquarters BY HIMSELF WITHOUT A WEAPON and immediately chugs a drugged drink they offer.

YEAH THAT SOUNDS SMART!

 Unlucky for me, he was rescued in the nick of time, with the help of his father who was recently so pissed off at him he was contemplating about having Mookyul killed. Oh and of course the rival who wants him dead takes him to another location, doesn’t restrain him in anyway, and waits for him to wake up before he tortures him for funsies. Villain monologs instead of just killing him are a cliché suited for frivolous action shit like James Bond, not shit like dark mob story jackass!

 You can tell me it was all heroic for Mookyul to charge in to rescue his boyfriend even though the baddies couldn’t even be bothered to half-ass any kind of proof and even though it took 12 miracles aka bad writing tricks to make sure he wasn’t instantly murdered but you can’t look me in the eyes and tell me he’s smart and totally fit to run a complex ring of organized crime.

 Even the one thing he did correctly which was convince a guy he had recently put in the hospital to dig up some dirt on his rival, was pointless. The padrino pedophile known as his adopted father had told the gang rival to his face that he was temporary and was planning on getting rid of him anyway and the boss don’t need a reason. So even though his adopted son was proved to be jaw-droppingly dumb, and his explusion supposed to be some grand romantic sacrifice he is put in charge again without so much as a shrug.

 Speaking of which I find it hilarious that the reason that new leader was considered bad at his job was because he’s too violent….too violent compared to fucking MOOKYUL!? That fucker has never dealt with any issue that came his way without a knee-jerk straight into a defenseless person’s throat. I bet even his die-hard fans would not accuse him of being “level-headed.”

 Most of his shitty antics are directed at his better half Ewon but before I go into those specifics I’m going into Ewon himself and unlike Mookyul I’m not going to pretend Ewon is enjoying it when I rip him a new one.

 Ewon also has a case of Marty-Stu. While he doesn’t have much of a personality inexplicably 3 people fall head over heels in love with him even though 2 out of 3 barely know him. But wait! He does have character flaws! Ewon is indecisive and bad at communicating. But having a hard time talking to and committing to a prickle dick like Mookyul is one of the few things they wrote that make sense.

 Ewon starts off as a sassy guy whom uses sex as a form of escapism. While Ewon jumps from relationship to relationship, he’s never bottomed before…and because he’s never bottomed before that SOMEHOW makes him a virgin? Oh thank god butts are so perfectly clean and don’t have dick-sized things come out of them daily or else the idea of ass purity would be even more stupid than vaginal purity!

 However he takes a hard right turn from promiscuous sass-master into being a disgruntled tsundere when he dates Mookyul. As you know I don’t fucking trust tsunderes in heavily abusive relationships and the fact that Ewon has a character 180 in order to become one only makes me doubt it more. It becomes all the more infuriating when the author snidely reminds us he’s just being tsundere or when Mookyul says shit like, “You have a boner so it’s not rape, stupid!” I thought the point of a tsundere was that they say no because they can’t come to admit they like it out loud but totally like it…if that’s the case how comes we have moments when Ewon has thought bubbles about scheming how to get out of sex or plot ON HIS OWN TIME how to lower Mookyul’s sex drive? Does that not fly in the face of what a tsundere is?

 The only time that Ewon admits he likes the way he’s treated by Mookyul is once for a very specific dramatic effect and at the very end of the bonus material admits he wants sex.

 THAT’S AWFUL CONVIENTENT THAT YOUR FIRST AND LAST MENTION OF ENJOYING HIS POSSESSIVENESS IS SUPPOSED TO ADD TO THE UPCOMING TRADGEDY!!!

 With my sass aside Ewon he likes the possessiveness in an unprompted internal monolog. This doesn’t always happen in these abuse justifying tsundere relationships and I’ll give it a kudos for it but this is dampened by how nonsensical his reasons are. Ewon says that he likes Mookyul’s possessiveness because he finally has security in his life and he can’t possibly feel empty….I’d start with the stupider of the two but I can’t decide which worse. So let me just start with the first one.

