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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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01/27/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: All Nippon Air Line: Paradise at 30,000 Feet"

All Nippon Air Line: Paradise at 30,000 Feet
Story and art by Kei Azumaya
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.

Review by Cat

Oh, I see. I had wondered about the title, "All Nippon Air Line," because it seems a strange choice. When I opened to an inside leaf page, there's a colour illustration featuring an array of characters. One of them is an airline crew employee in his boiler suit with an acronym listed on his back: A.N.A.L. Oh. Oh, I see. Aah, I get it. Ha ha ha. How droll. That's when I twigged on what to come.

"All Nippon Air Line" revolves around the ups and downs of a newly-founded airline company that is becoming famous for these things: its all-male, gay employees and the notorious secretive tactics in recruiting new employees and resolving problems. Such as a crazy hijacker, high-strung passengers, sleazy politician and many more.

It's also famous for having an air crew that's very popular with female passengers who love their good looks, charms and services. Male passengers can enjoy these benefits as well.

Stories in this volume include:

Paradise 30,000 FT.
From A.N.A.L. with Love
The Birth of A.N.A.L
My Lover is Santa Claus
Romeo & Juliet, A.N.A.L. Version
A Steward's Story
The Job Interview
The Narrow Gates of A.N.A.L.
A Christmas Fantasy
Love A.N.A.L.
The Director vs. Miracle-Voice
Burning A.N.A.L.
Fist of A.N.A.L.
An A.N.A.L. Mystery
The Secret of the 'Four Kings'
My First Encounter
A.N.A.L. Travel
A.N.A.L. Clinic
A Toast to A.N.A.L.!

These titles should tell you what to expect from "All Nippon Air Line". Or am I stating the obvious?

I'd describe "All Nippon Air Line" as a cross between a TV advert and a documentary with its tongue firmly in cheek and an occasional "Aww, that's sweet!" moment.

There are so many characters that I think it would not be a good idea to list all their names here. In fact, considering the average story length, I decided against summarising each story. It's best left for readers to swim alone in this crazy world of the airline industry.

There are, however, some A.N.A.L. employees that stand out. A pretty-boy steward who has a bald-head fetish; two lovers stuck in a Romeo-and-Juliet situation; a Chinese steward-cum-martial arts expert, and the legendary "Four Kings".

My favourite character is one of the "Four Kings". He's the founder and company director of A.N.A.L. and a real cad. Things he does to get what he wants for his airline company are a real eyebrow-riser. He's so sly, manipulative, deceitful and utterly shameless. If you look in a dictionary for the definition of "smug", you'll find a picture of his face next to it. But admittedly, he's hard-working and has occasionally proven he's willing to go out on a limb for his employees. He's appeared in at least five stories in this volume and he's so shameless in almost every one of these "Oh, you're so bad, Mr. Company Director!" stories.

Such as the one that shows how he deals with a new and deeply uncertain A.N.A.L. employee. There's a graduate school scheme that randomly assigns newly-trained pilots to various airline companies. One such graduate is dismayed to discover he's assigned to A.N.A.L., which is known as a "gay" company and he's worried that his friends will think he's gay, too. So, he tries to think of a way to get out of it including abandoning his new pilot career altogether. Fear not, the company director shows the graduate why being an A.N.A.L. employee is great. So shameless and yet so amusing.

As for other characters. There is one that stands out most: the Chinese steward who accepts challenges - from passengers and employees alike - to engage in a martial arts fight. If one could beat him in such a fight, he'll accept the winner as his lover. Until then he refuses to be involved with anyone. He's a "bottom" who wants a strong "top". It's such a crazy story, but against all (rational) odds, it actually works.

The third is another "King" - a legendary, handsome steward who has the kind of a voice that can give anyone a mind-blowing orgasm that literally brings them to their knees. As the result he's rarely allowed to make a public announcement during a flight. What can he do? It's such a stupid idea that one cannot help but enjoy it. In one story the other "King" - our lovely caddish company director - decides to take the "King-with-the-Voice" on. Which "King" will win this duel?

What I enjoyed the most about "All Nippon Air Line" is the narrator himself. I know it's strange to consider a voice-over as a 'character,' but it's set in a way that it becomes a breathing character of its own. This is why I say that All Nippon Air Line is a cross between an advertisement and a documentary. It's an advertisement because it's all about promoting the air line and its fantastical world. It's a documentary because these stories are mostly episodic and short. It's also a sketch comedy show, to come to think of it.

