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Manga Review: After Morning Love

Year: 2008
Author + Artist: Mitori Fujii
Version: Dangerous Pleasure Scanlation Group
After Morning Love Online: MyAnimeList, MangaFox, KissManga
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Slice of Life, Romance

It’s been several months since I last posted a manga review. This time around, I will be reviewing the rather adorable After Morning Love. After Morning Love is a five-part Yaoi miniseries with several one-shots attached. I don’t read a lot of Yaoi series because I usually find myself at frustrated and annoyed at the issues of consent that are rife in this genre. Thankfully, this is not the case with After Morning Love.

Matsuno, a salaryman, wakes up after a night of drinking to find a young man in the bed next to him. Rin is a prostitute that tries to extort money out of Matsuno by implying that they had sex. Matsuno doesn’t remember having sex and it becomes clear that Rin is trying to con him. In spite of this attempted scam, the kind-hearted Matsuno soon finds himself feeling protective of a young man that he learns barely survives from day to day. Although Matsuno is “not gay”, he has to navigate his own growing feelings for Rin. Misunderstanding abounds as the pair try to muddle through their own feelings for each other.

After Morning Love is an odd story. As mentioned before, most of my issue with the genre is the issue of consent, but I would also extend that to a focus on sex rather than building a real relationship and character development. These are also issues that I have with Shoujo though.
Right out of the blocks, I had the sense that this story would be different. The whole con thing gives us a sense of what Rin is willing to do in order to avoid spending a night in the street. Matsuno’s feeling of protectiveness also gives us a sense of how good of a guy that he is. Over time, we also get to meet several other characters and see what Rin is trying to avoid.
As for their relationship. it is easy to see how the pair complements each other. However, they will need to deal with their own personal obstacles first. For Matsuno, it is acknowledging that he is in love with Rin. He will also have to figure out some of the misunderstandings between them because he is unfamiliar with some of the terms used specifically in the gay community. Matsuno is also concerned about the age thing even though Rin is old enough to go to college. Rin will have to deal with his own fear of rejection that plagues much of their courtship. He was kicked out of home by his dad for being gay and feels unloveable.
After Morning Love reminds me of the series Higouhou Junai, otherwise known as Pure Love Outlaw which I last read about five years ago. Pure Love Outlaw is a series that I remember with great fondness for its thoughtful and mature depictions of same-sex relationships. If folks can think of similar Yaoi series, then feel free to post recommendations in the comments section.

In conclusion, After Morning Love is a really adorable, well-paced story with characters that were easy to care about. If you are looking for a mature romance that happens to be between two male characters, then I highly recommend this series.

I am currently looking for a regular manga series to review on a weekly basis. I encourage folks to send in their recommendations from my existing list as well as any other series that they can think of. I look forward to seeing what you guys come up with.


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Music Review: Neon by Vitne

Year: 2013 with a Jamendo release in 2015
Genre: Hard Rock, 80’s Metal
Online: Official Website, Jamendo, Facebook, Twitter
Tracks:

  1. Destroyer
  2. Nasty Habit
  3. Silhouette
  4. Royal Nights
  5. Lick You Up
  6. To the Sky
  7. I’m Feeling Deadly
  8. Cruisin’
  9. Rest in Peace
  10. Fire (Outtake)
  11. It’s Me (Outtake)

Neon is the 2013 album release by Norwegian artist Vitne. I first came across Vitne in February of this year whilst listening to some of the playlists on Jamendo. The initial track that I listened to was Winter Love Song, a cute little single from 2014. I liked it enough to listen to some of Vitne’s other music.
The first thing that you will notice when listening to Vitne is the mild accent that seems to go well with the at-times delightfully cheesy lyrics. The style is deliberate and gives Vitne’s music that rock porn vibe. It is a guilty pleasure.

