Inga no Sakana: Arai Niboshiko

inga_AraiWell, here we are once again in the sweaty throes of summer, turning our attention to some even sweatier throes on the pages of our favourite BL titles. Normally, I would be sweating it out in both the seasonal and bookular ways in Japan, but as we all know, these are not normal times. None of my usual noodling around the bookstores of Tokyo this summer. I, like so many of my fellow fujoshi, am locked up in my apartment and locked out of the country that is my second home with no chances to stumble upon two lithe young men intertwined on the cover of a book in the ever-expanding BL section.

But not even a plague can stop the power of women who love fictional men who love men! Because we are fierce and determined and have shelves of hot man/man action already in our homes, Tokyo bookstores be damned! And in the lead up to this, our most sacred holiday, I discovered a beloved title on my own shelves that I haven’t written about before. So let us celebrate 801 this year with the blushy genius of Arai Niboshiko!

You might remember her as the star of this brain’s 801 celebrations a couple of years ago. Or perhaps you’re more familiar with her mainstream work as Noda Ayako. Either way, there’s always something hot simmering beneath the surface of everything this talented artist touches. Her new series Double might be a stealth BL, but it’s a serious slowburn, so I’m still withholding judgement on that one. But there’s nothing stealthy about Inga no Sakana. These boys are in love! Continue reading “Inga no Sakana: Arai Niboshiko”

Tonari Ni: basso

Tonari_bassoRejoice! The annual celebration of smut is upon us! It is our time to shine, fujoshi. And by shine, I mean of course, curl up in our houses and lose ourselves in the world of BL where men can love men in impossible ways, bending the laws of physics with their phantom peens and facing zero of the homophobia that still plagues the real world. Let us give ourselves over to this beautiful, schmexy fantasy, friends. Let us enjoy and celebrate the bountiful harvest of man love this year has brought us.

The prize-winning pig at this year’s festival is perhaps the long-awaited return to BL of Natsume Ono aka basso. Seven years after her last book, Naka-san no Nagare, she brings us this beautiful slice of salaryman love, Tonari Ni. My heart sings just typing those words. I love Ono’s basso work so much. While her artwork remains strong regardless of the genre she writes in, her powers of storytelling are honestly all over the place, and I too often find myself frustrated with her mainstream work, wondering what exactly she is trying to communicate to readers. And when I finally got the chance to translate her work with ACCA 13, that frustration was doubled and tripled as I read and re-read the unnecessarily convoluted tale of political intrigue during the translation process. So many meaningless and weird details that have zero plot impact and only serve to divert the reader in directions that are completely non-story-related. Why the district with the giant food? How can you cross a border and suddenly have strawberries the size of a person’s head? And why does being two metres tall mean you need a strawberry the size of your head? Continue reading “Tonari Ni: basso”

Moratte Kudasai: Niboshiko Arai

Moratte_AraiSo often these days, the world seems like a blazing dumpster fire in the middle of a heatwave in summer. The stench! The nightmarish heat! The constant and baffling dehumanization of other human beings for no apparent reason at all! And sure, we all want to (and should) work to make things better for ourselves and our fellow members of a society that is crumbling into the dark void of a bottomless ocean. But all the gloom and doom that greets us every time we open Twitter can really eat away at the soul and make us contemplate never interacting with the world again.

So a holiday like 801 is especially critical in these trying times, a reminder that there is still something pure and good in this world. And that is hot guys making out with other hot guys for our voyeuristic pleasure. Thus I invite you, my fellow fujoshi, to step away from the Nazis on Twitter and the mansplainer who is a Facebook friend of your mom’s friend’s friend who inexplicably replies to your innocuous comment about the recent heatwave to tell you climate change is a liberal conspiracy, and walk into the warm and welcoming world of hot man sex. Let these horny dudes wrap you up in a gentle and possibly sticky hug. Continue reading “Moratte Kudasai: Niboshiko Arai”

Kanpenkina Shiiku: Yuiji Aniya

Kanpekina Shiiku

Happy 801, ladies and gentlemen of the rotten persuasion! I hope you are spending this illicit holiday doing what you love best, reading smutty comics in which men enjoy the pleasure of other men. In case you were wondering what dirty little thing you should pick up on this day of days, I have some words about a particular dirty little thing for you. And it’s pretty dirty!

I actually came across Yuiji Aniya through her non-BL work when she was serialized in Erotics F and liked her style so much that I decided to go and check out what she does with the man love. And wow! She just jumps right in. The first story in this collection of various BL one-shots, “Toyed”, is all pumping and thrusting from the first page. So basically, if you are looking for the sensitive, relationship-type stuff that est em does so well, don’t bother with this one. And normally, I prefer those relationshippy, character-driven stories, but Aniya has such a great style and is not afraid to poke fun at things that I ended up really liking this volume. Continue reading “Kanpenkina Shiiku: Yuiji Aniya”

BL Celebration: Interview with est em

Happy yaoi day, fujoshi readers! And the rest of you, happy unexpected-middle-of-the-week post! Of course, you’re welcome to join in the BL fun too, if you want. Because today is that magical day August 1, also known as 8/01, which coincidentally can be pronounced “ya-o-i” in Japanese. And the Japanese love of turning every day into a weird holiday means that today is the day we celebrate all things boys’ love. And what better way to celebrate than to add to the fanclub archives of my favourite BL artist, est em, with an interview with the artist herself?

est em was kind enough to speak with me in the fall of 2010, when I was writing an article on boys’ love and feminism, so it’s a bit out of date now. But we had a pretty interesting conversation, and I’ve been asked a few times to share it, so in honour of hot boys getting sweaty, ta-da! I present to you the condensed version because our entire conversation is getting into tl; dr territory. (It may still be there anyway. Sorry! She just had so many interesting things to say!) Continue reading “BL Celebration: Interview with est em”