 Ewon’s life is less secure than it was before he met Mookyul. Sure now he has money when that was something lacking for him previously. However Mookyul’s job is highly dangerous and at times Ewon gets caught up in it. Even when Mookyul’s job is running smoothly Mookyul has very high demands of Ewon’s behavior and if they’re not met Mookyul reacts with sexual, physical, and verbal violence. A boyfriend with an explosive violent temper makes someone feel the OPPOSITE of secure.

 How can he not feel empty under a possessive thumb? Mookyul doesn’t give Ewon much of a say in the relationship or even in Ewon’s own life. Which includes having Ewon abandon his family and friends in order to be with Mookyul 24/7. Ewon even regrets going to school because it hurts Mookyul’s precious baby ~feelings.~ But clearly all you need to feel like a whole human being is to have your own holes literally filled. Even if Mookyul was downright perfect, anybody who suffers from depression will tell you it doesn’t matter what else is going on in their life depression finds a way to sneak in. I’d much rather he say that he finds Mookyul’s non-stop critical attention to be exciting or flattering…that at least makes sense.

 Okay so I talked a lot about how Ewon’s personal feelings on the relationship which make his characterization shitty, so let’s just go into The Bad ( which is the relationship portion)

 I’m going to begin by ripping apart the relationship in chronological order.

 Ewon is initially forced to work for Mookyul. Mookyul and Ewon appear to be physically attracted to each other even though Mookyul is in another relationship and Ewon understandably thinks Mookyul is a puss-leaking anal polyp. The relationship is moved forward when it is revealed that Ewon and Mookyul have a little history together but didn’t recognize each other. I’ve seen that used a bunch in this case it at least makes a little sense in the fact they were both quite young and only knew each other for a couple of days. Not like 16 young but 6 young.

 EH-HEM! (1st greatest love)

 They way they introduce it, couldn’t have been more moronic. It’s introduced as Mookyul has nightmares about a dude touching his junk as a kid. No this is not a PTSD flashback to all the sexual abuse he suffers at the hands of his father, but rather a kid who tripped and landed on Mookyul. It is revealed that Ewon was that kid and Mookyul had beat him up for it. It was all played off as a bunch of dumb jokes but they build upon this later. After getting the snot knocked out of him Ewon feels bad for Mookyul because authority figures don’t like him and he doesn’t have a family. Ewon says that he’ll wait for him to come back to school. This is the first time that anybody cared about Mookyul so he has an existential crisis over it.

 When it is revealed that the caring kid of his past is the man he’s working with, Mookyul goes into full obsessive fuckface mode. He throws expensive gifts and meals in Ewon’s direction and when that doesn’t work Mookyul flips his lid. Saying how could Ewon deny him when he gave him gifts and knows that Ewon is sexually attracted to him. Uhhh, you’re a violent higher up in the Korean Mafia who’s hugely possessive. Why do you think people would hesitate to fuck you? Eventually Ewon caves because he’s tired of fighting with Mookyul but maybe it also was motivated by the fact that Mookyul threatened to kill Ewon’s ex boyfriend if he didn’t fuck him.

 From the start Ewon has serious doubts about the relationship and Mookyul gets even crazier. He lies near constantly in the relationship even at points when Ewon’s health and his own are at serious risk. He is condescending and mocking of Ewon regularly. He is insanely jealous going so far as to accuse Ewon of cheating on him when he’s little over a minute late in meeting up with him. I’m not even exaggerating!

 He strangles him and threatens him near constantly saying he’ll kill him for things as slight as not wanting to have sex. Speaking of which Mookyul pressures him into sex all the time, even going so far as to sexually assault him when he is too sick to protest and blames Ewon for his own poor sexual behavior.

 Would you believe that nothing is ever his fault. He just says, “Well I’m a shitty gangster what do you expect?” when Ewon criticizes of his behavior. If you’ve ever heard anybody dodge responsibility by saying they’re a bad person you get the fuck out of there because they’re right. If they’re too ~low~ for anybody to expect them to act like an human than they don’t deserve a minute of anybody’s fucking time until they stop making sad shitty egotistical excuses.

