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Read Castle Mango 2 and Rivers End...Oh boy. Glad I got to do it in one fell swoop. I think I would've stopped reading it from depression if I had read it in installments, especially Castle Mango 2. cut for spoilers, obviously )

Also read Silver Diamond volume 27 and gaiden...I gotta say that it went on too long. There were bits I enjoyed a lot in the last volume, but these story head really sputtered out by then. The gaiden was, on first reading, not that great to me. I'll have to go back and reread at some point to see if I still feel the same.

Hakkenden volume 12 was so worth the wait. Revelations! Flashbacks! I can't wait for the next volume. The annoying thing is that I reread the series and realized that stuff in volume 12 contradict stuff that was shown before. It really felt like she hadn't thought it through at the start (at least the big things) because seeing those inconsistencies just irked me.

just odd

Aug. 25th, 2010 08:50 pm
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I just found out that there had been a live action theatre version of Konohara Narise's book Utsukushii Koto earlier this year...There's a DVD out now. I'm curious, but a bit afraid.
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I had a sudden urge to reread Himitsu by Konohara Narise and illustrated by Chayamachi Suguro today, and so went digging through boxes until I found it. I'd actually disliked it a lot when I'd first read it, but grew to love it after rereading it several times. College student Keita goes to a bar to find a guy to hook up with for the night. He is plagued with nightmares and doesn't want to sleep in his apartment, so he's willing to sleep with whoever for a night's stay. He meets Mitsuru, a very straightforward and not very bright guy. Mitsuru is seriously clingy. Keita finds him odd but kinda likes having someone around who blatantly likes him...The novel feels a bit oppressive because Keita has issues. I wasn't too pleased with the resolution of Keita's problems, but I do love how the novel continues on to show the growth of the two characters. This is definitely one of Konohara-sensei's novels about how love can make a person so much stronger and better. It makes me feel all warm and toasty inside. Mitsuru has his own problems which are also dealt with wonderfully, if somewhat briefly. I think this is probably one of my favorite books by Konohara-sensei, despite the fact that I hate the art very very much.

more spoilery bits )
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I came across an old, abandoned FST-in-progress for Iya na yatsu by Konohara Narise (my comments on the book here and here), listened to it, and rather enjoyed it. So here it is. All the music is kind of dark or wistful, all from Miura's POV. I think I couldn't find anything appropriate for Kazuya, because he's such a mix of annoying contemptible cowardliness. Miura's not much better, but the obsessive type is easier to pin down. XD;

And you sure can't change me: A Miura FST )
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I just got through the reprint of the formerly out-of-print Nemuru Usagi by Konohara Narise (summarized here). While I still do love the story, why oh why did the art GET WORSE. I had to avoid looking at all the illustrations in the book because they'd almost ruin the story...And here I thought the illustrations in the original book were bad. I don't need super wonderful art, I'd just really appreciate it if they didn't make things worse. ;_;

There's an extra story in the reprint which I found...kind of pointless. Amusing, but pointless. It's from Kakimoto's POV years later, in which he still finds Takahashi and Kouichi's relationship discomforting. Turns out, though, that he'd actually had a gay experience. He'd realized at some point that one of his kouhais at work liked him that way, and the night of the kouhais goodbye celebration (kouhai was going overseas) he mentions the kouhai liking him. They go to Kakimoto's apartment since Kakimoto keeps saying "gay" in the middle of the street, and Kakimoto says some really insensitive things because he's trying to understand the mentality of gay people. In any case, they end up having sex. The kouhai goes away for two years, then returns. Kakimoto avoids going to the welcome back celebration, but runs into the kouhai anyway. This time they end up in kouhai's apartment, and have lotsa sex. The situation is so typical Konohara Narise, because to the end of the story Kakimoto can't accept any of it, but the kohai is all like "I love you" and all over Kakimoto. *shrugs* I am not a fan of turning supposedly straight friends/siblings/coworkers of the main characters gay in side stories, but this one was so silly (thanks to Kakimoto's incredible lack of manners) I just found it amusing. Also, Kakimoto needs someone to fuck him into a normal attitude towards relationships.
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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.
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I feel like I constantly write about the books I hated...I need to devote more time to writing about the books I liked. Unfortunately, it takes so much longer to write about a book I like while it's easy to whip up a nasty rant for the crappy ones. :P

This time my crap rant is for Fragile by Konohara Narise and illustrated by Takao Hiroi. Though it's not my taste AT ALL, I wouldn't have stuck it in the "crap" category if Konohara-sensei had ended the book earlier. You know how people talk about how a movie would've been so much better if it had ended 15 minutes earlier? This is definitely like that. The end I thought would've been appropriate (and elevated the book out of "crap") is pretty nasty, it would've been cool.

