MANGA MONDAY: Ten Count 1 – 3

Today’s #MangaMonday is coming a bit late due to a minor technical issue with my hydro, but better late than never!

Since I was horribly sick last week, I didn’t have much energy for reading, however I managed to catch up this weekend by reading the first three volumes of Takarai Rihito’s yaoi series, Ten Count. Takarai’s art is so gorgeous, that is what initially drew me to the series but I also can’t help but be intrigued when I find manga that’s shrinkwrapped.

Now, I should mention here that this is not a “boy love” manga. This is 100% NSFW and is rated for Mature Adults with explicit content. I won’t go into much detail about that aspect of the manga, but please understand that minors shouldn’t read this series.

Ten Count follows Shirotani, a corporate secretary, and Kurose, a mental health counsellor, as the two work together to help Shirotani with his OCD and symptomatic germaphobia. However, as the two see each other more and more, their professional relationship begins to turn into something more and neither of them is sure if that’s something they can handle – but for very different reasons.

I like the way the relationship starts in this series, and I do like how in the first volume Kurose isn’t pushy but rather very understanding. Volumes two and three got a little more… intense… I still really enjoyed the next two volumes, however, the explicit scenes felt actually pushy to me. For a yaoi manga, that’s nothing new but I guess I was expecting a slower burn for this series. Regardless of what I was expecting, Takarai is a wonderful artist and author and at the end of each volume she mentions how she is building a more Dom/Sub relationship between Shirotani and Kurose so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

I give these first three volumes an average of 4 out of five stars. And with that dirty cliffhanger at the end of volume three, I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the rest of the series.

MANGA MONDAY: Classmates「complete series review」

This week a week of love, so let’s talk real romance!

For today’s Manga Monday I read the complete three-volume series, Classmates, by Nakamura Asumiko and really enjoyed them. The series follows Hikaru and Rihito’s relationship as it goes from friends to more. Hikaru first notices Rihito when his class is told they need to sing in a musical recital and takes it upon himself to tutor the shy boy. As the two start to grow closer – along with the graduation – things get more complicated and the two need to learn to think of each other as much as they think of themselves.

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Like come on, this art is perfection.

I loved the honesty in this series, the rawness and impulsivity of teenage boys. Hikaru and Rihito get mad over things that don’t make much sense and make up just as quickly as couples do when they’re sixteen. Even the art style, which is rough around the edges and raw in parts, really captures the exact tone of the story at every moment. It’s so hyper-stylized and it’s just stunning from cover to cover. Even the goofy little doodles between chapters that are mostly just Hikaru bothering Rihito are so cute, I fell in love with the two of them right away.

The only take away that I didn’t like was their teacher Hara-sen. He came off a bit overly pervy in my opinion, but the translated jokes where Hikaru called him “Hara-ssment” were so funny I died.

At only three volumes, Nakahara’s series is a good one to pick up and is really full of sweetness and light. Another good starting point for those looking for a good boy-love series.

REVIEW: Seven Days [Monday→Sunday]

To continue on my romance manga binge for the month of February, the series review of the week is Seven Days by Tachibana Venio and Takarai Rihito.

The edition published in English is a complete collection of the original two-volume series that follows upperclassman, Shino Yuzuru, and first-year, Seryo Toji, over their weeklong romance after Yuzuru asks Toji out on an impulsive whim. Toji is the school heartthrob who never has a girlfriend longer than a week, and Yuzuru is…well he’s an idiot in princely dress that the girls break up with once they get a look at his impulsive personality. Despite their flaws, the two boys seem perfect for each other but will they both come to the same conclusion once Sunday comes?

I really enjoyed this manga. It was a fast read and the art is absolutely stunning. Yuzuru made me laugh because of how dense he can be and Toji is a total babe. The story was paced wonderfully and I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

Reading this reminded me of how much I really enjoy fluffy boy-love manga and how comforting the nonchalance of the background characters is. So Yuzuru might be dating the most popular underclassman in the school? Cool beans. It’s just so nice to read these stories without a hint of homophobia or judgement and just bask in the cute, happy vibes.

Having read this while sick, it was a real pick-me-up and I would recommend to anyone looking for a softer yaoi manga to get into.

(LATE) MANGA MONDAY: No Longer Human

On Monday, I mentioned I was swapping things around and doing a regular book review so that I could share my review of the manga adaptation today.

The book in question is Dazai Osamu’s novel, No Longer Human, but adapted to the manga format by Japanese body horror king, Junji Ito.

Before I continue, this review contains trigger warnings for suicide, infanticide, violent imagery, and sexual assault.

So similarly to the novel (the review of which you can read here), this was a difficult one to get through. While I am very familiar with the content and the story of No Longer Human, Ito took this one to a whole other dimension. The story, itself, is heavily inspired by Dazai’s own life and there were certainly more elements of truth in the manga as well as far more fantastical horrors.

