Sunday, May 13, 2018

Merry Month of Manga Review: ALL NIPPON AIR LINE

Comedic BL stories are always in short supply, and that shortage is not helped by books like this one.

ALL NIPPON AIR LINE (Rakuen Sanman Feet - All Nippon Air Line), by Kei Azumaya.  First published in 2002 and first published in North America in 2008.

There is no airline quite like All Nippon Air Line.  It’s renowned for both its service and staff.  Each crew member is more handsome than the last, and each one is irresistible to crew and customer alike.  Their first class lounge is spacious and comfortable.  Their pilots are some of the best in the industry.  But mostly it’s renowned for the epic amounts of gay sex had by everyone in the company, from the director all the way down to the lowliest steward.  They sleep with each other, with other pilots, with the customers.  It seems no one can resist the alluring men of A.N.A.L.


Comedic BL can be really hit or miss.  Sadly, All Nippon Air Line is one of the misses.  When it isn't drowning the reader in bad puns, it's trying to convince the reader that the concept of gay sex itself is a punchline.

First of all, you’ve probably already noticed that the airline’s name has an acronym of ANAL.  This book presumes that joke is insanely hilarious.  No man can resist the siren call of ANAL!  ANAL will satisfy all of your needs!  Nothing makes a flight better than a bit of ANAL!  These jokes are ALL OVER this book, and they’re all just as lame as the ones I made up just above.  Mind you, this is also the series that thinks that seducing a straight man into gay sex is hilarious, along with the fact that literally NO ONE can apparently resist anyone that works there.  If you’re not gay when you start there, you will be by the time you fly, even if it means that you will be raped by the director, your interviewer, the company doctor, and so on.  This book does not give the slightest of fucks about good taste.

I’ll grant it one compliment: this series knows to keep things short.  No chapter extends longer than 10 pages, and most are much less.  As such, each one introduces another gag, be it about one of the crew members of ANAL or one of the customers or new employees.  Many of them center on a particular crew member having some particular skill or fetish, like the handsome young steward with a baldness fetish, the Chinese steward who will only sleep with any man who can defeat him, or the crew member with a voice that can make any man orgasm on the spot.  Others are about customers who are converted to the ANAL way, like the ordinary guy who ends up on a sports-themed flight, or the first-class passenger who discovers just how spacious and attentive the first class accommodations are.  

Some get truly ridiculous in concept, like the director sleeping with a government minister he rejected in order to get permission to open the company in the first place, or the hijacker who is freaked out by all the gay men and turns himself in.  The short chapters also mean that there isn’t a lot of time for character development beyond someone’s particular gag.  The series makes a big fuss about the so-called “Four Kings” of the company, the four most desirable men in the company, but it doesn’t go any further than anything else in this book.  It’s just one lame gay joke on top of the other as the story screams “ANAL!  Tee hee!” at the top of its lungs, and the only good taste it has is to not drag these jokes out even longer.


Azumiya’s style is bizarre.  It’s mostly due to her heads – she cannot draw a normal looking human head to save her life.  The heads are both weirdly wide and weirdly long, like they are wearing some thick mask over their normal face.  Who knows, maybe they’re all actually lizard people wearing substandard masks, staring out at the reader with their fake, dead-eyed stares...

Anyway!  The rest of their bodies are awkward and gangly, but sparsely drawn enough that they don’t look as weird as the heads.  Sparse describes much of the artwork fairly well, although she’s certainly generous with the sparkles and flowers.  She even uses the sparkles as censor bars for the wangs.  Otherwise the cast are either drifting in limbo or drowning in screentones.  Not even the clothes are well drawn, as she uses screentones to fill those in as well.  The sex scenes are non-existent; the scene always cuts away before any actual action begins.  It’s just a mess to look at, and while a bit of visual exaggeration often works for comedy, the art here does nothing for either comedy or fanservice. 

All Nippon Air Lines is a disaster on par with any plane crash.  It's painfully unfunny and poorly drawn, a comedy that crashes and burns before it even has a chance to take off.

This book was published by Digital Manga Publishing.  It is currently out of print.

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