Losing everything doesn’t seemed to have slowed me down. At this point, it’s kind of a relief.
Sina Grace: Not My Bag – This is not BL, but the main character is gay or, maybe, bi.
Yamashita Tomoko: The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window V02 – I kind of want to say, “now it’s getting interesting,” but that would be a belated and gross understatement.
Kurahashi Tomo: Tomodachi Ijou no Koto, Shitai – I liked it for the most part; it was kind of cute. I think the way Kurahashi uses side characters is nice.
Kizu Natsuki: Yukimura-sensei to Kei-kun – Now the extra under the Links cover makes sense. I’m particulary taken by Aki and Seiji’s story. I did like the title story but it was not as good as Strangler Fig. I’d love to see Terashima’s story, Kitakami might be interesting as well.
Koizumi Kiyo: Baka de Guzu wa Daikirai – I liked it well enough, but I was particularly fond of Haru’s internal dialogue. I didn’t like Sou-chan, but I liked him as a character. The second story was decent. Neither of them wowed me, but I liked the characters and I’ll definitely read it again.
Owaru: Kichiku Encount – What…?
Syaku: Aioi Musubi V01 – I liked this and even though the consummation was brief compared to the number total pages, it was such a good payoff considering the pacing and tone of the story. It was such a common scene, but they way the story unfolded made the moment Kouta finally took Mako-san into his arms incredibly sexy. The only thing is that I was confused about Mako-san’s relationship with Arimasa and Fugino, but that didn’t hurt the story in anyway.
Kawai Hideki: Thank You My God – From the cover, I thought it could go one of two ways: 1) I’d enjoy it, possibly enough to read again or 2) I’d drop it before the end of the first chapter. It’s the embrace. It gave off a feeling of cherishing rather than possessiveness, but I could have been wrong. Thankfully I wasn’t.
Nico leaves home without a word and finds himself in a village where he comes to make a life for himself while he tries to figure out if he should die or not. That’s not what the synopsis reads, of course, but that’s what the story is about. The first two chapters are about the present and then the third chapter takes us back to Nico’s first days in the village and his first encounter with Eri. In the fifth and sixth chapters, we learn the circumstances under which Will, Nico’s brother, comes to find him. Eri and Nico are more than friends, but neither one of them are sure about that and Will is in love with Nico. This is not a sweet story. There are touching moments, there’s sex and love, there’s heartbreak and things do end well, and while I wouldn’t call it heavy, it’s definitely not light reading. I did enjoy it enough to read again, though not yet. One thing I realized when I got to chapter six is that, for the most part, it didn’t feel like I was reading a BL manga. I guess I appreciate that.
Kirimi Yuya: Hananie – Gyoan is a kimono artisan who only makes one bolt of fabric every season. The Kuzuhara family has been selling his kimonos for at least three generations. The first time Katsura, the current generation. meets Gyoan, he is visiting to ask for a favor out of season. Of course this is an unreasonable request for which Katsura says he’ll do anything to be granted. It’s an average premise that, in the right hands, could be a really good story, but Kirimi goes for the status quo and delivers your usual BL fare. I’m not going into, but certain circumstances beyond what I’ve mentioned makes their meeting inevitable and this particular trope always seems like cheating to me. Cheating by the writer, not the couple. It also is just a touch on the creepy side because of the age Katsura was when the circumstances were born. Other than some definite eye rolling, I didn’t expect much from this to begin with, but I also didn’t expect it to hit an ick nerve.
Suzukura Hal: Kamatte Hoshii no – Enh. Though this might be good for a square on my BL Reading Bingo card.
Takumi You: Never Let Go – I’m not always satisfied with Takumi’s works. There haven’t been any that I hated, but some times they’re a little flat. However, she usually includes at least one moment that detours from the usual way a BL scene would play out. In this story, it was the uke not running away. I love seeing someone get kissed unexpectedly and go back in for more. It’s the best! I also like when the conflict is not really about whether or not they love each other at all or in the same way, but rather they do, but their circumstances and responsibilities are what keeps them apart. And that’s why I could appreciate the ending of this story. Also, I like how the side characters got their own chapter and how it connected with the main couple.
Mizushiro Setona: Itsuka Sukida to Itte – I’ve had this on my to-read list for a ridiculously long time, but for a reason I can’t quite explain, I’m only reading it now. It was a very sad story and I was very confused. Not so much about the story–well, the story a little bit, too, because I’m still sorting some things out–but about who was who. Platinum and Chigaya looked very similar and I may or may not understand why, but unless Platinum and Topaze were in the flat near the border, I wasn’t always sure who was talking to who. I worked it out by the end, but it was kind of dizzying. Kouno wore glasses and Topaze had dark hair, so it was easy to keep them straight. Anyway, like I mentioned, it was very sad, but it was interesting, too, especially with the twist at the end. Leave it to Mizushiro for that kind of twist–hiding in plain sight. She’s so good at that.