Unlike Ito’s other major works, his adaptation of No Longer Human was less focused on body horror and far more tuned into the psychological trauma that comes with the tortures Yozo faces. What was merely implied in the source material, was presented without apologies in the manga, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or not. The sexual assault in the beginning and even throughout the story was intense and felt like it was too much given the format of the storytelling, however the ways Yozo is consistently taken advantage of is still so important to his story arc and the way his relationships (or lack thereof) are formed.

On top of that, there was far more death, far more suicide, and a lot heavier darkness. Dazai was not a happy man, and it can be seen throughout his short life by reading his novels and his stories. But the way that Ito really needles out the underlying sadness and turns it into something so solid and real it’s impossible to ignore as he beats you to death with it. Again, I’m conflicted by the emotions this manga drew from me because on the one hand it was a lot to process and manage, but on the other hand, it felt so real when it comes to how dangerous unchecked mental illness can be. It shows how important it is to really care for those who are suffering.

I loved the inclusions of Dazai himself as a character. I loved Ito’s artwork as I always do. But this was a rough one. Junji Ito is one of those mangakas who I rarely recommend because of how tricky it can be to navigate horror tolerance thresholds, but if you’re already familiar (and unbothered) with his work this is one to check out for sure.

 

MANGA MONDAY: Jujutsu Kaisen

A new series I want to do here is Manga Monday, a day dedicated to manga reviews to introduce new readers to some good series as well as keep up to date on titles for current readers. I’m hoping to talk about old and new series and look forward to spreading the love for manga of all kinds!

For this first Manga Monday, I decided to read a brand new title that was just released in English in December 2019. The series opening volume of Jujutsu Kaisen follows Itadori Yuji after the death of his grandfather as he and a mysterious student from Jujutsu High School seak out a cursed talisman before it can cause mass destruction. While trying to save his friends, Yuji takes an incredibly dangerous risk and becomes a vessel for the hyper-powerful being known as Sukuna, and ends up tangled in a bigger mess than he originally signed up for.

I really loved the key idea of this series focusing on fear and loss and how those negative and worrying emotions are typically the route causes of supernatural activity around Japan. The way the curses (depicted as slimy or hairy monsters) manifest was really neat as the different levels – both in terms of danger ranking and general intelligence – are determined by how the curse was originally formed. Volume 1 is definitely an introductory volume, but what I will say about it is that while I really appreciated that it wasn’t full of info-dumping, I would have loved a little more background about the Jujutsu Sorcerers and how the academy scouts their students or how the students even get their abilities in the first place.

That being said, for a debut manga, mangaka Akutami Gege’s style is wonderful. The character designs are reminiscent of early Kubo Tite (best known for Bleach) in a way that is both wonderfully nostalgic and yet still very new. I really am excited to see this series grow in both content and style and would recommend it to fans of BleachParasyte and maybe even Tokyo Ghoul.

I give this volume a solid 4.5 out of 5, with points only docked for my want of more background information on the characters and the rules of their powers, but I’m sure all will be revealed in the next volume or two.

MANGA REVIEW: Monster (Perfect Edition) Volume 1

I’ve once again fallen victim to a reading slump, but a number of people said that I should try reading a volume of manga or a graphic novel to break it. While I think the slump is still in effect, it does feel lighter.

The manga I chose to read was Naoki Urasawa’s hit Monster, an intense drama that crosses several genres. It’s a series I’ve wanted to read for a long time and I’m so happy I finally have!

Dr. Kenma Tenzo is a prodigy of a neurosurgeon from Japan that is on the up-and-up at a hospital in Germany. With a beautiful fiance and the potential of reaching Cheif Surgeon, Kenma is living the dream life. But when his job as a doctor is being corrupted by the politics of the hospital, he loses it all. Feeling better at the bottom, Kenma has realized his job is about the patients’ success, not his own and has been going about his business. When there’s a triple murder at the hospital, Kenma’s life is flipped around as he is dragged into the crimes as he is the one who has the most to gain from it. But the rabbit hole goes deeper than that, and Kenma has very real choices to make if he has any hopes of keeping anyone alive.

When I was in high school, I was under the impression that this series was a paranormal-hospital drama and oh boy was I wrong. Monster is a hospital drama that morphs into a political drama (given that the setting is in Germany in the 1980s when the Berlin Wall was still up) and then changes again into a serial killer story. The twists are intense and the way the story unfolds is wild, with a ten-year time skip after the first few chapters. I think Kenma is a sweetheart thrust into a horrible situation and I wonder if – with the title of the series – we will get to see him unravel into someone similar to the very monster he is hunting.

The edition of the manga that I read was the Perfect Edition, which I think is a combination edition of the first two volumes and I’m looking forward to reading the rest. The editions feature the proper colour pages and are just gorgeous. Urasawa’s art is so classic and wonderful and his story-telling abilities are on point.

I would recommend this series to fans of Deathnote, Hannibal, or Doubt and Judge. It’s definitely worth checking out.