The Color of Love by Kiyo Ueda

For this month’s BL Bookrack, I decided to check out The Color of Love, which was among the BL titles Amazon recently removed from its store for (theoretically) violating its content requirements.

Did it deserve this fate? Not in my opinion! Check out my review for the details.

Your Story I’ve Known by Tsuta Suzuki

While I’d stop short of calling myself an actual fan of A Strange and Mystifying Story, it was at least interesting and I found Tsuta Suzuki’s distinct art style very appealing. When the opportunity to read another work from her arose, therefore, I was eager to seize it.

You can find my review for Manga Bookshelf’s BL Bookrack column here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Right Here, Right Now! 1-2 by Souya Himawari

This time travel historical romance is actually a lot more rational than one would expect. Unfortunately, the romance is the least successful element of the story.

You can find my review for BL Bookrack here.

Review copies provided by the publisher.

My Bad! by Rize Shinba

I didn’t think I was interested in reading My Bad! at first, since I typically don’t enjoy BL comedies, but after reading Shinba’s Intriguing Secrets, I changed my mind.

I’m glad I did, because the stories in this collection are quirky and often genuinely funny. “Stamp Please!,” the story of a guy who falls in love with his amiable postman, is a particular favorite.

You can find my review—as part of this month’s BL Bookrack column at Manga Bookshelf—here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Honey Colored Pancakes by Keiko Kinoshita

Who could resist a cover this cute? Certainly not me.

I reviewed this collection for this month’s BL Bookrack at Manga Bookshelf. I liked the title story very much, but had mixed feelings about the others. You can find that review here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

No Touching At All by Kou Yoneda: A-

No Touching At All depicts an office fling between two coworkers in their late twenties that grows into something more. Even though formerly straight Togawa declares his love for Shima, Shima just can’t believe that Togawa’s desire for a family won’t eventually tear them apart. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Future Lovers, so if you liked that (and who wouldn’t?!) you’d probably enjoy this, too.

I reviewed No Touching At All for this month’s BL Bookrack at Manga Bookshelf. You can find that review here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

The Object of My Affection by Nanao Okuda: B+

I judged this book by its cover and was not disappointed! Wakamiya has managed to join the college basketball team his idol plays for, only to learn said idol is injured and cannot play. A very nice love story ensues, though it would have been even nicer if all the stories in the volume had been about these two.

You can find my full review at Manga Bookshelf.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Kizuna Deluxe Edition 1 by Kazuma Kodaka: B-

Book description:
Beautiful Ranmaru and sweet, serene Kei fell in love at first sight when they were just boys, and now that they’re finally old enough, they’re moving in together! College should be all about new experiences and freedom… but what will the couple do when their home-sweet-home is invaded by the brash and spoiled Kai, Kei’s half-brother? Is their relationship strong enough to weather a sudden storm of sibling rivalry?

Even though I’ve never read the Kizuna manga before, I’ve still got a nostalgic feeling towards it. I vividly remember venturing into the adult section of the dealers’ room at my very first convention and coming away with a DVD of the OVA. It didn’t rock my socks or anything, but still, I never forgot about it. Now that the series is in print again, thanks to DMP, I figured I’d give it a look.

Kei Enjouji and Ranmaru Samejima first met in middle school, when they shared a chaste kiss. They then apparently go three years without speaking and reunite in high school where a real relationship develops between them. Upon the death of his mother, Kei learns that his father is the head of a yakuza group, and pretty quickly someone is out to kill him. Ranmaru, a promising kendo champion, pushes Kei out of the way of the car barreling towards him and gets hit himself. The doctors say he’ll never use his right arm and leg again.

Ranmaru is devastated, but once Kei takes it as a given that he’ll love Ranmaru no matter what, Ranmaru marshals the determination to work hard at his rehabilitation and eventually regains the ability to walk. The two live together happily, attending the same college, until Kai, Kei’s younger brother and the legitimate son of the yakuza boss, enters their lives. He’s a real pest who has set his sights on his kendo hero, Ranmaru.

That all might sound pretty decent, but the problem is the material in this volume does not present the story chronologically at all. I’m sure this is mostly to do with the fact that Kizuna evidently began as a doujin. The first chapter depicts a romantic encounter between Kei and Ranmaru as high schoolers, at which point Ranmaru is still tops in the kendo world. The college chapters with the irritating Kai come next (this is the story line I’m familiar with from the OVA), followed by another college-age chapter, then one in which Kai is in second grade, then the story of Kei and Ranmaru’s first meeting… You get the idea.

It’s not that the story is impossible to follow in this fashion—flashbacks are a pretty common narrative device, after all, particularly when the lead characters have been together for a long time—but these chapters feel disconnected from each other. The difference in art style only adds to the choppy reading experience. I found myself thinking, “Just settle down already! Pick the story you want to tell and the way that you want to draw, and just get on with it!”

Despite my complaints about the flow of the chapters, within each chapter Kodaka crafts some compelling stories. I liked the story of Ranmaru’s injury and rehabilitation the best, but there’s also an enjoyably smutty tale where he is given an aphrodisiac by a creepy professor and Kai’s the only one around to relieve his… tensions. My dislike of Kai must be evident by now, but I do like Kei and Ranmaru, especially the fact that the latter, the uke in the relationship, is prized for his strength. Kei can be crass at times, but the depth of his love for Ranmaru is abundantly obvious.

I definitely plan to keep reading Kizuna. It may be a vain hope, but now that the background has been established, I’d like to see the next volume pick up with the guys in college and go forward from there. Stay tuned to see whether my wish comes true!

Kizuna Deluxe Edition is released in English by Digital Manga Publishing. The series was previously licensed by the now-defunct CPM, but was never completed. DMP is releasing the series in five omnibus editions.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Stay Close to Me by Yaya Sakuragi: B

Wow, a BL comedy I actually liked! I reviewed Stay Close to Me for this month’s BL Bookrack and thought it achieved a nice balance of silliness and genuine emotion. Now I need to find the time to read Yaya Sakuragi’s Hey, Sensei? and Tea for Two!

You can find that review here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

Endless Comfort by Sakuya Sakura: B-

I reviewed this one-volume boys’ love title for the latest BL Bookrack column at Manga Bookshelf. It’s essentially the story of how the love of a good man helps a good-natured dog trainer get over his past trauma. Unfortunately, it’s pretty dull, but I did like the ending.

You can find that review here.

Review copy provided by the publisher.