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I was reading a novel featuring police officers which I enjoyed muchly, and it made me think about other novels with police officers I've liked. It led me to do the round-up below (with links to more detailed posts when they exist):

Kouban e ikou by Ioka Itsuki and illustrated by Sakuragi Yaya is about an officer assigned to a koban who gets involved with a contractor and the contractor's son. It's a pretty fluffy story, but I like the passionate young officer type and the art is pretty.

The Reload series by Ioka Itsuki and illustrated by Kunisawa Tomo (My post about the first three volumes here) is an ongoing series about a wild but very effective detective and a forensics specialist. Every so often the case featured in a book is good enough that I actually want to follow it, but what it comes down to is that I like the two characters and their relationship. There's seven books out right now, and it doesn't seem like it'll end any time soon. Or so I hope.

Mihitsu no koi-Keep Out-, -Break In-, and -Cross Over- by Himekawa Hotaru and illustrated by Mizuki Hasuno are about another pairing of a detective and a forensics specialist. I haven't read the third one yet, but the first two are fun. The cases are a bit over-angsty, but once again I just like how the two characters relate. This pair seem…a bit more mature compared to the Reload series. It helps that the detective is actually pretty responsible. He is saddled with subordinates and with keeping the forensics specialist (who is good at what he does but has no people skills) in line, while dealing with out-of-touch superiors.

Niizuma Deka by Miduki Mato and illustrated by Ebihara Yuri (My post about it here) is the absolutely silly story of a wild but effective detective who marries a rich and up-and-coming politician. Like, actually marries in a church ceremony (though legally the detective is adopted by the politician as there is no same-sex marriage in Japan). I want a sequel, frankly.

Fuson de yaban by Iwamoto Kaoru and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru has pretty art and a premise I like even though (or is it because?) it's just so cliched. An uptight career-type (WTF do you call career-gumi police in English?) asks a former partner (a normal detective) for help and they "have to" play a gay couple as their cover. The detective is gay and had been (still is) in love with the career type, and he lets the play-acting go a bit too far at times. Yes, yes, cliched. But the art! So pretty! Also, the story ends decently.

Mahiru no tsuki by Ioka Itsuki and illustrated by Ebihara Yuri (My post on the first volume here) is about a former detective who quit the force because he was disgusted with the police after they'd covered up his former partner's crimes (including shooting him) and moves to Osaka. There, he meets a yakuza boss and ends up the boss's lover. He also becomes a private investigator. I reread this series quite a lot. The relationship between the two develops throughout the series, but the detective never loses himself in the relationship (like many supposedly tough-y toughs who turn into uke jello). The side characters are endearing. Also, the cases he takes on (which invariably have something to do with yakuza) are pretty interesting. Also^2, Osaka-ben! The drama CD for this is soooo good. I wish the entire series had been made into drama CDs.

Sekai no hate de matteite~Tenshi no Tsumeato~ and it's sequel Sekai no hate de matteite ~Uso to kaifu~ by Takatoh Ruka and illustrated by Yukifuna Kaoru (vol 1) and Chayamachi Suguro (vol 2) are about a former detective turned private investigator and his former partner who is still a detective. As I mention in my post about the books, the cases are bleah. The real meat in this is the tension between the two characters and the mystery of the unsolved murder of the PI's sister that caused the PI to quit the force. Oh, so delicious. Too bad the artist changed between volumes. I really want the next book (please let there be another book) because we get a tantalizing glimpse into the past at the end of volume 2.

Amai Mizu vol 1 and 2 by Kawai Fumiko and illustrated by Kitakami Ren are about members of the SIT (Special Investigation Team) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. I've only read volume 1 but am looking forward to reading volume 2 (eventually...). Endou is a SIT member formerly in SAT (a paramilitary counter terrorism unit) who does not look forward to a new former SAT member joining SIT at the beginning of the book, Kuonji. (According to the book, SIT specializes in working on cases with hostages, thus does negotiation and the like. They do, however, also do missions to rescue hostages.) Endou does not like Kuonji. Kuonji likes Endou, but doesn't know how to get along with Endou. What I enjoyed from this book, besides the pretty art, is the depiction of the very hierarchical structure of the police and how much being a sempai vs. kouhai is a huge deal, even more than in regular Japanese society. The life in the dorms is fun to read about (though I'd never want to be in one--all this gotta do what your sempai says crap sounds awful). The way Endou learns to see Kuonji differently and how they develop a relationship works (it's not smooth, but it starts with them having to work together in a professional manner). Endou is one of those "guy" guys, very carefree and manly. Kuonji is a man of few words but much action. I like the combination, even if the SIT and SAT acronyms crack me up every time I see them.

S.S.SP by Yuuki Kazumi and illustrated by Norikazu Akira is about a wild but effective detective who becomes an SP (security police) officer, which I wrote a lot about in this post. What can I say? Stupid title, silly story, but lotsa fun. I really, really enjoyed this. Probably too much.

Fujourina kuchizuke by Himekawa Hotaru and illustrated by Nara Chiharu is a silly story about an SP officer who has to guard a VIP. My worthless post here is basically full of pics (and snark), because this is from Nara Chiharu's time doing good art and there is much eye-candy. There is also eye-rolling, but pretty art trumps much. This is possibly the silliest of the bunch because at least in the others the people seemed to be able to do their jobs decently. In this one the SP has to be pretty worthless for the plot to go anywhere. :P

Soooo...anyone have any recs for me? I love police BL. Would love to read more decent ones.
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Nijuu Rasen is a long-running series by Yoshihara Rieko and illustrated by Enjin Ranmaru which I've enjoyed greatly. I had quickly summarized the first five volumes earlier and am quite happy to report that the recently released volume 6 continues to be awesome in it's over-the-top melodrama. Actually, I think this one tops them all.

my squee knows no bounds )
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I've been rereading Voice or Noise by Enjin Yamimaru as I recently bought volume 4. My god, this is a frustrating series. I think I've finally pinned down the reason for my frustration and dissatisfaction. I can't fathom the motivations of Narusawa AT ALL. It's like my frustration with Super Lovers by Abe Miyuki, the odd more-than-platonic-not-quite-lovers situation has been going on for SO LONG and feels completely arbitrary. Are the older guys in these series not going all the way because they don't want to be shota-con? Or are there other somewhat understandable reasons that the artists just don't want share*? Yet they display unnatural (aka creepy) attachment and possessiveness towards their younger not-quite-lovers. I think I could take a volume of this kind of situation, but when it goes on and on volume after volume...It's just plain irritating. Also, Voice or Noise throws in another character with totally undecipherable motivations in volume 3, Isadore (I'm guessing at the romanization of the dude's name). Not only do I not understand him, he just irritates me. ARG. I think I might have abandoned both series if I didn't love the art so much (and if Acht was not so cute in Voice or Noise). *sighs*

Two other things that bother me:

-Creepy giant bunny, WTF is up with that?
-Why do we not get to see any of Acht's kids???

Enough bitching, let's get to the parts I did enjoy:

-Acht thinking he's going to turn into a huge hairball. The googly eyes are so cute!
-Narusawa saying Shinichiro runs away when you chase him, and it turning out to be true.
-Narusawa noting that Shinichiro REALLY likes him and kissing him.
-Narusawa biting Shinichiro on the nipple, and it bothering Shinichiro a lot. Perverted, but in a good way.
-Shinichiro saying he wants what is inside Narusawa's underwear and Acht blushing in response.

*The thing is, I don't trust in the storytelling/characterization abilities of most BL artists at all. I just assume that they just suck at these things and decide to live with it (or not).
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I haven't checked LJ in quite a while. Been busy, but lately I've also had internet connection issues which I've been too busy to get fixed. Isn't that how it always goes? ^^; In any case, I'm posting to mention 12-ji no kane ga naru mae ni (Before the clock strikes twelve--not the "official" English translation, but the official Engrish is rubbish) by Hichiwa Yuka and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru. It is deeply cliched and conventional, but it is deeply satisfying. It's about a stubborn yet awkward high school student who cooks and cleans for a 30-something doctor with a broken leg and a major attitude problem, and how he thaws the doctor's frozen heart (frozen thanks to past trauma, naturally). And how it was all destiny, anyway. The fun spin is that the doctor thinks the high school student is in college and is actually working as (or will be working) a prostitute, so he's even more of an asshole because the high school student "appears" so pure and innocent. But the high school student, being incredibly stubborn and massively clueless, just thinks the doctor likes to be nasty (and doesn't pick up on any of the blatant sexual innuendo) and decides he won't give in. One particularly amusing incident occurs when the doctor receives some live lobsters which are supposed to be eaten alive. The high school student is horrified and ends up secretly feeding the lobsters instead of making a meal of them. When the doctor eats them when the student isn't around, the student gets mad and buries the remains of the lobsters in the garden instead of just tossing them. Just hilarious, and so totally them. It has both sweepingly romantic and extremely down-to-earth details.

