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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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When Yellow Means Risky Business

From "Manga" by Lyn Jensen--this review originally ran in LA Alternative in 2006.

At a recent interview in DMP’s Gardena office, Makoto Tateno explained her inspiration for Yellow. She read a lot of different manga but she’d never really come across a story about a gay guy and a straight guy as a pairing before, and she really loved action stories so she wanted to put them together.

“Goh and Taki are strong characters,” she explained through an interpreter, “They pulled the story along the way, there’s no real-life models or anyone that they’re based on.” She’d drawn several one-shot gay-themed stories before, but Yellow was her first multi-volume yaoi manga.

Her polar-opposite protagonists, Goh and Taki, prowl the seamy side of Tokyo, their wit and charm in stark contrast to Yellow’s plotlines that meander through murder, revenge, drugs, rape, theft, incest, hired assassins, and corrupt cops. The guys are double agents, professional thieves who work for the police. No real-life outlaws ever looked this cool, of course, but fans aren’t complaining.

Yellow is the color of risk, caution, between green and red, and in this manga it signifies the risky area between gay and straight. Gay and dark Goh, who normally goes for effeminate teenage boys, is finding himself attracted to a comparatively manly man in his straight(er) blond partner. Both are sexy and 22, one bragging about his men and the other his women, like a same-sex Will and Grace, which is unusual in yaoi where characters tend to obsess on a single object of desire.

Goh’s patience with Taki is eventually rewarded, but murky plot details threaten the lovers’ newfound passion. Vol. 4 concludes unsatisfactorily, with some irrevocable actions that turn out to not be so irrevocable, but getting there remains a thrill.

Tateno said she decided on the basic outline of Yellow before she started drawing it, and admitted she had trouble with the foreshadowing of the big climax.

She’s a self-taught artist who’s drawn “twelve or thirteen” manga series, mostly shojo comics, over about twenty years. Her art, similar to Kodaka Kazuma and Sanami Matoh, combines the shojo and shonen styles.

With Yellow concluded, DMP’s yaoi imprint, June, published Tateno’s second yaoi series, Hero Heel, in November [2006]. It’s about actors in a show that looks a lot like the Power Rangers series. [Since 2006 DMP/June has published Steal Moon and and follow-up's to Yellow.]

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