Also, I think what makes these openly and unabashedly silly stories a fun read is you can sense that the mangaka Kei Azumaya truly had a great time penning these. What also makes the "silliness" easy to take is it's not over the top and slapstick, not like the other June/DMP book, "I'll Be Your Slave". Most stories in A.N.A.L. are reserved and deadpan without losing its "barmy Japanese advertisement" tone. When I read this, I was both amused and bemused. This with a small smile permanently on my mug throughout the read.

It's also the kind that you would love to have on your bathroom bookshelf for a bit of bath reading or, in my friend's case, shower reading (yeah, I wonder how she manages to do that, too). It's a shame that this manga is set to be released in February when it could make a great Christmas release. It has that aura of a novelty gift book. You can nip in and out the reading any time you want.

Considering the amount of text and dialogue, I think June/DMP's team of translator, editors, graphic designers, typesetters (especially typesetters!), and production staff did a pretty good job on it. However, I didn't like how stiff these pages are because it made the reading difficult. It's a story that demands you to chill and go along for a silly but fun ride, but the stiffness of these pages won't allow you to "chill". Yeah, I dislike this type of paper. It's just too stiff.

If you are looking for a complex story with depth and consistency, don't bother. It's perfect for anyone who can only afford a series of five-minute reads. It would make a great train/bus-ride book, actually. Reading this in public wouldn't be a problem as the book cover�both inside book cover and its dust jacket�is discreet enough to hide the fact that it's a yaoi manga. That's unless an eagle-eyed passenger can figure out what 'yaoi' on the bottom strip of the book means.

Actually, I should mention at this point that "All Airline Nippon Air Line" isn't "yaoi", not in a way a typical yaoi reader expects. It's basically shounen-ai (hm, we need a new sub-genre). There are two or three brief light-yaoi scenes, usually portrayed in comedic light.

The bottom line, if you are the sort who enjoys absurdity and tongue-in-cheek humour in a story whilst lack time for a long read, this is for you.

Replies: 1 Comment

Press Release from June Manga:

ANAL Flight 001 Landing at a Terminal Near You!

Gardena, CA, January 28, 2008 – June Manga invites you to join the Mile High Club in All Nippon Airlines: Paradise at 30,000 Feet by Kei Azumaya!

ANAL – All Nippon Air Lines – is a unique airline company. All of its employees are beautiful gay men. On top of that, relationships between employees, or even between passengers and employees, are highly encouraged! This is of course the premise for many hilarious situations and strange adventures both for them and for their passengers.

“This is pretty much all the staff member’s favorite title to work on this year,” explains production manager Fred, “It has gotten us into all kinds of trouble with its somewhat controversial title!”

To celebrate the release, June Manga is producing a limited edition dust jacket. “The bookstores didn’t want to actually see ANAL written on the cover,” explains sales manager Eric. “But the play on words is what really makes the book unique. We figured a limited edition dust jacket would be a way to give the fans what they want, but also make the bookstores happy.”

To get your limited edition dust jacket with ANAL in all its glory there are a couple of things you can do:
(1) Visit the DMP/June booth at any convention this year (New York Comic Con 2008, Anime Expo 2008, Yaoi Con 2008, etc.) and ask for one.
(2) Order a copy of ANAL from Akadot Retail (www.akadotretail.com) and ask for the limited edition dust jacket in the notes/comments section of your order.
(3) Mail us a shipping label with your name and address along with three (3) 41-cent first class stamps to: (available for US mailing addresses only)
Attn: Dust Jacket Giveaway
Digital Manga Inc.
1487 W 178th Street Suite 300
Gardena, CA 90248
Now for the disclaimers:
• Limit one (1) dust jacket per book.
• These dust jackets are not for sale and are available on a first come first serve basis.
• Quantities are limited and mail requests for dust jackets that we are unable to fulfill will simply be destroyed.
• We can only mail the dust jackets to US addresses.
• If we can’t read your address on the shipping label, we doubt the post office will be able to. So we aren’t responsible for lost packages.
• Digital Manga Inc. reserves the right to discontinue this promotion at any time due to acts of God, circumstances beyond our control, etc.
For more information and complete rules, visit the June Manga Blog at www.junemanga.com! Look for All Nippon Airlines at a bookstore near you on February 26, 2008.
***
About Digital Manga, Inc.
Digital Manga, Inc. (DMI) specializes in building corporate and cultural bridges from Japan to the Western Hemisphere - specifically through the licensing, importation and preparation of anime (Japanese animation), manga (Japanese comic books) and related merchandise for the North American mainstream and subculture markets. In this capacity, DMI serves as a catalyst for the expansion of Japanese pop-culture institutions into global arenas.

Posted by Editor, J LHLS @ 01/28/2008 02:10 PM PST

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