I tend to avoid books with naked people in chains on the cover, but I went for it anyway because it was by Konohara-sensei. Oooh, boy. I ended up skipping to the last fourth of the book because I couldn't read the middle where the uke gets degraded and dehumanized and humiliated. The end was actually pretty interesting, but ultimately made me want to hurt something. She ruined the chance for truly shocking ending! It wouldn't have redeemed the book, but it would've left me with a feeling other than utter disgust!

Erg, I think I think I need to flesh out the story a bit more so that I can rant with more specifics. )

The art is of the more "realistic" style, which made the illustrations much more disturbing. I think it fits the book, but I definitely don't care for it.


Apr. 29th, 2008 11:03 am
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I was looking over my bookshelves and (foolishly) decided to flip through WELL by Konohara Narise. I hate this book. A lot. It is a post-apocolyptic survival story, which already is one big black mark in my book. I'm just not into the genre because they tend to depress (and scare) me if they are even remotely realistic and show how bleak things would be in the beginning for the survivors. I dismiss stories that portray life after apocalypse as some kind of paradise because I can only see it as wishful thinking. In any case, I held out hope that Konohara Narise might be able to create something good...And finished just totally disgusted.

As several of the Amazon Japan reviewers have said, this is not BL. That in itself is not a bad thing for me. But in a way it would've been better if it had been BL because then there'd be more focus on the characters and their relationship rather than their situation and how much it sucks. Bleak doesn't begin to describe the world. I don't remember things very clearly and don't want to check the book so I'm going to go off my memory--I may remember things incorrectly. In any case, Japan has suffered some disaster, leaving very few people left. I think only men are left...At least, the only survivors shown are men. The world is also turning into a desert, thus making it hard for the survivors to make their own food. They have to scavenge what's left from the cities. The first story is about two childhood friends, who I think are actually half-brothers. The wife's son is normal and strong-willed. The mistress's son is a bit slow in the head and very clingy. But in the disaster the wife's son is injured badly in the leg, preventing him from contributing to the band of survivors they end up joining. I don't remember everything that happened to them, but in the very end the mistress's son forces the wife's son into a sexual relationship. He tells the wife's son that he has no value in this world. The only thing left for him to do is to give comfort to the one person who does value him and will consequently protect and care for him. It is, I suppose, the "consummation" of the "relationship" as per the typical BL pattern...Though I can't accept that tenuous connection because their relationship wasn't sexual or romantic throughout the story! It simply felt like a reversal of the dominant/subordinate and the final (pathetic) destruction of the wife's son's hope and pride. The sad thing is that the mistress's son is slow in the head and very straightforward. He can only seek what he wants, he can't understand that he's crushing the wife's son with his desires. He simply lays out the truth, which is what devastates the wife's son.

The second story, which features one of the leaders of the group the two boys in the first story join, is...just plain disgusting. Cut for the ick )

The short version of my take on this book: This book is beyond gross and totally sucks. Don't read it.
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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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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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In Amai Seikatsu (Sweet Life) written by Konohara Narise and illustrated by Ishihara Satoru, college student Fujii Kiyotaka becomes the tutor of Sannomiya (I couldn't find the reading for the name, so I picked the one that I liked the sound of the most ^^;) Fumikazu, a fourth grader who has stopped talking and going to school. Fed up with Fumikazu's blankness and unable to contain his sexual desire for him, Fujii rapes him. That's the start of their very messed up relationship...

This novel is, frankly, unpleasant. The main character Fujii is contemptible and the ending some ways inevitable but is far from satisfying. Shota/pedophilia is a major squick of mine, but what kept me reading instead of throwing the book aside in disgust is that author does not portray the pedophilia in a titillating manner. She does convey the arousal Fujii experiences, but there is a distance between the reader and the scene (and Fujii's feelings). I also wanted to know where Konohara-sensei would take this relationship. I wasn't disappointed, but I don't think I'll be rereading this over and over. ^^; The experience reminded me of Iya na yatsu, but in many ways Iya na yatsu was a lot more satisfying a read to me. It helped that the characters were more balanced. You could make an argument that either character could be called an "iya na yatsu" (and tough Kazuya is weak and cowardly and dishonest, at least he's not a child molester!). In this novel, it's all Fujii (though Fumikazu does not stay "the victim", thankfully).

summary and commentary )
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Read Don't Worry Mama by Konohara Narise...Wow, what a silly story. Love the total ridiculousness of the premise and how pervy the seme is. The uke's personality was too much for me to accept, but I managed to let it slide because it was such a light, fluffy story divorced from all reality.

Tried reading the first volume of Nuganai otoko (The man who doesn't take off his clothes) and had to stop partway. Man, Kaitani pissed me off. I guess I couldn't accept what he would stoop to...I can take a lot of crazy stuff "in the name of love" in these novels, but his motivations at heart just seemed childish....bleah. I guess I'll try picking it up again at some later date.

I'm vaguely interested in seeing how Konohara-sensei has been translated into English, but considering the only novels of hers that have been translated so far are this series and the first of the Cold series...I suppose I can wait until a book of hers I actually really like (Kodomo no hitomi or Nemureru usagi maybe?) is translated...
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Did a really quick first read of the Cold series by Konohara Narise (btw, it was frickin' expensive to buy used!). The short and unspoilerly reaction first:

Cold Sleep:
Cold Light: Best book of the series. So sweet!
Cold Fever: Um...okaaay...

Overall, not my favorite books by Konohara-sensei. I don't dislike them, but at least for my first reaction I have a lot more to bitch about than praise/squee. The pacing was so out of whack for me. The only reasons I read beyond book 1? First, I had the other two right there and second, I'm a Konohara Narise fan. That first volume didn't make me clamor for more, it just left me with a "geez, I hope it gets going" feeling. Book 2 had its problems, but overall I enjoyed it the most out of them all. Book 3...what can I say that isn't spoiler? :P So...with no further ado...spoilers ahoy! )

I wonder how my view of this series will change with time and rereading. I've had harsh initial reactions to books that I later ended up loving. Don't know if this will end up in that camp, though.
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Kodomo no hitomi by Konohara Narise is a wonderfully fun book, different in tone from others I’ve read so far by this author. I didn’t even connect it to Konohara-sensei (I have this terrible tendency to NOT pay attention to authors of the books I read in general) until I saw it on a complete list of her works, it has such a different feel to it. It is about Kashiwabara Misaki, who lives very poorly in a material sense but incredibly richly in an emotional sense with his six year old son Joutarou. He had married and had a child young, but lost his wife suddenly only several years later. Though she was gone and the lingering effects of having borrowed money for her care really make it tough for him to make ends meet, he is happy. Then one day he finds that his older brother Hitoshi, who had been adopted by their paternal grandfather after the death of their parents, had been in an accident and had regressed to a six year old in mentality and in memory. Misaki hates his brother for being cold and horrible to him when he had tried to borrow money for his wife’s treatment, but ends up with Hitoshi dumped on him. Initially he is very cold to his brother, but comes to realize that Hitoshi now was no longer the adult that he had come to hate, but a helpless little boy in a big body. Hitoshi and Joutarou get along famously, and Misaki warms up to him. a romance, and thus sounds really improbable and silly. Objectively, it undeniably is, is still delightful to read (and when did improbable and silly ever stop a BL story anyhow?). Konohara-sensei does a wonderful job of making things flow naturally (well, as naturally as such an unnatural situation can be ^^;). I reread this quite a bit, just for the sweet family moments and the simplicity a childlike mentality can bring to a relationship. Combined with nice art, it makes for wonderful rereading material.

the story )

the pics )
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I finally am getting around to writing about another Konohara Narise novel I thoroughly enjoyed that is sadly out-of-print, Nemuru Usagi. Satomi Kouichi, a rather ordinary, straight high school student, ends up dating a man ten years his senior and a teacher at his school, Takahashi Makoto. Er...I can't seem to say much more regarding the plot without turning into a scary, full-blown summary (see below ^^;), so I'll just say this: The novel is a love story, yes, but more than that I think of it as a journey of personal growth for Kouchi. He goes from being insensitive, immature, and unthinking (in a stupid kid kind of a way) to somewhat less insensitive, immature, and unthinking. It takes life experiences to grow up, and he gets that in spades. The side story is set later and is from Takahashi's POV, and completes their story. It was a very satisfying read, overall. Not uber-angsty or flashy, it was more down-to-earth and real.

click for the extremely detailed summary of doom )
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When I need to come up with the Japanese characters for a name or title, I sometimes get lazy (or am on a computer without Japanese input capability) so I google the romaji and look for a result that will provide the characters that I can then cut and paste. Well, I needed Konohara Narise's name in kanji so googled her and came across her official website suion. The most useful thing from that page is list of novels (which includes the illustrator).

An interesting link from her site is for the writing unit she is currently part of, Unit Vanilla. I don't recognize the other three writers, but it seems odd to have a four person writing unit, frankly. How does four people co-write anything in an efficient way? In any case, their first project Sasra is currently being published in Shousetsu BeBoy, to finish pretty soon. I assume a novel will be published some time afterwards. In any case, I was excited to see that the illustrator is ENJIN YAMIMARU, the illustrator of the Nijuu Rasen novels and artits of Voice or Noise, among other things. The introduction makes the story sound amusingly tragic: A couple had committed some sin/crime in the distant past and were punished with the horrible fate of being reborn to meet and fall in love with each other, but their love each time is forbidden. It sounds so bad, but with Konohara-sensei in the mix I can't quite dismiss it. I look forward to the novel to find out if it's any good (and to see the pretty pictures!).

