Reviews written by commonlogic
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Better than I expected
I put off reading Gravity Eyes for quite some time, and when I finally got around to reading it, I was sad that I hadn't read it earlier. Tsumasaki ni Kiss, the pequel to Gravity Eyes is a bit of a dark horse favourite of mine -- one of those BL series that isn't particularly remarkable, but I've heartily enjoyed nonetheless. When I first read Tsumasaki ni Kiss, the only real low point in it for me was Homura's relationship with Kyouya.
I really didn't like Kyouya all that much. And so, I delayed reading Gravity Eyes for quite some time. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see that with a little more development, he became the kind of character that I could be interested in. There is a complexity to Kyouya that I just couldn't see in Tsumasaki ni Kiss because I was rooting for Touji and Homura's relationship to work out the way I wanted it to.
I actually found the romance plot in Gravity Eyes to be fairly moving -- something that doesn't happen to me particularly often, and I enjoyed the story and characters. I thought the kittens Milk and Bitter added a great deal of cute without making the story overwhemlingy saccharine. Overall I would recommend this manga to pretty well anyone, but it definitely isn't for those who only enjoy Hard yaoi.
Great part of a fun universe
Fuwa Shinri's Yakuza-ish series consists of three separate short mangas that can be read as a part of a series, or on their own. They are (in chronological order): "Zettai Unmei Houteishiki," "Tsumasaki ni Kiss," and "Gravity Eyes." All in all, I'd say that the whole series is pretty fun. The characters are all colourful and interesting and Fuwa-sensei's stories are quite good as well.
A Gentleman's Kiss is a story of forbidden love. Touji and Homura are both members of prominent yakuza families and those families do not get along particularly well. The two are both concerned that the situation between their families might make things difficult for their long-time romance.
The yakuza theme of A Gentleman's Kiss isn't as well-developed as it is in other BL series, such as Viewfinder or S, but it certainly adds a little spice to what would likely be a fairly generic BL romance otherwise. It's not particularly violent or graphic, so it is accessible to pretty well all BL fans -- even those just starting out. I would recommend this series, along with the rest of sensei's trilogy, to pretty well any BL reader.
Rin is probably one of my favourite BL manga. The story itself is not all that inventive or exciting -- I'd say it's a fairly typical schoolboy romance. That said, however, the addition of the sport of archery and some of the themes that come into it make this manga very charming. It's not for readers who are looking for something hardcore, but the romance develops nicely (with an appropriate amount of hurdles thrown in the way) and as I said before, it's very, very charming.
I have long been a fan of Honami Yukine's art, and it definitely doesn't disappoint in this series. Her facial expressions are fantastic and she is able to defly communicate the emotions of the characters. While some might find the softness and almost sketch-like quality of her art a little off-putting, I think that it matches perfectly with the tone of this manga. I wholeheartedly recommend this manga to anyone who likes a nice, sweet romance story.
This is probably one of the silliest series I've ever watched, and it occupies a special place in my heart. I know that there are some fans of the BL game who don't much like the anime due to the focus being the story between Keita and Kazuki, but I really like their story and I enjoy the lighthearted nature of the series in general.
I will say that I would never actually call Gakuen Heaven "good." There are a lot of series out there that I like a helluva lot better, but its total and utter silliness and, I believe, self-awareness of that, is fantastic. The series is, in many ways, the ultimate in high school male harem shenanigans (I think it could be called a less-witty younger cousin of Ouran High School Host Club). Keita, the protagonist, is a nice, but somewhat generic freshman, surrounded by attractive classmates who all absolutely adore him and would go to the mat for him for practically no reason at all. It's completely hilarious.
As I said, it's pretty cliche, but it never fails to bring a smile to my face. I'd recommend it to anyone in need of a good giggle or two.
Good, but not great
My biggest complaint about this series is the North American release, which has been published in tiny, tiny volumes that make it very hard for someone like me, who needs a new perscription for her glasses, to read it. Also, the translation is somewhat dubious and is a little awkward.
The thing I like best about this manga is the hilarious, but awesome, excuse for smut. Valdrigue, a prince, has been possessed by a demonic sword and seeks out Halvir, a wizard who specializes in breaking curses, to help him overcome his problem. In order to keep the demon from overtaking Valdrigue, Halvir seeps magical energy from him while the prince is in demonic form (which is basically just Vald with stripes -- it's sexier than I would've imagined) through sex. Yeah. Neat, eh?
In general, I do not require a story-based explanation for sex. I love my mindless smut and PWP as much as the next person, but I have to give Yamane sensei credit for coming up with this plot device. It also serves to bring dramatic tension to the romantic side of the story, because Valdrigue, when he's not in his demonic form, is completely unaware of what is going on. Ah, it kills me, it's marvellous. Makes me giggle almost every time I think of it.
One of the best BL anime
Junjo Romantica is a difficult series for me sometimes. I really have a bit of a love/hate relationship with it. There are aspects of it that I think are absolutely wonderful, and then there are aspects of it that make me almost continually roll my eyes. I think I should probably start out saying that I like the anime much better than the manga. The manga, for me, is a bit similar to Vampire Night: it's overdrawn, there's often too much going on in each panel, and it generally hurts my eyes. The anime art, however, is simplified and I find it much more attractive. The voice acting is also amazing, and I'm quite fond of a number of the cast members, so I suppose that helps as well -- voice acting can make or break a series for me.
