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December 10, 2010

Bento Bako Bonus: Sugar Milk & The Day I Became a Butterfly

It’s a Digital Manga Publishing yaoi double feature today! Anyone who doesn’t like boys with other boys should move along to Friendly Ghosts to Gamma Rays. Both titles are one-shots and are $12.95 each.

Title: Sugar Milk
Author: Jaryu Dokuro
Vintage: 2007 by Tokyo Mangasha Co. in Japan, 2008 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi, romance, comedy, 18+

As its title may invoke, this is a very sweet collection of short stories. They’re pretty straight forward, so this will probably go quickly. It begins with “What’s Your Name?”, a story about a convenience store worker and a random customer with a large dog. Yamada, recently dumped by his girl, doesn’t believe in love at first sight. Until he’s instantly taken by a random male customer at his store, whom he doesn’t think he’ll ever see again. Until the man’s large dog tackles Yamada on the street. Fate brings the two men together, with a little help from a faithful canine. In “Fifteen,” while touring a possible new school, Nishihara sees the boy’s basketball team practicing, and is amazed by one of the players, who initially mistakes him for a girl. Now attending the same high school, he’s surprised when the other boy tracks him down and asks him out. But Satoshi keeps himself oddly distanced, making Nishihara anxious about whether the boy really likes him. Was their first meeting at the gym fate, or are they not meant to be? “The Lingering Scent of a Rainbow” is another super sweet tale, this time about a teacher named Furuya and his exceptionally intelligent student Ryu. Ryu brings color into Furuya’s otherwise average life, so when the school decides to transfer the boy to a school more suitable for his active mind, Furuya begins to struggle with his selfish desire to keep Ryu near him and what is really best for Ryu. Can he let go of Ryu for the boy’s sake? The title story is broken up into “Milk” and “Sugar.” This one is cute, but not as sickly sweet as the others. Sho and Taichi are childhood friends now working at a karaoke club together. When they go drinking one night, Sho ends up taking advantage of a drunken Taichi and has sex with him. When Taichi wakes up, Sho is gone, having disappeared on Taichi yet again, like he did when they graduated high school. After a co-worker spots Sho in a park, Taichi runs off to confront him about his own feelings. “Waiting for Winter,” with it’s older main character, has a more mature feel to it. Tetsuji, a freelance photographer, has spent the last two years on one subject – the beautiful Yoichi, whom he founds living on the streets and took into his home. Suddenly, Tetsuji lost his motivation, his inspiration stalled, while Yoichi was continued to grow on his own, becoming a famous model, going beyond the scope of Testuji’s lens. When Yoichi realizes that Tetsuji is stuck, he drastically changes his appearance to show the photographer that things change, and time can’t be stopped, not even with a camera. Finally, “New Years Eve” returns us to Sho and Taichi as they passionately bring in the new year together. All of the stories are sweet and lovey, so if you enjoy that in your yaoi, this one is worth a look. Take a peek under the dust jacket for some extra small-panel images of the characters.

Title: The Day I Became a Butterfly
Author: Sumomo Yumeka
Vintage: 2003 by Taiyoh Tosho Co., 2007 by DMP
Genre: Yaoi, drama, romance, 16+

First things first. The art in this one is beautiful. Fortunately, so are the stories. This one has a gentler, more mature feel compared to Sugar Milk. Though the stories can be a little abstract. First is the title story, “The Day I Became a Butterfly.” The rumor around school is that Mikami can “hear” when a person is going to die. The sickly Uka, worried that Mikami may hate him, wonders if Mikami simply ignores him because he knows Uka will die soon. But when Mikami helps Uka find his little sister in the nick of time, Uka exclaims to the other boy that he must not hate him, since he helped him out. He is further surprised when Mikami helps him after he collapses in class. Mikami, uncomfortable with expressing himself, tries his best to get his feelings across to Uka. When Uka becomes worried about his upcoming surgery, Mikami tells him to be sure to return to him, and not to begin a new life as a butterfly, away from him (referring to reincarnation). Following this very gentle, but ambiguous story is “You at the End.” Unari likes to escape from the cruel realities of the world by flying high on his skateboard. Generally a loner, Unari takes special note of a mute boy named Masariya, who brings light into his gray world. A jealous friend bullies the helpless Masariya, prompting Unari to decide to move to a new city for college, and bring Masariya with him. Inside, Masariya desperately, silently, cries out for Unari to never leave him. “The Lonely War” tells the story of high school students Suzu and Kawashima, two members of a group of four close friends whose lives may soon change with graduation. Kawashima loves Suzu, and tries to keep his feelings locked away, but eventually he reveals them to Suzu. For her part, Suzu is frightened of falling in love, worried she’ll lose her dearest friend through an inevitable divorce, just like her own parents. “Blue Cat Tunnel” takes one of the four friends and gives her a story of her own. Tokiko, Suzu’s best friend, hides her true self from the friend she loves. Tokiko gives herself to men in exchange for money and gifts, usually when she’s unable to have the man she really wants, a former teacher named Takayama. She can’t have the relationship she wants with him, because he’s married…to a woman who has been in a coma since they were in a car accident three years prior. Tokiko tries hard to keep this life a secret from Suzu, not knowing that her friend knows more about her than she thought. “Tokyo Alien Ulala” is rather strange, and difficult to explain. Ulala claims that he is the future emperor of the galaxy, and most things out of his moth are equally inane. Yuzuru is mostly confused by his words, especially when Ulala states that his world revolves around him. But with the stress from his home life on his shoulders, Yuzuru finds strange comfort in Ulala’s carefree attitude and silly stories. The final story, “Planet Yours,” centers around a group of three high school students, males Haru and Akira, and female Nina, who are in a relationship. Akira is often uncomfortable, but has a strong fondness for Haru, whose imagination and love of outer space create a special magic in Akira’s world. A magic that Akira needs to help him escape from his troubled home life and abusive father. I was surprised at how much each of these stories managed to convey in so few pages. It’s true that there’s a lot of ambiguity, and sometimes the stories can be nonsensical, but there’s a quiet beauty here that makes this book a pleasant read. It’s not entirely yaoi, and the yaoi elements there are really mild, so shoujo fans shouldn’t shy away from this one either.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copies provided by DMP.

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3 Comments



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Manga , Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: New #yaoi #manga reviews Sugar Milk & Day I Became a Butterfly from @digitalmanga https://comicattack.net/2010/12/bbbsugarmilkbutterfly/ […]



  2. Those titles…I don’t even…lol.


  3. Kristin

    Alright, to be fair, Sugar Milk is referring to a lollipop from Spain that is popular in Japan. They’re called Chupa Chups. They come in a Milk flavor, which is a favorite flavor for one of the pairs of boys in the story.

    The Day I Became a Butterfly is a reference to reincarnation. The boys talk about how when they die, they’d like to come back as a butterfly so they could fly away from everything.

    So there.



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