|Otona no Mondai – on the left an illustration inside the manga; on the right a chapter’s cover|
Mangaka: Ima Ichiko
Naoto is a stressed-out college student doing his best to juggle the eccentricities of his divorced parents with his own burgeoning romance. His stress deepens after his gay father proposes to the handsome and elegant male lover. This is a humourous series by Ima Ichiko about the modern, dysfunctional family.
Ok, where should I start from? Perhaps from the difficulty of choosing representing panels, because, damn, it’s that good, it has so many memorable situations, even though it’s just one volume. It’s utterly enjoyable and I could compare it with a great family sitcom. The manga is clearly LGTB oriented but if someone was to say what’s this about, the answer would clearly be ‘Adults’ Problems’ ( that’s also the title of the manga). Having a gay father, being concerned how this affects your orientation and your chances with a girl is only the start of this awesomely written work. Adultery, children coping with their parents’ divorce, jealousy, worries about outer appearance, problems with the family not accepting their gay son, changes in your work in Japan because of rumors about your personal life, male views on Japanese women and social changes… all these are themes touched in Otona no Mondai with humor and seriousness at the same time.
The characters are interesting, some situations are simply hilarious, and the message of acceptance and understanding is handled carefully and doesn’t rub on your face. The art is certainly not what you usually see in most yaoi, the lines are clear and soft but not never exaggerated, and the many bubbles don’t take from the quality rather they create, in my opinion, the right atmosphere. There are no sex scenes between the gay couple, just some really touching affectionate moments, and there’s an implied sex scene between heterosexuals (no, I won’t spoiler), so I’d recommend this one to almost anyone. Even if you don’t end up reading it, remember: “A family is something that keeps growing and multiplying… Every family has their own little problems that they can’t say to anyone…”
|Mirai no Kioku/ Kaze no Yukue covers|
Mangaka: Kunieda Saiko
Kento Kumagaya wishes for just one simple thing: to have a happy family with the ideal housewife, loving kids, and kind grandparents all living together, happily ever after. Life, however, has other plans. Enter Akira Kazuki, a smart, beautiful and unrestrained gay man who shatters Kento’s dream with a single night of wild and passionate homosexual sex. This is a romantic, sweet and funny story between two different people (in more ways than one) who unexpectedly find the same future together.
This one is more yaoi than the first title, if you consider the way the two protagonists ended up in bed together. It isn’t a rape, since there’s some obvious consent, but since the one of them ended disheveled on an unknown bed after a glass of strong alcohol, I’m hesitant placing it in an ‘innocent’ territory. But still Mirai no Kioku/ Kaze No Yukue isn’t that stereotypical – the couple is a tad reversible and Akira does identify as gay; oh and he doesn’t go with the trope of the gay who loves cooking, nor is he the one who’s annoying and clumsy with words. And it’s definately nice to see women in yaoi that aren’t judgemental of homosexual relationships. Then, there are also the realistic homophobic reaction of the crowd and the difficulty of getting your grandparents to accept your gay boyfriend… There are some comic faces, though the humor isn’t always equally succesful.
But what tells this manga apart from the others is for me the tender and realistic sex scenes. They communicate during sex, they don’t just tease each other for the sake of fanservice. The scenes are breath-taking. The very first one had me nosebleeding so hard- such expressions!. The soft lines do help a lot in creating warmth into the reader’s heart, too.
|Ichiminge wa yaruki no minpou covers|
Mangaka: Yoshinaga Fumi
Tamiya meets Tohdou at Teinou University, a school for kids from well-off families. Tamiya is shocked at the different values that Tohdou and his friends have, but begins a curious friendship with them. As graduation nears, the two friends strike up a fledgling love.
Yoshinaga Fumi is mostly known for Antique Bakery. This work of hers is placed in a law school and isn’t as well known, which is really a shame. Three things I’ll make clear from the start: 1. I didn’t read or enjoy this manga for the art (actually I don’t like sensei’s character designs at all and Tohdou is drawn like a blowzy type – not that he isn’t a “superjerk-like guy”), 2. how many times have you felt bored reading yaoi sex scenes that use the same old positions? There is surely some uniqueness in that aspect here, 3. even though it’s mentioned once or twice, the use of condom and lube shows respect, health awareness, and makes things more realistic.
The other thing you should know is that one word can describe The First Class is Civil Law, as it translates into English, and that’s cynic. The first few pages initiate the reader into the corrupt world of prestigious universities, where wild parties between rich students take place and where a class is established to pass these spoiled brats. There’s also masturbation, sex without feelings, a sex scandal along with sexual orientation denial at the beginning. You don’t read it to take a travel to a rose-colored (homosexual) paradise. Nevertheless, showing tenderness and supporting friends are still in the game. That’s what makes this manga so good in my opinion.
What else? It’s got a decent character development and a slowly progressing romance; watching a couple from their younger student selves, full of complexes, grow up to responsible and mature men who care for one another, is really nice. It gives depth to a relationship.
What I didn’t like much though was the side story of the love affair of Tohdou’s brother. It involves a silly ‘blackmailing’ and the uke there is pretty weak and a crybaby. The whole episode seemed pretty dull to me. Anyways, The First Class is Civil Law surely has its own attractiveness and deserves a try, if you don’t necessarily seek something super fluffy and if explicit content is your cup of tea.
1. Reminding the scale of hotness- it ranges from 0 to 3 and describes both how graphic the sex scenes are and how much emotional influence the story might have on the reader. 3 has depictions of sexual organs and is totally ‘hot’, 2 includes sex scenes but doesn’t show much, and you feel very warm inside, 1 is about just cute kisses, holding hands or embraces, and 0 denotes a quite matter-of-fact narration with almost no emotional excitement as there’s not much romantic/sexual contact.
2. The wallpaper in the intro of the post is a modified manga chapter cover from Kaze no Yukue