Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yakuza in Love vol. 3 by Shiuko Kano review

Yakuza in Love vol. 3

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – ages 18 and above

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Comedy, Organized Crime

Grade: B+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at Check it out! ***

OK, let’s do a quick recap:

Aoi Ichimura is a member of the Flower Gang. He works as an apprentice for the Underboss, Yuji Sakiya. The current Don is a creep. Chihiro Karasuma is an executive in the gang and very close friends with Sakiya. Junki Ozawa is Karasuma’s current apprentice and brother to one of Chihiro’s former apprentices. Aoi loves Sakiya, Sakiya loves Aoi back. Junki loves Chihiro, but Chihiro only sees Junki as a little brother. Junki has been sleeping with Azuma, a member in a rival faction of the Flower Gang. Aoi is lucky, the Don is infatuated with Aoi. And Junki has been kidnapped. Phew…

This is the last volume for the Yakuza in Love series. Boy, does it come to a head, erm I mean, we reach the climax, no, oh forget it! Keep your minds in the gutter! We’ve reached the end with explosive force. Chihiro insists on finding Junki on his own, but Sakiya doesn’t think that’s a good idea. So, while Chihiro charges on ahead full force, Sakiya goes to the yakuza manager for backup. When Junki is located the yakuza gather for the final showdown. I don’t want to give too much away so you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens.

The Yakuza in Love chapters cover about half the book. The other half consists of parodies and other related stories. Boysgame is the first parody where it has the feel of a boys love game. The best part of the story is that it’s Aoi and Sakiya playing the game while wearing Pikachu pajamas. The Animal’s Banquet is a chapter that we started to read in the second volume, but it’s shows what happened between Aoi and Sakiya. One humorous chapter is Hey, Let’s Get Tested! Junki and Chihiro decide to get their HIV tests because they have been known to have multiple sex partners. Pride is the chapter where Aoi gets his yakuza tattoo against Sakiya’s wishes. The final chapter, is Merry Christmas. Junki catches Chihiro with a woman and assumes the worst. Just so you know these last chapters are over the top and quite explicit. I just wanted to make you aware of that fact.

WOW! is all I can say. This is quite the ending, although I couldn’t see it ending any other way. It is by far the bloodiest and most violent of the three volumes. But, that’s what you get for reading yakuza manga. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely! Shiuko Kano-sama hasn’t let me down yet. The art is so uniquely hers. There are a few artists out there that have a distinct style and when you see them you immediately know who the manga-ka is. Not only is the art beautiful in black and white, but it is truly stunning in color. It was actually the color images from her art book Playgirl that interested me. The color drawings of Aoi and his tattoo are what drew me in. This is a series that is well worth your time. You get gun toting hotties, some pretty hot sex, a gripping story, and Kano-sama’s signature humor all wrapped in one.

With Deux Press and their no frills really makes this work stand out. Because there aren’t all of the extras that other publishers throw at you, you are able to judge the story and art on its own merits. Many of Kano-sama’s other titles have been released by Deux Press. What better way to show off her amazing talent? They let the stories and art do all the work, and in many cases this enhances the manga. Thanks to titles like Yakuza in Love I am now a die hard Deux Press fan. I insist on getting all of their releases and I haven’t been disappointed yet. My one concern is I noticed a few spots where the clean up from the original Japanese version wasn’t as nicely done. I’ve only noticed that problem in one other title, but I hope it doesn’t continue too often in the future. It would be a shame to see their quality releases go downhill like that. Other than that, be sure to check out Yakuza in Love, as well as other Deux press releases.

***Review Copy provided by Publisher***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***

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