For Neon, Vitne kicks it up a notch, channelling a hard rock and metal sound from the early to mid-80’s. If the metal and hard rock from that era don’t appeal, then this album likely won’t be your cup of tea. I still recommend that you check out the album anyway.
If I had to choose some favourite tracks, I would pick two songs. The opening track Destroyer does a great job of setting the mood for the entire album. The twelfth track, an outtake of It’s Me, does a great job of further showcasing Vitne’s instrumental work with a kickass guitar solo that knocks it out of the park. I can easily listen to and enjoy each of the tracks though, which made picking favourites songs from the album difficult.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this album. Would I listen to it all of the time? No, but I play it on repeat every few weeks simply to “rock out”. In any case, you guys should check out the album and the rest of the Vitne catalogue. If you like what you hear, be sure to spread the word.


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Music Review: Traveling Songs by The Dada Weatherman

Year: 2016
Genre: Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Blues Rock, Folk Rock, Folk
Online: Official Website, Jamendo, Facebook, Twitter
Tracks:

  1. Free Your Mind
  2. Traveler’s Song
  3. Desert of Love
  4. Rewind
  5. We Will Be Alright
  6. Rocking Out
  7. M.O.
  8. Falling in Love

I apologise for the delay in posting another album review. I decided to remove the album that I previously had on the top of the list on account of Canadian band The Rest being oddly absent from the interwebs nowadays. It made me a little sad but I suppose that even good bands break-up or fade into the ether. I recommend that you check out their album on Jamendo here. And this brings us to the next album on the list.

I first noticed French band The Dada Weatherman, otherwise known as Dada & The Weatherman, about two years ago when one of their new albums popped up on the front page of Jamendo. Folk.It.Up was a good listen and I soon found myself listening to some of their other releases. Last year, they came out with the album that I am reviewing today, Traveling Songs. Please note that all of their tracks are in English.
Traveling Songs is a collection of eight tracks that offer a more refined folk and psychedelic and blues rock edge, reflecting Dada’s roots growing up listening to classic rock and blues from the 60’s and 70’s. With all of TDW’s albums, there is a strong focus on vocal and guitar work to do justice to the compositions. Sadly, I can’t say the same for several other artists that I have listened to of late.
Do I have a favourite track in this release? I enjoy all of the tracks, but if I had to choose then it would be a toss-up between Traveler’s Song and We Will Be Alright. Be sure to post your favourite tracks of the album in the comments section if you take time out to listen to the album.
In conclusion, this is a great addition to the existing catalogue of releases by The Dada Weatherman. It offers something new whilst somehow managing to stay true to the roots of the artist. Be sure to also check out the other releases of TDW and let me know what you think of their music. And last but not least, if you have any other artist and album that you’d like me to check out on Jamendo, be sure to drop me a line and I will try to get to it ASAP. You can find a copy of the album on Jamendo along with a huge catalogue of their releases.

If you have any other artist and album that you’d like me to check out on Jamendo, be sure to drop me a line and I will try to get to it ASAP. I have a backlog of album reviews to get through so bear with me.


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TV Review: Something About One Percent Episode 14

Episodes: episode 14/16 of English subbed KDrama series
Something About 1 Percent Online: MyDramaList, DramaFeverIMDBAsianWiki
Genre: Romantic Comedy

*slides in from the left* Hello, again! I am back with a review of the fourteenth episode of the weekly TV series.

Kim Da-Hyun (Jeon So-Min) and Lee Jae-In (Ha Seok-Jin) share a few more dates before the end of their dating contract but both appear to be grieving the time when they won’t be together anymore. The day of their last date, Jae-In’s grandfather collapses and is rushed to the hospital for that nasty medical problem that has been “hinted” at for the past few episodes. Now acting as Executive Director of the SH Group, Jae-In feels himself slipping in a cycle of misery again and misses Da-Hyun greatly. The feeling is mutual. Da-Hyun has her own medical emergency and is helped by her best friend Hyun Yin (Im Do Yoon) who enlists aid from her brother Jung Sun Woo (Choi Sung Jae). When Hyun Yin goes to confront Jae-In about Da-Hyun, she mistakes his cousin that he just retrieved from a dancing audition for a new girlfriend. More feels ensue.

