I just got done reading Setona Mizushiro's The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese. (Instead of doing any remote definition of the word "work.") The entire volume is available translated.

The story lives up to the amazing title. It starts with a trope: the private investigator, Imagase, who blackmails the cheating man he's had a crush on for ten years--to kiss, and only to kiss--at first. Of course. But the story refuses to turn sordid. What it turns into is a slash fan's wet dream: the serious exploration of what it means to be "straight" and having a physical relationship with a gay friend; the use of flaws within a character to drive the story's engine; true love and all the misshapen, broken bits that come with it, the things that don't quite fit anywhere else.

The trope of questionable consent that's so laughably bad-wrong in so much of BL/yaoi ("Your words say 'no' but your body says 'yes'") is turned on its head (like this author is SO GOOD at doing) when it's Ootomo, the main character's modus operandi. We're told again and again--by the Imagase, by Ootomo's wife and numerous girlfriends and mistresses--that if they hadn't first forced an issue, nothing would have come of anything. Ootomo is never one to start or end anything, and as much as he protests, he never really says 'No.' It's an excuse Ootomo himself makes for his numerous failures to weakness.

But the thing is, Imagase knows that about him. "You're indecisive and you haven't got a backbone so you can't be trusted," he tells Ootomo in one scene. The really interesting thing about Imagase is that he's at once feverishly obssessed with his first love but also able to see extremely clear-eyed into the situation. He knows where all the pieces are and exactly how they fit with each other. 

There's one breathless, crystalline moment--when Imagase reaches a breaking point with his frustration with Ootomo, and he tells him:

You say you won't have sex, but you never defend yourself when it comes down to it. You can do it when you think you're forced to. Maybe that's your way of saying yes.

But I won't go along with that.

It's hard to get to where I am from where you are now. Are you thinking you'll just close your eyes and I'll lead you there?

Please don't think it will be easy.

Guh. Just--guh. Beginning to end, this just had be holding my breath. I love Setona Mizushiro a lot. A lot a lot.

This is the same mangaka who did After School Nightmare, which I still have not read the end for yet--and salivating for.

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cinderfallen: (caught time)
( Aug. 1st, 2008 03:27 am)

I am SO excited. I've been on a huge manga/anime kick lately, and I've been catching up on Skip Beat, by the same mangaka of Tokyo Crazy Paradise. Both are highly, highly recommended for kickass female heroines. (TCP has yakuza! Genderbending! Plot(!) Crazy/dogged/dense/sharp/sweet/optimistic female bodyguards who kick more ass than an army of superpowered super soldiers and the 14-year-old yakuza bosses hopelessly in love with them!) I love Nakamura's style, which is a blend of high action/comedy/shoujo with a lot of insight and sensitivity to characterization. I've followed her manga for years and years, and she's never let me down. What's amazing about Nakamura is that she can turn a comedy panel on its head into serious character-revealing piece. And her physical comedy is *great.*

Skip Beat is the current series (and is available in English through Tokyopop--though it can also be gotten by other means, obvs) and it is just so, so, so satisfying. *sigh* I rank this series up there with Dexter on Showtime to the degree it makes me happy. I think it's as refreshing as Dexter in regard to how much stereotype is turned on its head. The packaging of the series is shoujo: upbeat, cute girl wanting to make it in the show business, and the manga itself is freakin' hilarious--but at the same time, there are darker things that inform Kyouko's personality that tempers the high comedy style. The heroine is bitter, vengeful, and broken, wrapped in a cheery dyed-blonde package of earnestness.

At the start of the story, she was basically a doormat for Sho, her childhood friend and "prince," dropping out after junior high and running away with him to Tokyo so that she can support him as a rising pop star while she runs around doing multiple jobs to pay for their expensive apartment--until she finds out that's the only reason he brought her in the first place. It crumbles Kyouko's entire belief system, that the one person she believed she loved and was loved in return--didn't. At all. In typical shoujo, cue the waterworks and running off to find a better boyfriend. With Nakamura, cue the release of Kyouko's ENRAGED EVIL SPIRITS OF GRUDGE AND RESENTMENT that scare the crap out of everyone within range. Also, the vow to hit Sho where it hurts him the most: she'll enter show business, get even bigger than he is now, and cut his pride off at the knees. It really is a huge betrayal, and it's dealt with in a way that really impacts. Well. And I won't lie. I love the emoporn.

ANYWAY. The point of the post is that it's getting made into an anime. <333 By the same studios that also did Princess Tutu, so I'm kind of reassured. (Watch Princess Tutu. Duck turned girl into magical girl who fights evil by ballet dancing! Endure the first couple eps to get to the meat of the plot and get addicted to the meditation/meta of storytelling. Also, pretty classical music. And also fairy tale princes who get bossed around by surly badboy roommates while (only) wearing barely decent nightshirts. Also, have I already mentioned ducks?? <3)

Anyway, October. I'm looking forward to it! 

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I wrote for Her Majesty's Dog, A Dog Dreams on Kirkegaard Hill. My recipient asked for something sweet, and I tried--although I'm more than fairly sheepish at my attempt, as I was (and am) still trying to finish final papers that aren't coming. I had to scramble very last minute to cobble together a much more involved story I jotted down in my notes than I had time to produce. I'm relieved she did like it, though.

I got Black Moon in the Afternoon Sky, an amazing story by Melymbrosia set in the manga After School Nightmare. If you read my half-coherent comment on the story, it manages to contain every single thing I absolutely LOVE about the manga.

Photobucket

After School Nightmare: Some background and pictures. )

Just. Guh. To recap and summarize: The gender politics--genderfuckery, people--the respect the story pays to the plot and to its characters, the intelligence quotient of the entire piece, and the HOTNESS. There is a scene later in the series that I found hotter, more intimate than entire PWPs, and it's one kiss. The mangaka is amazing. She conveys so much with so little, and with such talent; a lot of times, the things that go unsaid between the characters are almost palpable. My breath fucking caught.

I can't do any sort of justice to the manga here, which is filled with nuance and detail, so I offer the first volume for download for you to check out: After School Nightmare vol 1
.

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