spindizzy: (OMG spoilers)
[personal profile] spindizzy posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
So, uh, funny story. I decided last week that reading twenty-eight books in a week was a totally doable plan if I stuck to graphic novels, and if I did that I would finish my reading challenge! Which is obviously madness and never to be attempted, and did I mention that I did that?

A screencap of the 'Reading challenge complete!' button from Goodreads and a chart showing 151/150 completed.


READING GOAL COMPLETE!

Part of my brain keeps being like "It's all graphic novels and manga and trade paperbacks, those don't count!" and I keep having to remind myself that yes they do. They are real books and it's still an achievement! ... That said though, oh man, there is so much prose in my future.

This week though, my continuing adventures in BL manga. As a reminder from last time: anything in the list with an asterisk next to it contains actual or attempted non-consensual/dubiously consensual sex, the jump tags SHOULD let you navigate around if you want to avoid those.

Books, Graphic Novels, and Manga read:
  1. Weekend Lovers by Kiriko Fuwa * [Jump]

  2. Oh My God! Volume One by Natsuho Shino [Jump]

  3. You Will Fall In Love by Hinako Takanaga [Jump]

  4. You Will Drown In Love Volume One by Hinako Takanaga * [Jump]

  5. The Moon and the Sandals Volume One by Fumi Yoshinaga [Jump]

  6. The Moon and the Sandals Volume Two by Fumi Yoshinaga [Jump]

  7. Hero Heel Volume One by Makoto Tateno *[Jump]

  8. Our Everlasting Volume One by Touko Kawai [Jump]

  9. Our Everlasting Volume Two by Touko Kawai * [Jump]


Books, Gra - Ah, who am I kidding, it's all just manga


Cover of Weekend Lovers Cover of Oh My God! Volume One Cover of You Will Fall In Love


1. Weekend Lovers by Kiriko Fuwa [Top]
Okay, this is one of those manga volumes where the title story is fine and the secondary stories are not for me. The first two stories are tropey as all hell; it's a strait-laced business man with a more laid-back boyfriend, and they have problems like broken glasses and misunderstandings about coworkers and only being able to meet up at the weekends because they're busy! It's cute, even if bits of it led to me going "HOW ARE YOU BOTH SO CARELESS?!" at the page.

The next story is... Okay, spoilers, it's a guy who fantasises about kidnapping and raping one of his employees, only to find out that his employee also wants to kidnap and rape him. THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT, THIS IS REALLY SERIOUSLY NOT WHAT I WANT. Like, props to the creator for making it creepy as all actual hell, but I think I would still rather re-read Love Will Tear Us Apart; or, The Modern Pygmalion by Tsuzukibon Saruko, and that is hardcore nightmare fuel. (It's free to read on Shousetsu Bang*Bang if you want to check it out but also has pretty much every trigger warning going.) The story after that has a guy find out his crush (and supervisor) is gay, so he... Blackmails him into dodgy unsafe sex (when I say unsafe, I mean "Even I don't like stationery that much" levels of unsafe), and I straight up just skimmed over this story because what the actual fuck.

(There's another story in the middle here, but I can't remember what happened in it beyond the central joke, so.)

Not gonna lie though, the story at the end with the man in a maid costume dating the butler of the house did make me happy – not so much for the crossdressing, but for the way the relationship builds? It's prickly and involves Dramatic Gestures and that is my jam!

... I'm not sure if I'd read this volume again? A 50/50 split of "stuff I like" and "stuff I don't" isn't bad, but I could also just read stuff that doesn't have any rape in it and not have to skip so much!

2. Oh My God! Volume One by Natsuho Shino [Top] -- Okay, I'm actually quite tempted to track down the rest of this series if I can, even though I'm not sure the publisher is still in business. It feels like a cross between Tactics and what I remember of Genju no Seiza, and that is a fusion I can get behind.

Okay, for those who have read Tactics, run through this premise with me: a young man lives in a temple run by a conman (by the family's own admission), and finds a sealed object (in this case a sword) in the back room, from which he accidentally frees a magical being (who has amnesia) by naming it! People who have read Genju No Seiza: the protagonist accidentally magical beings (I THINK they're described as spirits but my copy is in a different suburb right now), at least one of whom thinks he is the reincarnation of an ancestor, and together they exorcise ghosts and get rid of evil spirits.

