Lenni Reviews: "Fourth Generation Head: Tatsuyuki Oyamato" by Scarlet Beriko

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

Tatsuyuki Oyamato may be 4th generation heir to a yakuza family but all he cares about is partying and getting girls. Until he finds himself attracted to a man. After a drunken hookup, he wakes up with someone who proves to be more than just a random dude as he knows Oyamato and his infamous family.

Hooooo boy, this is a dark one. The guy Oyamato sleeps with - mild spoilers - turns out to be Nozomi Koga; the son of a man who once owed money to the yakuza. When Koga was a kid, the yakuza came to collect and found his father had been sexually abusing him. Oyamato was also a child and thought Koga was a girl because of his long hair and the creepy way his dad dressed him.

This book is rife with sexual assault; which is offputting (of course) when it attempts to combine it with the romance forming between Koga and Oyamato. I don't want to spoil too much but yeah, major rape trigger warnings here. It feels almost wrong to say I like it. The art is well done and I adore the main pair. They make the hardest parts of this book worth it for me. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Abara: Complete Deluxe Edition" by Tsutomu Nihei

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

In a dystopian landscape, creatures known as White Gauna have awakened, threatening to devour the city's populace and destroy everything. The Observation Bureau enlists the help of Denji Kudou, a Black Gauna. But as more and more White Guana appear, Kudo may not be enough to save the city from destruction.

While the story is interesting and the art amazing - brutally awesome and detailed - you are tossed into this story without much guidance. How are these creatures bonded to people? What's the technology level of a world full of all these cybernetics and how did they learn to use them on these beings? What's the deal with the talking skeleton bird? You will not get much in the way of clear answers here.

That being said, Nihei tells a great story here. It reminds me of Battle Angel Alita with the impressive creature design and ultra-violence. This edition also includes some full-color art, pull out pages with larger art, and a side story "Digimortal." This would make a great gift or a worthy addition for a collector. 3.9 out of 5. 

This book will be released December 18th, 2018.

Lenni Reviews: "A Strange and Mystifying Story" by Tsuta Suzuki

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

After the unfortunate death of his grandfather, Akio Yamane has no family left and believes he will soon join them. The Yamane family is cursed and Akio is indeed terminally ill. Delirious with fever, Akio desperately prays to a talisman his grandfather said would protect him and summons a demon he names Setsu. Akio begs Setsu to cure his illness and never dreamed how intimate Setsu's "treatments" would be.

Setsu is a straightforward character and he's written in a way that his brusque nature doesn't come off assholeish like Eiri Yuki from Gravitation. You can tell he cares for Akio yet since he isn't human he doesn't bother with the niceties or waste time yet remains likable. Setsu and Akio play off each other well and the story doesn't waste too much time on the typical slapstick. The sex scenes are mildly censored; naughty bits kept in shadow or vague outline and strategically placed word bubbles abound. But it's still hot and the story is cute. 3.5 out of 5.

Note: There are also two side stories: Nylon Vinyl and The God's Don't Exist. The first is a contemporary teacher/student relationship and the second is a historical romance. They are pretty short so there isn't much time for development but they were amusing sides to the main story. It would have been interesting to have them tie into Setsu somehow; as he has been bound to Akio's family for many years. But they're still cool.


Lenni Reviews: “Ten Count” volume 2 by Rihito Takarai

*This volume was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is intended for 18+.

Even after agreeing to keep his distance, Kurose still has feelings for Shirotani. Shirotani however, has virtually shut down after Kurose insisted on not seeing him anymore. With the help of his co-worker, Mikami, Shirotani finally agrees to meet up with Kurose; who confesses he wanted to stay away because it was not appropriate for a counselor to be in love with his patient. Not only that but Kurose wants to touch Shirotani; whose condition makes him sick at the thought of being contaminated. Shirotani finds that while his germaphobia still affects him, Kurose's touch also makes him excited.

And WHOA does it ever make him excited! Remember in the last review when I said there was no smut but a good build with the characters? This volume earns its M rating. Kurose and Shirotani go from tentative interaction to touching naughty bits. But as sensual as they get, there is still something traumatic in Shirotani's past that's only being hinted at in quick flashbacks. Shirotani "endures" very intimate touches but something simple like Kurose ruffling his hair sets him off. We'll have to wait to find out what happened but I give this volume a 4 out of 5.

This volume will be released November 8th, 2016.

For more of Lenni's writing and reviews, head over to Haunting Hypatia.

Lenni Reviews: "Ten Count" volume 1 by Rihito Takarai

*I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tadaomi Shirotani works as a secretary for a CEO while suffering from germophobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. One day, his boss is nearly hit by a truck and a young man named Riku Kurose; who is a therapist, saves the man from being killed. Kurose notices Shirotani's condition and offers to help him work through it. Kurose has Shirotani make a list of 10 things to get over in order of discomfort from least to most. Shirotani is only able to come up with 9. They make a deal to meet regularly to work through the list then Shirotani will come up with that 10th item, but he finds he develops more than just a friendly attraction to Kurose.

Unlike a lot of yaoi manga with an M rating, this first volume is very innocent. Our two main characters meet, get to know each other, and slowly build what will likely be a deeper relationship. There's an author's note in the back expressing concern that readers will be disappointed with the leisurely pace but I like it. The art is beautiful, the writing on point, and I think I would like to see Shirotani and Kurose take their time so I can enjoy their story. 4.5 out of 5.

For more of Lenni's writing and reviews, head over to Haunting Hypatia.

Lenni Reviews: "Don't Be Cruel" vol 1 by Yonezou Nekota

Facing the possibility of losing his scholarship, Takashi Negugasa cracks under the pressure and cheats during a test. Unfortunately for him, school delinquent and known playboy, Kideyuki Maya, catches him in the act. In exchange for keeping it secret, Maya blackmails Negugasa into sleeping with him.

As this is a 2 in 1 volume, we see Maya's interfering cousin, Akira, and the obvious feelings Maya has for Negugasa despite Negugasa's obliviousness. It's that "I really like you but I can't say it" scenario. Once I got passed the coercion (yeah, it's a little close to straight up non-con) the pair to make a cute couple. As soon as they get out of their own way, that is.

This may be a typical sort of boys love story but its well drawn and the main characters are likable enough to endure the will they/won't they back and forth (which thankfully doesn't last all that long). I found it a little odd for Maya to turn around and say Negugasa was manipulating him when Maya was doing the blackmailing in the first place (what an odd character flip...) but hey, at first neither man would admit any feelings at all and I'm a  mush. I'll admit I like the happy ending. 4.5 out of 5 and I would love to read the next one!

Like Lenni's writing? This review and more are also posted at literaryloon.com

Magi - The Labyrinth of Magic: Volume 10

Magi - The Labyrinth of Magic: Volume 10

Alibaba and his band of merry traveling men, woman and child land on an island of a lost tribal people, whose writings have been found in dungeons all over the world (and nobody's figured out how or why). To make sense of this mystery, they explore the local dungeon to learn more... and of course to find its treasure!

Read More

Lenni Reviews: Kiss of the Rose Princes vol 2 by Aya Shouoto

(Image Source)

If you recall my last review, I mentioned this manga is pretty standard shojo fare unless there's a curve ball thrown in later volumes. Boy, were my words ever prophetic...

This volume begins with Anise still searching for her lost choker. She orders her knights to locate it but can only let them look for so long as their magic is powered by her blood. But things get interesting when a new transfer student, Haruto Kisugi, is added to the mix, Anise's father sends her a message that he's coming home, and a seal holding in a demon is cracking, which will require a sacrifice to repair.

By the end of this volume, I was shocked and had a new respect for Anise. Most shojo heroines are plucky by design and want to change the sad fate presented in the plot. But (as a mild spoiler) when Anise says "Bring on my punishment" (referencing the punishment for losing the choker) I found that pretty ballsy. Things went so bad so quickly and Anise really showed her bravery. She went right on without hesitation. And she's brave and strong without being overbearing or too cliche. And I have read a LOT of shojo manga. Of course that could change but we shall see in volume three!

I can't give much more detail without spoiling all of the plot twists in this volume but to sum up, things get real and it was awesome.