Also came up with an interesting (but ultimately confusing) blog post regarding some discussion on AMLA that turned to how well BL novels will fare in the West. I do wonder why one of the first BL authors chosen was Konohara Narise, since as someone named Emi is mentioned to note that "Most Japanese BL readers find her works offensive and unenjoyable, and only a minority of core fans love them. Even her fans say that they have to be in the right mindset before reading one of her novels, and they often leave them with a ‘bad after taste’. (’Don’t Worry Mama’ is the lightest thing she’s ever written, but still…let’s just say her novels are not at all representative of the BL novel genre.)" Oh man, you can say that again.

On a side note, I found a basic attitude of some of the discussion mentioned based on a fallacy. They make it sound like Western works are all well-written...Um...Have they picked up and read some of the crap that are bestsellers? The writing can be atrocious! -_- Perhaps they have standards, but we are talking about the general public. As long as it's not illegible I don't think a lot of people will necessarily be turned off by not so good writing, sadly. (And come on, some of the crap manga that are insanely popular with the fangirls is pretty damn indicative...)

And speaking of BL in English, an interesting article titled "Drawn Together: The surging popularity of yaoi—graphic boy-on-boy comics—might be the genre's downfall", the type of article that can't help but make me chuckle as I see one generalization and/or simplification after another.
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aka the foolishness of me

It is three in the morning and I just can't sleep. I had ordered some novels from amazon japan the other week to take with me on a trip (you know, to pass the time waiting at the airport, in the plane, etc.) and they came today. I had no will power whatsoever (well, I did manage to hold out for...half an hour or so) and started reading. OMG OMG OMG. Konohara-sensei, I want to curse you out and worship you at the same time. This time I read a two volume story that was...hard to categorize. The actual story didn't do much for me, but two of the side stories just hit me HARD in the gut. The second one made me tear up. And now my mind is going in circles thinking about what it means to be adult and responsible, and the consequences of a person's actions AND non-actions. How kindness can be horribly horribly (unintendedly) cruel like nothing else can be...

While under normal circumstances I adore how Konohara-sensei writes stories that make me think (which is frighteningly rare for the genre), I can't appreciate it so much when I face the prospect of work with only two hours of sleep. *sighs*
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First off, I was leafing through one of those colored pamphlets they stick in novels and manga when I came across one of the tackiest book titles ever: スキンクリームで濡らして. Read "Sukin kuriimu de nurashite," it translates to "Soak me with/dip me in skin cream." Yes, really. This is a real title. SO BAD.

I saw that Dangerous Pleasure released something new, so I went to their site to see if they had any info on it. I didn't find any info on the new release, but I did see the announcement that In the Walnut by Kawai Toko had been licensed and that they had dropped the project. My reactions were a) Yay! They licensed one of my favorite BL mangas! and b) Couldn't they have told me, the translator, that my services were no longer needed? I think it would've been...oh...nice? -_-

But in any case, I'm ecstatic that "In the Walnut" has been licensed. It's one of those mangas with PLOT and CHARACTERS, very heartwarming and sweet but not cloying at all. And the last two chapters (which have not been scanlated) are soooo good. I hope people can get over the lack of sex (which for me is kind of a plus nowadays ^^;) and see how good it is. XD

Oh yes, anyone who happens to own the Japanese manga but can't read Japanese? I can post text translations of the rest of the chapters. I actually have the next chapter done (it should have been in the process of being edited when the group dropped the project), and I love this manga so much I can certainly do the last chapter as well.

The manga was acquired by Juné Manga, so I checked out their page to see if they had any tentative release dates. I found nothing regarding "In the Walnut" but I was excited to see that a novel by my current new favorite author, Konohara Narise, had been translated. Konohara Narise is the author of "Iya na yatsu," which I've babbled about quite a bit already and am holding back from babbling some more on. I've read two other novels by her, and all three are very different types of stories but all are very good. Her novels have vividly drawn characters, excellent portrayal of relationships and interactions, and the avoidance of the BL cliche to move the story forward.

The translated novel is Cold Sleep. It's actually the first book of three (which, judging from the reviews on amazon, is not common knowledge among its readers?). I've heard some rave reviews for this series and would dearly love to read it...if only they weren't out of print. ;_; The only thing that worries me is that Juné did "Only the Ring Finger Knows," which was atrocious to the extreme (at least book 1 was, and I heard book 2 was worse).


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