Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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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.

Monday, June 30, 2014

SuBLime Manga: Ten Years a Yaoi Fangirl

June 30, 2004 was the first time I heard of yaoi.  For ten years now I’ve watched the fortunes of various publishers, creators, and fans take oft-broken routes, some having major impact and others just fading away--but I continue to feel fortunate that so many of us have contributed in so many ways to make and keep yaoi successful in America. 
VIZ only entered the yaoi market a couple of years ago through its SuBLime imprint, but editor Jennifer LeBlanc continues to provide us with new (or revived) work and she’s kept several series running for an extended period.  Here are some reviews of her squeal-worthy wares:

Starting With a Kiss by Youka Nitta
Perhaps the biggest catch for SuBLime is that some of Youka Nitta’s manga is once again available in the USA. Starting With a Kiss runs at least two volumes, with a fairly serious (if far-fetched) story involving generations of Japanese gangsters. (Are you into The Sopranos--but Japanese and gay?) SuBLime also has revived Embracing Love, a multi-volume story about a far-fetched romance between two of Tokyo’s hottest actors, formerly introduced to American audiences by the now-defunct Be Beautiful. SuBLime is packaging Love by combining two volumes into one (three vols. in place of the original five) and also offering a digital version.

Awkward Silence by Hinako Takanaga
As another of yaoi’s most popular artists, Hinako Takanaga has given us Little Butterfly, The Tyrant Falls in Love, You Will Drown in Love, Challengers, and that's just a portion of her work--some may still be unavailable in the US. Awkward Silence runs at least four volumes and takes a twist on formula teen romance.  Will the shy sensitive artist win and keep the heart of the school’s star baseball pitcher?  What if they’re both guys?  It’s the kind of yaoi I personally like best—a romantic sugary-sweet relationship that just might really happen.

Honey Darling by Norikazu Akira
Here’s another sugary-sweet romance that could almost really happen—and since it’s a single volume, there’s no need to spend dollars and suspend one’s sense over a lengthy series.  You love yaoi and cats?  Here’s your story.  Young man needs a vet for his sick kitten, and the vet needs someone like a wife—in more ways than one.  The artist is the sister of another yaoi star, Homerun Ken.   

His Favorite by Suzuki Tanaka
This manga is perhaps best enjoyed by fans of Menkui, a previous Tanaka series that BLU published in this country. It’s another schoolboy romance, but it’s more about laughs, and it’s rated for teens, so it’s not about eye-popping sex.  (Darn!  Right?)  I’ve even seen it categorized with mainstream manga, instead of being aimed specifically at the yaoi audience.  The story revolves around the geeky guys in a school’s comics club (they’re all flops with chicks) but one becomes the "favorite" of the school stud, who’ll have nothing to do with the jealous girls who fawn all over him.  Turns out the characters’ relationships are very complicated, enough to stretch over at least six volumes.

See for more.  LeBlanc divides her line between print and e-versions—she’s revived the long-languishing Dog Style as an e-book series, for example.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Laugh Factory Feature Online

Random Lengths has posted my feature about the Laugh Factory in Long Beach online: