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Submitted on
July 18, 2013


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BL Game Review etc

Journal Entry: Thu Jul 18, 2013, 12:28 AM

Recently finished Bara no Ki ni Bara no Hanasaku and it's one of the bl games with the best plot that I've played. Even though I'm a fujoshi I don't read yaoi manga because... I just cringe at the really bad "plot?what plot?" that plagues a lot of the them. I don't like stuff where the moe fan service is the only selling point and frankly, it just looks like a lot of yaoi mangaka aren't even trying to tell a story, sorry. I mean, how many times is it just about aggressive suave evil(?) semes finding ways to take advantage of the innocent and beautiful uke consensual or not, and I just.. close the book. My college cartooning professor told me he finds shojou manga fascinating and I immediately thought about the recent plotwhatplot shojou manga and said I didn't like it. But then I found out that he reads 70~80s shojou manga and manga at that time were heavily reliant on storytelling, Rose of Versailles was one of the best reads I had, well recently though, a lot of times moemoekyunkyun kawaii desu sells. He probably found it fascinating because there isn't a comic genre in Western comics that dedicates to female readers I guess? I enjoy works by Kaori Yuki and Clamp a lot though.

Bara no Ki is a very unknown game at least outside of Japan, maybe because it's a very old game back from 2003. Being used to the interface and quality of recent visual novel games it took me a while to get used to the old 90s midi game music. And this game actually is only partially voiced, due to (bad) experiences from other bl games around that era I didn't expect much from the seiyuu but they did an exceedingly great job on that. But the most unique part of the game is that you can literally pair anyone with everyone and choose who tops, which gives a chance to develop many side stories and see from various perspectives. It has some of the most well-played stories on one-sided love crush, sweet yet melancholic. And since everyone of the characters can have their own stories detached from the main character, it gives much chance for in-depth character development. 

Have I mentioned this story takes place in early Showa period, I'm absolutely in love with stories taking place in early 20th century China and Japan pre-ww2. The writer and artist for this game is Kusaka Matsuri, who is also the writer for the recent hit (in Japan) Noli Me Tangere. Her writing is wonderful, so much that even when the game text is unvoiced I went along with it to read although I find it a headache to read Japanese (depends I can only understand 50~80%), since her writing style is truly enjoyable and well-thought. The art style is very 80s shojou but it definitely is the most fitting for the setting of the game. I don't find Noli Me Tangere as engrossing as Bara no Ki since chars in the latter are linked to everyone else one way or another, not all revolving only around the main character. It creates a much more full-flavored story.

Another manga that takes place in Taisho period is Sakura Gari by Yuu Watase, one of the yaoi manga I enjoyed the most. Looking at her recent works I almost forgot she can actually write, and very well at that. But then again yaoi is a small sub genre so it wasn't nearly as noticed as her other works, but I think it's her most mind-blowing drama piece. 

Actually, I'm sort of ok with pwp in doujinshi as this is an expansion on fantasies of another structured story that someone else created. Whereas for original yaoi manga, when fan service is all there is with no backbone of a story to fall back on, it's really hollow.

Bara no Ki Illust

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MysticFlamer Jul 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hmm I haven't come across this game yet but it has my interest. I can work around the music since my hubby makes music. XD But your opinion on yaoi I can understand. There is a whole lot of it out there for fan service. But there are rare gems with a story line I have  several saved. Hopefully you can find some that aren't all fanservice at all.
ipmaster Jul 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh man, old shoujo is nuts. They have the craziest sci fi stuff, and the ones outside of the sci fi genre follow the most messed up relationships! They're surreal in a way that many series today aren't. I recommend Hagio Moto's stories They were Eleven and A-A'.
DominiqueDuong Jul 18, 2013  Student General Artist
Yeah, I know what you mean. I like mxm/yaoi/whatever you call it, but not really a yaoi manga fan, because so many of the works out there are just about bishounen making out or having sex and have no actual plot :/ I'm not really a fan of the seme/uke dynamic - I find it unrealistic - and the creepy power-imbalance that often implies in the relationship, with the seme all domineering, powerful and the more 'masculine' of the two (who may also display abusive behaviour), and the uke being all whimpering, cringey, weaker and the more 'feminine', as if being feminine equates to being weaker. Plus, the whole rape = love thing is also something I find rather disturbing. If a hetero relationship was romanticised like that, there'd be an outcry.

If you like more diverse LGBT stories with actual plot and character development, I'd recommend Muun's website: She writes some really good stories, and her co-creator Chira illustrates for her with some really pretty art. I'd also recommend their webcomic Sfeer Theory (although the mxm stuff hasn't happened yet, story hasn't gotten to that point yet), but it's still a really good comic with a really interesting world and characters:
Actually, the rape = love thing happens a lot in hetero shoujou manga too. 
.........:| (Blank Stare)
I just....

The Sfeer theory is an amazing comic, thanks for the recommendation xD 
DominiqueDuong Jul 19, 2013  Student General Artist
It does? *generally doesn't read much hetero shoujo manga* That's disappointing << Although I can see elements of that creepy power-imbalance in hetero relationships in the media, too, like Twilight. If I found it some random guy was watching me while I slept and then tried to drag me to his car, I'd freak and punch him.

Whoo, a fan :D No probs.
Before-I-Sleep Jul 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'll have to check that out. :aww:
i share the same opinion on yaoi and shojo manga, since especially modern manga of these genres lack originality. but i don't agree that all 21st century shojo manga are like that. have you read bokura ga ita? it has a deep story and it takes the reader on a rollercoaster of feelings.

Yea, not saying all are like that, but whenever I visit the manga store I see heaps of chickflick shoujo for 14-yr-olds and I go  :| (Blank Stare)
I've heard of that manga but didn't actually read it yet.
same here. i live in austria and here we only have some manga translated (embarassingly stubid translations; german is apparently not suited for manga) and those are the mainstream ones. i hate it. especially the new popular style where every character looks like a 5 years old child. add abnormaly large breasts and you have a girl.
i would highly recommend trying it ;)
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