Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lovers and Souls by Kano Miyamoto review

Lovers and Souls

Author/Artist: Kano Miyamoto

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – for ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance, Tragedy

Grade: C+

*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***

One thing I've noticed about Kano Miyamoto-sensei is that she has a huge online following. Her fans are also rabid and obsessed. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, believe me there are a few manga-ka that I am rabid and obsessed with. At the back of the manga sensei mentions that Lovers and Souls was her first manga and it kicks off the Rules universe. The first two-thirds of the manga features the story of Shinomiya and Matsuoka. The last third is the completely unrelated story about Kai and Nozaki.

Lovers and Souls, Vanity, and Sleeping Beauty is the tale of Toru Shinomiya and Satoshi Matsuoka. These two men attend the same Art College. Shinomiya is known across campus due to a nude photo that he posed in for a contest that Matsuoka entered. The students are stunned by the photo and assume he is gay, because it is a well-known fact that Matsuoka is in fact gay. You see, Shinomiya can't seem to relate to others and he lacks morals. He has no problem posing nude in photos, sleeping around with random people, and he even insists on having Matsuoka pay him for sex, even though he's straight. Once he's had his first man, Shinomiya begins selling himself for cash. By this point Shinomiya and Matsuoka have become good friends and are heading towards becoming lovers. Matsuoka truly cares for Shinomiya, and because of Matsuoka's influence Shinomiya seems to start warming to others and being friendlier to others. But tragedy will soon strike.

With the story found in Eternal Moon and Tomorrow's Sky Kai's best friend Nozaki has just come out of the closet. It seems that Nozaki is tired of having to keep it on the down low, so he feels it necessary to be up front about it. The two continue being best friends, but soon Kai starts reading up on the subject of anal sex and soon becomes curious. After a night of drinking Kai and Nozaki end up sleeping together. Hmmm… lets complicate our relationship, shall we?

When reading Lovers and Souls keep a box of tissues handy and make sure your hormone levels are normal. It is a real tearjerker. With the three Kano Miyamoto-sensei titles that Deux Press has published I've found that her work is either hit or miss. Now before the rabid Miyamoto-sensei fans grab their pitchforks and torches to head to my residence, I really enjoyed Two of Hearts. It's been a while since I've read Say Please, so before I say whether I like it or not I'll have to read it again. With Lovers and Souls I found myself liking the last story but not being too fond of the title story. Maybe it's because I'm not one who enjoys tragedies. That even includes my opinion on Shakespeare (but what does Shakespeare have to do with Lovers and Souls). Sensei's art is a bit simplistic and isn't as clean as I'm used to. But I'm not complaining. The characters look like real, normal people, not the gorgeous bishonen types that you see in other yaoi manga. I've noticed with her covers that much of the full color art has an oil painting look to it, which gives it a high art feel. Out of the three covers, I'd say that the cover of Lovers and Souls is by far the most beautiful.

Yaoi manga is generally written by women for women. You don't see many gay men reading yaoi manga because of unrealistic nature of many of the stories. Yet in many places on the net I've noticed that when gay men talk about reading good realistic yaoi, the two authors that are mentioned the most are Fumi Yoshinaga (author of Antique Bakery) and Kano Miyamoto. The thing that I've noticed with these two manga-ka is the fact that their characters are in fact gay. The relationships that develop between the characters also seem to be a bit more realistic as well.

I hope to be able to read more from Miyamoto-sensei. Deux Press seems to be the publisher of choice when it comes to sensei's work.

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

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