Hakutou Noriko: Ai wo Kou Kemono – Wow…it was… It fell so flat that I rolled my eyes when someone died. The art…well that was kind of a mishmash of Nakamura Shungiku, Kotobuki Tarako, and Fujikawa Ruri before they knew what anatomy was. Also, the faces remind me of someone else’s earlier work but I can’t remember who. I kept reading because I really needed to know how it all came together. I already knew it was going to be uninspiring and I was not disappointed.
Okuyama Puku: Ichi Ni no San! – Sometimes I’m put off by her art because the characters look so young, all bright-eyed and prepubescent. Though I can’t deny that I enjoy the stories regardless. It’s a friends to lovers story. The main couple was cute, but my favorite part of the whole story is what became of the bullies.
Ichikawa Kei: Hello Again – The story was good, as expected. Ichikawa has the market cornered on my interest in high school romance. I certainly don’t dislike them–there are so many that I love–but, as a sub-genre, they generally lack a certain something, something I can relate to or believe, but it all works for me when it’s flowing from Ichikawa’s pen. Hiroto and Kouki really had that childhood friend feeling. Their reunion was just a bit awkward since they didn’t talk about why they separated and even though Kouki was working really hard at convincing himself of certain things, their reunion felt natural. Sometimes, when things seem A-OK, something happens to add drama and fill up the rest of the book, but those events aren’t always to the benefit of the story. Hello Again’s speed bump was perfect and I can’t imagine a better way for the story to have progressed. Also as expected, great female characters. What I didn’t expect was to not like the end, well, the extra. It would have been fine if it wasn’t for Hiroto’s refusal to admit one way or the other what Kouki had admitted to and considering how Kouki feels, that’s going to be a pretty big issue. Also, I don’t like when people pin something that should be a mutual decision between the parties involved on something outside of their relationship, like whether or not personA succeeds in accomplishing something. It would be different if I thought Hiroto was joking about that contingency, but I don’t think he was. So, it was good until the end.
Aniya Yuiji: Renai Saiban no Yukue – I think the most interesting thing was the Useless Girl series.
Shisito Karari: Hatsukoi Switch – I could have done without some parts, but it was cute.
Kizu Natsuki: Given V01 – The wait for the next volume… If I didn’t already know, after reading this, I’d have to say that if volume two maintained the pace of volume one, there’d definitely be a third volume. I can’t call four until I read two, though. It’s a struggle already. Uenoyama choking Haruki over Mafuyu’s love song; Mafuyu calling Uenoyama, waking him up when Kasai couldn’t, wanting to interrupt that moment. Haruki’s unacknowledged feelings. Yayoi and Kaji. All of that on top of Mafuyu’s past and the groundwork has been laid for the shedding of copious amounts tears. While I get this sort of Kyuugou foreboding vibe and Kizu has had some rather not-so-happy endings, I think this is either going to end with Kizu-level happiness, or if it is ambiguous, it’ll lean towards the happy end. So, I’ll happily suffer through this.
Ichikawa Kei: Sore o Koigokoro to Yobu no Nara – Well, Ichikawa is still doing her thing, keeping me interested in high school boys, but I can’t say that I loved this one. There were a few things that I could have done without, but most the “slightly gross” conversation at the end kind of ruined it for me.
Kousaka Akiho: Dokusen Kenrisho – Even when the story attempts to circumvent certain tropes, it can still fail. This wasn’t an utter failure, but it reads like nearly every time Kousaka reached a point where turning right was the typical BL route, they would turn left, writing the exact opposite. And while that tells a different story, it’s neither engaging story nor particularly creative.
Kojima Lalako: Paradise View V01 – I liked Kimi to Parade; I gave it a 3.5 when I was still scoring titles. Kojima just has this way of delivering sadness in soft breezes so that even when the ending is happy, the chill of sadness is never forgotten. She seems to have upped her game in this continuation. This is only volume one and the ending was not happy. But while reading up to that point, instead of a soft breeze, there was ceaseless draft of cold air flowing from the beginning. If you’ve read her oneshot, Nanadome no Gomenne, just imagine the mounting sadness of those 20 or so pages stretched out into an entire volume. I can’t wait to read the second volume.
Sakura Riko: I Love You, Coward – A guy who breaks out in hives when he’s made aware of people’s affections for him. This was cute, although the reason for Hina’s condition could have been better or more interesting or just not written so awkwardly. It was almost like the whole story was written without it and then, at the last minute, they realized they didn’t include the backstory and only had a few pages to available to make the adjustment. This was much better than the last one I read by her.