The Tyrant Falls in Love (Koisuru Boukun)

July 4, 2006

tyrantcap.jpgAttention, DramaQueen! Here am I doing wonderful publicity for you guys, so when The Tyrant Falls in Love is finally released, I expect to get a free copy, k?

Well, it was worth trying anyway. πŸ˜›

Now, if there’s a yaoi manga that I wholeheartedly recommend, it’ll be Tyrant. In fact, not only do I love it, Tyrant is the yaoi manga that was responsible for corrupting changing me to a yaoi observer to a yaoi lover. πŸ˜›

Before, I read yaoi scanlations with a “Meh, so what?” or a “OMG!!” (Runs away) attitude.

But when I stumbled unto Tyrant, I fell deeply and madly in love with the characters.

Morinaga Tetsuhiro is in love with his senpai, Tatsumi Souichi, who is, to put it very simply: a terrifying person. (But cute, of course. I have a thing for long hair. hehe) He’s also … homophobic. Doesn’t like gay people much because his brother ran off to America with one – and to Souichi’s mind, all gay people are to be blamed. πŸ˜›

Despite all that Mori loves Souichi, but is he in for a difficult time. One night, Souichi accidently drinks an aphrodisiac Mori was given (very long story, that) and … Mori takes advantage of, uh, the situation. πŸ˜›

This is the oddest thing. There is a non-con scene in Vol.1. Yet … yet … the mangaka, Hinako Takanaga still makes it funny. Yes, it’s truly hilarious what happens “the day after”! I know, colour me amazed. Souichi demonstrates that he is no weepy uke despite the non-con. And that’s what I love about the guy.

After the whole non-con incident, Souichi is understandably enraged (a big understatement) and Mori is so guilty that he disappears for weeks. Surprised at his MIA-ness, Souichi begins to feel … anxious.

I won’t spoil the plot for you, and I don’t think I’m doing much justice to the story at all. Many would probably read it and say it’s another one of those yaoi things where the seme rapes the uke and they fall in love and live happily ever after. (shudder shudder)

The biggest pull Tyrant had for me was the comedy. I actually laughed out loud at certain scenes. My favourite parts were not the smexy scenes, but the small little incidentces like when Mori gives (or tries to) Souichi a haircut at the extra chapter in Vol.2 but gets overwhelmed by Souichi’s, uh, sexiness. Souichi of course … flips. And when he flips, blood is shed. Totally my favourite chapter ever.

(Though I have to say Takanaga really draws romantic smex scenes. No, I’m not kidding. Some yaoi have hot sex scenes, but it has a kind of dirty quality to it … this one makes you realise that there is some kinda love involved.)

Typically, the seme is always this broad-shouldered, manly, bullying type while the uke is a total girl. But Souichi, who is obviously the uke, is so bad-tempered and dominant that you really pity Mori for being in love with the guy. He’s arrogant, loud and short-tempered. (But he has a kind heart, really.) And Mori is a sweet, gentle guy who spends a lot of his time moaning at his bad luck for falling for Souichi (it’s funny, trust me) and weeping over Souichi’s exasperating behaviour. πŸ˜›

The two are really sweet together, and part of me went, ARGH when I found out Drama Queen licensed it because I really wanted to read more now. But better they than any other publisher as DQ does good work with their published works. They come very well translated and in high-quality materials.
Vol.2 is my favourite so far – I’ve only read Vol.1 and 2 – because it delves into Mori’s angsty past. πŸ˜› One has got to love that. We see how Mori’s family has turned their backs on him because of a scandal he was involved in back home that involved Mori’s brother’s best friend. Big bro is not too happy with Mori, and basically treats him like something you wipe your feet with.

Therefore, the real life issue of how homosexuality is not really an “acceptable” thing for some people and families is not swept under the carpet here. Very often we read yaoi where it takes place in a kind of alternate universe where everyone is so okay with homosexuality (that’s not bad, really) so it’s refreshing to read something real.

Again, it’s not the s3x scenes that do it for me but Mori’s relationship with his brother that I really found very touching. I want more of Nii-san! But not in the brotherxbrother way, okay?

Souichi is also a darling in this volume, as he comes to Mori’s defense. Awww.

The art is very nice … no complaints there. All in all, Tyrant is perfect to me. Comedy, romance, family angst … it has everything. Hopefully, some of you would like it as much as I do. πŸ™‚

And yeah, of course I’ll buy the DQ copies when it comes out … barring the customs doesn’t seize it … because I’ll cry a bucket of tears if they do.


