Monday, April 1, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Honto Yajuu by Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Honto Yajuu
Yamamoto Kotetsuko

Ueda Tomoharu is a cop manning a local koban station, and he’s quite happy with his job and relatively quiet life until he happens to run into yakuza member Gotouda Aki while chasing down an underwear theif…and is suddenly confessed to! Aki doesn’t seem bothered in the least about their ~star-crossed lovers~ status and eagerly dives into a super lovey-dovey relationship with his policeman, but Ueda’s about to find out just how dangerous it can be dating a mobster…in more ways than one.

Alternative names
Like the Beast


Manga reader sites (free)

The Yaoi genre
Yaoi is also called Boy's Love, BL or BXB and is written mostly by women for women. The range of stories the term Yaoi can be applied to is the same as romance, meaning it can apply to very restrained and traditional romances all the way through to smut and porn. The term just means that the romance/sex is between two men or two boys (or more) or any combination therein (including wolf boys and gang bosses). As with any genre of porn though, you can find all sorts of twisted stories where rape is frequent, lengthy torture and subjugation involving sex toys and other things are used to achieve consent, men seek boys (the Yaoi reflection of the lolicon genre) and tentacle monsters take the place of humans. Yes, more often than not written by women.
You can find almost anything under the term of Yaoi so when searching, make sure you enter other search words to find the exact stories you want, as you would when searching for Historical Romance, for example, or Yaoi porn with tentacle monsters. I would also like to note that rape is more common within Yaoi than any of the other romance genres, including Yuri (Girl's Love). This may be due to differing cultural norms but also by a distorted view of the impact of rape - there being no pregnancy so it is more acceptable. I personally dislike this trend greatly but am still willing to read past one or two instances of rape in any romance genre for the sake of the story. Even if it does make me angry. Find your own benchmarks as you please, just know I've warned those of you who are into light-hearted romance only of the scope of stories you'll find under the term Yaoi. There is a tonne of work on either side of any line you wish to draw though, so happy reading. 

Rosy's scrawlings on Honto Yajuu
After much thought and reading, I've decided to introduce Yaoi recommendations by starting with this particular manga. One, because I love it and it makes me smile every time I read a chapter - fulfilling the purpose of light-hearted romance - and two, because it seems pleasantly cute and middle road enough for almost anyone starting out as a Yaoi reader to engage with it. You get a glimpse of all aspects of the relationship but at the same time there's a certain level of restraint and quaintness to the romance that warms the heart. So, here we go.
Honto Yajuu follows a fairly popular genre trend, which is to include a yakuza member in the romance. For the other partner, there's the somewhat less popular choice but still common enough to be rather familiar: a policeman. This, however, is where the author leaves off the expected, except for the obvious clash of cultures, and begins to weave one of the most pleasant and approachable romance stories I've read in a long time. Navigating the border between cringe-worthy sweetness and comical drama, the story delves into the relationship between Gotouda Aki, a rough and brash yakuza member and heir to a yakuza family and Ueda Tomoharu, a quiet and strong street cop.
Aki is the one to fall for Tomoharu first. He, glaringly dressed as a yakuza, begins his romantic approach by stalking Tomoharu. This odd behaviour turns out to be rather typical of Aki's approach to romance and anything else he considers important. He doesn't even approach his fashion choices in a manner that could be called normal, making dating difficult. Aki is outgoing, bold, almost incapable of seeing the world in a non-yakuza way, and scary to everyone but Tomoharu. But he is also cute in his efforts, blushes a lot and is very open with his emotions concerning anything Tomoharu. He quickly becomes a frequent visitor of Tomoharu's workplace, a police booth manned by two policemen, and so begins the lying and covering up required for a policeman to be at all friendly with, let alone involved with, a yakuza member.
Tomoharu, on the other hand, is a man with a firm moral code, an upright attitude and a caring heart. He tries his best at all times and as you later find out, he's rather more capable as a fighter than Aki could ever be. He's the man of strength, playing the calm centre to Aki's chaos as the romance develops. He also can't seem to view Aki as anything but utterly adorable and constantly tells him so, to Aki's feigned dismay.
Honto Yajuu is all about the relationship dynamics between Aki and Tomoharu. The romance is always presented in a light and loving manner even through stressful times. There are some mild sex scenes that cut off well before developing into anything that could be called smut just as there's mild violence as a result of their being yakuza and police characters even though the violence cuts off before there's too much gore or death. Above all, Honto Yajuu focuses on the cute, enough that I feel like I'm repeating the word over and over. From blushing to awkward decisions, fumbling attempts to reach a middle ground to the possessiveness and care each has towards the other, Honto Yajuu is simply a cute love story.
The illustrations in Honto Yajuu are clear and bold, with Aki and Tomoharu drawn in a slightly comic style, edging away from realism to highlight the cuteness of both. Neither are drawn with extra muscles or overly-unrealistic bodies as is often the case in Yaoi where romance isn't the main feature. The pictures tend to be light, with black frequently used for texture and colouring but not so much for shading, particularly of landscapes. The variety of facial expressions also tend towards the lighter side but woe-betide anyone who gets on Tomoharu's bad side. As intense action doesn't crop up often the flow of the story is smooth and gentle, the panels reflecting that as they show Aki and Tomoharu in a variety of fairly ordinary settings. Sweetness is evident in nearly every aspect of the story, the illustrations included.

I'd recommend this manga to: women who love to see men fall in love, matchmakers and romance enthusiasts.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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