Lenni Reviews: “Caste Heaven” by Chise Ogawa

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

My usual disclaimer is only partly correct since it only applies to the one galley I got. I ended up blowing right passed it to review the whole series.

The premise of this is these kids in high school have a caste system enforced by the students themselves. The ranking is determined by playing cards; a King, Queen, Jack, etc. You can’t just refuse to participate without becoming a target to everyone else. So, of course this system is rife for abuse with students using their rank to exploit those below them. As this is rated 18+ and yaoi, there’s tons of sexual exploitation.

The plot tries to save itself with “Well, deep down, they have feelings” but it doesn’t take away from how non-consensual a lot of these encounters are – making it doubly uncomfortable for me considering these are high school kids. I do enjoy the couples that form and try to use the system to their advantage but this overall comes off as a bleak read. It feels wrong to say I enjoyed reading it, more like I was compelled to move forward. If you can take how rapey this is and you’re craving some dramatic yaoi, give it a shot. 2.7 out of 5

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Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” Vol 10 by Tomohito Oda

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review

The meat of this volume is meeting a new character, Rumiko Manbaji; who is a super glam girl with heavy makeup and garish accessories. When the new school year starts, Manbaji is put in Komi’s class away from her usual friend group. Determined to make friends to the point she makes herself sick with worry and Komi helps her. 

There is a side story with Komi’s brother and some shenanigans involving a chicken cutlet sandwich, a bunch of them have allergies and go our for a beef dinner; but it’s Manbaji and Komi’s growing friendship that’s the best parts of this volume. Komi’s group of friends is slowly growing and it’s just so darn cute! 4 out of 5!

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Lenni Reviews: “A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow” Vol. 1, by Makoto Hagino

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Konatsu Amano has just relocated from Tokyo to a small town with her aunt because her father’s job has taken him overseas. Concerned about making friends in high school, Amano meets a girl named Koyuki, the sole member of the Aquarium Club. Koyuki is excited to have another member and they become friends as they work in the aquarium connected to the school.

This manga is really sweet. I like that Konatsu slowly becomes more confident and has an adorable relationship with Koyuki. If you want some light and fluffy reading, this will fit the bill. It is, however, very ‘slice of life’ so if that bores you, there are parts you will want to bail in this volume. But I liked it. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Don’t Call Me Daddy” by Gorou Kanbe

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Ryuuji is raising his son Shouji as a single father and seeing he needed help, his friend Hanao steps up to help him. But their feelings for each other and the pressure to stay in the closet becomes too much for Hanao and leaves. Twenty years later, they encounter each other again. Will Hanao take this second chance?

You don’t get many yaoi stories with older couples. I think the world needs more of this because I liked this book. They didn’t take the chance on showing a full on sex scene with the older men, having it take place off panel but the story was really sweet.

There was something funky with my digital arc copy making the reading experience a chore but I may check this out when I get my hands on a print copy. 3 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Birds of Shangri-La” Vol 1 by Ranmaru Zariya

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

As you can see from the terribly subtle cover, this is a yaoi manga.

Apollo is a straight man who is in dire need of funds so he takes a job at an elite gay brothel as a “teaser,” which is essentially a fluffer. He’s assigned to Phi to learn the ropes of the place and there are three main rules:  no orgasms, no penetration, no falling in love.

Throwing in a trigger warning for off panel sexual assault of a minor.

This is a good start to what can possibly be a great m/m love story. I like how all the prostitutes in the brothel are well taken care off and happy. Phi is a welcome dose of wild personality in contrast to Apollo’s dry nature and we’re getting to know them as they discover each other I like how Phi isn’t just some typical carefree guy; there’s a depth and darkness to him. It’s going to be interesting to see how the rules factor in later. Also, it’s worth noting that the sex scenes and naughty bits tend to be creatively obscured. 3.7 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Beastars” Vol. 9 by Paru Itagaki

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

While this volume starts with the mundane Winter Performance for the Drama Club. But the real meat (no pun intended) of this volume is Legoshi finding out who killed Tem WAY back in volume 1. Which, honestly, I thought they forgot about.

Somehow, I expected the reveal of Tem’s murderer to take longer and be a big battle but I respect how this volume handled it. It makes sense that Legoshi would have to train hard to face a killer and since his side gig helping Dr. Gohin is making him stronger, it makes sense that he would have to keep doing that in order to get his skills up. It also makes sense that Legoshi’s little side job would land him in Louis’ path. It was great to see them interact again.

Juno also got some focus with her bonding with Haru for a bit of girl time. And I need to perhaps spoil a bit here when I flat out rejoice in the discarding of the generic “mean girl” trope and they come to terms. It’s so refreshing.

Yet again, I love this series and I can’t wait for more. 5 out of 5.

 

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Lenni Reviews: “Given” Vol 2 & 3 by Natsuki Kizu

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Yup, this is a two for one. Because for some reason, volume one and four were available as ARC copies, but not two and three. Makes sense… I had to read them in order so things make sense.

In these volumes, the band is prepping for their first live performance and finally picks a name: Given. We get more story time with Haruki and Akihiko; who have a bunch of drama aside for Uenoyama clearly having a crush on Mafuyu.

Uenoyama coming to terms with his feelings for Mafuyu and their interactions are adorable and the dynamic between Haruki and Akihiko is rife with angst and plot potential. I get great vibes off our four main leads and the way this is all written, you really want to see them succeed. 3.9 out of 5 for being interesting but bordering on overly dramatic.

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Lenni Reviews: “Koimonogatari: Love Stories” Vol. 2 by Tohru Tagura

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

As Yoshinaga and Hasegawa become better friends, we get some more insight into what other LGBT kids go through in Japan when we meet Sakura, who got outed by his cousin; who continues to bully him and in this humble reviewer’s opinion, needs his throat punched for what he puts Sakura through.

This volume is an emotional rollercoaster. We have fake boyfriends, fake girlfriends, bullies, love confessions, and my main takeaway from it is that high school sucks ass and I don’t miss it one bit. I got called a dyke then being bi (and still now by guys who are salty I won’t mess with them) and it sucks to deal with when you barely know who you are and don’t have many friends.

It also sucks that Yoshinaga has to lie to protect himself but I give this book props for giving him a bunch of people who love and support him. That’s a relief. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Blue Flag” Vol. 1 KAITO

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In this manga we have a love quadrangle between outsider Taichi Ichinose, clumsy and shy girl Futaba Kuze, popular jock Toma Mita, and Kiza’s friend Masumi.

It’s interesting so far and I really enjoy how Ichinose and Kuza interact. You can see how feelings formed there on either side. If they end up together, it would be adorable but I have a feeling that things are going to get super complicated and messy. But I’m here for it; I want to know what happens next. 4 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Komi Can’t Communicate” Vol 9 by Tomohito Oda

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

In this volume, we are treated to:

  • Kimo wanting to continue her friendship with the girls she hung out with on the school trip
  • Learns to play “Eraser War”
  • Makes and gives chocolates to her friends for Valentine’s Day
  • Gets creeped on by Yamai again
  • Goes with her friends to a batting cage
  • Meets a girl, Akako Sato, who has issues being too nice
  • White Day shenanigans
  • Side story of Komi’s parents

The stories felt shorter this time, as there are more of them in this volume. I would have either preferred less stories with more length or a longer volume. Things flashed by at a breakneck pace and this is the first volume where I didn’t feel like I wanted more because it was so adorable (even though it was), I wanted more because it went by too fast. Still good but not as good as the others. 4 out of 5.

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