2012 YAOI Finds

Every year Blind Eye Books goes to Yaoi-con to sell books in the dealer’s room.

Not that I need an excuse to go to Yaoi-Con. I love manga in general and yaoi specifically. So I thought I’d share some of my 2012 finds. This is only a tiny sample and I’m sure there are lots of great manga I’ve missed, so do comment and tell me all about what you loved this year.

First up is Castle Mango Volume 1. Written by Muku Ogura and Illustrated by Narise Konohara. Published by June.

The main character in this one is Yorozu Shirosaki, a high school student whose widowed mother owns an old-timey love hotel. Far from being embarrassed by this, despite the frequent admonitions of his school teachers, Yorozu believes in his late father’s idealized concept of a love hotel being, “A place to nurture love,” rather than a just sleazy rent-by-the-hour joint.

Because of its elaborately decorated theme rooms Hotel Mango is scouted as a shooting location by the adult film company Kaleido Fish.

Enter adult film director Togame-san. He’s rude, smokes a lot and has a mysterious past that is only hinted at in volume 1. Initially he mistakes Yorozu for an AV actor, which offends the hotel-management degree aspiring bookworm. But it’s when Togame-san seems to take an interest Yorozu’s younger brother Satoru that Yorozu springs into action. He decides that he must sacrifice himself to gay Togame-san in order to lure him away from Satoru.

Hotel Mango is prettily drawn and cleverly written and has a wonderful humanistic quality that I find refreshing in the melodramatic world of yaoi manga. Volume 1 leaves us with more questions than answers about the mysterious Togame-san, but that’s as it should be for the first in a series.

(And just in case you’re getting squicked out by the idea that Togame-san actually IS interested in Satoru, I assure you that he’s not. Yorozu’s assumption that just because Togame-san gay, he’s also a pedophile actually provides one of the most interesting scenes in the manga.)

Next up: Starfighter by written and drawn by Hamletmachine and released in print by NightmareLand Press.

If you only saw the full-color, yet wonderfully subdued and atmospheric art in this space-opera you might think that it wasn’t about how a young navigator gets repeatedly banged by a seriously horny, Heathcliff-like starfighter. But it is. Essentially a collection of sex scenes and interstellar dogfights, Starfighter delivers on the action. I look forward to eventually discovering who our protagonists, Cain and Abel are fighting and also why. But in the mean time, I’m content to merely look at them having sex and kicking ass.

Starfighter isn’t new, of course. It’s been running as a sexy, sexy webcomic for quite a while. You can read it for free here:  http://starfightercomic.com/

While I’m on the subject of English-language webcomics that you can read for free, I’ll move to The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. Written and drawn by E.K. Weaver, released in print by Big Big Truck Productions and available for perusal here: http://tjandamal.com/

As far as I could see, Weaver’s comic wasn’t for sale at Yaoi-Con, but it should have been. I wanted to include it because I discovered it this year and became instantly engrossed. Here’s the blurb from the website:

In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his conservative parents, promptly gets disowned, goes on a bender… and wakes up the next morning to find TJ, a lanky, dreadlocked vagrant, frying eggs and singing Paul Simon in his kitchen.

TJ claims that the two have made a drunken pact to drive all the way from Berkeley to Providence. As it happens, Amal promised his sister he’d be there for her graduation from Brown University. And TJ, well… TJ has his own reasons.

The agreement is simple: Amal does the driving; TJ pays the way – but a 3500 mile journey leaves plenty of time for things to get complicated.

Fans of Fumi Yoshinaga and Saika Kunieda will find a lot to like in this quiet, fascinating road trip comic. Weaver sustains a level of mystery around TJ’s questionable motivations while creating a believable romance.

Especially fun for me were the notes included in the print version which detail the songs being played in the panels as well as cite visual references the artist used. (It’s amazing how many of the backgrounds in this comic really exist!)

And did I mention its drawn in pencil—my favorite medium ever?

But I should get back to actual Japanese yaoi manga.

Samejima-kun and Sasahara-kun by Koshino. Another June release.

Ah, the rocky road from friendship to love. Samejima-kun knows he loves Sasahara-kun. He even tells him so. But Sasahara-kun doesn’t seem to get exactly what that means. These two characters would be great together—except that they annoy the crap out of each other so much that they might never manage to get down. The hilarious dialogue is matched by a very funny drawing style that manages to turn surprisingly sexy at the right moments.

