top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 2

previously…

Doushitemo Furetakunai's Soredemo, Yasashii Koi o Suru by Yoneda Kou

Doushitemo Furetakunai’s Soredemo, Yasashii Koi o Suru by Yoneda Kou

In top 10 yaoi manga, part 1 (which is actually a top 25, because I have virtually no yaoi self-control), I made it through the first five manga, featuring works by Nitta Youka, Yamane Ayano, Shimizu Yuki, and Yoneda Kou.

Today we’ll be visited by four mangaka who include the most hard core on this list and one of the sweetest and most gentle. Fun, fun, fun!


on this page…

…you’ll find this list’s manga and moods #6-10 (despite it saying #1-5):

  1. Under Grand Hotel by Sadahiro Mika
  2. Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu by Asou Kai
  3. Play Boy Blues by Kano Shiuko
  4. Punch Up by Kano Shiuko
  5. Koisuru Boukun (The Tyrant Falls in Love) by Takanaga Hinako

Already read all of these? Skip to the next page: top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 3 of 5


6. Under Grand Hotel (2003) – Sadahiro Mika

Under Grand Hotel by Sadahiro Mika

Under Grand Hotel by Sadahiro Mika

Mood:

  1. Today I’m feeling emotionally strong, and I’m craving the kind of stimulation you can only get from a truly intense yaoi.
  2. I don’t need no stinkin’ fluffy, fuzzy, or cute. Give me gritty; today I can handle just about anything, including any noncon you throw my way.
  3. An American setting would be a nice change, somewhere dark and a bit claustrophobic, like an underground maximum security penitentiary.
  4. Despite my bravado, I don’t want unrelenting cruelty; that’s still not my thing.
  5. Even in this grim place, I want to be able to cling to a faint glimmer of hope that at the end of the darkness there might be a happy ending waiting for these boys.

Story: It sucks being the new Japanese prisoner in a penitentiary hellhole. Wouldn’t want to be Sen. With the baddest badass in the prison as his roommate, he may have some protection from the surrounding hoard of violent, rape-happy prisoners, but no one can protect him from his cellmate. Is there any chance, even a tiny one, that he might hope for love, safety, or possibly a future?

My experience: Under Grand Hotel isn’t an easy, gentle read, but as crazy as it seems, it didn’t take too many chapters before I was obsessively protective of my hope that good things would happen for Sen and Swordfish. I will admit, there are a couple of scenes that still send shudders down my spine (and that I probably wouldn’t actually mind forgetting), but I wouldn’t have skipped the story for anything. As far as I know, there’s no drama CD, and man, that was a wise decision; I don’t even want to think what it would sound like. Think Deliverance.

Mangaka: Sadahiro Mika, the queen of gritty yaoi. This is probably her most famous work, and if you can handle or like very hard core yaoi featuring an almost endless parade of violence and noncon, well, you absolutely gotta read this. I think that’s actually a law somewhere, and you wouldn’t want the yaoi police coming after you (especially if it means you’ll be dropped in a place like the UGH). The drawings are an older style and not exactly gorgeous, but in a prison setting, they shouldn’t be.

Under Grand Hotel by Sadahiro Mika

Under Grand Hotel by Sadahiro Mika

Purchasing: licensed by 801 Media (but for some reason not listed on their site); available on Akadot, among others. While this was published in Japanese in three volumes, for the English release it was condensed into two, so each costs more than your normal manga. At the moment, only vol. 2 seems to be in print, but both volumes are available as ebooks. There have also been some doujinshi published since the end of the primary arc.

hop back up to the manga list


7. Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu (2008)– Asou Kai 

Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu by Asou Kai

Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu by Asou Kai

Mood:

  1. Today I wouldn’t touch Under Grand Hotel with a thirty-foot pole.
  2. I want a gentle slice of life without unnecessary drama.
  3. Forget noncon.
  4. Let’s have a slow, fairly peaceful romance between adults, with a decent sense of humor.
  5. When we finally get to the sex, how about hot and fairly graphic — as a reward for my patience.
  6. It would be nice to see a father-figure story, and a child who is sweet (but not cloying), with a well-developed character (and, oh yeah, not irritating).
  7. A couple of well-done volumes will be enough to fill me up and give me the character and story depth I’m craving.
  8. And as a food-obsessed person, I wouldn’t mind a few cooking scenes, but that would just be a bonus.