So yeah, it's pretty much your generic occult kinda-detective/kinda "gotta catch em all: magic edition" manga, only considering that it's being published as a BL series, the queerbaiting might actually lead to something! MY MIND IS BLOWN.

It's a lot of fun! It's got all of the cute and mild horror and I really enjoyed it. Jade's awkward crush on the protagonist is pretty great and well done, and Yuto is your standard "I am totally the straight man in any comedy skit who has no magical powers, none at all, what do you mean I'm a sorcerer" protagonist. THis is about what I want from an occult detective, even if it's generic, so I enjoyed it.

3. You Will Fall In Love by Hinako Takanaga [Top]
I was really, really rooting for this to be like The Moon and the Sandals, where the teacher tells the student with a crush to sit down and start dating someone his own age (I shipped the teacher and the archer, ngl), and I ended up disappointed.

Okay, so, the plot. A substitute teacher starts at a new school, and discovers that one of his pupils a) is the brother of his ex-best friend, and b) has had a crush on him since the dawn of time. So far, so standard. The student is a champion archer! Which the teacher used to be as well, until he gave it up when he realised he had a crush on his male best friend. Not just to avoid the friend, but because he "didn't want to pollute archery" with his queerness.

TAKE A MINUTE GUYS.

I SURE FUCKING NEEDED TO.

Like, that gets called out for the bullshit it is! The student with a crush sets out to prove that being queer does not mean that you can't be an archer! THANK YOU, NARRATIVE, FOR NOT LEAVING THAT UNENGAGED. (You know, I have seen stories where the younger generation have had to model being okay with queerness for the older, but I don't think I've seen it since I read Heroine Addiction.)

I... Am mostly ambivalent about this one, I think because I was rooting for a different couple to get together. It's not terrible? The mentor-style relationship and the trade off of who is mentoring who is quite nice, and the crush has its moments? But I did genuinely want the teacher to get together with his best friend, so I was always going to be a little disappointed by how this story shook out.

Cover of You Will Drown In Love Cover of The Moon and the Sandals Volume One Cover of The Moon and the Sandals Volume Two


4. You Will Drown In Love by Hinako Takanaga [Top]
WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL, MANGA, WE COULD HAVE HAD IT ALL! We had an attractive couple who were learning from each other, and a fun story of learning How To People despite really struggling with it! And then you fucking ruined it by having the emotionally competent character go "You know what we need? We need to sexually assault my love interest because he's emotionally dense. And then play it off like it's nothing. And then maybe do it again!" YOU WERE DOING SO WELL UNTIL THAT POINT. *head in hands*

Okay, apart from that, it wasn't bad! It's set before/during the events of You Will Fall In Love, from the POV of the best friend from that, and seeing the way it interweaves... Isn't terrible? I am somewhat salty at the way the relationship between the archer and the teacher is portrayed as a whim, something that the protagonist of this volume accidentally put into his head? But it's nice that you get the brother's take on his sibling relationship (Spoilers, most of the problems with that sibling relationship is the archer is FUCKING TERRIBLE AT PEOPLE). I also liked seeing the archer guy learn functional social skills and how to run a shop, and how the protagonist slowly grows to respect him. But...

Ugh, I am so frustrated by this one, because I was genuinely rooting for this relationship! And the last scene is really cute! And characters influencing each other to grow and change for the better is my jam! But there's just this wodge of betrayal in the middle of the book that makes me want to throw it across the room. :\

5. The Moon and The Sandals Volume One by Fumi Yoshinaga [Top]
And of course after I finished with the You Will books, I had to go back and reread The Moon and The Sandals, because it was what I wanted those to be.

There is a student who has a crush on his teacher who attempts to act on his feelings in this book too, only to find out that his teacher already has a boyfriend! There is that student moving on from one crush to another and it not being the end of the world! And, unusually for a BL manga, there's an emotionally significant female character! (Bless Fumi Yoshinaga, she always has at least one, even if there's only one.)