What’s so hot about Hot Gimmick?

July 3, 2006

hotgimmick.jpgI know Hot Gimmick is a really popular shoujo manga, but I, for the life me, do not understand why. I read the first two volumes and the best way to explain my reaction after completing them is this: Reading Hot Gimmick turned my stomach.

So, there’s this girl Hatsumi who becomes a slave to the resident jerk in the company housing she and that bastard guy lives in. The asshole guy, Ryoki, is the son of the most powerful honcho in the company housing complex, and when he stumbles upon Hatsumi buying a pregnancy test for her sis, decides to use that to blackmail her. Smart.

Not only is the guy abusive – he calls her bitch and slut even until the 11th freaking volume – he molests her at every given opportunity. He just wants to lose his virginity and Hatsumi is the convenient method for him to do so. He also ocassionally hits her, grabs her and shoves her.

And yet people want these two to get together. What’s wrong with this picture?

Hatsumi has the backbone of a jelly, no, a paramesium. She keeps returning to the guy no matter how nasty he is. Yes, he’s had a bad childhood. And this gives you an excuse to treat your girlfriend like a piece of dirt?

So, my friend who is really into Hot Gimmick says that it gets better after Vol.3. After feeling physically ill after reading Vol.2, I’m not that eager to continue, but I’ve always been a slave to knowing what happens next, so I took a peek at later volumes. Argh, the man is as big an asshole as he is in Vol.1 & 2! Only instead of doing all of the above, he also doesn’t want her to talk to her brother! Cos his jealous! Lovely! I so heart Ryoki!
The short story to the long tale is that I just don’t understand why people, especially girls, like Hot Gimmick. Ryoki is the most unappealing shojo “hero” ever. In fact, I think he’s plain evil. It made my eyes pop that most people want Hatsumi and Ryoki to be together rather than nice-guy Shindou, or even Azusa (who is okay except that he wanted to use her to get back at her dad. Ok, he’s a jerk too).

Another friend who was turned off by Hot Gimmick said that she put down the book for good after a “near gang rape incident”, which made me go, WTF?? I could’ve sworn that Ryoki wanted to trade his darling slave to his friend so that his pal can have his way with Hatsumi, but I flipped the pages too fast (for fear of throwing up on the pages) to really be sure if it happened or I was delirious.
Anyway, there’s this much-quoted article: She Was Asking for It. It talks about the “unsettling themes” in shoujo manga. Quite an interesting read.

“Hot Gimmick is kind of like watching your own life unfold.”

Hot Gimmick, for those who don’t know, centers on a teenage boy blackmailing a teenage girl into performing sexual activities with him. When he’s not assaulting her, he’s referring to her as his “slave,” verbally abusing her at every available opportunity, and even pushed her down the stairs when the two of them were kids.

He’s her main love interest. An older-but-popular Hot Gimmick website here featured a reader’s poll where a whopping 62% of votes were in favor of the lead heroine ending up with the creep.

Is anyone else bothered by this? The love story in Hot Gimmick may be a fictional one, but readers finding it desirable implies that a submission fantasy strikes a chord with a number of readers. A complete submission fantasy with an abusive boyfriend. Hot Gimmick is well out of the “hot bad boy” waters–the heroine desperately needs therapy, and the hero, for all his actions, deserves a restraining order if not jail time. Is this sort of escapist fantasy actually considered romantic by some?

Not me!

Maybe I’m just too much of a feminist to enjoy Hot Gimmick. I can never look at abuse of any kind – verbal and physical – as a sign of affection like Hatsumi and the legion of Hot Gimmick readers do. There are far too many women caught in abusive relationships out there and who justify their boyfriends slurs and punches as “love” for me to sigh and shiver in pleasure as Ryoki calls Hatsumi a slut. As readers defended Ryoki’s virtue – bleargh – I can’t help but think that perhaps my brain is wired differently than theirs.

Anyway, I’m pretty late into this discussion. As evidenced in the article link I provided above, there’s a long string of people commenting about it already (look at the bottom of the article for the links).

Ok, maybe those who love Hot Gimmick can explain the appeal to me. Anyone?

Update: I thought I should include this review by Tangerine Dreams who said:

Everyone who reads it is appalled by the gender politics, yet the writing is so good that you’re sucked in like a coke addict. You really want Hatsumi to mature enough to be able to assert herself. The problem is that the male abusers are portrayed far too sympathetically, and Hatsumi’s method of dealing with abuse (blame it on herself, and apologize for “causing” it), is never questioned.

While Comics Worth Reading recommends Hot Gimmick:

The aftermath of Ryoki slapping Hatsumi in public is on view in book eight. He takes out his fear that he’s the only one who cares on her violently and then blames her for his outburst.

OMG, I don’t want to read this volume!!!!

The reader can view this book as a modern-day Cinderella story where the challenge is more threatening than cleaning a fireplace, or as a dramatization of the dangers of date rape when dealing with an immature teenage golden boy drunk on his own power, or a soap opera with a twisted triangle of attraction. The tension between the various readings and the sympathetic treatment of the character of Hatsumi keeps the reader involved.

Again, why is this popular??

One thing I can agree with the reviewers – the mangaka’s storytelling powress is up there with the best. Despite me disliking it so intensely, I still want to know what happens next. I suppose in some perverse way, we’re like voyeurs of an abusive relationship …


That’s right, there will be a yaoi category!

May 22, 2006

I was wondering whether I should, at first. Especially worried that people I know will stumble on this blog and say, “OMG! She reads yaoi!”

The common misconception people have about yaoi is that it’s gay porn. Yeah, admittedly some of the yaoi out there is nothing but gay porn. However, yaoi is orientated towards women and are mostly written by women. This is a concept I found difficult to believe in my pre-yaoi, shonen-ai days. Why would women want to read about gay relationships?

I spoke about this briefly in my post, Boys’ Love, anyone?, but basically it’s the idealised romantic notion of men, and women just like bishies … getting it on. cough. I really don’t understand myself, seriously. πŸ˜›

So, this category will just host my reviews on the yaoi out there – only what I consider worth mentioning, that is.

I’m not sure whether I should password protect these posts. Let’s see, let’s see …


The manga I’m collecting

May 22, 2006

Yesterday, I managed to put my manga in some semblance of order. They were lying in an undignified heap by my bed for a few weeks now, but now they're back on the bookshelves in my library safe and sound. From the pile, this is worth collecting:

Monster

monster.jpgWhat happens when you save the life of a child who grows up to be a vicious serial killer? This is what the manga is all about; it's a character-focused story, so we get to see all this from the perspective of a surgeon, Dr Tenma. The art is gorgeous, clean, realistic and neat. I can't wait to watch the 74-episodes anime!

Kekkaishi

This shonen manga is just so cute and hilarious! I love the art, which is classic shonen style. The humour is what makes collecting this manga worthwhile – Yoshimori comes from a family of kekkaishis who guard the site of an ancient site. This site is located at their school (of course), and Yoshimori and his neighbour, Tokine has to guard it every night. Yoshimori is in love with Tokine, who is older than him btw (refreshing!) but she's from a rival kekkaishi family and they believe tha they're the true heirs of the kekkaishi legacy. So, it's like Romeo and Juliet without the angst. πŸ˜‰

Descendants of Darkness

Although I find the shonen-ai bits overdone and overwrought (it's fanservice all the way!), I love the art, and I love the lead character, Tsuzuki and the angst he's put through. So lovable, yet he has a painful past, so kind and yet so capable of such destruction. πŸ™‚ Too bad the mangaka stopped producing and left the project halfway. Therefore, Vol.11 is the "last" volume, though I heard the mangaka will be continuing the story this year. She better …

Anne Freaks

anne.jpgThere's something about this disturbing manga that makes me want to read g the next volume. The characters are amoral, they don't regret killing people … but the secrets they have intrigue you so much you have to keep on reading! 

On the fence:

Blame

This sci-fi, apocalyptic tale enthralled me with its gritty art and deep story, but all the teasing for the final 3 volumes have gotten to me. If there aren't any answers soon, I feel like giving up.

Black Cat

Way better than the anime. And the story is very different too. But for now, although the art is good (I'm very particular about art in my manga. I don't buy manga with bad art no matter how good the story is) I don't feel for the characters. 

Manga I wished I never spent money on:

Deus Vitae

deus.jpgNo doubt the art is super-gorgeous. I've never seen such achingly detailed work, but there were too many nipples! The girls take every opportunity to striiip. At one point, a law officer decided to interrogate the main character by … yes, you heard me, "bonding" with him, which requires her to striiip of course. The abundance of nipple exposure just got to me – thank god it ended at the third volume. And oh yeah, the story – if only it was a good story. It had a lot of potential, however. Humanity has been almost eliminated by this cyborg called Eve who, in turn, created a race of super androids to take humanity's place. Now, humanity must defeat them somehow. The ending was silly.

I actually have way  more manga than this, but listing this all will take me days. πŸ˜›