 That’s one of the things that gets me about this character. He’s supposed to be this hot-shot all powerful mob boss but he shirks responsibility? He doesn’t say it’s not his fault when things go wrong in his business but he’s so crocodile shit low he’ll use that in relationships because he respects his co-workers VASTLY more than he does his partner. Mookyul is a potent combination of scum, crocodile shit, and the gore left over from devoured baby animals. He’s downright disgusting and it only gets fucking worse.

 Ewon has attempted to escape from Mookyul on multiple occasions. When he has done so Mookyul has hunted down Ewon to the ends of the earth and has told him that trying to run from him is futile. Mookyul has enormous double standards about what he is allowed to do and what Ewon is allowed to do. When Ewon asks Mookyul to stop having sex with his father, Mookyul fires back that if he does that Ewon than has to NEVER LEAVE THEIR APARTMENT AND NEVER LOOK AT ANOTHER HUMAN BEING FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE!

 THESE ARE NOT EQUILVENT IN ANY FUCKING WAY YOU SELF-WORSHIPPING ASS-DRAINAGE!

 Is it any wonder that Ewon doesn’t think Mookyul is joking when Mookyul threatens to lock him up in a cage? So needless to say Mookyul has tantrums over Ewon having friends and toward the end when Ewon tries to reconcile with his estranged family Mookyul loses his fucking mind.

 This was one of the worst things about this sad sack of a story. Mookyul tells Ewon that he must cut ties with his family going so far as to say that he has had fantasies about murdering his family and Ewon due to the attention Ewon is giving them.

 They try to frame this as Mookyul telling Ewon he can’t keep enabling his mooching family that has done nothing but disrespect him. However, the reason Ewon does this is for his kid sister who has no control over her situation. The solution that comes from this is Ewon gives them a huge house and an allowance but says he can never visit them again because Mookyul has sacrificed so much for him he must do the same.

 Okay,

  1. Mookyul made PRETENSES of sacrificing for you but in the end he’s still in crime, still wealthy as sin, and still sees his kid-diddling father. The only thing he did for you is stop having sex with his father which he didn’t care to do anyway. So it’s not even a sacrfice.

  2. If Ewon was worried that he was enabling freeloaders…giving them unlimited money with no strings attached seems like uhh ENABLING. Besides all of it is Mookyul’s dirty money anyway.

  3. In the late story Ewon has talked about how he had felt empty without his family. (even though previously he said possessiveness is somehow a cure all for this.) Simply having a RELATIONSHIP with his kid sister should help fulfill him and make him happy. Striving to make your partner happy is what you’re SUPPOSED to do Mookyul! His kid sister, while blunt, loves her brother and has done nothing to hurt him. The one that has hurt him is his mother and he avoids her. His little sister isn’t even a go between for the two so there is no toxic influence going on here. The fact that a murderous mob boss is frightened of A LITTLE GIRL, who has no interest in splitting them up, really doesn’t make him seem that fucking tough don’t ya think?

 Ewon cannot be hurt by the relationship either financially or mentally. So really what’s going on here is that Mookyul is having another hypocritical hissy-fit and demands utter control and inhumane sacrifices of Ewon in order to satisfy his own pathetic piss-baby ego.

 Okay stop stop stop stop STOP

 What the hell Faps all we got was another enormous rant on abuse. you usually do the Why does so and so like getting it up the bum from what’s-his-face? I’M GETTING TO THAT!

 Why does Mookyul like Ewon?

 It’s a straight up unhealthy obsession from childhood and physical attraction since most of what Ewon does seems to frustrate him. But honestly that might be because he’s never happy and you know what? He doesn’t deserve anything even remotely related to a good emotion. Fuck you to death Mookyul!

 Why does Ewon like Mookyul?

 This one is a bit easier to understand but only from the perspective of a self-insert fantasy rather than a fully fleshed out character and romance. Ewon no longer has to worry about money which was his primary concern in his early life. That the organized crime life style is thrilling and Mookyul’s unpredictable temper also keeps him from being bored. That Mookyul obsession with Ewon is in a bizarre way flattering. That every little thing that Ewon does is a source of frustration or arousal for Mookyul. Nothing Ewon does/say is too insignificant to send Mookyul into a foaming at the mouth tantrum…or a foaming at the cock sex session.

 It doesn’t make particular sense that Ewon would be into these fantasy elements…but it doesn’t make negative sense either. To be honest they fleshed out Ewon too much for this to be a trashy fantasy but not enough for it to be considered well characterized.

 The Ugly (Art)

 The art of totally decapitated is a joke. We got lanky disjointed anatomy with preposterous arms and shoulders, laughable attempts at perspectives, pathetic backgrounds, shoddy paneling and layouts, and action that makes no god damn sense. The clothing we do see…baffles me.

 We have plenty of yaoi hands with perplexing fingers to go with it too. The character designs are incredibly samey as well. To be fair I didn’t get characters mixed up left and right. But I have another complaint…this guy makes people’s hearts bursts when they look at him cause he’s so gorgeous…but then how comes everybody fucking else looks like him too.

 The most enjoyable part of this art is how unintentionally hilarious the ~creepy~ scenes are. Look at this fucking wolf, look at these fucking eyes. I have seen 13 year olds on deviant do it better!

 I think the biggest problem this artist has is how people/objects/environment interrelated to one another. The hell do you mean by that Faps? Well it covers a lot of things. A lot of things are simply off or fake looking. This include but are not limited to how characters are situated in their environments, how people interact with each other, but mostly how they hold/use objects.

 Now time to roll credits!

 Art – 1 – Embarrassing so fucking embarrassing

Story – 2 – For giving the illusion of being aware of it’s problematic elements and decent stabs at emotion it pulls itself away from the one but how unfunny, unsuspenseful, and poorly plotted it is won’t let it get any higher.

Characters – 1 – Ewon having a character 180 just for the relationship, the story trying to forget that their lead character is a fucked up pile of shitdick, and the fact that their relationship is not just a textbook example of abuse but an OVER THE TOP example of it keep this bottom of the barrel.

Totally captivated is a horrendously drawn playful mob action romance that utterly flops at being playful, action, or romance. The abusive relationship is more aware than the vast majority of similarly styled stories and while it shows some promise toward the middle it doesn’t mean jack in the end. You may like this if you’re into the intense possessive type of seme, but you gotta be REALLY into them because he don’t fucking play around. Oh and you better have absolutely no standards for the plot, characters, or art. I definitely don’t recommend this.

9 Responses to Video Transcripts

  1. Anonymous says:

    Electrical Delusion is bad. Forget the art: I’m talking about the story. When you read “highschool puberty” as introduction, you know you’re up for some good stuff!

    The basic storyline is simple; nothing new, but still cute. Who doesn’t like romance between long-time friends?
    You can see straight away that the most crucial part is how the guy who got confessed falls in love with his friend. The change from friends to lovers can be smooth or

    bumpy, quick or slow; how it goes is up to the author; but it has to be believable. However, we know there’s a problem that will need to be addressed and taken into

    account: the guy is hetero. This additional complexity will make the writing more difficult, but also more interesting, as both characters will be exploring their

    sexuality.

    With that said, this could be a very interesting story, but obviously it’s not.
    The author just made it not only boring, but also retarded. This is supposed to be a love comedy, but the love consists of hard-ons and immature drama no one has

    patience for, and the comedy consists of homo jokes and chalksticks on the head. Seriously.

    Remember the little talk in a paragraph above? Make a hetero guy fall in love with his gay friend? Np! Hetero guy hears friend’s confession, gets all flustered

    thinking friend likes him, gets butthurt when that’s not the case, and suddenly becomes obsessed with his friend…and instantly sexually attracted. Yup, that’s how

    the author deals with the whole thing. Sexual attraction from obsession, obsession from…disappointment (I don’t even); minimum logic, skipping all the sexuality-

    discovery, doubts, etc hassle: the fastest and easiest way leading to sexy-times. After all, that’s what readers came for, and that’s what the author does to get

    payed, so if it’s rushed it’s not surprising.

    Most upsetting of all in my opinion: the comedy is all wrong. The tone is completely off. It’s overdone and, in my opinion, of bad taste. Virtually all comedy has to

    do with homosexuality, and most part of it are gay jokes. These jokes are mainly said by the protagonist born out of his ignorance, but they’re so ludicrously

    primitive it’s just ridiculous, like “do homos cast aside their male friends when they date?”. I’ve read gag comics infinitely better than this.

    If you notice, you’ll also see the comic is full of pearls like highschool puberty, homos are fantasy, and the more. Good hunt and God help us.

    • You bring up some good points. The author did put this on the fast-track to sexy times which is a common problem in yaoi-writing. The most ridiculous (and personally hated) of these is “They’re at a relationship stand still and we can either take time to move past the stand-still with them coming to slowly understand each other….or RAPE”

      The comedy is pretty meh overall. I don’t mind the ridiculously primitive idea of “gay guys get rid of their male friends right?” because I feel as if they were poking fun at how stupid he was being with that joke. To me that’s the saving grace of some of the humor the fact that they’re taking the piss out of someone stupid or possessive or etc. Though you are totally right that the humor was overdone. My main bone to pick with the humor is the rape jokes in volume 4…cause yeah I don’t even have to say anything to that do I?

      Not to excuse Eleketal delusion of it’s faults does this kind of story SLIGHTLY BETTER than the majority of similar stories I feel the need to give it SOME credit. Yet you’re right this is overall not a good title.

      I like your rant, would you mind if I repost this to my tumblr? I can keep it anon or give you a name if you so desire.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, big-ass rant inc!

    I would rather say it’s an inherent problem of yaoi, by definition (I stick with the original, because it’s actually true): bad gay male teen/adult fiction. Bad YA/NA fiction, if you like. It’s not romance with hot sex, erotic romance or erotica: it’s smut; it’s where BL and porn meet. Or, as I like to think, gay porn meets plot and characterization. Or, on a more funny note, gay porn with feelings.

    Basically, plot and characterization are means to an end (sexy-times). As result, the plot and characterization normally end up being underdeveloped, and even worse: bad. “Love” stories are notorious for this. No wonder! They’re trying to be the whole package with love and hot sex, but love is not hot sex, and hot sex is not love. And lust is NOT love either. This confusing mess of misconceptions opens door to others like “being possessive is a sign of love” or “being controlling is a sign of love”. It’s not a sign of love; it’s a warning to break up: your lover is a douchebag. Cherishing is a sign of love. Trusting is a sign of love.

    The worst thing about yaoi is these misconceptions about love, sex, etc, are not only confusing but harmful because of it. A misconception by itself is not the problem (you thought dolphin were fish, big deal). But when we’re talking about important, character-building human notions such as love and sex, it can be potentially harmful.

    In porn, love misconceptions don’t exist. Sex misconceptions? Just about everywhere, but they’re not confusing: you know they’re fantasies, inaccurately, unrealistically, and exaggeratedly shot purely for sexual pleasure. If you’re looking at porn as genuine sex-ed, you’re doing it wrong. Much in porn is fake, so don’t take it seriously. All in all, in the end, chances are the misconceptions you’ll end up with won’t be harmful, just silly like unrealistic expectations of dick sizes.

    However, in yaoi, the storyfication with the whole plot and characterization turns wild fantasy into something closer to reality. In other words: something actually credible and not so conspicuously wild imagination. Why is this bad, you ask? Because it makes misconceptions harder to distinguish. Remember what I’ve said earlier, about “being possessive is a sign of love”, etc? These misconceptions about love and sex exist in the real world, people have them. And yaoi, even if it’s not alone in this, is just perpetuating them! This is what makes yaoi harmful. The worst kind of yaoi, in my opinion, is the one that manages to push this shit past the reader’s radar surreptitiously.

    Of course, major shit happens when the author tries to turn a rape fantasy into hot sex in a “love” story. If you had doubts about yaoi being porn: have you noticed how similar these “hot sex” scenes are to porn/rape fantasies? How all the misconceptions are exactly the same ones you see in porn? “no means yes”, “you’ll like it once I get to it”, etc. Coincidence? I think not. It’s just that in porn this bullshit is so conspicuously fantasy you don’t actually buy them for a second. Sex isn’t rape, and rape isn’t hot sex. And what makes matters even worse? Romanticize it!

