Bento Bako Bonus: Dry Heat Review + CMX Reactions
Title: Dry Heat (Yeah, I never did figure out the meaning behind that title, but it’s probably a metaphor for something I apparently missed)
Author: Yugi Yamada
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, on their June imprint
Volume: One-shot, $12.95
Vintage: 2002 by Houbunsha in Japan, March 2010 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi, mature (18+), romance, drama
Itaru serves the Sendou family, and their young son Tatsuhiko is very attached to him. One day little Tatsuhiko declares that he will become a politician and change the law so that two men can marry each other, and he can marry Itaru. Fast forward to ten years later – Tatsuhiko has disappeared from his dorm room at his private high school, and Itaru is sent to track him down and bring him back. It’s been five years since they’ve seen each other. Tatsuhiko’s mother died, and when his father’s new wife had a new child, Tatsuhiko was shipped off to school, crying out Itaru’s name. Though Itaru sent Tatsuhiko many letters, he never received any responses, so he’s unsure how he’ll be received if he manages to find his former master. That ends up being the least of his problems when Itaru tracks him down – Tatsuhiko has completely changed and is barely recognizable. But that’s only the beginning. Tatsuhiko refuses to leave, and Itaru is forced to stay and investigate the situation. Then Tatsuhiko’s friend and roommate, Shinji, begins putting the moves on Itaru. Behind the scenes, a strange man, recently released from prison, is on the hunt for Shinji. Itaru, who is being kept in the dark, must try to unravel the strange happenings on his own, while dealing with Tatsuhiko’s forceful affections, and Shinji’s frequent come-ons.
It’s pretty typical yaoi fare. There’s not much to set it apart from any other title. Itaru is the main character, and he’s the least interesting character in the book. His main personality quirk is his love for money, which is casually mentioned here or there. Otherwise he’s rather blank, and completely overshadowed by the other characters. If my description above makes it sound like a mystery story, I apologize, because it’s not at all. Itaru is staying with a detective, and Tatsuhiko is sort of apprenticing with him and being a bodyguard to Shinji’s sister, but that’s about it. The stranger coming after Shinji is purposefully twisted to be misunderstood, so Itaru (and therefore the reader) assumes one thing, when it’s something else entirely. Still, it’s just romance and drama, in the end. And speaking of the end, there’s an “extra” story tacked on, which is just an excuse to get Tatsuhiko and Itaru into bed together again. After all, Tatsuhiko is a pretty typical horny teenage boy (Itaru, by the way, is about ten years older). I guess their relationship is kind of cute, if you can get past how drab Itaru is, and how outrageous Tatsuhiko is in comparison. Shinji is at the real center of the story, since most of what is going on behind the scenes revolves around him, so it feels like Tatsuhiko has to be so “in your face” to make up for that.
The art isn’t really to my tastes; it’s a little sloppy at times. Itaru is ten years older than Tatsuhiko (putting him around 27), but Tatsuhiko looks older than him. There’s a very good contrast between the two physically though, with Tatsuhiko having a gruff exterior versus Itaru’s more delicate features. Shinji is pretty generic looking, and there’s not really anything special about backgrounds and clothes, though the characters’ expressions aren’t too bad.
On Wednesday, I mentioned the news about CMX closing at DC Comics. I said I’d do some linking to other news posts and discussions, so you can see all the angles for yourself. So, here we go.
Deb at About.com breaks down the facts (and was the first bit of news I saw), and then gives some of her own thoughts.
Gia at Anime Briefs gets a little bitter about MegaTokyo.
Rich at Bleeding Cool lists which solicited titles will be in stores, and which are now canceled.
Rob at Panel Patter thinks something a bit more sinister is going on at DC, which he feels is an outdated and close-minded company.
Sean at A Case for Suitable Treatment bemoans the chunk of good shojo titles that are going off the market now.
The Manga Curmudgeon gets angry at DC’s treatment of CMX, then talks about his favorite CMX titles.
Kate at The Manga Critic throws out some facts and figures.
Connie at Slightly Biased Manga gives CMX a send off by talking about many of their titles.
Tiamat’s Manga Reviews looks at three other recently struggling manga publishers.
Brigid talks about fan reactions at Comic Book Resources.
Good Comics For Kids presents reactions from writers mourning the loss of a publisher who posted many titles perfect for teenage girls.
The general feeling amongst everyone places more blame on DC Comics than on the economy, though no one is denying its impact on the industry as a whole. Many writers are citing DC’s poor management of their manga imprint, how the branch was basically ignored by their marketers, non-existent at conventions, and had a minimal presence in bookstores. And that the current trouble in the manga industry is more of a convenient excuse to shutter the imprint rather than a singular reason. The abrupt decision seems to be just as much a shock to CMX itself, which was posting updates to its website just the day before the announcement, as it is to fans. Everyone is upset at the loss of some beloved titles, and crushed after feeling excitement over recent announcements of new acquisitions. Given the state of the industry and the economy right now, and the fact that many of CMX’s manga, though good, were not bankers (as titles like Naruto or Death Note are), it’s unlikely many of them will get picked up by another publisher. These titles could take months or years to come back, or never come back at all. I guess it’s time to start learning Japanese.
Review copy of Dry Heat provided by Digital Manga Publishing.