7. Crimson Spell [クリムゾン・スペル]
by Ayano Yamane (Tokuma Shoten)
But wait, you might be thinking, Cait, this title is already licensed by Kitty Media. I’m sorry to have to inform you all of this, but Media Blasters’ manga division is all-but-defunct at this point. Any claims they might have made to the contrary, or comments about their interest in reviving their manga and/or yaoi titles is a pipe-dream. I remember the BL fan community going wild when it was announced that this title was to be released by Kitty Media. I also remember the fan complaints when Finder Series was announced for DMP’s June (and not 801 Media), but looking at the endgame here, I’m glad DMP got Finder Series, and I’m annoyed that Crimson Spell is stuck in the limbo that is Media Blasters as much as I was annoyed that Kizuna and Finder Series were stuck in the limbo of Central Park Media for years before DMP rescued them. You can think what you want about DMP and you can think what you want about the potential future of this title at Media Blasters, but you can’t argue with the fact that Finder Series is almost caught up in English (and not, as fans feared, censored in any way, under the June imprint) and this title never made it to volume 3 here. I’m not even confident that Kitty Media even still holds the license to Crimson Spell. Manga is not licensed by the series, it is licensed by the volume, and while at one time volume 3 was on a release schedule, and therefore they did hold a license to it, licenses typically have an expiration date, and often it includes a clause forfeiting the license if the title doesn’t get released after a certain amount of time. But legal issues surely still surround a rescue of this title, either way, and it could still be more years before anyone will have the opportunity to cash in on the gold mine that anything penned by Ayano Yamane brings.
That said, this series is gorgeous. No one can argue with the quality of Yamane’s artwork. It might not be to their tastes, but she is clean, proportionate and detailed to near-perfection. There are probably only a handful of mangaka in the world (inside or outside of BL) I could actually say that about, my favorite, Tateno, not quite among them. Crimson Spell could best be described as Western fantasy yaoi. Yamane’s sexy sensibilities and sense of humor abound in the tale of Vald, a heroic prince cursed to turn into a wild beast any time he loses consciousness. Havi, a magician, agrees to accompany Vald in his search for a cure, on the condition of taking the prince’s body (sexually, of course) whenever he is in his beast form.
Tokuma Shoten is a major publisher in Japan and as such have licensed to several English companies over the years, however Yamane has a lot of control over the rights to her works and when Finder Series was up for license rescue the fan community had some of a say in who got the license. When this one comes up for rescue, I imagine a similar debate will rage.
6. Sekaiichi Hatsukoi [世界第一初恋]
by Shungiku Nakamura (Kadokawa)
This title was licensed by Blu, shortly before the publisher folded, but was never released. The title translates as World’s Greatest First Love. Being by the same mangaka as Junjou Romantica, also licensed and almost entirely release by Blu, it suffers much of the same messy artwork and crazy over-exaggerted emotional reactions by its protagonist. What sets this series apart is the relative maturity of its subject matter. The characters are older, and while not significantly more emotionally stable, are at least more professionally responsible. Much of the series deals with the inner-workings of a manga publisher (and since it takes place in the same universe as Junjou Romantica, some of the same characters make appearances) while Ritsu Onodera flails about denying the inevitability of his future relationship with an old flame from high school, who is of course also male.
While Junjou Romantica‘s licensing future is suspect as all but its last volume were released in English, a license rescue of this series seems inevitable to me, and I expect to see someone announce it in the next year or so.
5. Renai Houteishiki [恋愛方程式]
by Kazuma Kodaka (Libre Shuppan)
A spin-off of Kusatta Kyoushi no Houteishiki (Bad Teacher’s Equation, licensed by June), I remember seeing this title on a list of series of which Central Park Media (the previous licensee of Kodaka’s Kizuna) held the license, but it was never on a release schedule, so I don’t know how accurate that information was. Central Park Media’s BeBeautiful yaoi imprint was caught up near the end of the publisher’s existence in the fiasco surrounding the Biblos bankruptsy and subsequent transfer of titles to the new Libre Shuppan (many titles reverted back to their original mangaka and moved to other publishers, but many did not). However, there did not seem to be any real interest from anyone in acquiring this particular title after the dust settled. It doesn’t seem difficult to consider, however, as Bad Teacher’s Equation is required reading first, and it hadn’t been licensed and released until recently. Also to consider is the fact that the boys who fall in love in this story (the children of supporting characters in BTE) are still in junior high and it gets a little graphic in places. It’s still an adorable story and worth licensing for the chance to witness the characters from Bad Teacher’s Equation so many years later, still existing in their happily-ever-afters.
Since June is currently releasing Bad Teacher’s Equation I would think they woud be the best bet for a license of this spin-off, though the ages of its protagonists may keep it from being licensed all-together.
4. Kayashimashi no Yuuga na Seikatsu [茅島氏の優雅な生活]
by Haruhi Tono, Artist Ellie Mamahara (Houbunsha)
Based on the light novel series by Tono, which I have not read, Ellie Mamahara’s adaptation is adorable. Sumito Kayashima is a wealthy man, left in his mid-20s with his family’s sizeable estate after his parents’ death. Not having any financial needs in his life, he spends his days lazily attending social gatherings and sitting in his big lonely mansion. He falls in love with one of his estate’s gardeners, who luckily for him happens to be gay. Unfortunately, Sumito is rather socially inept and his awkward confession to his love leaves a lot to be desired. The romance that blossoms between them is beautiful and humorous at times.
I’m not incredibly familiar with Houbunsha, but they have licensed several titles to June in the past, so perhaps starting there would be a good idea.
(mangaka name orders listed in Given first, Family second)
Images taken from Manga Updates