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Danielle Leigh’s Reading Diary — Yaoi Sunday!

Today I review two recent yaoi releases which both chart the rocky road two friends take on their way to becoming sexually and romantically involved.

Dog x cat

Dog x Cat by Yoshimi Amasaki (published under DMP’s 801 Media imprint) is a fairly cute and frothy series of chapters about two college friends figuring out the parameters of the sexual and romantic turn their relationship has taken.   However, the generally affable tone of their sexual exploits — with touches of romance always sneaking their way in — is undermined with an upsetting concluding story that is best left unread.   While I’ll explain my reasons why prospective readers should avoid the final story, I should also note that it is so different in tone and feeling than the rest of the book that they are worth examining separately.

The majority of the book focuses on the aftermath of Junya’s confession of love to his friend since childhood, Atsu.  Unlike some yaoi stories which indulge in “panic” about gay sex, Atsu seems to be accept his sexual attraction to Junya easily but is a little less sure about acknowledging that he’s also in love with him.   Each character’s personality is likened to an animal — Junya to a dog because he’s big and affectionate, while Atsu is compared to a cat because he’s rather tart about openly expressing his emotions (although he leaves little hints that he does care for Junya).  The creator gets a lot of play out of the dog and cat comparisons (a little too much for my taste) but at least it is a gimmick that makes her characterization more memorable than they would otherwise be.  There’s very little depth to this relationship or these characters, but it was an easy read, and the explicit sex — of which there is quite a bit — tend to be about both partners’ pleasure and is always consensual.

Or it was until we get to the last two chapters, which comprise one single story.  Suddenly, Junya turns into a sexual tyrant when he’s forced to drink alcohol to “save” Atsu from a mean-spirited prank.  However, in doing so he unleashes his inner “beast” and basically abuses Atsu sexually to elicit a confession (i.e. his “real” feelings) from him.  This story was terrible on every level and absolutely didn’t belong in a book that was, until this point, a fairly sweet take on two old friends transitioning to becoming lovers.

The art reflects the general lightness of the story although the characters are far too generically attractive for my taste, as Atsu looks like he’s barely old enough to attend high school (he’s in college after all), while Amasaki tries to give Junya some gravitas by sticking ridiculous glasses on his face, a ploy that really doesn’t work.  As a whole, the concluding story soured me on the rest of the book, which is a shame, since for the majority of the story features an exuberant sexual and emotional give and take between the leads.

la satanica

In comparison, the budding relationship of the two friends in Momoko Tenzen’s La Satanica (published under DMP’s June imprint) has much more of an edge — mostly thanks to stronger characterization — which I greatly enjoyed.  Mashita is a young man who likes to test the boundaries of the people who care about him, particularly his sweet friend Matsushima.  His constant testing of Matsushima indicates he’s more than a little terrified about expressing his own feelings and this is the best defense mechanism he can find.   While Mashita teases his friend Matsushima mercilessly, it never devolves into actual bullying and by doing so he only ends up revealing his true feelings for him.

Once Matsushima figures out Mashita’s game he ends up using his complete lack of emotional reserve to unravel Mashita’s defenses.  Both characters act like actual teenagers who have fallen in love with each other — Mashita, in particular, is likely to work himself up into a real fit just so he can get his real feelings out.   They often blush and struggle to articulate their real feelings and tend to only get the words out in fits and starts.  They try to act cooler than they really are only to have it backfire almost immediately.   In other words, I thought they were both adorable and quite relatable.

I’ve reviewed Tenzen’s work on this blog before and I find that her stories are generally enjoyable although fairly lightweight.  Her work is engaging in that it is well-constructed but not always memorable.  This work left a stronger impression on me thanks to the fact that I personally identified with the complete lack of cool her characters demonstrate as they fall in love.  While her boys are impossibly pretty, she has a much clearer style than Amasaki, with some very striking close ups and full-figure panels of each character.  As a whole, Tenzen’s works are pleasurable but not ground-breaking, and this one in particular had enough emotional content to carry the work much further than I was expecting.

Review copies provided by DMP.

3 Comments

Ooh, Le Satanica sounds interesting~

[...] on vol. 1 of Deka Kyoshi (Manga Xanadu) Cynthia on Dog X Cat (Boys Next Door) Danielle Leigh on Dog X Cat and La Satanica (Comics Should Be Good) Sam Kusek on Domu: A Child’s Dream (Manga Recon) Connie on vol. 5 of [...]

Loved your review of La Satanica! I just finished it myself and completely agree. :)

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