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November 10, 2010

Bento Bako Lite: White Brand & Stop Bullying Me!

Welcome back to another double dose of yaoi goodies from Digital Manga Publishing! Both titles are from DMP’s Juné imprint and are $12.95 each, and they are both one-shots.

Title: White Brand
Author: Youka Nitta
Vintage: 1998 by Houbunsha CO., 2008 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (18+), romance, drama

White Brand is a collection of five hit-or-miss short stories. I found three of them quite enjoyable, one quite the opposite, and one too short and shallow to have much merit. The title story, “White Brand” is a little bizarre, but has its charms. Izuru and Asano were childhood friends, but they haven’t spoken in ten years, since the death of Asano’s father. Thrust together again by being in the same class at the same high school, the two boys must deal with the trauma from their past if they are to become friends once again. Unfortunately, Asano’s trauma left him with an aversion to anything that isn’t pure and white, which includes Izuru’s dark skin. “Teal End” deals with a different kind of prejudice. Keith, an American who came to Japan to study the art of lacquer, has trouble being accepted by the other artists simply because he isn’t Japanese. Takeshi, the son of Keith’s master, desperately confesses his feelings when he fears the man he loves will leave Japan forever. Keith’s quest for acceptance is touching, as are Takeshi’s passionate feelings towards both Keith’s and Keith’s lacquer work. “Hasta la Vista, Baby” is the only story I had a real aversion to. Tomomi feels like a third wheel sharing an apartment with his acting troupe friends, lovers Asaoka and Kumiya. Unsure how to play the role of a woman who can’t have children in an upcoming productions, Tomomi borrows his sister’s child for research, so he can learn about feelings towards children. Unable to handle the child, Tomomi leashes him to a couch, and later buries the toddler under a pillow to quiet his crying, before running away from the situation all together. Even so, the child shows him love in the end. I can handle the rape that permeates yaoi, but please leave child abuse out of it; Tomomi’s incompetence and crazed actions are really disturbing and the story leaves a bad taste. Fortunately it’s followed by “Exhibition Painting,” a story about a young man whose parents recently died, leaving him their large estate and collection of expensive paintings. He finds and rescues a man named Kazuki on the street who is weak and hungry, but the man’s presence is looked down on by Remy’s estate manager. Remy, who is distrustful of others, can read people’s hearts, and sees the honesty in the stranger he picked up, which is refreshing after dealing with the manipulative manager. Kazuki returns this trust in the end, saving Remy’s life. This simple story is my favorite of the bunch. The final story “One Size Fits All,” is too short and shallow to evoke much emotion. Masatomo has a fetish for tall women, but he dumps his current girlfriend when he spots his neighbor, the famous (and very tall) model Kazumi through the window. For once he feels himself beginning to take a relationship seriously when he is strongly drawn to the other man.

Title: Stop Bullying Me!
Author: Natsuho Shino
Vintage: 2006 by Kaiohsha Publishing, 2008 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi (16+), romance, comedy

Stop Bullying Me! is a single self contained story, with a short bonus story to fill the final pages. The first is amusing and sweet, if you don’t mind the type of uke who is small, naive, innocent, stupid (as in lacking intelligence), slow, and overly cute. And if you don’t mind brother complexes (it’s not an incest story, though). Tomo has a brother complex for his cool older brother Ei. He even studied nonstop to get into the same high school. Unfortunately his big brother is busy being the student council president, and doesn’t have a lot of time to spend with Tomo. Tomo, who visits the student council room often, is usually looked after by the vice president and Ei’s best friend, Izumi. Well, that is, if “looked after” means “constantly bullying.” Tomo thinks Izumi hates him, so he’s confused by the random acts of gentle kindness from the older boy. One day Izumi takes things too far, and Tomo breaks down in tears, causing Izumi to apologize and finally confess his true feelings – he’s actually in love with Tomo. Feelings confessed, they try to start a relationship, but Izumi worries that Ei will always be Tomo’s favorite, and begins to distance himself again, only to have the timid Tomo demand a stronger show of affection. Unfortunately, they’re caught by Ei! With both of the older boys growing jealous of each other, things get a little rocky for Tomo. Ei watches them like a hawk, and Izumi grows jealous over Tomo’s constant praising of Ei. Things get even worse for poor Tomo when Ei and Izumi praise a fellow student council member for his hard work ethics, and Tomo feels inadequate. Will Tomo and Izumi ever manage a real relationship that everyone can live with? The story is cute and goofy, but frankly, Tomo is a bit annoying. Ei and Izumi dominate the story easily, even though Tomo is technically the main character. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it otherwise; it’s an entertaining read. The bonus story, “Please Keep it a Secret,” is a bit stronger, even for being so short. Childhood friends Yuuri and Kousuke are reunited in high school. Yuri has cultivated an image of maturity and coolness, though it crumbles easily around Kousuke. The two pick up where they left off, until Yuuri gets a girlfriend, and Kousuke starts avoiding him. The confused Yuuri seeks out Kousuke and feelings are revealed. Would love to see more of this pair; shame it’s so short. They’re very cute together.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copies provided by Digital Manga Publishing.

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5 Comments



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Manga , Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New #yaoi #manga reviews; from @digitalmanga White Brand & Stop Bullying Me! http://comicattack.net/2010/11/bblwhitebrandbully/ […]


  2. Jade

    The first title, White Brand, sounds like it has a bad case of manga plot-pod people. I’d almost want to applaud the author for the gymnastics it would take to create a non-racist story about a guy with an irrational fear of dark skin, but I realised he must just be conveniently insane for the sake of whatever goofy idea the author had originally, haha.

    ‘How do humans feel when they are unable to manufacture new humans? This human feeling does not register in my databanks. I will borrow my sister’s new human and this will show me what not having a new human feels like.’ That’s just another perfect example right there. ‘Fresh humans are inconvenient. How would normal humans respond to this stimuli? I shall tie the new human to this human sofa.’


  3. Kristin

    He’s actually just tanned, if that makes any difference. And the kid isn’t just afraid of dark skin; he’s freaked out by anything that’s not white. When his father died, he heard the adults say some things like…. “He never smoked or such and such, so his lungs must be pristine. His soul was pure white.” And so on. So he came to associate goodness with purity, and purity with the color white. So in art class, he doesn’t want to dirty the white paper, and he’s freaked out by his friend’s dark skin. I don’t know if the explanation makes it any better or worse…..

    HAHAHAHA That story was SO weird. The play they were doing…. He was playing a woman who could not have children, so she hated children, but worked in an orphanage (or something similar) where she was always around them. So he was trying to understand how someone who hated children because she couldn’t have any, could also love them. Or…something. That was the only story in there I outright didn’t like AT ALL.



  4. […] vol. 1 of Itazura na Kiss (Sequential Ink) Animemiz on Portrait of M&N (Anime Diet) Kristin on White Brand and Stop Bullying Me! (Comic […]



  5. […] enjoyed it. It’s about time I got around to it. Had I realized it was by the same creator as White Brand, I might have gotten to it sooner. Curiously, this volume was released in 2010, and no other volume […]



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