Manga Mini Reviews: BL Edition

A little while back, I did a batch of mini reviews of all yuri manga titles, so I had the thought to clear through some of my review backlog with a post of all Boys Love reviews. And it just so happens that I have a stack of Tokyopop titles in need of reviewing!

Glass Syndrome Review

Synopsis:

Nijou is the type of dependable guy who hates to let others down. He’s the class president, a good student and an athlete who’s beloved by his teachers and classmates alike. The pressure of all of their admiration has began to feel suffocating to Nijou, but he still finds himself going along with what people expect of him despite this. So, when a teacher expresses concerns for a truant student who Nijou went to middle school with, he winds up volunteering to go check in on him.

Toomi’s dad recently ran out on him, leaving behind a ton of gambling debts and a host of shady characters who are looking to collect. Needless to say, he’s not too impressed when Nijou, a guy he barely knows, shows up to check in on him. Toomi doesn’t hold back in his criticism over what a compulsive people-pleaser Nijou is, and Nijou ends up revealing a vulnerable side of himself during their confrontation that he’s managed to keep hidden from everyone else. This leads to Nijou developing a fascination with Toomi, which only grows deeper when he discovers a secret about the other boy!

Review:

Eiko Ariki’s Glass Syndrome is a fascinating story of two lost teens who are only able to be open with each other. Nijou has started to feel repulsed by other people because of their high expectations of him, but can’t stop himself from playing the good student and doing what they want anyway. Toomi sees through his façade and pushes him to be honest with himself. Meanwhile, Toomi is, understandably, afraid of abandonment and leery of Nijou’s reasons for hanging out with him, but Nijou’s such a straightforward and dependable guy that he can’t help but want to believe in him anyway. I wouldn’t call their relationship sweet, as Toomi can be harsh, but I found their romance compelling. Toomi’s home situation and scandalous secret also added excitement to the story, making for a gratifying read.

This volume includes an extra epilogue about the boys’ lives post graduation that was pretty cute, as well as an additional story about a boy suffering from unrequited feelings for his friend who turns to his upperclassman for comfort. This story was a nice addition to the book, but it was a bit too short to be wholly satisfying.

Final Score: 7.5 out of 10

For more information on this manga visit Tokyopop’s website.

Cheri, My Destiny! Review

Synopsis:

Sakura is a young, beautiful and talented pastry chef – if he does say so himself – and the manager of a popular, western-style dessert shop. He should be sitting pretty at the top of the dessert business world right now, but alas, he catches wind of a traditional Japanese confectionery shop that rivals his own establishment in terms of quality and popularity. This shop even has a young and handsome manager who dares to be just as attractive as him! Well, Sakura isn’t about to take this affront lying down. He marches over to his rival’s place of business to declare war and force him to recognize the superiority of western sweets! But his business rival seems more interested in being friends than competing, and Sakura soon finds that he isn’t as immune to his charms as he would have liked. Has Sakura gotten in over his head?

Review:

A light-hearted and fluffy romance, Okoge Mochino’s Cheri, My Destiny! is the perfect BL manga for anyone craving something sweet and comforting. The plot is pretty simple, but the strength of Sakura’s outrageous personality makes this a hilarious read. He goes from scheming and laughing maniacally to blushing and pinning sweetly for the stoic and kind Japanese confectionary chef almost instantly, and their opposites-attract-style romance was a lot of fun. The manga also got pretty steamy towards the end, so this is a perfect title for those who crave a bit of spice with their sugary romances.

Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.

For more information on this manga, visit Tokyopop’s website.

Fangs Vol 1 Review

Synopsis:

In order to live peacefully with human society, vampires have adopted a system known as “Blood Marriage”, where two vampires will pair off to provide for each other’s need for blood – which often leads them to satisfying each other’s carnal desires as well. En, a recent vampire convert who was turned as a result of a criminal vampire attack, is still trying to adapt to his new life as a vampire when he suddenly finds himself the source of a lot of attention from fellow vampires who are interested in the “fresh meat”. Thankfully, his mentor, Ichii, is there to show him the ropes and chaperone him through vampire society. The caring way he treats En soon has the young vampire falling for him, but can Ichii and En really find lasting happiness together in the stagnant and dangerous world of vampires?

Review:

Fangs is a melancholy story that spends a lot of time dwelling on the darker side of immortality. Living forever inevitably means living with the loss of your loved ones, and there are many vampires who are crushed or twisted by their unending life. Even Ichii, with all his kindness and poise, has heartbreak in his past that he’s struggled to move past. That’s why bright and youthful En is such a breath of fresh air to Ichii and his fellow vampires. He hasn’t been trodden down by the reality of being a vampire yet and is able to revitalize their lives.

En and Ichii’s relationship quickly escalates as En starts struggling with his newfound cravings, meaning there’s no shortage of erotic scenes in this manga. This helps offset some of the more gloomy parts of the story, however a sense of danger is always lurking in the background. En is only in this predicament because of an act of violence by a vampire, and the perpetrator wasn’t caught. On top of that, there is a lot of mystery surrounding Ichii’s past, which is implied to be full of tragedy. Assuming these two elements aren’t unrelated, I suspect things are going to get a lot more exciting in future volumes.

Sexy and intriguing, Billy Balibally’s Fangs can be a little slow in places, but I appreciated the gradual buildup of tension and am eager to see what awaits our vampire lovers in volume 2.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

For more information on this manga visit Tokyopop’s website.


Be sure to check out some of my other recent Boys Love manga reviews:

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