Sadly, I don't have the time to do the full blown summary I've love to'll just mention some choice bits. )

It doesn't hurt that the art is nice, too.

And for something completely unrelated, I'm currently addicted to a rather old song, My Sweet Darlin' by Yaida Hitomi.
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Keen no kikoushi by Fuyuno Jinko and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru has an English title--Prince of KABUKI. Note that the KABUKI is in all caps. I couldn't take the book seriously because of this English title, and it's a very good thing I didn't. This is a stupid book filled with stupid characters. I should've noticed the author before reading the book, since my experience with this author's books have been pretty dismal. Yes, I've liked maybe two or three books of hers. But I've probably read at least a dozen, and most of them were total crap. The only redeeming quality of this one is the art, the only reason I'm posting on it at all. I can't believe this actually has a sequel...And has a five star rating on both from one review. I feel like rating the book with one star and writing "IT'S CRAAAAP" to counter the lone review. XD;

In any case, this is about a photographer and the Prince of KABUKI who wants photographer to take pictures of him. Throw in juvenile attitudes, EBIL ex-lovers, and really lame attempts at making the Prince of KABUKI seem extraordinary, and you have a really typical BL novel.

check out the pretty pics )
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The fourth and final volume of Sasra by Unit Vanilla and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru was fun. The first story, set between the two world wars in Japan, has that lovely mix of traditional Japanese (gambling dens!) and new. The story itself is very conventional, but that's not new in this series. The characters are sweet. It's interesting how the uke is a "yakuza" but he reminds me more of some character out of one of those cliched old samurai shows than the modern "yakuza." The second story is one of my favorites in the entire series. The two lovers are hilarious! They snark at each other constantly even as they are drawn together.

Late Taishou/Early Showa Japan )

Modern Japan (Again) )

the pics )

I still have the (frickin' expensive) booklet with some really good stories of what happens afterwards to several of their lives. I particularly love the one set in modern Japan. Ren and Goushou forever!

I wish they revealed which author wrote which story. I think that the really depressing one set in Tokugawa Japan is by Konohara-sensei because it's, well, depressing.
insaneneko: (Default)

I didn't realize Voice or Noise volume 3 was out! Got it, read it, and was kind of annoyed by it.

spoiler-filled grumbling )

Like I've said before, Yamimaru Enjin's art might be gorgeous but her stories and characters need help. I also read Kimi ga inakerya iki mo dekinai ("I can't even breathe without you") recently and couldn't muster any ounce of caring for the characters. I know it's partly because I'm not fond of the "character who is completely incapable of taking care of themselves and totally needs a nanny" x "the nanny" type stories....but still.

Oh well. Pretty cover on Voice or Noise. XD; The colors are just lovely...
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Kono tsumi bukaki yoru ni by Izumi Katsura and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru is a thoroughly unremarkable novel, but I wanted to mention it because it's part of the Seikanji family series about a prominent family in decline, helped out by the utter slutitude of the head of the family. He gets one book and the three sons get one each. I keep running into this series by accident because the Japanese publishing industry seems to love not putting a clear notice that a given novel is part of a series (or a sequel) and get exasperated each time. I think I liked one of the others, but I distinctly remember finding the one with the father totally worthless. This one is about the "responsible" oldest son who becomes a military officer and desperately wants to keep the family going. Of course, he gets involved with an old child of a family servant who turns out be a socialist. There are a lot of misunderstandings and desperate attempts to "save" each other, but in the end the "responsible" oldest son ditches his family and country and runs off to Shanghai with his socialist lover (after a really silly confrontation including another military officer and a socialist comrade). (Check out a more detailed summary of the story via the cd drama here). The best part of the novel was how they manage in Shanghai. The oldest son made a crappy military officer--I guess the author wanted the contrast with the socialist agitator but I wish she'd given him a bit more credibility as a military man. How the hell did he manage to get through officer school (or whatever the Japanese military did back then)?

Hm, I have no idea why I even bothered to mention this book. It's not particularly bad or good, but I can see people who like this kind of pointlessly indulgent "rich, privileged beauty in the Meiji/Taisho era learning to submit to pleasure (and, eventually, to love)" story line take to it and the other books in the series. Especially since at least two of them have totally gratuitous non-con and/or "you must submit or else" scenes.

