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October 27, 2010

Bento Bako Lite: Gorgeous Carat Galaxy & Our Kingdom vol 1

It’s time for another yaoi double feature, today! Both are Digital Manga Publishing titles from their Juné line, and are $12.95 each. Oddly enough, it’s the title featuring high school boys that has a higher rating (16+), rather than the one about adult characters (13+).

Title: Gorgeous Carat Galaxy
Author: You Higuri (Ludwig II)
Volume: One-shot (sequel)
Vintage: 2004 by Gentosha Comics, 2006 by Digital Manga Publishing
Genre: Murder mystery, romance, drama, yaoi (13+)

In France during the Victorian Age, 20-year-old Florian Rochefort, son of an impoverished noble family, finds himself sold to the loan shark, Count Ray Balzac Courland, also known as the notorious thief Noir. When a relative of Florian’s runs into financial trouble, he comes to Ray for help, asking him to visit his relative’s estate and consider purchasing some works of art to aid in the estate’s expensive upkeep. Ray reluctantly agrees, and he, Florian, and Ray’s partner Lila set off to the estate now owned by Jacques and his niece Eleonora, the daughter of estate’s previous, deceased, owner. They are joined by Madame Belge and her husband Mr. Belge, who wish to buy some art, and Jacques’s fiancée Charlotte, who is jealous of his attentions toward Eleonora. Eleonora herself is strange and mysterious, hiding from the visitors, except for Florian, who met her once before many years ago. Things take a turn for the worse when a blizzard blows in, trapping everyone at the manor house, and Madame Belge is found murdered. Ray must use all of his skills to solve mystery after mystery, as Mr. Belge disappears, a once dead relative reappears, and Eleonora kidnaps Florian, taking him to a hidden and well guarded (by a series of tunnels and booby traps) underground location where she plans to stay with him forever. Not if Ray has anything to say about it. Florian owes him a lot of money, after all.

This one-shot is a continuation of a four-volume series, Gorgeous Carat: Ankoku no Bitoku, published on Tokyopop’s BLU line, originally from Shueisha. According to a note from Higui in the back of the book, the original series was published in the magazine Comic Eyes, but ceased publication and was later picked up by Gentosha Comics. The series is light on the familiar yaoi elements. It’s clean, and mostly free of sexual elements. It has the feel of a murder mystery – a stormy night, strangers, murder, disappearances, kidnapping, a tragic family history, a castle full of secret passageways, and a forest filled with stone monsters that scream in the windy night. Ray takes on the role of detective as he works to solve the mysteries of the Sacred Forest of Monsters and save Florian from the hands of the emotionally scarred Eleonora. Although this is a sequel to an earlier series, the book is written in such a way that it’s not necessary to have read the earlier books. There are references to events in the previous series, but really, they could be from any past event, and wouldn’t confuse new readers. Certainly there are established relationships and characters, but again, the events of this book do not rely on knowledge of the previous series. The main relationship between Florian and Ray plays out rather nicely as Ray challenges Eleonora for Florian’s life. He never voices his affection, and in fact claims he only cares for the debt owed him, but his actions prove his feelings throughout the book.

Title: Our Kingdom
Author: Naduki Koujima (Great Place High School Student Council)
Volume: Volume 1 (of 6)
Vintage: 2000 by Biblos Co. in Japan, 2005 by DMP
Genre: Romance, comedy, yaoi (16+)

When Akira Nonaka’s grandmother dies, whom he moved in with after the death of his parents, the 15-year-old think he is completely alone in the world. However, during the funeral, a man named Okumiya appeared, informing Akira that he had other living relatives, the Takatou family, and promptly brought Akira to their large manor. It is here that Akira learns the truth about his family – his father was Kazusa Takatou, the first born son of the Takatou family, who eloped with a woman and exiled himself from his family. The current heir, the second son, is unable to have children, so Akira’s grandmother, the head of the Takatou family, has called him and his cousin (the oldest daughter’s son) Rei back to the main house, to prepare them as candidates to become heir of the Takatou Group. When this news is unloaded on Akira, he immediately rejects the idea and attempts to leave, but is stopped by Rei, who makes Akira promise to say. As the days pass, Akira is given a strenuous crash course  to make him suitable to live in the Takatou household. Rei, whose other family was also rich, already has the culture and education for his status, and is left to mope around the house, waiting each day for Akira to finish studying so they can play together. But Rei has a little more in mind, and he begins pushing his affections onto the awkward young man, who thinks the other boy is simply playing games with him. When Rei’s bodyguard from America follows him to Japan, Akira begins to see more clearly what it’s like to be a member of a rich and powerful family, constantly watched, and forbidden from doing things on ones own. Rei, who has lived a lonely life, attaches strongly to Akira, and becomes fiercely jealous when Akira tries to befriend the over zealous bodyguard Shigure, and again when a young relative of Rei’s, Raoul, begins making moves on Akira. When neither boy has any desire to become the next heir, who will become the next head of the Takatou family?

This one has a nice innocent feel to it. They’re just kids, so their expressions of friendship and love are very awkward. Rei’s love stems from a single photograph of Akira that was brought by Akira’s father. He’s been looking forward to meeting Akira for several years, so when the boy finally arrives, Akira’s pent up emotions begin tumbling out. Akira, with his simple country sensibilities and Japanese values, is quite confused by Rei’s actions. Not only that, but he finds it hard to become friends with someone so different from him, concerned about the large social gap between them. This gap between his common upbringing and the Takatou family is also one  of the reasons he doesn’t even want to be considered for the position of heir. For his part, it seems Rei is only even there so he can meet Akira, as he also has no desire to lead the family. Okumiya and Shigure haven’t been developed very far at this point. Okumiya is strict and diligent, but has a warped sense of humor (mostly he finds Akira’s country-bumpkin nature hilarious), while Shigure has a gentle nature and is obsessed with Rei’s protection.  The kids are cute enough with their social awkwardness, and most of the time their relationship is fairly innocent, but it could easily get a little raunchy. It’s missing honesty and a genuine feel, and is instead a little on the silly side. Still, with a smaller cast and more defined characters (and not as much overt sexual content), it’s a lot better than Great Place High School, which is the only other Koujima book I’ve read.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copies provided by Digital Manga Publishing.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Manga , Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New yaoi #manga review Gorgeous Carat Galaxy & Our Kingdom 1 from @digitalmanga http://comicattack.net/2010/10/bblgorgeouscaratkingdom/ […]



  2. […] Pattillo on vol. 1 of Cross Game (ANN) Kristin on Gorgeous Carat Galaxy and vol. 1 of Our Kingdom (Comic Attack) Julie Opipari on Higurashi When They Cry: Beyond Midnight Arc, vol. 1 (Manga Maniac […]



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