Story: Oosawa is a straight, single father who works in an izakaya (the equivalent of a Japanese pub) — yay food! For years, he has been half-jokingly pursued by one of their regulars, gay playboy Yoshioka. Oosawa couldn’t be less interested. But it’s not easy being a single parent, and in a moment of need, when Yoshioka extends a helping hand, Oosawa grudgingly begins to rethink his assumptions about the seemingly frivolous man.

Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu by Asou Kai

Sorenari ni Shinken Nandesu by Asou Kai

My experience: I’ve reread my copies of these books so many times that they look more worn than all my other manga. I love the warm feeling this story gives me, and I adore all three of the main characters. I often find yaoi children to be annoying, flat plot-drivers (I hesitate to say characters), but I enjoy Chizu. Despite some minor complaints about the two-dimensionality of Chizu’s mother, overall I couldn’t love this manga more; it feeds my craving for gentle, grown up, yaoi romance. I am heartbroken that there’s no drama CD.

Mangaka: Asou Kai is a goddess. I jump on the chance to read (and buy) anything of hers that I can get my hands on. Her protagonists are almost always working adults, and her stories are slice of life that focus on developing the characters through everyday interactions rather than too much external drama. Her art is beautiful, and when she switches to the simplified humor-art, it always kills me with the funny-cute of it.

Purchasing: published by Juné in 2 volumes under the title Only Serious About You; at present, it appears that only vol. 2 is in print, nor does there seem to be an ebook.

hop back up to the manga list


8-9. Play Boy Blues (P.B.B.) (2003)  ~  Punch Up (2004) – Kano Shiuko

8. Play Boy Blues (P.B.B.)

Play Boy Blues by Kano Shiuko

Play Boy Blues by Kano Shiuko

 

Mood:

  1. Let’s see, today I still want to read about adults, but maybe this time a little on the seedier, racier, more intense side.
  2. Come to think of it, I’m quite fond of host club stories.
  3. Throwing in a little blue collar action would be good, too.
  4. I was plenty patient reading the book above, so this time I’d like a lot more sex, a lot sooner, and pretty darn graphic.
  5. But I’m still not recovered from Under Grand Hotel, so I’ll pass on the noncon.
  6. I’m willing to tolerate some older, uglier art and scans at the beginning, but I hope the quality will improve with time.
  7. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind listening to drama CD’s, although I might just read the manga.

Story: Junsuke and Shinobu live together. They used to work together at a host club, but Shinobu has quit and now works construction. Junsuke wants a relationship, but even though they sleep together, Shinobu is running scared.

My experience: When I first tried to read Play Boy Blues, the poor scans and sketchy translations in the early chapters were challenging, and, frankly, the behavior and attitudes of the very sexually liberated main characters were a bit disorienting (I was just a little yaoi newbie at the time). Yeah, but I got over that and into it lickety split.

Mangaka: This is part of what I think of as Kano Shiuko’s “construction worker” universe, because all of the titles are tied one way or another to the construction company where Shinobu works. The stories preceding this title were single volumes, with just a few chapters per couple; this is first multi-volume series in that universe (the most recent being the next title on the list). Kano-sensei’s sex scenes tend to be raw and wild, in the best ways possible, and even if the art isn’t as pretty as it is in her later books, it still works just fine.