Lenni Reviews: Kiss of the Rose Princess Vol. 1 by Aya Shouoto

(Image Source)

High school girl Anise Yamamoto gets chased through the school gates every morning. But not by rabid suitors or aliens, but by the dress code enforcer who takes issue with a rose choker Anise wears every day without fail. She is willing to endure this daily nonsense because her father told her when she was little if Anise were to ever remove the choker, a terrifying punishment will befall her. In true magical girl fashion, a small magical creature manages to knock it off and suddenly, Anise is the new owner of four magical cards she can use to summon attractive knights with a kiss.

This volume is a good start to what I can see being a very cute series. I was left wondering if the terrible fate that befalls Anise is to have the hottest bodyguards around (can we all share that "horrible fate," please?) but by the end of this volume it does seem like something is brewing behind the scenes.

However, if you've read any other magical girl, high school manga, you get the rhythm of everything. Hot guys, magical charms and kisses, wacky high school hi-jinks, and a cute, mischievous talking animal. Just another normal day in manga-land. Don't get me wrong, I like it, but unless some sort of curve ball comes in later volumes, shojo fans will know exactly what to expect here. The art is lovely and all the characters are interesting so far. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Lenni Reviews: Naruto vol 67 by Nasashi Kishimoto

Lenni Reviews: Naruto vol 67 by Nasashi Kishimoto

I have a horrible confession to make. I, Lenni, being of unsound mind and otaku body, have never read Naruto. Ever. So, it is while dodging thrown Pocky and rice balls (because who throws rotten tomatoes anymore?) that I dive in and attempt to review this manga.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 2 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 2 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Continuing from volume one, my favorite big guy with a big heart, Takeo Goda is still misunderstood due to his giant appearance and gruff looks. But he doesn't care as long as Rinko Yamato looks at him with a great big smile and his best friend Makoto Sunakawa is by his side. But life is as life does and events conspire to make Takeo have to chose who he will spend his time with when both of the most important people in his life need him the most.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: Black Rose Alice vol 1 by Setona Mizushiro

Lenni Reviews: Black Rose Alice vol 1 by Setona Mizushiro

In 1900's Vienna, famous tenor Dimitri Lewandoski gets trampled by a horse and wakes up with a strange rose shaped mark on the back of his neck. Suddenly, whenever he sings, people die. Suffering the loss of his beloved, he goes underground. The story really begins in 2008 Tokyo where Azusa Kikukawa is involved in a fatal car accident and Dimitri offers to save her lover in exchange for becoming a breeder for the same vampire seeds which infect Dimitri.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 1 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Lenni Reviews: My Love Story vol 1 by Kazune Kwahara and Aruko

Takeo Goda and Makoto Sunagawa are best friends and couldn't me more opposite. Takeo is tall and super strong where Makoto is a classic pretty boy. Since they were children, Takeo has watched Makoto reject every girl to confess their love to him and has always been ignored by girls homself. But when Takeo saves a girl named Yamamoto from being harassed on a train; he sees his chance to finally get his best friend to accept the young lady's very obvious crush.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: Spell of Desire vol 1 by Tomu Ohmi

Lenni Reviews: Spell of Desire vol 1 by Tomu Ohmi

Kaoruko Mochizuki is quietly tending her herb shop when in walks a tall man in a dark suit claiming she's heir to the incredible powers of the Witch Queen... Who is also her mother... A mother Kaoruko thought was dead yet only slumbers until her power can be reclaimed.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: Food Wars vol 1 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

Lenni Reviews: Food Wars vol 1 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

In this volume, we meet Soma Yukihira; a budding young cook whose man ambition is to out cook his father, who is famous for his culinary talents. Soma's father challenges his son to graduate from the most elite cooking school in the country; the Totsuki Saryo Culinary Institute; which boasts a 10 percent graduation rate.

Read More

Lenni Reviews: Manga Classics: Les Miserables and Pride and Prejudice

In life, there are books commonly assumed as Must Reads. If you don't encounter them in high school, you might in college and if you haven't read them by then, you are greeted with a horrified gasp from anyone who finds out you haven't. Heck, books like this are usually on people's bucket lists. The problem is how dense the books are and many people find them confusing or boring. This is where UDON Entertainment's graphic classics come in.

