Autumnal BL: Decorative Gourd Edition

Kusama_Mizushiro.jpgOkay, I’ll be straight with you: there aren’t actually any decorative gourds here. I just wanted to contribute to the general online narrative of autumn being all about decorative gourds and pumpkin spice lattés. I wanted to be part of the group, you guys. But I promise you the BL part of that title is one hundred percent truth! There is for real BL in here. Classic BL! Also newer BL because I couldn’t actually pick just one title to write about. Because I am indecisive. Despite the fact that I have extremely strong opinions. The two apparently do not go together. I am indecisively possessed of strong opinions.

Like my declaration of fall being for SFF. Such a strong opinion! I ran with it for several weeks! But now, as autumn slips away and the days become shorter in their inevitable march toward winter, my strong opinion also fades and drifts into the hazier territory of “maybe fall is for BL?” Because I have been reading BL lately. It’s a good thing my translation/interpretation lets me become passionately devoted to and interested in a topic or person for a brief period of time because that is apparently how my wishy-washy, fervently devoted brain works, and I don’t know how I’d ever make a living in any other line of work. Continue reading

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Joso Danshi to Menhera Ojisan: Fumiko Fumi

Menheru_FumiThe years keep rolling by, and yet my love of men enjoying the pleasures of other men never fades. Here we are at another 801, this gloriously smutty day when we all reaffirm our love of hot guys smooching, and I am still reading, writing about, and translating their books. So welcome to all of my fellow fujoshi, young and old, who also enjoy a little phantom peen in their lives! Celebrate this world we live in with something pornographic! Or deliciously sweet! There are no rules in this world of man-loving, save for the defining rule that men must love men in some fashion.

How are you celebrating this year? There’s so much to be thankful for! SuBLime continues to bless us with new licenses and licence rescues in English, and the BL industry has maybe never looked better in Japan. BL corners in even the smallest bookstores, and even BL sommeliers to help us find the perfect smut for our own personal fujo requirements! And the scope of what’s possible with BL only seems to get bigger. Like a story about a high-school cross-dresser hooking up with a man with depression twice his age! Sounds like it could only end well, doesn’t it? (Spoiler alert: This is BL. It does.) Continue reading

Canis the Speaker: Zakk

Speaker_ZakkIt’s been a while since I wrote about BL, not since Niboshiko Arai graciously offered up the twin delights of Kagakubu no Megane and Adana o Kure. I’ve been reading it pretty steadily, of course—got to maintain my fujoshi membership, after all—but most BL I read doesn’t really require further discussion. Stuff like Moichido Nandodemo and Dental Darling are fun and interesting in their own ways, but there isn’t too much to pick apart. Yes, I laughed out loud when I came across Dental Darling, but I can’t write a thousand words about the ridiculousness of a dentist BL. (Although in hindsight, it was probably inevitable, and I’m actually surprised there haven’t been other dentist BL. I mean, the possibilities of that chair alone!) And Moichido was beautiful and heartrending with its lovely tale of a romance ripped apart by a sudden accident and retrograde amnesia. They learn to love each other again, of course, because this is a happy-ending type BL. And that is literally all I have to say about this kind of story.

But then there is the BL like Ever After or Itoshi no Nekokke that I have Thoughts about. And the BL I have Thoughts about will not leave me alone unless I spend an inordinate amount of time ruminating over them here. Canis the Speaker is definitely one of these. For so many reasons. First of all, although it’s a spin-off of Zakk’s earlier Canis: Dear Mr. Rain and Canis: The Hatter, it has basically nothing to do with that series, and actually goes to a much darker place than those earlier books, so the question of why slap the Canis on it at all continues to perplex me. I feel like it’s not doing the “brand” (as it were) any kind of favours. There’s not usually a big overlap between readers who like this kind of story that requires all kinds of trigger warnings and those who want a story where sexy times are more of the clothes-on, romantic-nuzzling type thing you see in the earlier Canis. Continue reading