Play Boy Blues by Kano Shiuko

Purchasing: out of print. According to MangaUpdates, it’s a 4 volume series, although a “book 11” seems to be available as an ebook, so it looks like the English publisher has been doing something funky. Anybody know? In any case, it seems to have only been scanlated through volume 3, and since it’s a Libre title, we’re unlikely to see any more scanlations. As far as I can tell, only volume 1 was ever published in English (aside from that mysterious book 11). An outrageous state of affairs.

hop back up to the manga list


9. Punch Up

 

Mood:

  1. I’m really in the mood for a straight up romance between a naive but strong uke and a chronically oversexed and somewhat perverted seme.
  2. Grown ups and consensual sex are welcome.
  3. I don’t mind some drama or a bit of goofiness, but I’d like to have it all built on the foundation of solid characters and moderate sweetness, so I can have both a bit of substance and slice of warm-n-fuzzy in my diet.
  4. I’ll take one hot construction worker and one horny architect to go, please.
  5. Oh, and if I could have some cats today (real cats), I’ll have that for dessert.
  6. Manga or drama CD, I’m good with either or both.
Punch Up by Kano Shiuko

Punch Up by Kano Shiuko

Story: Architect Motoharu, a minor character from Play Boy Blues, is accidentally punched by a construction worker. And his cat has run away. Not the best day ever. In any case, it makes sense that a construction worker would meet the building’s architect, and if they’re both hot and gay (hey, we’re reading a yaoi), something might start up between them. However, with significant differences in class, age, and education, a stable relationship between the two would have some pretty darn big obstacles to overcome. Four volumes worth, actually. Fortunately, that doesn’t get in the way of the generous helping of nosebleed-worthy graphic sex.

My experience: I was shocked to find that I could like Motoharu, since in so many ways he’s the kind of character I want to strangle. And, actually, there were a few times I felt that need creeping up on me. But his determination to make the relationship work, and the occasional glimpses of his maturation process, allowed me to root for him. Still, for me, my emotional investment was in seeing Kouta find his happy. The plot device for the final arc was, ahem, more than a bit cliche, but it didn’t ruin the series for me, probably because I really liked the final antagonist. But it was a close thing. And, wow, I could look at those construction worker bodies all… day… long.

Mangaka: (first see P.B.B., above). Shiuko-sensei’s art is much prettier in Punch Up than in P.B.B., which I don’t really understand, since they aren’t separated by that much time. Still, no complaints. This story is classic her, nesting perfectly within the rest of her canon.

Punch Up by Kano Shiuko

Punch Up by Kano Shiuko

Purchasing: in English by SuBLime, 4 volumes, hard copy & ebook, all in print. Fairly recently released, so get ‘em while you can. I have the whole set, and the friend I loaned them to awhile back ended up buying them too, always a good sign.

hop back up to the manga list


10. Koisuru Boukun (The Tyrant Falls in Love) (2004) – Takanaga Hinako

Koisuru Boukun by Takanaga Hinako

Koisuru Boukun by Takanaga Hinako

 

Mood:

  1. I want to watch an anime.
  2. No, read a manga.
  3. No, listen to a drama CD.
  4. Damn, can’t make up my mind. Well, one or all of them.
  5. Most of all, I’d like to laugh and see some exciting sex scenes that are at least moderately graphic.
  6. A university setting would work.
  7. Nuanced noncon, if there is such a thing, might be fun. In other words, I’m okay with the intensity of a little noncon, but the (I hesitate to say) “romantic” kind, not the mean or power-play kind.
  8. Today what I’m craving is a really reluctant uke with an explosive temper that’s played for humor — one whose over-the-top reactions to everything make my jaw drop and my funny bone tingle.
  9. And how about pairing him up with an out of touch with reality, bumbling, yet sincere, seme, who’s got a bit of a masochistic streak (I mean, who else would want that uke?).

Story: Koisuru Boukun brings together an opinionated, prickly homophobe and the (idiot) kouhai who, for some inexplicable reason known only to him, loves him. And is willing to put up with him. It takes 8 volumes for the relationship to finally gel, but thanks to one very persistent and creative seme, you don’t starve for sex scenes along the way. Even though the main arc is complete, Takanaga-sensei is still writing some additional side stories; however, they’re kinda boring and repetitive, so I’d stick with the original story.

Koisuru Boukun by Takanaga Hinako

Koisuru Boukun by Takanaga Hinako

My experience: the Koisuru Boukun anime (a two-part OVA), which tells the story of the manga’s first volume, was one of my first experiences of yaoi. It took me awhile to scrape my jaw off the carpet. One part of the couple’s dynamic is a bit like Junjou Romantica — the “one step forward, two steps back” relationship, which I know has annoyed some readers; however, just as I was about to get irritated, Takanaga-sensei let the boys have a nice fight about it, during which she gave a much more convincing explanation for the continuing reluctance than I ever got out of Junjou Romantica (which I finally just gave up reading). In the end, Souichi, our darling homophobe, may just be my favorite yaoi character, and when he has his hair down, the drool puddles around my feet. Holy cow is he pretty.

Mangaka: Takanaga Hinako is one of the big names in yaoi, and this is by far her most popular and famous story. Its length lets her draw a convincing progression from homophobe to boyfriend (that can’t possibly be a spoiler, right, I mean, where do you think a yaoi story like this is going?), which is a nice change from the “I hate gay people and you and the horse you rode in on” (chapter 1) to “tra-la-la-la-la, we’re in love” (chapter 2) yaoi stories. Sometimes her drawings strike me as too pretty, but in the case of this story, it doesn’t bother me.

Purchasing: Juné – the main story arc is complete with 8 volumes that go in & out of print (at the moment vol. 2 seems to be out of print, and more seem available on Amazon than the Juné website); hard copy only. The OVA doesn’t appear to be for sale in the U.S. but can be found at the Aarinfantasy forums (you need to sign up as a member).

hop back up to the manga list

koisuru boukun1

Koisuru Boukun by Takanaga Hinako (anime)


Coming up in the further adventures of the yaoi top 10 (or, rather, 25) yaoi:

Hope to see you there!

13 thoughts on “top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 2

  1. Pingback: top 10 yaoi manga… sort of | the joy of yaoi

  2. Thank you! This really is how I think about what I want to read on a given day, and I hope that others will find it a useful approach. It’s a challenge to try to decide what’s useful and what’s a spoiler, but I’m doing my best… and it’s so much fun writing about stories I’ve gotten so much out of.

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  3. I can’t wait to put aside the time to check out all of your recommendations. I’m so excited! Up until now, it’s always been hit-or-miss with me finding good yaoi manga.

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  4. Wow, Thank you! I hope they will tickle your fancy. I have three more posts coming in this series, so I hope that somewhere in there you’ll find ones that appeal to you. I’d be curious to know what you think once you read them!

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  5. My only experience with Under Grand Hotel is the “Kiss and Kill” series. I found this to be one of those stories that both horrify and disturb me, but bring me back to read each new chapter. And amen to the comment about there not being a drama CD. That would give me nightmares.

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  6. Honestly, I haven’t read the “Kiss and Kill” sequel, but the way you describe what reading it was like for you very much reminds me of my experience reading UGH. If you end up going back and reading UGH, I’d be curious to hear how you’d compare the two.

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  7. I read “Venus ni Seppun” by Sadahiro Mika,and thought it had toughened me up enough for “Under Grand Hotel”. I chickened out by chapter 4. 😦 Hat’s off to you for being able to make it through!

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  8. Wow. In some ways, I think that “Venus ni Seppun” is an even harder read. Maybe it’s because I expected emotions outside of jail to be less, um, ugly? I will admit, though, that I have read “Venus” a couple of times (the ways in which it’s twisted and f’d up are so fascinatingly bizarre), but I’ve never gone back for a full re-read of UHG. It’s powerful but rough; still, I recommend it because it is well done (for the kind of story it is), and it serves as a good example of one extreme of yaoi. However, I did consider putting “Venus” in its place. I guess I just ended up picking UGH because it’s a bit more iconic (and straightforward).

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  9. Pingback: Top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 3 | the joy of yaoi

  10. Pingback: top 10 (oops, 25) yaoi manga, part 4 | the joy of yaoi

  11. Thanks, looking at lists of great yaoi I might have missed.. I loved Punch up…and I agree, I wanted to strangle the seme, but came to like him and, every time he snorted over his uke I couldn’t help but giggle.

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    • Yeah. You know the “emphatic” emoji with the steam snorting out of the nostrils? Whenever I see that, I see Motoharu in horny mode. Which I don’t think is what they intended when they drew that emoji…

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