    Now, you wonder: is there such a thing as “good yaoi”? Well, it depends in what you think it’s bad yaoi. A bad yaoi is a bad comic. For me, the most important thing about a comic is not about the execution, but the ideas the comic conveys. So, for me, a comic that’s harmful is worse than a comic that has a weak execution, but they often go hand-in-hand. And, in my opinion, the more crucial and less conspicuous the misconceptions are, the more serious they are, and the more harmful the comic is. Why? Because when they go unnoticed, you fail to realize them for what they truly are, and you may actually think “it’s ok” – brainwash. Worse: the more you miss them and keep thinking nothing is wrong, the more difficulty you’ll have in recognizing and accepting they are – mindfuck.

    An example of yaoi of the more harmful type: comics who actually have a good execution but still do the rape fantasy bullshit, especially those who do it surreptitiously – chances are it was deliberate. My money on this is achieved by being elaborate and complex in some way. Starfighter anyone?? (not manga per-se but yaoi in essence; the good execution part is questionable tho. Fairly conspicuous for me, but not for quite a deal of people)

    On another note: sometimes it’s not very clear which BL comics are “yaoi”. I would say those where you think “it’s about the sex after all”. The amount of gratuitous sex is a good indicator. Any comics who have the “rape fantasy syndrome” are definitely it.

    In summary: yaoi, in its true fashion, is really just gay porn with feelings. It can get crap past your radar, so read it with an open but critical spirit, and don’t take it too seriously. Who knows, you may actually have fun! For the “pearls”!

    • You kidding me!? I love big rants!

      You are absolutely right! All these misconceptions about love, sexuality, intimacy, and etc can be very harmful. In particular I feel as if a lot of yaoi is aimed at a young girl demographic and most fujoshi’s first introduction is long before they’re 18. I have had some people come forward on my blog about how yaoi (and other romances) gave them a very toxic early view of sexuality/relationships that caused them serious problems. I think it’s very important to talk about these things.

      for me, a comic that’s harmful is worse than a comic that has a weak execution, but they often go hand-in-hand. And, in my opinion, the more crucial and less conspicuous the misconceptions are, the more serious they are, and the more harmful the comic is.

      I can’t agree harder with this statement! I roll my eyes at a dumb comic, but my rage really starts boiling at an abuse romanticizing comic.

      One reason I blog about BL is because it (at it’s core) is a wonderful thing that is often dismissed. I don’t want to forgive the bad but celebrate the best!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, exactly. In “lovey-dovey” stories, there’s this huge gap; the romance (and overall the tone of the story) is immature compared to the sex (and overall contents/themes in it). Yeah, I know, smut, but screw it; there’s still a story here that could be a whole lot better.

        One thing that happens: suddenly the characters/story seem to be all about the relationship and nothing more, isolated from the world, like other YA/NA issues (aspirations, their actual life; stuff that happens and affects them besides their relationship). Because, you know, they LIVE in a context, the whole story/plot comes (or should come) naturally from exploring it throughly. And these issues ought to be treated as they should: in a sensible/healthy way, mature/realistic/logical at least. But the way authors address them is wrong, harmful, not to say downright atrocious. Pretty much like a minefield of misconceptions. Not to mention the obsession with the “cute factor” (but that goes for romantic manga in general) – cuteness overdose. Romance doesn’t need to be sugary cute; people aren’t cute babies (apart from the actual babies) nor cute baby bunnies.
        Mangaka, seriously, wtf? Get your shit together, you’re acting like you have the mentality of a 15-year-old.

        Summing up: the relationship doesn’t feel real. There’s a fake sense of relationship that comes from cute interaction and hot sex.

        “[...] my rage really starts boiling at an abuse romanticizing comic.” Oh, and how!

        Ofc, why shouldn’t romance between gay men be a great story? I think it’s important, because there’s still prejudice. And this whole yaoi shit sure as hell isn’t helping (then again shouldn’t go for yaoi (read “poor quality/porn with feelings”) in the first place, but it’s hard to tell which in fact are since it’s all under BL or western “yaoi” labels). I think I still have yet to see a genuinely good healthy/realistic/sensible portrayal of a relationship. Rutta and Kodama did well in that sense, but still with all the faults you’ve mentioned, so in the end the relationship felt healthy but too perfect and somewhat lacking.