I really like this one! Fumi Yoshinaga's art goes from spare and pretty to silly and cartoony and back again in the space of a page (Her art is so great. Especially how she handles dramatic scenes with minimal details! And respect for being able to do an attractive sex scene that focuses predominantly on the characters' faces.) The relationship between Kobayashi (the student) and Giant (his second crush) builds slowly and with all of the awkwardness that you'd expect from ridiculous teenage boys. The relationship between Ida and Hashizume (the teacher and his chef boyfriend, because what Yoshinaga series is complete without at least one cook?) is adorable and runs on misunderstandings due to them not being great at expressing or interpreting feelings. (But the feelings when they get expressed! Are adorable and well-thought out! My heart. And Hashizume's long pauses are perfect for comedic and dramatic timing.)

I'm impressed that Fumi Yoshinaga actually engages with homophobia at least a little? No one in Kobayashi's class believes he's gay. Giant has a homophobic freak-out in his past that leads to misanthropy in the present. Ida and Hashizume have trouble getting a flat together because they telling landlords they're a couple isn't an option and no one wants to rent to single men (and the solution they come up with to this! ;_; )

And on the topic of shifting mentor-roles, which we were in You Will Fall In Love, Fumi Yoshinaga specifically raises the point of "You're the only gay man he knows, who else is he going to ask for advice?" regarding Kobayashi and Ida, but also has Kobayashi modelling relationships and bravery and research for Ida! It's weird comparing the two series because it's handled so differently and it's with such different stakes? There's no ulterior motive in Kobayashi helping Ida! There's nothing riding on it for him! Compared to the characters in You Will Fall In Love, where the whole thing has stakes bound up in it, I... I actually prefer this approach.

The two page spread of Naru (Kobayashi's female best friend) having her heart broken is really quietly devastating by the way. I like that the story actually engages with her feelings at least a little, especially when her brother ends up dating the guy she has a crush on. (I think that was a really common YA trope for a while a couple of years back, wasn't it? But I've not read any of those so I can't tell you how it compares -- I can tell you that I like that she wasn't upset that her brother and best friend were dating, but that they didn't think they could tell her, at least mostly.)

Basically, I really enjoy it and if you've not read a Fumi Yoshinaga manga before this is a pretty good place to start!

6. The Moon and The Sandals Volume Two by Fumi Yoshinaga [Top]
This is kinda a collection of one-shots following the characters from volume one as they grow up and graduate and change jobs! The narrative is obviously more fractured and covers a lot more time than the previous volume, but I really like seeing that all of the characters are okay! ;_;

(The sex is a lot more graphic in this one, fair warning if you were planning to read it on your commute. And the invisible cocks roam wild and free here.)

Everyone's story arcs make me happy. Hashizume being bad at expressing happiness and Ida not very good at understanding his own feelings! (Also, Hashizume's employee is GREAT and that story led to the best reaction panel I've seen in a manga in a while.) Giant is also bad at expressing his feelings, but he's good at dramatic gestures so the approaches feel different. (Plus, the story arcs about Giant arranging his life and coming out are quite well done, for Naru's reactions and for his handling of his boss!) Plus, Giant manages to grow as a human being over these two volumes and STILL be a self-centred jerk. And oh god, the entire lead up to Ida coming out tells you THIS IS NOT GOING TO GO WELL. ;_;

I think the story that is handled the best is the one where someone asks Naru if she's okay. It's just her head and shoulder in panels with blank backgrounds, but the emotionally significant silences and her expressions are really good? And I am so glad she's going to be okay, which sounds ridiculous but it's true! (This is why the story arc about Naru's friends trying to look after her is so delightful.)

I still enjoyed this one, but it's definitely an anthology sort of thing.

Cover of Hero Heel Volume One Cover of Our Everlasting Volume One Cover of Our Everlasting Volume Two


7. Hero Heel Volume One by Makoto Tateno [Top]
Okay, thing you need to know about me: I used to have a weakness for super-sentai shows. Like, "mainlining Kamen Rider Kabuto and Garo, put all of the fic in my face, using episodes to time cakes in the oven" levels of weakness! And I currently have massive Skip Beat feels, because shoujo manga around actors' emotional drama is apparently where I live! SO: how about a BL manga about a young actor in a super-sentai show!

(It's by the creator of Yellow. This should have been a warning and yet I missed it.)

