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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

REVIEW: DMP/June/801 Manga

You've heard of a director's cut of a film, right? Here's a "writer's cut" of my manga review, "Yaoi For Christmas" featured in the Dec. 2010 issue of Blade. (I also have an article in the Jan. 2011 Blade about the Shoreline Squares, a GLBT square dance group in Long Beach.)

Yaoi: Kizuna and More from DMP/June/801
by Lyn Jensen

Enjoy the holidays (or start out the new year) with the latest yaoi manga (gay-themed Japanese graphic novels) from Digital Manga Publishing (DMP). Also known as Digital Manga, Inc. (DMI), the Gardena-based publisher rivals TokyoPop and VIZ as a publisher of Japanese comics in the USA. They’re an industry leader in yaoi, publishing about forty such graphic novels on the June (pronounced “Genet” like the writer) imprint every year, and about six more on the niche 801 imprint.

June brings back to the American market two of the most popular and controversial yaoi manga series ever, Kizuna by Kodaka Kazuma and the Finder series by Ayano Yamane. Together they provide American audiences a look at the work of two of Japan’s greatest female manga artists. Both titles were picked up from Be Beautiful, a defunct American publisher.

Both series are rated for adults, 18-up, as both are grisly far-fetched dramas involving gangsters and rape, with eye-popping explicit homosexual content. However, DMP persuaded Borders (but not Barnes & Noble) to carry both series.

“Yamane wanted people to be able to find the book,” said a DMP spokesperson. The artist also insisted on a different translation from the Be Beautiful editions. Those were released as Target in the Finder, Cage in the Finder, and One Wing in the Finder. The DMP titles substitute Viewfinder for Finder.

Kizuna is being packaged differently from the Be Beautiful edition. The series currently runs eleven volumes in Japan but DMP is marketing a “deluxe edition” of six books, with the first ten volumes doubled up, and the final volume (vol. 11 in the original Japanese edition) becoming vol. 6. June has also licensed a couple more BL/yaoi titles by Ms. Kazuma, Border and Kusatta Kyo Shino Houteishiki.

Good news for fans of softer yaoi such as Little Butterfly is that June has available a similar manga by Hinako Takanaga, The Tyrant Falls in Love. In this three-volume manga, the seme’s a homophobe and the uke’s the gay guy who really, really loves him. It was picked up from the long-languishing Drama Queen.

DMP’s 801 imprint is “fan-based, not mainstream-based,” according to a company spokesperson. It’s only marketed online and in independent bookstores. It publishes such titles as A Foreign Love Affair (another Ayano Yamane manga) and the upcoming Under Grand Hotel, which some fans have branded too controversial for the American market. It’s an explict gay romance set in a prison, need we say more?

As for what’s happening in the new year, DMP is also getting into the yuri market (female-female romance) with the upcoming Hanou Gakuen Misoragumi, a manga about a girl who has feelings for other girls so, to keep her away from girls, her family sends her to a boys’ school.

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