  3. Anonymous says:

    (continuation)

    Now, back to the yaoi in question. About the comedy: I know what you mean. I’ll illustrate my point with what happens next in the scene. Here’s how the conversation between him and his sister goes:

    “(off-screen) When you become a homo, do you cut off all your male friends?!”
    “Huh? Male friends? How would I know? I’m not a homo.”
    “Just tell me, you meanie! You always read those homo manga, right?”
    “Shut up! Homo stuff is nothing but a fantasy to me, okay?”

    Brilliant satire or lame comedy? From other pearls in the comic such as “highschool puberty”, either the author is a magnificent troll or that’s genuinely her idea of funny. All things taken into account, I’m going with the later. Either way, I agree: it’s funny because it’s spot-on how “typical” fujoshi are. You can tell by your reaction to her statement, especially the last line: if it passed you by and you thought it was funny you’re probably a “fujoshi”, if you didn’t think it was funny (and even felt offended) you’re probably someone who actually likes to read good BL, and if you caught up on the joke you’re probably someone who already approaches yaoi with the correct mindset (congratulations). I actually think these are gradual phases that those who read BL go through, but I’m basing myself on my experience.

    I didn’t make it that far, but, in my opinion, you’ve already said everything.

    Yes, I suppose you’re right. No rape in 1st volume! And no penetration for our main couple either! (there were moments in ch. 3, 4, 7 but all safe!) Boy, the complaints (see the author’s comments at the end of chapter 7). What on earth was the author thinking? (props for holding back tho) What did she think her readers were expecting, a love story? She should know by now they come for one obvious reason (and can we blame them for expecting it). Jokes aside, I agree; it’s not all that bad, there’s worse yaoi out there (too many).

    I like the fact the humor is perky, even though I don’t like the humor itself, and it’s probably what keeps it rolling. It is very lovey-dovey, and way too cheesy (like most yaoi), but it’s a good thing there’s love and a creation of a sense of intimacy between a couple. And let’s not forget it has pretty hot sex, too (the best part no doubt). It also shows some signs of consciousness, unlike many, but should we really congratulate someone for holding back until the partner consents in the first place? This comes from the short story of chapter 7, and it illustrates what I’m trying to say. Notice how at the end Shunpei gets mad at Fumi after Fumi touched him sexually. He even stuck his finger up Shunpei’s butt. While Shunpei was asleep. Yeah, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure this can be counted as sexual assault. And I think making the comedy just downplays it. Overall, the fact there’s this whole lovey-dovey relationship stuff plus this “thoughtless” comedy makes it confusing and harder to pick on this bullshit.

    So, overall, it’s not all that bad, but it’s still bad. The comments on mangago make me cry.

    “I really want…to get inside of Shunpei as soon as possible.” Truly kawaii.

    Oh: sure, I don’t mind. Just leave it anon.

    • Whether Nekota Yonezou is a troll or not kinda baffles me. You see hints here and there, but overall she’s most likely just got a bad sense of humor.

      Though of course I think all Fujoshi go through phases. Unless you come to the genre, as 100% aware of sexuality your views on BL will evolve. In my experience most come to BL fairly young if not extremely young.

      One of the main problems in romanticizing abuse in yaoi is how a lot of it is played off for laughs. I had some fans of purehearted romance say that problematic moments I in the series are MEANT to be funny THEREFORE it cannot be abusive. Throwing a wacky chibi face on a guy who’s furious his boyfriend publishes real life examples of their sexual relationship without his consent doesn’t make that less fucked up.

      • Anonymous says:

        “One of the main problems in romanticizing abuse in yaoi is how a lot of it is played off for laughs. I had some fans of purehearted romance say that problematic moments I in the series are MEANT to be funny THEREFORE it cannot be abusive. Throwing a wacky chibi face on a guy who’s furious his boyfriend publishes real life examples of their sexual relationship without his consent doesn’t make that less fucked up.”

        Yes, I know! It’s always the exploitation of the same scapegoat: they like each other, so the forcing (aided by that wacky comedy) is not abuse, despite the reluctance, struggle, hell, even repeated and sound NO: it’s just him being a shy tsundere. Anyway, he enjoyed it, so how can it possibly be abuse? He secretly wanted it after all. MANGAKA, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER! Readers getting confused by your bullshit!

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