The acting scenes are a lot of fun; watching the protagonist try and fail and try until he actually tries to understand what makes these shows fun. It was almost therapeutic watching someone who started off dismissing an entire genre slowly coming round, and growing as an actor, and the glimpses we've got of the show look really good. The main relationship was a bit hit and miss -- the part where they were challenging each other and respecting each other's skills was good! The part where the love interest was casually going "You're just freaking out because you've never met a gay man before" frustrated me a lot because goodness me, the gay panic was bad. But it wasn't bad! I'm not a fan of the art style necessarily, but it's not terrible?

In fact, WE WERE DOING SO WELL UNTIL THE PROTAGONIST EXTORTED THE LOVE INTEREST INTO SEX WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.

Seriously, it wasn't bad despite the minor frustration of the leads bouncing off each other socially in a much worse way than professional and I was enjoying it AND THEN. Like, it's literally blackmailing him into having sex and then being sad that he shat all over that relationship. What the fuck. I wanted to root for this relationship and then! This! My disappointment is mighty and it makes me sad.

8. Our Everlasting Volume One by Touko Kawai [Top]
Hmmm. This is one of those books where the relationship drama is... Intense... But I'm pretty sure it could all be solved in a single conversation if everyone wasn't so busy yelling and running away! A surfer dude and a sleepy language student are awkwardly in love! It's got a somewhat awkward art style and it feels dense -- I can't work out if it's due to the panel layout or the amount of text on the page or both. Like, it was okay? It is one of those where it's mostly bland? It's not bad, but it didn't really stick with me.

The side story, though, is... SURE A THING. An art professor with a potentially fatal heart condition that he's not getting treated is banging a student (I don't THINK of his, I think they're different disciplines, but), and they're both unsatisfied because the student wants reciprocal orgasms and will cheat on the professor to get them because... If the professor has an orgasm he'll die? I don't even know how that's supposed to work and I'm not sure I'm willing to do the google searches to find out. It just felt badly handled to me and I didn't care about any of the characters, so their "Do we break up? Do we actually talk about our relationship and fear of death without it being a fight in the middle of sex?" drama didn't interest me.

9. Our Everlasting Volume Two by Touko Kawai [Top]
I found out where I know the art style from! All through the first volume, I was sure that I knew it from somewhere, and it turns out that the side-story at the back of this book is the same one that's at the back of In The Walnut Volume 1! I am so glad to have cleared that one up, it was bothering me. (In the Walnut was fun, btw, it's structured like an anthology mystery series but involves a lot more committing art fraud.)

My reaction to this volume is a lot more mixed than to the last one, which is why I've kept them sperate instead of mixing them into one entry. In general, it's fine? But each story arc has something that got on my wick.

Like, what the fuck was that biphobic story arc?! That can fuck the fuck off. There is a character who LITERALLY spends an entire chapter going "You should dump your bisexual boyfriend and date me! An openly gay man! Because your boyfriend, despite being monogamous with no interest in anyone else, is inevitably going to dump you to date a girl." What the fuck. Like, I get he was an antagonist, but that's still not what I'm here for.

The story arc after that was going great (I am here to appreciate characters appreciating other characters in suits, what can I say), right up until the point one of the characters had a jealous freak-out and is implied to have attacked the other. WHAT. NO. IS NO STORY SAFE?! Why did that happen!?

But the story arc that really gets my goat is the one that boils down to "Well, ONE of us is going to have to give up on our goals!" and I am pretty fucking salty about it. One character wants to study in France! One has the opportunity to be a professional surfer! Inevitably, they cannot work this out through long-distance relationships and compromise, so the one has to give up for the other. I think I've run into this trope every week for a month, now, and I am so sick of it.

The baby story at the end wasn't my thing, and I was super done with this book by the time I got to it, but people who like kidfic might enjoy it? Our Heroes are looking after a small child, the one that hates kids is slowly won over because that's how these stories work.

... I have read worse! I have probably read worse today. That doesn't stop this being a little disappointing.

Books In Progress


The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley (Okay, funny story: I actually finished this on Tuesday, shrieked a little, and now I'm reading it over again. Partly because I enjoyed it, and partly because I want to re-read it and see if there is any lead-in to some of the late-game things the book does with Grace. Also I want to write fic I MEAN)

Reading Goals


Books read so far: 86/150 (9 new this post; this number is officially just being the number of things I've talked about now, I think.)
New-to-me female creators: 40/100 (2 new this post.)
#unofficialqueerasfuckbookclub: 8! Full house!
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