This is what one can easily view as a “feels” episode. It does this by also making good use of flashbacks. However, there was not anywhere near enough Attorney Park Hyung-Joon (Kim Sun-Hyuk) in it. In any case, we now have two episodes left in the series to give our main couple the happiness that we want for them. I am curious as to how cheesy they will make it.
At least the writers have pointed out what living with a director of a big company such as SH Group will mean for their spouse. Yes, it does sound like a crap experience and one that I am tackling with a fiction series that I am currently plotting. Living with somebody with money has a cost in time, privacy and security. This will no doubt impact the level of happiness of such a coupling. So, is there a way to make it work?

Anyway, I look forward to seeing you guys again for the final reviews of the series over the next fortnight.


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Manga Review: Love So Life

Year: 2008 – 2015
Author + Artist: Kaede Kochi
Version: XscansX (English scanlation)
Love So Life Online: Wikipedia, MyAnimeList, MangaFox, Kissmanga
Genre: Shōjo, Slice of Life, Romance, Drama

After several months, I have officially completed the Shōjo series Love So Life. As such, I am bringing you this review of the entire series rather than one for the final chapters followed by a later full series review. That seems a little inefficient overall.

When hardworking TV news reporter Seiji Matsunaga has his two-year-old twin niece and nephew dumped at his home by his recently widowed older brother, he takes it upon himself to care for the pair. When juggling his work life and the care of the toddlers becomes too much, he turns to a sixteen-year-old girl at a nearby orphanage for help. Shiharu is the oldest orphan at the institution and had to contend with the early loss of her father followed by her mother a few years later. With those fond memories of her time with her mother to guide her, she attempts to provide good memories for Aoi and Akane whilst also negotiating her growing romantic attachment for Seiji who also grapples with his own attraction to Shiharu in lieu of their age difference and the possible implications if they decided to become romantically inclined.
What will become of them when the twins move to the home of their maternal grandparents? Also, what happened to their dad? And what is with that Takeru guy?

This is a really adorable series. Most of you will have read some of my previous ten-chapter reviews of this series and likely get an inkling of why I really adore it. For those that don’t, I will attempt to elaborate.
First, I really like the characterisation. The characters are normal people with their own problems that are explained meaningfully over time. Even the least likeable character Nao had understandable motivations even if he was highly annoying a lot of the time. As mentioned in previous posts, Takeru is my favourite character in the series for some weird reason.
Second, we see the plot progressing in a steady fashion with numerous “ticking clocks” for our characters to negotiate. The drama makes sense even if it began to drag on slightly toward the end.
Third, the realistic concern over age difference and the possible implications of a relationship. The romantic elements are obviously an important focus of the series. However, we see an adult actually considering the problems of pursuing somebody that is underage. In this case, Seiji also has further concerns related to his job and the possibility of Shiharu getting kicked out of the orphanage for indecent conduct. The series does manage to portray both Seiji and Shiharu as responsible individuals and address their situation in a thoughtful manner.

In spite of all of the things that I liked about this series, there were a few things that annoyed me at times. The first thing is the artwork. As crisp as the artwork was, there were a few characters that didn’t stand out as much as they could have. The second was an issue with the time-shift that occurred in the last few chapters of the series. This felt a little unbalancing from a reader standpoint. I believe that a montage would have worked a bit better ahead of the outing in the final major sequence. Whilst these annoyances did irritate me, they are in no way made me think lesser of the series.

In conclusion, Love So Life is a sweet slice-of-life Shōjo Romance series with some really neat characters that I recommend to anyone looking for a mature relationship rather than a series that relies on sex scenes or convenient and ridiculous drama. To me, it will hold a special place in my heart for a long time to come. So, now I have to decide what my weekly read will be for now on. This could be tricky…

So, now I have to decide what my weekly read will be for now on. This could be tricky… I could go for another romance series but I’ve devoured a bit of romance of late and I would prefer to mix it up a bit. Perhaps I could read a drama or an action series. Maybe I could go for something involving talking cats that can also shoot laser beams from their mouths and do kung-fu. That’s a thing, right? 😀 Anyway, I will keep you guys posted on what I decide.


