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.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Manga Reading for 2017

I indulged my yaoi fan-gurl self in January with the three-vol. series Prince Charming by Akemi Takaido (June/DMP). It's on the edgy side, about a high school teacher and three students who patronize the same gay bar. There's the disclaimer, "All characters depicted in sexually explicit scenes in this publication are at least the age of consent or older." Just the same, we're dealing with relations between a high school teacher and more than one of his students.

For February I'm finally getting around to Aegis, which has been on my "manga to read" list for probably ten years. The five-volume Korean series is by Jinha Yoo (Netcomics).  It's been compared to Lord of the Flies--which I've never read--but I can see the parallels involving schoolboys in extreme situations. The convoluted plot moves back and forth between two or more alternate universes (nightmarish sci-fi cruelty contrasted with the banal everyday kind of cruelty that schoolboys endure). The male leads may be brothers or classmates or--let your imagination do the rest.

By March I'll be looking for more manga, and high on my list is getting up-to-date with His Favorite by Suzuki Tanaka (published by SuBLime, the yaoi imprint of VIZ). In 2016 I read the first eight volumes, but a ninth is now available in the USA and a tenth in Japan. It began as a single story in which the hottest guy in the high school singles out the most unattractive one as "his favorite." It's sometimes marketed more as comedy than as yaoi, because (at least so far) there's no sex.

In April I can shop for You Will Fall in Love by Hinako Takanaga, one of the superstars of yaoi. I have the sequels You Will Drown in Love vols. 1 and 2, (all three were published by BLU) so this will allow me to read the entire series.

Maybe by May I'll start another manga series? How about vol. 1 of Shout Out Loud! by Satosumi Takaguchi (BLU) which has been on my "yaoi to read" list for--at least ten years.

June means the start of another summer spent with a manga series. I can continue through the five volumes of Shout Out Loud, but how about a side trip to Drug and Drop, the two-volume continuation of Legal Drug, my favorite CLAMP series and one of my all-time favorite manga series of any genre? (Maybe I'll get an excuse to read Legal Drug again.)

By July I'll probably have busted my manga budget for the year. If I want something new and different, I'll have to catch up with what's already on my "to be read" shelf. It may be a good time for J-Boy (an anthology of yaoi stories originally published by Biblos in Japan). It was published in the USA by June/DMP.

If I can squeeze one more series into my summer of manga, maybe come August I'll have room in my manga budget for all three volumes of Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love by Yaya Sakuragi. I have the first volume (published by BLU) but I'm guessing I'll want the whole series.

By September the summer of manga will be over but that'll just mean I'll have to find something for fall. It could be My Neighbor Seki by Takuma Morishigi. (Vertical publishes the series in North America.) It's not yaoi but I like a variety of manga. I don't even know if it's considered a boys' comic or a girls' comic (but who cares). Unfortunately I'll likely run into the same problem as with many other manga titles--the entire series runs at least nine volumes, so if I read the first volume (or two or three), I'll probably feel a compulsion to keep reading.

October is a good time for vampire and werewolf stories, so that may be a good time to finish Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino (VIZ). The complete series runs 19 vols. and starts out like a mash-up of rom-com and horror, then grows steadily more horrifying and grotesque. Despite often wondering, "Why am I still reading this?" I was able to get up to vol. 12 several years ago. With trepidation, I admit I'd like to find out how it ends.

I'll likely still be wallowing in Japanese vampire lore come November, but I'll probably want to mash up the horror with some yaoi. Three Wolves Mountain by Bohro Naono (SuBLime) is about a werewolf spirit who's pursuing a human, but not out of bloodlust, just plain lust (and love).

What manga do I put on my December holiday list? Cardfight Vanguard maybe? Decisions, decisions!