A favorite of the the entire Blind Eye Books table for its realistic dialogue. Definitely a recommended read.

What manga did you find this year?

21 comments

  • Thank you so much for the recs! I’ve tried manga in the past, but been turned off by consent issues. I immensely enjoyed the humour of Rabbit Man as well as the fact that the consent issues weren’t as prevalent. It’s not that I can’t read manga with consent issues, but I find my conscious niggling at the back of my head, making it hard to enjoy the other aspects of the story.

    But…I have to say I just marathoned my way through Maiden Rose. So. XP

    Oh, I was looking for classic manga!

    Again, thank you!

    Reply
      • WHEPHEWITWOT. I am completely, utterly in love with Castle Mango. God, I love the protagonist, Yorozu. Adore everything, from his determination to run the hotel to his love for his brother. And Togame-san won me over the same way he won over Yorozu. My heart is breaking over that misunderstanding at the end of Volume One.

        I think this sort of manga is definitely my sweet spot. Sort of…would this be considered slice-of-life? And I’m also loving the slow build of the relationship, which is giving me time to fall in love with both of the main characters.

        Reply
        • Well, if it’s slice of life you’re after how about:

          Ichigenme by Fumi Yoshinaga
          Future Lovers by Saika Kunieda
          Bad Teacher’s Equation by Kodaka Kazuma starts off as a wacky school story and develops into slice of life. (It’s probably my favorite classic manga ever.)

          I’ll post again if I can think of any others!

          Reply
    • Okay, I keep trying to post a list and it keeps getting eaten. Must go to an appointment now but will try again later. Glad you’re enjoying Castle Mango

      Reply
  • Does anyone have a link to a yaoi manga primer? I checked out Rabbit Man, Tiger Man and basically fell in LOVE. Anyone have any recs in that vein?

    Also enjoyed Starfighter.

    Will be checking out Castle Mango and The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal.

    Reply
    • Hey asherlevi, good to see you.

      Personally, I like all of Akira Honma’s stuff, though the tone varies. The Judged is a much more serious manga than Rabbit Man.

      So if what you liked about Rabbit Man was the comedic yakuza tone, maybe Beast & Feast by Norikazu Akira. Tyrant Falls in Love by Hinako Takanaga is very funny and beautifully drawn. Not a yakuza story, but has some elements in common.

      Yakuza Cafe by Shinano Oumi is straight up goofy but worth a read. (And listed as “frequently bought together” on amazon.com.)

      If you let me know what it was you liked about Rabbit Man I could give more recs. 🙂

      If there is such a thing as a yaoi primer I don’t know it. There are some basic classic manga that I could list. Or were you looking for more of a “terms” kind of thing?

      Reply
  • Besides Castle Mango, what hooked me this year was Entangled Circumstances by Kikuko Kikuya. Although technically it was published on 2011 I only got it this year. A bit difficulty in getting Yaoi or M/M prints in my country. 😕

    Now, thanks to your input, I’m gonna hunt for Samejima-kun and Sasahara-kun by Koshino! 😎

    Reply
    • You’re very welcome! If you get the opportunity to buy the book, you definitely should. The print is beautiful.

      Reply
  • Oh yeah, loved Maiden Rose! And while I was just writing this I looked up Rabbit Man Tiger Man and indeed vol. 2 DOES exist, they just didn’t have it at Yaoi-con! Boo! Me want!

    Reply
  • My favorite find has been Rabbit Man, Tiger Man by Akira Honma. SO funny! It’s about a shy lil’ doctor who patches up a Yakuza bad guy, who then becomes obsessed with finding the doctor and making sweet love to… her, because in his fevered state he thought the doc was a girl. When he finds out he isn’t, that doesn’t really change his interest. Yeah yeah, the dreaded GFY plot twist (gay for you) but its so hilarious it’s worth it!

    Reply
    • Yeah, that was a good one.

      I was going to put Maiden Rose down here as well, but that one is solidly last year. Beautiful art in that one too.

      Reply
  • hello, Starfighter is really good; you should read “the young protectors engaging the fight”; il is very well drawn!
    and if you don’t know it, you could have a look at “teahouse”, it’s my fafourite!I also follow the adventures of TJ and Amal; it’s very fine too; I will have a look at the others thank you for mentioning them!

    Reply
  • I love Starfigter – thanks So much for mentioning this one and will definitely check out others you mentioned 🙂

    Reply

Please comment! We'd love to hear from you.

%d bloggers like this: