Given that I spent some time talking about the random doujinshi I have encountered on this trip to Japan, you might well expect that there was some non-random doujinshi involved in my reading lately, and in that, you would be correct. I have indeed been reading the doujinshi of people who are, in fact, known to me, as I hope they are to you. And if they’re not, I would suggest you check out the non-doujin works of these artists because they are six kinds of awesome and they could use your support. Oddly enough, they’ve all been published in English, so if you have manga dollars to spend, these would be a good place to put them.
You know that I basically cannot spend anytime in Japan without picking up something by Brain favourite est em. She is just so prolific and her work is just so worth talking about. And for some reason, Mandarake was practically overflowing with her doujinshi work the last time I was there. Did someone sell off their collection? Did she herself decide to replenish their stock? I have no answers, only smutty doujins. Smutty, horsey doujins.
Because of course, I picked up some of her centaur phase work. Both Equus and Equus/Duo contain stories collected in the Equus book published by Shodensha. I don’t have Equus here to compare these doujin versions with the mainstream version, but from my memory, they are pretty similar, if not essentially the same. The major plus of reading these sexy centaur stories in doujin form is that they are larger and thus, you get the chance to see the art in a larger format, which is definitely a good thing. Equus seems to essentially be the stories from the book in exactly the same form, while Equus/Duo seems to be a rougher form of the stories that later appear in the book. The lines seem rougher at times, more free, although that could just be me reading into them because I can’t compare with the book while I am on the other side of the ocean from my library.
I do love, however, the way the doujin format makes the stories feel contained and separate in a way that reading them in the book does not. But! However much I enjoyed re-reading some centaur love action (and I did enjoy), nothing can beat the discovery I made on one of my trips to doujin land. Namely, that est em did a Hetalia doujinshi. Yes, even est em with her sexy loose lines, her unconventional subject matter, and her far-reaching gaze is not immune to the weird attraction of Hetalia.
The cover of Kirmizi (at the top of this post) is a lovely homage to Klimt and his Kiss, and the inside is very deserving of the R-18 on the cover. Knowing (deliberately) essentially nothing about Hetalia, I cannot tell you the pairing here. All I can tell you is that two very hot, very built guys have some very R-rated times together. All the art is very fluid; it looks like just dark pencils on the page, very sketchy, very unrefined, totally gorgeous. I seriously can’t believe how much movement she can squeeze into such a rough line.
I also grabbed Aslan, which she was selling at Comitia last month, along with a centauriffic hand cloth. It’s all watercolours and wobbly ink lines, two hot guys wrestling each other and learning what really matters. The cover alone is worth the price. And here ends our est em love-in. I did actually get other stuff by people you may or may not have heard of.
Like Ken Niimura. You know this guy? He is the artist for I Kill Giants and is currently serializing Henshin online at IKKI, both of which are pretty great. At Comitia, he was serving up doujinshi like freshly baked goods, using tongs to deliver his comics to his readers, complete with napkin to wipe the comic crumbs from your hands.
My freshly baked comic was Spicy Tuna, a charming story of a trio of musicians trying to keep the Medieval old school and themselves alive, playing their instruments in busker-style, hoping to make enough money to actually buy a real meal. It’s cute as hell and I love how the ostensible loser character is the one to win out. Plus, I love Niimura’s characterizations, big round eyes, square noses, such distinctive faces matched with strong shading, darks and lights and not a hint of screen tone to be seen.
On the disturbing side of things I came across by people I have heard of/translated, we have some serious beastial action in Mekkiteki Nostalgia by soft_machine aka Sakae Kusama. I am accustomed to her gentle yet ragged lines in things like Lost Letters where she explores ye olden times in Japan, as she also does here, I am not accustomed to dogs jumping in to be part of ye olde sexy times. And I have to admit I was shocked.
As a BL/porn translator, I honestly felt like I had seen it all. And then: dogs in samurai Japan as a man who is in the land of the dead, but is not actually dead is brought back to land of the living by the dog-sexer. It’s interesting in that it shows Kusama’s style developing, back when she was much less minimalist with much tighter lines. But dogs sexing a boy who may or may not be of age. It’s not something you’re going to want to try sneaking through customs in North America.
I picked up another Kusama, Yomichi o Hitori de Aruku Toki, which is entirely dog-free and in fact rather sweet. The protagonist is a kept man who remembers when a classmate confessed his love to him in high school. It’s well written with well structured flashbacks and art much closer to Kusama’s style now. And no dog sex, for which I am grateful. Maybe I am just old, but dog sex is a big no for me.
So let’s go out on a non-dog-sex note. Hooray for Fumi Yoshinaga! No dog sex here! At least not in Neko to Ojisan, and I am just going to assume there is no dog sex in anything else she has done, because I want that from the world. She proves that even without animals, you can have some serious sexytimes with these incidental Antique Bakery characters.
The young kitten of the title gets his comeuppance from an older man and it is delightful. But be warned. Yoshinaga apparently lettered this one (and others) by hand, so you’re going to need to be able to read her handwriting if you want to read this one. And while her handwriting is generally clear and easy to read, it gets scripty and illegible at times.
I also picked up at lot of R-18 doujinshi, so I was thinking about doing a triple X version of the doujin round-up, but then I realized it would basically be me saying, this doujin’s not safe for work, over and over again. So let me just tell you now, cannibalism is suddenly on my X-rated radar. It exists. That is out there in this world (in a pile of doujin under my bed). To cleanse your mind of that thought, just scroll back up to remember the sweet days when the weirdest thing you had come across was centaur sex.