Tanizaki Mangekyo: Various

tanizakiFun fact: I learned the word “mangekyo” long before I started learning Japanese, along with “tsuki ni kawatte oshioki yo” and “henshin”. So when I spotted the lovely cover of Tanizaki Mangekyo in the bookstore, my first thought was an unconscious, thrilled “Sailor Moon!” This collection of short stories has nothing to do with that pretty sailor soldier, however. And yet every time I see the title, I start singing that song to myself. (I still sing it at karaoke with J-peeps. Nothing like singing anime songs in Japanese to knock J-socks off!)

My second thought, based solely on the erotic reveal of Asumiko Nakamura’s lady on the cover, was that this was a collection of erotic/definitely R-rated stories and therefore I should refrain from reading this volume on the train. Some salarymen might be cool with reading rape-y naked lady stories during their commute, but I like to keep my public manga reading PG. So this sat around for a couple weeks, waiting for a slot in my house reading schedule. And when that slot finally opened up and I actually read the obi, I realized that this is a collection of manga adaptations of stories by famed Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki. And while he is known for his “destructive erotic obsessions” (thank you for that turn of phrase, Wikipedia editor), none of these stories is particularly dangerous to read on the train. Continue reading

Utsubora: Asumiko Nakamura

Utsubora

Time for swooning fan girl action! I am not even going to try and hide the deep, abiding love I feel for Asumiko Nakamura. So much pretty! So many beautiful lanky lines! Starburst eyes! Cinematic panels! And then as if all the art was not enough, thoughtful storylines! She really brings it. She’s also got an oddly broad appeal. I can be talking to someone who basically hates everything I like when it comes to manga, but then Nakamura’s name comes up and we both swoon and get all dreamy-eyed. She is maybe magic.

And she’s another artist that I wish we could see more of in English. A lot of her BL has underage action, so obviously that is never making it to the English side of the ocean, but she’s working more and more outside of BL, so illegal sexy times are not so much of a problem anymore. I mean, her latest work is a series of vignettes revolving around trains. But for you monolinguals, there is one option available to you now, thanks to the hardworking manga lovers over at Vertical! Utsubora! And it is one of the best things she’s done, a complete story in two volumes (Japanese) or one book (English). Why aren’t you reading it already?!

I actually was reading this in Erotics f when it was being serialized, but just like with Machiko Kyo’s U, I didn’t get to read every chapter because of the whole they-don’t-sell-Eroticsf-in-Canada problem. And because Utsubora is a “super suspense” manga, as the cover of the book tells me, missing even one chapter means you are left scratching your head at later chapters as you try to figure out why the editor is ripping apart the novelist’s office like some cheap hoodlum. Continue reading

Bara Iro no Ho no Koro: Asumiko Nakamura

Bara IroGiven that I will be sitting next to Taiyo Matsumoto being his English voice when this is posted (come see us at TCAF!), I feel like I should be writing about another of his books here, especially given that in the last couple of months, I have read basically all of them. And they are all good and worth writing about, but it is sort of a masculine overdose. I am not at all opposed to work with male protagonists and characters, but when I read too many books without women in them, I am forced to wonder what kind of weird procreation systems the worlds in these books are equipped with. And when I start fleshing out those systems in my head myself, I know it is time to read something with more of a female perspective.

So it is kind of hilarious that I reached for Bara no Iro no Ho no Koro to give me that perspective, considering there are literally two women in its nearly two hundred pages. But you know, it’s Boys’ Love or walking that line at least, by a lady creator who has created some fine lady characters (one day, we’ll talk about Utsubora), and maybe, like any good fujoshi, what I was really looking for was some poignant boy-on-boy action. Something Bara Iro has in spades. Although no actual boy loving, which prompted one Japanese blogger (forgive me, I can’t find the link again) to categorize it as “Boys’ Love (?)”. Continue reading

Dokyusei: Asumiko Nakamura

I first came across Nakamura’s languid, lanky style in—what else—Manga Erotics F, with the serialization of her mystery story (You can see videos of her in action on an Erotics f piece here!) But this was the serialization of Utsubora and I came into it halfway through, so although I loved her ridiculously drawn-out lines, I couldn’t really decide on her storytelling skills. And you know where this story is going: Me, Japan, bookstore, books, oh hey!, Nakamura section. The only decision left was which book to buy.

Remembering Khursten’s thorough and deeply informative profile on Nakamura, I decided to check out some of her BL work in the form of Dokyusei (Classmates). Mostly because I already knew she had chops in the world that Erotics f caters too. But BL is a different, more finicky place and I was interested in seeing if she could balance the luxurious languidness of her beautiful lines with the sexy needs of boys in love.

Turns out? She can. Continue reading