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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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04/15/2007 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Ichigenme, Volume 1"

Ichigenme, volume 1
By Fumi Yoshinaga
Published by the 801 Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Ginger Mayerson

In "Ichigenme," volume 1, one of the first offerings from the adult yaoi line from the 801 imprint at Digital Manga, we meet some very hard partying law students making fools of themselves at a party and shocking the one conservative (or repressed maybe) guy in their class. His name is Tamiya and the cute drunk guy named Tohdou lays a big wet kiss on him that completely traumatizes him. I think a little yaoi reading would do Tamiya a world of good. So, anyway, back in yaoiland, Tamiya and Tohdou circle, collide, circle, collide, pretty much for the rest of the book. While all this is going on we learn that Tamiya is the brilliant, virtuous scholarship boy and Tohdou is a rich, louche, but brilliant, brat in the same law class. In fact, everyone in this law class is a rich, louche brat, either brilliant or well connected, and has tons of personal problems. My heart certainly bled for one exceptionally beautiful girl whose boyfriend was "too" rich. Yoshinaga or the translator spend a little time explaining how the "zemi" system, or seminar system, in this law school works. I still wasn't completely clear on it, but it doesn't really have much to do with the main story of Tamiya and Tohdou. Along with some smokin' sex scenes, there's a lot of cooking and cuddling in this book because Tamiya and Tohdou sort of settle into a domestic routine very quickly. Their domestic life seems to be more rewarding than their feints at being lovers, but I personally thought they should just calm down a little and let things naturally take their course. Of course nobody in these books listens to me, if they did, they'd all be the size of "War and Peace."

Usually I like Yoshinaga's books more than I liked this one, but my reasons for not being so hot on this title are peculiarly my own. Unlike "Antique Bakery" and "Flower of Life," "Ichigenme 1" has no wackiness and I miss that. Everything in this book is deadly serious and SO adult world serious that I had to dive back into "Only the Ring Finger Knows" for relief. Iím not big on soap operas either, but if you are, this might be the title for you.

I've also been very impressed with Yoshinaga's track record on women: there's always at least one or more super likable girl or woman in all the books I've read by her. In yaoiland, that's not just amazing, that's some kind of miracle. Alas, not so in "Ichigenme 1," where there are no likeable women because there are no likeable characters. Perhaps this is Yoshinaga's statement on the cut throat world of Japanese law, or maybe the characters get more likeable in future volumes. I suspect both are true, because one of the characters does have an epiphany of sorts and gets the hell out of law. Will it all lead to true love? Aw, who the hell knows.

My last gripe, because I love Digital Manga/June/801 and I want them to continue to love me, is that the format of this particular book didn't work for me, mainly because I'm spoiled rotten with the larger June format, which 801 is not using. However, it's not like I'm consistent or anything, in "The Sky Over my Spectacles," the smaller size didn't bother me at all. So I really think my problem is that "Ichigenme 1" is laid out in squares and rectangles with space in between and at least two on each page, which is a lot for these middle-aged eyes to peer at. Add to that that the sex scenes are broken up into body parts, and it's just too small to see what's going on. Yes, in this case, size does matter. But these are just my issues and I hope this book sends many Yoshinaga fans over the moon. Just not moi.

My issues notwithstanding, 801's standard manga format, which is smaller than their DMP Books and June imprints, still has the same stellar production values, including sturdy binding, a full-color dust jacket, and, like "The Sky Over my Spectacles," a full-color first page of two very cute boys before the table of contents. The price has gone up to $15.95, but you get a lot of book and a lot of sexxx for that price. I can remember being somewhat disappointed paying retail to another $15.95 publisher and getting no or very little sex and lesser production values. I can assure you that 801 does not disappoint in either of these areas.

Replies: 1 Comment

Too much spam, closing comments early.

Posted by Editor Ginger @ 05/19/2007 11:03 PM PST

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