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April 13, 2012

Bento Bako Bonus: DMG Short Takes pt. 1

Last year, manga publisher Digital Manga Publishing launched the Digital Manga Guild, a project that would pull talent from around the world to publish a plethora of manga digitally through emanga.com. Anyone interested in joining can apply, take a test relevant to their preferred position (editor, letterer, translator), and join up with a guild group to publish manga. Over the past few months, (mostly) yaoi manga has poured forth from this initiative, of varying quality, to the delight of any yaoi fan. Though these titles are only available digitally, it’s still a legal way to get your fix, and support a publisher as well as all the individuals working to make these titles available. There’s a lot of new titles, so I thought I’d do some short reviews of several of them at once, just to show you what’s out there to read. Not sure how often I’ll do this, as my allergy addled eyes make it difficult for me to do much reading on the computer, but there’s so much new stuff out there to read now that I just can’t ignore it! So let’s get started.

Title: Curve
Author: Kahiro Kyouda
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (Digital Manga Guid)
DMG Group: The Knights of the Eastern Calculus

Yuu Takamiya is a young man who works odd jobs to support himself. One of his current jobs involves setting up a gallery for an artist’s show. While the strong but exceptionally clumsy Yuu is moving one of the sculptor’s pieces, he drops and breaks the one of a kind work of art. Masaya Shikibu, the artist’s manager, is surprisingly forgiving about the accident, but encourages Yuu to visit the artist and apologize in person. When Yuu goes to meet the artist, Minoru Kuji, the skilled clay sculptor offers Yuu a job as an assistant in his studio. Yuu’s second job, meanwhile, is to spy on Masaya for a detective agency. As Yuu balances his two jobs, and begins to fall in love with Minoru, he discovers that Minoru and Masaya have more in common than he realized – they are one and the same!

This one-shot is a pleasant read. There’s not a lot of depth to the story, but it is well written and decently drawn. There’s a certain honesty and freedom that Minoru is drawn to in Yuu, and it certainly helps that Yuu is far outside of the social circle Minoru has lived in his entire life. Yuu doesn’t care about Minoru’s family, about his past, about his money, or anything else. He just cares about Minoru the person. There’s some nice comic relief from Yuu’s stake out partners, Tatsu and Kim, who are serious romantics at heart and cheer Yuu on in exploring his feelings for Minoru. There are glimpses into one of Yuu’s past relationships with another man that lead to the assumption Yuu might have been emotionally traumatized in some way, but it has barely any effect on his intimacy with Minoru, which is about the only thing that’s really bothersome about the story. Otherwise, Curve is a relatively gentle and sweet story about a man who is struggling to break free from his father’s rule, and the young man who gives him the strength to follow his own path. The translation group, The Knights of the Eastern Calculus, do an excellent job with the dialog, which flows smoothly and never jolted me with awkward errors.

Title: Faraway Places
Author: Juji Fusa
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing (DMG)
DMG Group: SolarCoaster

Toru Kanda threw away everything and moved to Tokyo three years ago to become a writer. Finding himself rather lonely, on a whim Toru found a pen pal through an old magazine. His pen pal, Takeshi Sagawa, becomes his strength and support, and Toru finds himself developing feelings for this man he has never met. From his letters, Takeshi appears to be well read, intelligent, kind, and easy to “talk” to. The two young men agree to meet, but Toru’s image of Takeshi is completely blown away when he discovers his pen pal is a tough looking, though handsome, member of the yakuza. But as they talk through the night, Toru realizes that Takeshi is exactly as he came across in his letters, and that he appears to have feelings for Toru, as he kisses him and then drags him off to a hotel for some sexy times. With their feelings finally straightened out, the two begin a real relationship, though they are separated by a sizable difference since Takeshi’s yakuza family lives in the countryside while Toru lives in the city. Takeshi is ready to give up everything to be with Toru, but it’s hard for him to cut himself off completely from his friends, family, and responsibilities.

This humorous story paints a cheery, fun, romantic view of the yakuza, which as anyone who knows anything about that lifestyle can tell you is a gross inaccuracy. If you’re a regular yaoi reader, you’ll know that yakuza stories are common, but few paint them as the deadly and corrupt entities they really are. Takeshi’s yakuza family is goofy and lovable, and that’s fine, because that’s the kind of story this is. They do seem to have retired from the typical yakuza lifestyle, however, and help work the farms and such in the area they now live in. Having not experienced many serious relationships, Takeshi is awkward and clumsy around Toru, whom he has rare and genuine feelings for. He’s easily excitable, and tends not to think things through, but he’s fiercely devoted, even if he does have sex on the brain almost constantly. Toru is a gentler guy, but isn’t as honest with himself as Takeshi is. Though it can’t be said that he’s falling in with the best crowd, Toru is able to find himself a new family with Takeshi and his yakuza group. Faraway Places is a cute story, likely to elicit a giggle here or there, and is well translated by SolarCoaster for a smooth read.


Review access provided by DMP.




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