Convention season is upon us, and what better way to spend it than by thinking about all the lovely stories of boys falling in love with other boys we want to read in English? I know that licensing is a long-term project, and any and all recommendations and suggestions I might make won’t see any kind of real results for another year yet, if they weren’t already in the works from a year ago or more. However, I still want to make my case for these wonderful titles. I have listed here a total of ten titles I want to own in English in ascending order of desire. I want each of them in print, but I know “digital only” is becoming an increasingly tempting format for release, as it bears none of the printing and inventory risks of actual books.
Now, I know everyone reading this probably knows I read most of these as scanlations (okay, all of them), and I don’t want to have a debate about the merits or follies of scanlations in this post, so let’s leave that for another time.
10. Hari no Hana [玻璃の花]
by Fusanosuke Inariya (Taiyo Tosho)
What I really want is for Inariya to draw faster so we can get the third volume of Maiden Rose collected into a tankoban that can be licensed already. This title, translated as Quartz Flower, isn’t even long enough to be collected in a tankoban itself yet, but if we can get a second series licensed in English by this mangaka, I’ll be happy. The premise is a departure from Inariya’s usual WWII fetish yaoi, as it takes place in a fantasy feudal-era Japan. There are sexy monks, evil plots and demons, and a lot of action. A winning combination, if you ask me.
Taiyo Tosho has a licensing agreement with Digital Manga. Their licensed titles to DMP were even at one time branded on the spines of the English releases. In addition, Inariya’s Maiden Rose is already licensed to DMP’s June, so DMP would be the best place to start for anyone who wanted to suggest this title be licensed to an English publisher.
9. Toiki Yori mo Yasashii [吐息よりも優しい]
by Masara Minase (Frontier Works)
I’m actually getting a little sick of Minase’s short-form BL. Nothing of hers stands out very much and most stories wrap up without much real character development. It feels like an endless stream of interchangeable semes and ukes to the point of not being able to distinguish one pairing from another, or remember their names after five minutes. The recently released in English, Ambiguous Relationship (June) drives this home. There are only a handful of her titles that I could say otherwise about, and this is one of them. I also like Minase’s Take Over Zone, but as a complete story with a chance to be licensed, I think this has a better one. The title translates as Even More Gentle Than a Breath, and is about a young man, Masato, who has spent two years searching for a man with whom he had a one night stand. He discovers the man, Kazaoka, is an author and gets a part time job at an establishment he frequents to get closer to him. What I like about this title is the emotional tension created in layers of deception. Kazaoka is wary of getting close to people because when he became famous as an author people started taking advantage of him. Masato is deceiving him about their past and the fact that he knows Kazaoka is an author because he is afraid of being rejected. Minase actually took the time and care to develop these characters and their feelings, and the resulting story is a good counterpoint to her attractive and clean artistic style.
Many of the titles Frontier Works has licensed in English were to now-defunct publishers. They did license Words of Devotion to June quite a while ago, so that might be a good place to try.
8. Gerbera [ガーベラ]
by Makoto Tateno (Shuueisha)
My token Tateno wishlist item, this particular title is not one of my all-time favorites, but I’d love to have it in English all the same. Many, if not most, of Tateno’s BL titles (and some of her shojo as well) have already been licensed in English. She is a prolific, and for those who enjoy her artistic style, like myself, a consistently enjoyable creator. Gerbera is a traditional YA BL manga, on the light side, even for Tateno, who isn’t known for seriously explicit sex scenes to begin with, but its overall a much safer license choice than Myuuzu Gakuen de Aou, a series wrought with underaged rape-fantasy (even in its attached one-shots). In the story, high school student Ei has a crush on his friend Yuuji. When the girl Yuuji confesses to rejects him because she has a crush on Ei (who in turn rejects her), it causes a rift between them. The book focuses on the development of a teenaged friendship into something more. Ei’s feelings are clear from the beginning, but it is in watching Yuuji’s feelings of rejection and jealousy transform into an understanding of his romantic feelings for his friend, as his friend quietly suffers in seemingly unrequited love, that is the emotional porn in this title. It’s a subtle yet beautiful coming-of-age story.
As Shuueisha is a parent company to Viz, this title is most likely to get a license by SuBLime, if anyone.
(mangaka name orders listed in Given first, Family second)
Images taken from Manga Updates