Unfortunately, the art wasn't very interesting. Most of the illustrations were sex scenes of the most banal variety. Not even Enjin-sensei's lovely art saved them. My favorite was an omake pic at the very end:

half-worn uniforms are yum )
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Sasra 3 is, frankly, my least favorite of the series (read about 1 and 2). The first story bored me so much I skimmed it rather than read it. The second story was quite good, but was so sad I don't want to read it again for a while. But in order to get to book 4 (possibly my favorite) I had to get past this...^^;

Inca Empire )

Tokugawa Japan )
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The continuing adventures of our "doomed" lovers in the pretty reincarnation epic in the second volume of the Sasra series by Unit Vanilla and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru. Check out the series review/book 1 summary here.

I had to do a lot of research for the historical context and to try to spell the names correctly instead of making something up from the katakana, but there was a lot I couldn't figure out. :P I did end up spending a lot of time reading up on the history online...I love the internet, seriously. There's just so much info out there.

Ancient Rome )

Medieval Germany )

My comments )
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I just read and thoroughly enjoyed DP Scanlations' recent release of the first chapter of a manga by Aida Saki and Yamada Yugi called Taka ga koi daro. First off, thank goodness for decent scanlations! I couldn't find Japanese scans so had to settle with the English, but luckily this one was good. In any case, it has one of my favorite set-ups...A single father with young son combo! In this case the young father is a widower. There are other elements in the mix that I'm not too sure about (I fear the tortured web of misunderstandings and angst that could develop), but I am rooting for hard-working dad to find true love and happiness with a good man. XD

I'm not sure I can ever get myself to read Kiseki no object, despite the fact that that Enjin Yamimaru illustrates it. I think I've found a knee-jerk anti-moe: A smexy bald Buddhist monk uke. Just...No.

One More by Fuyuno Jinko and illustrated by Asou Kai is the typical diffident nobody uke falls in love with some handsome shining popular arrogant seme, they fall into a sexual relationship full of uke-angst and seme-assholery which ends when the uke can't take it anymore and runs away. The seme doesn't see it coming because he's so full of himself that he thought the uke would never be able to leave him, no matter what crap he pulled. In this story it's six years after the uke ran away. The seme calls out of the blue and that brings back all the crap that the uke has desperately tried to suppress and get over...The book was really just too cliched for words, except for the end. The seme has a long, detailed confession and (sort of) groveling session where he swallows his pride and his stubbornness and admits all of his insecurities and all of his assholery from all those years ago, then asks the uke if they can try again. It was just fascinating hearing what was going through the seme's head when he did each and every shitty thing to the uke...I don't really recommend reading this book unless you really like this type of story, but the extended seme confession amazed me.
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Sasra (link to book 1 amazon japan listing here) is a four-novel "epic romance" written by Unit Vanilla (made up of Izumi Katsura, Iwamoto Kaoru, Konohara Narise, and Hichiwa Yuka) and illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru. According to the afterward in book 1 it was written in round-robin style...I'd love to know who wrote what, because some parts just bored me to tears while others tickled me to death. Overall I enjoyed the series, thanks mainly to the lovely art and the fact that the current lifetime turned out to be very fun to read.

The premise is that long ago two lovers committed a great sin and were cursed by the gods to reincarnate, meet, fall in love, and then come to not so fabulous ends. It starts with a prologue in modern-day Japan, but that storyline is interrupted and we are thrown back to ancient Egypt where everything began. The story then moves onto ancient China, then to ancient Rome and Europe in the Middle Ages in book 2. Book 3 is set in the Inca Empire and Tokugawa Japan. Book 4 is set in pre-WWII Japan, and then the very end loops back to the modern-day lifetime. Several elements consistently turn up in each life-time: birthmarks on each lover, a beautiful lapis lazuli stone, and a mute boy. These all have roots from that first life-time.

My biggest gripe with the series is that each lifetime doesn't build on the earlier ones. The stories are discrete and have very little in common with each other. And the conclusion of the series totally continues the trend, providing no effective build-up to the climax or much of a sense of epic scale. Like I said earlier, I enjoyed the current lifetime story so I'm not too miffed, but I guess I expected something a bit more...grand? Also, each lifetime didn't really feel tragic to me. Some of them definitely were, but others...weren't fairy tale fluff stories, but didn't make me think they were particularly tragic. They lived in tumultuous times and/or led singular lives. It'd be odd if things worked out beautifully and peacefully for those people.

Modern Japan and Ancient Egypt )

Ancient China )

Some comments. )
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Read a bunch of novels this past week, below are several I felt like writing about. Warning, spoilers ahead:

Tsumibukaku dakishimete by Katagiri Barbara (illustrated by Enjin Yamimaru)
Oh, what can I say about this novel? I knew it sucked but kept reading hoing for an appropriately sensational ending...Only to be completely denied even that (I didn't need good! I just wanted shiny and overblown!). It starts off with uke pushing his abusive older sister of the balcony to her death. While he's standing there in shock, his sister's husband comes in dragging the next door neighbor who had witnessed the murder. The husband decides to turn it into a lover's suicide and pushes the witness off the balcony as well. After that, there is sex while watching over the sister's body, more sex when uke moves into the apartment, coerced sex with the detective who figures out uke killed his sister that still ends with uke arrested, husband breaking out uke in a hail of bullets (and two dead policemen), a life on the run that includes a little foray into pimping out the uke for money and a threesome with the client...The characters are sooo flat I only kept reading to find out if the ending would be appropriately outlandish. I was hoping for a) murder-suicide, b) husband leaving uke (husband is one of those sociopaths who cares about nothing and no one), or c) shoot out with the coppers! All are cliched to the max, but...fitting. But no, the author goes for the uke turning himself in, the police surrounding the husband, the uke going back in to talk the husband out, and the two declaring their love for each other as the police finally come in to get them...I was left with a bad taste in my mouth and a fervent desire to regain that precious hour I spent bothering with this crap.

Houritsu jumusho de koi ga saku by Kifu Kaname (illustrated by Fujiyama Hyouta)
Simpleton country boy uke goes to Tokyo, and after some various troubles mostly resulting from his horrible sense of direction, ends up working for lawyer seme. I can't quite express how lame this book was, from the one-dimensionality and retardedness of every single character to the pointlessness of the story. The joke about Nara=deer (the uke is from near Nara) and how everyone at the lawyer's office calls uke deer and wants to give the uke those wafers the deer are fed is used repeatedly and worn to death. The only remotely amusing part was when the lawyer, desperate to keep uke with him, builds him the "perfect house." Lawyer and uke initially live in a high-class hotel, but uke is terribly uncomfortable in such surroundings. The lawyer drags uke to the new residence he built...consisting of a large yard with DEER and a small thatched roof traditional hut. The uke had not lived in such a primitive house and neither did he have any kind of attachment to deer, but the lawyer thought this would make the uke feel at home. You'd think a successful lawyer who also is a member of a powerful political family wouldn't be so...patently stupid, but I suppose anything goes in these books. ^^;

Biroodo no kamen by Matsuoka Natsuki (illustrated by Sakurai Shushushu)
The BL novel take on The Three Musketeers with duels, intrigue, evil Cardinals, friendship, devotion, and sex. Very shallow, but entertaining. Arnault, the second son of a poor noble family, had been destined for priesthood. But he's sent to beg Cardinal Richelieu for his jailed older brother's life and freedom. The Cardinal makes a bargain that if Arnold serves as a spy among the Musketeers he'll eventually have the brother released. His latest assignment is to seduce the English Viscount that was accompanying the Duke of Buckingham, even receiving instruction from a prostitute on sleeping with men. So...there's sex with the Viscount, there's sex with the musketeer that was supposedly his best friend, there's betrayal and fighting and people getting hurt...and in the end Arnault is freed from Richelieu's grasp and is allowed to stay with the musketeers. If there was a sequel I'd read it. It's light, it's silly, the art is decent and frilly. No complaints here. XD

I truly appreciated the fact that though Arnault initially protests having to sleep with men (it's a sin!) once he experiences it and finds out he really likes it, doesn't protest or angst about it. He's pragmatic and understands he has to do it as part of his duty, so he just sets out to get better at it and enjoy it. The endless and eternal protestations of the uke are just too worn out. :P

I learned not to always judge novels by their covers. I tend to dismiss a lot of novels just by the style and composition of the cover art as well as titles (I try to avoid books with really bad naming sense unless it's obviously a parody or something), but one of the ones I read this past week that I'd normally not even give a second look turned out to be really good.


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December 2015

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