If you are familiar with either of these stories, then nothing will surprise you. Nothing in the narrative is changed. Speaking as someone who couldn't get through Pride and Prejudice and hasn't picked up Les Miserables (yet), these two books are a fantastic way to get the story across. What is most helpful is having faces to go with the names. Sometimes having so many names thrown at you makes you forget who is who and why we care who they are. If they vanish for part of the book and return, you have to go back to remind yourself. (nerd note: I had this problem with Dostoevsky; where some of the characters names would straight up change mid story... UDON, make some manga of those please!)

The art is crisp and lovely. Po Tse's dramatic and flowing style is perfect for a Victorian romance like Pride and Prejudice. Even the comical super-deformed moments are beautiful. SunNeko Lee's art is also great but at some points it was odd to be reading such a dark story with such adorable, classic manga art. But you get over it because you're too busy reading.

Both manga cut huge chunks of exposition out (of course) so don't go thinking you can read these instead of doing your homework. I wouldn't say these are nothing more than illustrated cliff notes; you get much more story than that. These manga give you the experience of the main story so you can hold a conversation about whether or not Mr. Darcy is a jerk* or what the heck is the deal with Inspector Javert's obsession with ONE guy who stole bread as opposed to a murderer, or the horrible people who took in Cosette only to neglect and abuse the little girl.

And not to badmouth the movie or the play but; no singing. You can avoid the singing by reading this.

I would love to see more classic works from UDON if for nothing but to get the stories available to a wider audience of people. The art is great, the story is clear, and I was never bored reading them.

*He did come off as a jerk.

Can't get enough of Lenni's writing? See more here.

Working!! Manga Coming To An End

It pains me to say but the manga series Working!! has announced it final volume which is set for December 25 in Japan. A limited edition of the final volume bundling that will come with a new year's calendar. Working is known as Wagnaria!! states side the anime counter part has two seasons that you can watch on Crunchyroll.Are you a fan of Working? Let us know.

Lenni Reviews: Another by Yukito Ayatsuki

I picked up this manga from the bookstore randomly and in yet another sweet twist of fate, it was a freaking awesome idea. Another is a creepy, beautiful read.

The story is set in 1998, when Koichi Sakakibara transfers to a new school and as all we manga fans know, is cause for shenanigans. The legend of this class is there was once a student named Misaki who died in an accident. The class was so devastated, they pretended she was still there. A nice coping mechanism if you can keep it up but at the end of the year, the dead student appeared in the class photo. From then on, there always seemed to be an "extra" in the class a student who didn't exist before and cease to exist after. Horrible tragedies would befall the class til this "extra was found." If they don't know who the extra is, the students and the teacher create one, selecting one student in the class to completely ignore as if he or she was not there. This year's selection is Mei Misaki.

Not properly warned, Koichi is determined to make friends with Mei despite the vague mentions from his classmates. When accidents start happening, Koichi is determined to find whoever may be the "extra" causing the deaths around him before he falls victim himself.

At first I was a little annoyed the kids around Koichi didn't just flat out tell him what the deal was but when you think about it, you really just can out and out tell the new kid "Hey there! Nice to meet you! By the way, our class is cursed." so we can let that slide. The manga has a slow, creepy build I can appreciate rather than the in-your-face sort of scares from more gory horror. It is genuinely sad and scary to watch the kids and adults crack and break under the stress of finding the "extra" person and ending the disasters. 

The art may seem initially like standard manga fair but Kiyohara does a masterful job of integrating both cuteness, drama, and fear into what you're seeing on the page. The story is just complex enough to keep you interested with very few side tracks to distract you. By the end, you are left with a very satisfying ending and a wonderful example of how complete Japanese horror manga can be. Now, I picked up the omnibus edition from Yen Press for $29.99, which was a bit of an ouchie for my wallet but I can see myself reading this more than once. I enjoyed this manga and I recommend it to any fan of a good slice of creepy/cute goodness from Japan. If you give this one a chance, friends, you won't be disappointed.