All in all, it's a highly amusing romantic comedy. The characters are interesting and funny, and I love most of them to bits, although I'm not wild about the Terrorist pairing (Miyagi/Shinobu). I quite like Miyagi, but Shinobu annoys the hell out of me, so I find myself skipping a lot of that story arc.
I love the Romantica and Egoist pairings, however, warts and all. Misaki can get on my nerves sometimes, because I wish that he would just give up and admit that he loves Usami and enjoys having sex with him. I think what bothers me most about Misaki is the fact that he's all over the place with it, and he hasn't consistently developed at all. I understand that he's confused, but in some episodes/chapters he seems to have pretty definitively embraced at least some aspect of his relationship with Usami, only to be completely against it again in the next. He's so inconstistent that it's frustrating. Given the fact that he's young and likely had never even kissed anyone before Usami, I'm willing to forgive his confusion to a certain extent, but the mangaka seems to only be playing it up for shoujo romance dramatic effect and it's starting to get tiresome. His development could have been handled a lot better, and it's a shame, because he has the potential to be a pretty awesome and adorable character.
I love Usami. Usami makes me happy. Usami is not creepy -- Misaki being stupid makes him seem creepy, but he's not creepy. Eccentric? Yes. Domineering and selfish? Yes. Creepy? No. He is the self-indulgent writer to the enth degree, and I love it.
I love that Hiroki's reticence and aversion to romance has everything to do with who he is, and nothing to do with the fact that he's involved with a man. And I love Nowaki for putting up with it.
Naono Bohra is, in my opinion, one of the best BL mangaka currently publishing. Not only is her art beautiful, but she also introduces themes not ordinarily handled by other mangaka. Many of her characters possess slight disabilities or are older men who actually look like older men (rather than 40 year old characters who look like they’re 12). She is also adept at short-form storytelling, something that I believe other mangaka struggle with. In my opinion, Itsuka no Himitsu is her greatest achievement at bringing all of these things together.
Itsuka no Himitsu is my favourite BL manga apart from Yamane Ayano’s Finder series. Naono Bohra is one of the only mangaka (BL or no) who is capable of providing readers with such an interesting, well-characterized manga in such a short form. The story is romantic and touching without being overwhelmingly sappy or unrealistic. The characters are interesting, and despite how short the series is, they are not one-dimensional at all: sensei succeeds brilliantly at allowing readers to get to know their strengths and weaknesses.
I would recommend this series to just about anyone who likes BL.
One of the best BL series ever
In my opinion, this is one of the best BL series around. Period. A lot of this, however, has to do with my enjoyment of the subject matter in the series than with the fact that it's BL. I've always been a fan of noir, detective and gangster fiction and so enjoy the Yakuza aspects and its darker themes. Throw in Yamane Ayano's beautiful character models, interesting characters who develop nicely throughout, a great (if somewhat twisted) romance, and some of the best-drawn smut scenes you'll find in a BL manga and you have something really incredible.
Viewfinder doesn’t escape from many BL tropes that I sometimes find annoying, but it does handle them a little better than some other BL mangas I've read. At the beginning of the series, for example, Takaba Akihito, a photojournalist attempting to expose Asami Ryuuichi's criminal activities, is one of those resistant ukes that I tend to dislike in other series. In my opinion, however, this has more to do with the nature of his relationship with Asami than it has to do with Asami being a man. Their first sexual encounter, an attempt by Asami to "punish" Akihito's meddling in his business affairs, is a fairly brutal rape/mindfuck. To a character like Akihito, who seems pretty sexually inexperienced, it's easy to understand why he would be hesitant to engage in some kind of a relationship with Asami, male or not. The development of the relationship between Asami and Akihito after this first encounter, to me feels more like a tale of sexual awakening and the difficulties inherent in handling something like that (especially in this world of underground crime) than anything else -- at least on Akihito's end of things.
Viewfinder definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s an incredible series that deserves attention from BL fans.
Not as good as I expected
Didn't love this series as much as I was hoping I would. I definitely liked it -- there were some lovely short stories that I thought were genuinely romantic and moving, a rarity in yaoi manga for me. On the whole, however, it just didn't wow me. The art isn’t fantastic and I got a little tired of the fact that the vast majority of the pairings featured older men with young, often high school aged, boys. While age gaps don't bother me -- I actually quite like them most of the time -- I would've liked a little more variety in the pairings. It would've been nice to see two older characters or two younger characters get involved with one another as well.
The art in the series is, really, not very good, even considering the time when the series was started. I'm not a huge fan of early to mid 90s manga art, but art sometimes tends to grow on me a little bit if I really love the story and characters in a series. This time around, none of it did enough for me and I just didn't fall in love with it (although the art does improve to a great extent by the end of the series). I honestly don't really get why the series is so well-loved. I get why it's liked, but not loved.
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