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March 8, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: 9th Sleep

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: 9th Sleep
Author: Makoto Tateno
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing, on their Juné imprint
Volume: It’s a oneshot; $12.95
Vintage: 2008 in Japan, December 2009 by DMP
Genre: 16+; it’s classified as a yaoi title but…it’s not at all.  I’m not sure why they chose this imprint, which is usually host to their mature yaoi titles (meaning more than Doki Doki, but not enough for 801 Media).  Fantasy, a little romance.

Many, many years ago, the planet died, abandoned by its creator.  Then a savior came, and brought life back into the Earth.  “God” now lives in a city in the sky.  Luke, a youth of fifteen, is a child of immaculate conception, what the locals in Birth call “Maria Possession.”  On his way to work he is attacked by a mysterious man claiming to be his older brother.  He manages to get away, but the man returns again.  This time, Luke feels a power begin to awaken inside him, and he’s able to fight back a bit.  As Luke’s memories come flooding back, he realizes that he and his brother Malchus are the heirs to the kingdom in the sky.  The King’s Soul, which resides in the ruler of the kingdom, descended to Earth into the body of a human – Luke.  But this Luke isn’t the first; he’s actually a reincarnation of the original Luke, who died sixteen years ago, implanting his spirit into the body of Marian, Luke’s mother.  Malchus has been hunting Luke, attempting to take the King’s Soul for himself and become king.  The law of succession in this sky kingdom requires a battle between the two princes for the King’s Soul, with the winner becoming king, and the loser sealed away in a deep sleep, until the time comes for him to challenge the next heir for the King’s Soul.  Luke rejects this, and rejects his position, but Malchus will not back down.  And so, to prevent Malchus from taking his soul, Luke kills himself first, and sends his soul to Earth to be reborn again and again.

Malchus reveals Luke's true identity to him, in 9th Sleep.

The basic story is really interesting.  However, I had to read this one twice before it made any sense.  You probably will too.  It’s a bunch of convoluted nonsense early on until the “twist” is revealed.  And while that doesn’t exactly make much sense either, it does explain everything else.  When I’d think about it, I realized that the same prince could lose and be sealed away an infinite number of times, if he always lost the battle to the heir.  Which didn’t seem right.  Because it’s not.  What Luke and Malchus believe to be true is a manipulation.  Yet even though they’re destined to fight, the brothers seem to care for each other.  Luke’s rejection of their fate comes not only from his desire to live a normal life for himself, but also a desire not to fight his brother.  And while Malchus fights fiercely against Luke, during one of Luke’s incarnations, Malchus raises him and teaches him to fight.  Which also seems a little odd, but he wants a true fight…and he wants to keep Luke away from the influences of the human world (so he won’t kill himself to run away again).  Unfortunately their relationship has been twisted by whatever commandment or being created this sad destiny, and that fate can’t be changed.

Again I have to wonder why this is a Juné title.  Maybe I’m just reading it in a different way, because I don’t get anything more than sibling love out of this (and it’s not even the incest kind).  If there’s boys’ love going on, I’m not picking up on it.  But there it is on the cover of the book, “Yaoi Manga.”  Why this isn’t under their regular DMP label, I don’t know.  Unless I’m misunderstanding the definition of their imprints.

Tune in next Monday for a look at the Ouran High School Host Club manga from Viz Media.


Review copy provided by Digital Manga.



  1. This one sounds pretty cool. I dig the Divine angle.

  2. It was actually rather sweet, once I wasn’t confused about the plot anymore.

  3. billy

    “boys love”-lol

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  5. 9th Sleep was published under Digital Manga’s boys’ love imprint because that was the way it was originally published in Japan. Makoto Tateno intended it to be a boys’ love story but it fell sort of short in that regard as she apologizes for in the end notes.

    Still a nice fantasy story but definitely worth noting to readers in advance isn’t very yaoi-tastic.

  6. Kristin

    I noticed she mentioned that in her notes at the back of the book. I’m going to assume then, that it was probably published in the same magazine that her traditional BL stories were.
    Thanks for pointing that out, Lissa!

  7. […] “Pestering Matt Thorn”… Kris dedicates her latest Bento Bako Weekly column to 9th Sleep… Greg McElhatton swabs the deck with Monkey D. Luffy and the One Piece gang… Erica […]

  8. JRB

    Also, DokiDoki is a cobranding deal with Shinshokan, and so far it has only been used for books from that publisher. 9th Sleep was originally published by Biblos (in Magazine ZERO) and would not be eligible for DokiDoki.

  9. Kristin

    Well, there we go. Next time I’ll just ask the source. 🙂

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