That was last year, right? 2018? It feels like a lifetime since then. Humanity’s slow slide into extinction is picking up steam, and it’s honestly hard to keep track of which disaster is happening when and where anymore. The US is basically about to execute women for having abortions, Ontario has decided autistic people don’t matter, Australia just voted to destroy the Great Barrier Reef (essentially), and while the earth burns, scientists are bringing decapitated pigs back to life. And this is all just in the last couple weeks! How could I possibly be expected to remember that there was a whole year of life before all of this??
And it’s so easy in the face of all this madness to throw up our hands in despair and wonder why art even matters when we’re all going to burn in the planetary dumpster fire that is climate change. But this is when art matters the most! The stories we tell and the way we connect through art gives us a reason to keep on fighting when things seem most dire. Plus, the onslaught is just too much, and sometimes, you need to escape into fantastical man-man action. So welcome to the doujinshi round-up for the lost year of 2018!
Meruhen Kacho has been out long enough that it is now a commercial BL, three volumes in. I only bought the doujinshi at Comitia last year, though, so it still counts for the 2018 round-up. From the cover, I was expecting more of the fantastic part of the fairytale title, but it’s a fairly standard boss-subordinate BL situation, except the boss is openly gay and the subordinate is convinced he can bring him the true love he is actually looking for. No mushrooms grow out of anyone’s head, but it is rather charming in its own way, and I’m tempted to pick up the commercial release.
The same artist, Melu, is responsible for the sex-and-sex-only Manatsu no Yoru no Umi Monogatari, a collection of three stories. The titular tale features group sex with a life guard on a beach in the middle of the night, peeped on by a group of salarymen. And while the other stories can’t quite top that debauchery, they do their best with a mobster kidnapping his would-be ex and a cop who has to “punish” shoplifters.
If you’re into hot pudgy dude action, grab a copy of Okazu no Otomo, a riff on Gohan no Otomo, a cute food manga. The two chubby guys have a secret moment together, only to discover that it’s not so secret. (But no worries! Everyone is cool with that.)
And here I must thank my friend Khursten for going the distance to get me the What Did You Eat Yesterday? doujinshi (pictured at the top) from Fumi Yoshinaga herself and restore my faith in this series I am translating. Over coffee, I was moaning about how frustrating it was to work on this series when Kenji and Shiro never get it on. They are a gay couple who have been together for many years now! They should at least kiss once in a while! But given that this series runs in a mainstream seinen magazine, even kissing is too much to ask of these long-term lovers. It seems, however, that Yoshinaga is not so keen on this lack of sexy times either, and so she brings us the passion in a series of doujinshi. Kenji and Shiro making out! Kenji and Shiro being in love and getting it on like the lovers they are! Please know that my translation of this series is now fuelled by these doujinshi.
But I get it, not all of you are interested in the sexy man-man times of BL doujinshi. So perhaps you would enjoy the pure joy that is Okaasan to Issho, a Final Fantasy XV parody zine, and one that is close to my heart because of my own love of the cooking job in that game. Each of the short stories in this charming little book focus on Ignis, master chef, preparing new recipes for his pals as they travel forward to prevent the end of the world, with some adorable fan art at the end.
If you’re not into Final Fantasy, I can’t say I won’t judge you. But there are still doujinshi in this world for you. Sachiko Takeuchi did a year-in-review zine which is as funny and great as all her work is and includes plugs for her amazing Aka-chan Honbucho and her otaku essay comics collection Ikiru Tame ni Hitsuyo dakara. I hope her health is better in 2019, now that she’s gotten things sorted with the doctor (as documented in 2018) and I look forward to reading about her new favourite K-pop bands then, as well.
I also grabbed two wordless doujinshi from pals and Brain faves Ken Niimura and Miki Yamamoto, their own personal takes on a Japanese and Western fairytale, respectively. The illustrations that make up each doujinshi were actually part of a fairytale art show they had together last year, and I’m so glad they decided to collect them into a narrative zine because I couldn’t make it to the show and I so desperately wanted to. Yamamoto is doing some really interesting things with picture books (her area of research), and it shows in her telling of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood.” Simple lines, strong brushwork, and minimalist backgrounds. Niimura went with the same red, black, and white colour scheme, but chose the Japanese story of “Urashima Taro” for his wordless work. Both are stunning and capture the artist’s style so well while telling classic stories in a new way.
The world may be a giant dumpster fire, but at least we have beautiful art to bolster our resolve and give us strength as we try to put the damned fire out. Look for help anywhere you can find it, friends. It looks like 2019 is already trying to put us through the ringer, and we need to lift our spirits and keep going strong however we can. Even if that “however” is pages of hot men making out with other hot men.