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Anime Movie Review: 5 Centimeters per Second

Language: English dub of Japanese production
Online: Wikipedia, IMDB, MyAnimeList
Genre: Drama. Slice of Life, Romance

I have held off watching this film for a while now because I understood from the reviews that it would be a more bittersweet slice of life romance. Given that I am a great big sook, I tend to avoid anything with too many feels. Why? Because feels usually results in me shutting down for a few days as I ponder the fates of those poor characters. However, realistically the world doesn’t always give you that happy ending that you so desperately crave.

5 Centimeters per Second is the story of the relationship between two people told in three parts, as told from the perspective of the pair Akari and Takaki, as well as Kanae, a girl with an unrequited love for Takaki but is aware that he will never feel the same way. It is about how distance can affect relationships even when we feel deeply about somebody. It is a sad story but one that I think many of us can relate to on some level.

This film is short. Even at an hour in length it still manages to pack a huge emotional punch. It is easy to care for each of the characters but we understand that sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned. This is the main point of the story, I think. When we are young, we have all of these high hopes and often want something to last forever. The real world doesn’t always play out the way that we want it. This makes the good times much more precious.
Makoto Shinkai creates such lovely stories and it is little wonder why people get so emotionally involved in his stories. He also does a wonderful job of translating them to the big screen, resulting in numerous awards and hype whenever one of his films are released. He’s also become a bit of a role model for up and coming storytellers as well because of it.

If you are willing to watching a short film that doesn’t necessarily have a happy ending, then you’ll probably appreciate this story. If not, then stay away because this film is not for you. *prompts grabs tissues*


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TV Review: Goblin Episode 02

Year: 2016 – 2017
Episode: 1/16 completed KDrama series (English sub)
Other Names: The Lonely, Shining Goblin; Guardian: The Lonely and Great God; Prince Maker; Mr Sunshine
Online: Wikipedia, MyDramaList,  HanCinema, KoreanDrama, AsianWiki, DramaFever
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Drama, Romance

*waves* I finally got around to watching the second episode of Goblin. Yes, I did take a few weeks to get to it along with some other stuff. Sorry for the delay.

The second episode follows the events after Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) follows Kim Shin the Goblin (Goon Yoo) through the door to Canada. After spending a day in Quebec, Ji Eun Tak is returned to Korea where she has to put up with her crappy relatives. Our resident Grim Reaper (Lee Doon Wook) discusses the task of retrieving several missing souls with another reaper, then gets into a pissing contest with Kim Shin after the Goblin keeps him up all night trying to think of the most trendy way to look when summoned next. Ji Eun Tak gets a job at the least busy Chicken restaurant in the city where she works for the most deliberately disinterested and pretty manager. Our heroine is also watched over by a transformed version of that old spirit-seer that her mother used to know, the one that stood up for the girl during the Grim Reaper’s delayed retrieval of her mother’s soul. After her horrible aunt is visited by nefarious loan sharks, they kidnap the girl for the bankbook for the girl’s insurance money from her mother’s death. In lieu of the young woman being in danger, Kim Shin and Grim Reaper’s telekinetic fight at the dinner table is disrupted and they come to her aid.

Though this show isn’t necessarily a comedy, it had large amounts of funny moments. We still get the feeling that Ji Eun Tak’s aunt’s family are a bit like Harry Potter’s horrible relatives but we also learn how much her family rely on her insurance money. As for the Kim Shin and Grim Reaper, the two show themselves to be more than willing to behave like children when competing with each other. We aren’t given much information about their long-term feud but one gets the feeling that their history will be elaborated on in future episodes. In any case, the episode was highly enjoyable and a good fit for watching in tandem with Dame wa Watashi ni Koshite Kudasai. I will definitely be continuing this highly entertaining series.