Doujinshi Round-up: 2017 Edition

Doujin 2Is it that time of year already? Time flies when you are poring over stacks of doujinshi. And where did all these stacks come from?? This is supposed to be the 2017 edition of this annual tradition, in which, as we all now know, I discuss various doujins I picked up in 2016 because I like to make things difficult. And I did indeed pick up some of these last year at Comitia or J. Garden or Mandarake or just directly from the author in weird happenstance. But I came across doujin from 2003 in this pile! So, uh, clearly, the round-up devolves yet again into basically just some stuff I read lately that may or may not be recent or even attainable anymore by the casual doujinshi reader. Sorry. I feel like I’m supposed to be getting better at this book-reading thing after writing here for the last six years now, but clearly that is never going to happen. So let’s all dial our hopes to anything but up and just look at some books already! Continue reading

Kagakubu no Megane/Adana o Kure: Niboshiko Arai

img_5235 One of the things I was most looking forward to upon my most recent return to the land of the rising sun was the next volume of Ikazuchi Tooku Umi ga Naru by Ayako Noda aka Niboshiko Arai. I loved the first book so much that I was basically counting the days until the second one came out. I was even preemptively looking forward to the third book. And maybe the fourth. And maybe I was planning how I would read the series forever alongside my beloved Itoshi no Nekokke.

But then, tragedy! The story ends in volume two! I was honestly crushed. I wanted to keep reading about Kao and Ko forever, even if the story only hangs together in the loosest way. Start trying to untangle threads, and you’ll find yourself at dead ends. But Noda writes it with such charm and enthusiasm that she sort of pulls you in whether you like it or not. And her art! I could stare at her turned-up noses and blushing cheeks all day! And yet! It was all cut so sadly short at volume two. How would I go on, I wondered. What would I stare at all day?

So, as one does, I turned to the internet in this dark time. I opened Twitter in the hopes of coming across a particularly endearing picture of a cat or a dog doing something silly to lift my spirits. And I discovered something even better! A new BL book from Noda’s alter ego Noboshiko Arai! And then another one! Both coming out the same day! Even if I couldn’t stare dreamy-eyed at the dimension-crossing love of Kao and Ko, I could at least stare at some blushy boys getting busy. In glasses even! The world suddenly seemed bright again. Continue reading

Color Recipe: Harada

Color Recipe_HaradaCelebrate, my fellow fujos! Today is that magical day of days! The day when we are free to openly ogle and revel in the beauty that is the love of boys! If you are not a fujo, then maybe just come back during my brain’s regular(-ish. Sorry for the light posting as of late!) Friday battles. Or stick around and see everything you’ve been missing with boy lover Harada! Be warned, however, that in the spirit of the holiday, things get a little unsafe for the work environment below. 

I’ve long been attracted to Harada’s style, in which half the characters look vaguely like pixies, thanks to upturned eyes, pointed noses, and sharp chins. And her (their? Do we know?) work has been everywhere I look for the last little while; she’s clearly the next rising star of the BL world, soon to crossover into the mainstream where her talent for drawing dudes sexing each other up will be grossly underused. But for one reason or another, I never bothered to actually pick up any of her books. (Both reason and another are probably I already have a mountain of books waiting to be read.) Which is an important note to would-be authors: sometimes, people will love your stuff, but they just don’t get the chance to read it. That is a sad thing, but it’s not a reflection on you or your talent. Continue reading

Nobara: Haruko Kumota

nobaraBy the time you are reading this, I am busy making friends with some cats on an island in sweaty, summery Japan, hopefully with a cheap, trashy Chu-Hi in hand. But while I am writing it, I am in full panic mode, scribbling notes to myself about things I need to do before I leave and piling random foodies and gifts (okay, mostly quinoa for me) on top of a suitcase to be packed in theory in a thoughtful, careful manner several days before I leave, but in reality, to be crammed together the night before I set out on my journey as I weep at all the things I still need to do before getting on the plane. I am not the best traveller, you guys.

But if there’s anything that will distract me in times of panic, it’s ridiculous puns and in-jokes that are funny to no one but me. Which is of course why I could not stop myself from tweeting the chapter end pages in Nobara as I read it. Each one features the young girl of the cover, Mone, in scene with one character or another from the main story, “Nobara”, or one of the other two shorter stories accompanying it in this volume, “Mimi-kun” or “Lullaby of Birdland”. That in and of itself is not particularly funny; in fact, it’s more adorable than anything. If it weren’t for the caption! I don’t know if Kumota speaks English and so chose that caption deliberately, but I am going to pretend that she does and did (even as I highly doubt that this is the case). Continue reading