Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano
Rating: M – for ages 18 and up
Genre: Yaoi, Romance, Drama, Anthology
Priceless Honey is a collection of shorts that Shiuko Kano published in the yaoi manga magazine HertZ. Without further ado here is a brief description of the stories!
Priceless Honey – Janitor by day, call-boy by night Nagisa Suguri gets a client he never expected, Kentaro Urehara. Urehara is the Modern Japanese teacher at the high school where he works. It turns out that Urehara is gay and frequently uses the company that Nagisa sells himself through. After the encounter Urehara openly tries to woo an uninterested Nagisa but will his persistence succeed or will he be left high and dry?
Priceless Honey - St. Valentine’s Day Special Edition – Valentine’s Day arrives for our favorite janitor and teacher. Urehara wants nothing more than to feel the love from his beloved Nagisa but Nagisa’s past holidays have not been good. Can these two men overcome their trials in time to celebrate with one another?
Fine Play – Crushes are hard, just ask Kaji. Kaji fell for Nanafuji after he accidentally left his phone in the café where Kaji works. The two quickly become friends and when Kaji tells Nanafuji that he’s got a stalker, Nanafuji offers to be his “boyfriend” to keep the stalker at bay. But things aren’t always what they seem.
Possessive Master – Ninoi always wanted a little brother and Kakeru had a very unhealthy attachment to his older brother. Luckily for Ninoi, Kakeru’s older brother decided to go overseas for school and left Nino (his nickname) in charge. Nino wanted to be an ideal brother but discovered he didn’t have brotherly type feelings for Kakeru.
Replay – Fumiya spent his adolescence in love with his brother’s friend/next door neighbor Mitsugu. Mitsugu was in love with Takaya, Fumiya’s older brother. Takaya and Mitsugu start sleeping with one another, much to Fumiya’s chagrin. But when Takaya dumps Mitsugu Fumiya makes his move even though he knew how Mitsugu felt about Takaya. Things were going well until Fumiya’s pure feelings scared Mitsugu who then ran away. When the two meet later will Fumiya get a second chance at love or will he be rejected?
Fall in xxx - Isobe and Tadashi knew each other before winding up at the same cram school. Isobe just happens to be friends with Tadashi’s older brother (I believe we have a pattern here). Isobe really wanted to get into the same university as his girlfriend but didn’t pass the exam. With his lady in mind he attends cram school, the same one as Tadashi. The two study together and it’s more than just hitting the books.
For anyone who knows the name Shiuko Kano knows you’ll get funny, dramatic, and beautifully drawn stories. Of course I’m always a bit partial to her works. She is one of my all time favorite mangaka! Priceless Honey doesn’t disappoint, unless you have some aversion to anthologies or the mangaka herself.
When reading an anthology it’s generally hard to get into the stories because once you become emotionally involved the story is over. But in the case of Priceless Honey and Kano’s fantastic ability to write compelling stories this collection is definitely top notch. However, there are a few weak points. Possessive Master has a darker tone and would have been better served with more pages. I found myself confused by Kakeru’s actions and Nino’s belief that Kakeru had been tainted by those around him. My other problems had to do with the localization. I found some of the lettering choices unappealing (the person who handled the typesetting has done some work on other Juné titles and I have the same complaints.) I also wish that the additional images at the beginning of the book had been printed in color. Sadly with the images in grayscale you lose a lot of detail. It turns out better in the digital version than the print version.
With those issues aside I loved this book. The further you get in the book the better the stories get, and it starts out pretty darn strong. Nagisa and Uehara, in Priceless Honey, make a great couple and the story features Kano’s signature comedy style (which is very similar to my own.) Kaji and Nanafuji’s sweet love story in Fine Play makes you want to go “aww” at the end, which is why it’s one of my favorites in the collection. Replay pulls at your heartstrings and you find yourself cheering for the couple, and happens to be another of my favorites. Finally with Fall in xxx it features her comedy and provides a healthy amount of erotic moments.
You can never go wrong with a title by Shiuko Kano. Her artwork is beautiful and strong. She doesn’t shy away from being explicit in her depictions of sex and this book definitely earns it’s mature rating. If it wasn’t for the lettering missteps and frontispiece problems it would have been perfect.
For a syrupy, sweet, wonderful romance anthology by one of Japan’s best yaoi mangaka (yes, that would be my opinion) pick up Priceless Honey!
***Digital and Print Copy purchased by Reviewer***