It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? For a while there, it felt like I was reading some new est em every other week, but then came the long dry spell after IKKI ended. Golondrina was supposed to have wrapped up in the next, unserialized volume already (last year, I think?), but we are still waiting for that, sadly. IPPO is coming out at its slow and steady pace. Other than that, though, the manga world has been sadly missing est em’s unique voice lately. No BL one-shots, no hilarious centaur books, nothing to tide us over in the between books in her ongoing series. Until now!
Ii ne! Hikaru Genji-kun started in Feel Young last year, and I read the first couple of chapters in the magazine. But then I had to go back to the land of icy tundras, and my easy access to Feel Young ended. So I’ve been waiting ever since for the release of the tankobon. Because the first chapters felt silly and fresh, like em was coming up for air after the serious action in Golondrina. She so often focusses on the drama and reality of relationships between people and all the heartbreak and difficulty that accompany that, that I forget sometimes just how truly funny she can be. The aforementioned centaur book is the last time I can remember where she just let herself run free with a silly idea, but even in the more serious centaur book (as serious as a book about centaur love can be), there were some truly hilarious moments. (I’m thinking of you, peeper horse in “Black and White”.) Continue reading
Although I bought and read all these doujinshi in 2015, I’m still calling it the 2016 edition because, like last year, I am writing about them in 2016 and it feels plain weird to call it the 2015 edition. Plus, there is already a 2015 edition from last year when I wrote about doujinshi I bought in 2014. And so, like the centuries and the years they contain, I will always be one number off in the rounding up of doujinshi. I apologize for the confusion.
What’s done is done, however, so let’s just get to the books.
Despite the fact that I was in Japan for a really long time last year (almost five months!), I spent a large part of that time on Cat Island. And Cat Island does not have doujinshi fairs. Unless the elderly farmers that populate the island were keeping something from me. (And now that I’ve thought of it, I hope they were! I love the idea of secret elderly farmer doujinshi!) And once I got to Tokyo, I was busy as usual with the horde of Canadians that descended upon the city to show their wares at the Tokyo International Comic Festival and Design Festa. Not to mention meetings with people to convince them to keep hiring me to read books and all those books they’ve already hired me for! So I didn’t really get to dig around in the world of doujinshis as much as I would have liked to. (I missed J Garden, for instance.) But the goods I did get are full of awesome, so I’m chalking this one up in the win column.
I have to say that I am mostly done with people reimagining other creative works. Like if I see another Disney princesses in some unexpected situation/getups or Alice in some other land than Wonder, I may very well pluck out at least one of my eyes to fling at the screen. I get why these sorts of reinterpretations exist, though. It’s an homage of sorts, like a fanzine or a parody doujinshi, a way of showing your love of the thing, a way of proving that you are a real fan. Or more cynically, maybe it’s just the artist taking advantage of a surefire way to draw some eyes to their work. And I’m not entirely unsympathetic to any or all of these goals. But I am tired of seeing the same work rehashed in the same old ways. After a while, it stops bringing anything new to the table. Although maybe I’m just getting old and I will soon start shaking my fist at the kids on my lawn.
But maybe it’s just I’m tired of the things that get remixed, because when est em tweeted that she had a new book of BL-ified fairy tales out, I was halfway to the bookstore before I had even finished reading the tweet. After all, this was no mere genderflipping of Ghibli characters by an artist I’d never heard of, this was one of my favourite manga artists turning those old classics into boy on boy action. And what action! (Sorry, I just had to write that. Apologies for ridiculousness.) The tagline on the back cover of the book says it better than I ever could: “All fairytales are made from one percent fact and ninety-nine percent boys’ love.” Continue reading
TCAF is upon us! That magical time of year when artists from all over the world descend on Toronto to make our lives better with new books! So no time for battling books this week; my brain and I are too busy battling authors! Including Japanese guests Moyoco Anno, est em, and Akira Himekawa! All the fun is here! So come say hi and if you can’t make it all the way to Canada for your comics fun, then check out this interview I did with est em over at the Comics Journal. But be warned: It is very long!
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. Continue reading
It’s been a while since the est em fanclub met. Thank goodness Ohta Publishing thoughtfully put together this collection of interconnected shorts from est em. Otherwise, it would be another day of crying into our pillows, waiting waiting waiting for more est em. The est em fanclub actually got very lucky in August, which saw the publication not only of Sono Otoko, Amato ni Tsuki but also Book Three of Golondrina. No crying into our pillows anymore!
I’ve gotten to the point with est em where I don’t even check what her new books are about. I just see the words “est em” next to a title I don’t know, and before I know it, I’m at home with the book in my hands. Which is why I replied “politician BL maybe, I don’t know, the guy on the cover’s wearing a suit” in response to a fellow est em fan asking what the new title was about. It turns out that no, Sono Otoko has nothing to do with politicians. It’s not even BL. The tiny French subtitle tells the story: “Une histoire d’un amateur de friandises”. A story of a connoisseur of sweets. If you pay attention to more than the suit on the cover, you can clearly see a bar of chocolate in his inner jacket pocket. So not politics. I think the suit blinded me. Guys in suits! Continue reading
Last year, in honour of 801 Day, I posted this interview I did a couple years ago with est em. Since I did not interview another incredible BL artist this year, there is no way I’ll be able to top that (although I am working on it! Surprises in store, fujos!). But that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate this glorious day of perversion (a day after the fact!) and the extended celebration that is the 801 Moveable Manga Feast with all of you out there in Boys’ Love Town!
Because, you know, I live in Boys’ Love Town. As a manga translator, Boys’ Love is literally my day job. (Before setting down to write this, I was translating a rather heated moment between two rather heated men.) And as a translator of the fujoshi variety, I have read a *laht* of BL. The shelves of my office bookcase are stuffed with all kinds of BL with all kinds of kinks, from incest (I will never get on board with that one) to glasses (but yes to this one!) to reversible (and this one!), many of which I have translated into English for you monolingual fujoshi/danshi. Some have been boring, a few have been honestly awful, most are just run-of-the-mill type stories that I forget the second I’m done the translation, but a few have been really great and stuck with me, long after the project was finished. So in the spirit of celebrating the best BL has to offer, my brain presents to you now my top five BL translations. Continue reading