Of course, I can't let this year's holiday roundup pass without covering some BL titles. That being said, I didn't want to include a DMP title originally. After all, I kind of made a big deal out of rejecting their company this summer. Unfortunately, I contributed to a couple of their Kickstarters before that point and found myself with a handful of BL books that I needed to review if I was going to get my money's worth out of them. It's not like they released anything else otherwise this year.
DON'T RUB YOURSELF AGAINST MY ASS!! (Ore no Ushiro ni Tatsu na!!), by Sakira. First published in 2015 and first published in North America in 2016.
Jin used to be a policeman, but he has fallen on hard times. These days, he's forced to work as a private investigator to get by, and even then he's struggling to stay afloat. Thus, he's all too eager to take Anri's offer for a case with a cheating girlfriend. Quickly enough, he learns that there's a lot more going on in this case than meets the eye. It seems that Anri has connections to Jin's past and that Anri is determined to make Jin understand with his body.
I wasn't crazy for the Sakira work I reviewed previously, but I was willing to give her another chance. Not every manga a creator can make is always their best; maybe I just read one of the lesser ones. Maybe if I could find something a little less random and a little more structured from her, I might get a better grasp on Sakira's talents. Well, I found the closest thing to meeting those qualifications and it's still terribly flawed.
Over half the book is dedicated to Anri and Jin's storyline and it's hard to get a pin on whether we're meant to take it seriously or not. The story has loads of dramatic potential. There are kidnappings, deceptions, undercover investigations, and the reunion of two people long separated. The problem is that Sakira doesn't treat them like drama. It's not just that she rushes through them as fast as she can to get back to the sex; lots of BL mangaka are guilty of that. It's that the entire story has a weirdly madcap quality which punctures any attempts at seriousness or sexiness. It's also in rather stark contrast to Sakira's preferred kinks, which include darker fare like bondage, rape and drugging. Like with Pretty Men Fighting Dirty, if you're willing to roll with its crazy hentai logic it might be fun, but it left me shaking my head in confusion.
At least the side stories are a little more fun. In particular, the two-parter with the ridiculous name "My Ass Is In Love" is about a couple of teens who get together after one discovers the other's fondness for anal insertion during masturbation. It's funny how that works when both parties are willing, consenting, age appropriate and generally just having fun. The final story, "The Last Trap," has an interesting premise that goes south awfully fast. It's about a porn star who gets tricked into performing with a delicate-looking man, only to find himself the unwitting sub to a secret S&M star. It's too brief to make much of an impact, but it's also the one that's the most open and obvious place for Sakira to indulge in her obvious love of BDSM.
As before, I wanted to like this book because there were a few interesting ideas in here. Alas, what few good things it could offer were not enough to counteract the fact that Sakira's notion of consent and array of kinks were never going to gel with my own tastes.
Again, there's a lot I love about Sakira's art but also a lot I don't like about it. I love how she draws faces. I love how she can actually draw human-looking hands (a sad rarity in the world of BL). I love her preference for buff dudes with impossibly perky pecs. I love the weirdly irreverent energy she brings to her sex scenes. I even am kind of amused by the way she practically thrusts every exposed and lovingly drawn phallus right into the readers' faces, even if they're censored with lots of random white dots. What I don't like is how chaotic her pages become once the sex starts. Her paneling is fine during the non-smutty parts, but once the pants come off everyone goes awry. She fills every panel with a tangle of body parts, speech bubbles and spurting fluids. It fits with the wild and crazy energy she's going for, but it's hard to know where the focus of any given scene is supposed to be. Just because this is smut doesn't mean that it can't be visually coherent smut.
Don't Rub Yourself Against My Ass!! has a bit more story than some of Sakira's other works, but it's got all the features and flaws of the rest. It's not the sort of thing I look for in my BL, but those seeking something more madcap and kinky might find it to their liking.
That is, presuming you can ever get a hold of it outside of the Kickstarter.
This book is published by Digital Manga Publishing. Its print status is currently uncertain.
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