Better Than a Dream Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: F
  • Age Rating: 18+
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 250
  • ISBN: 978-1-56970-734-0
  • Size: Shinsho
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Better Than a Dream

Better Than a Dream Vol. #01

By Briana Lawrence     December 02, 2008
Release Date: April 08, 2008


Better Than a Dream Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

If you want to read something hot and sexy about two guys gettin’ it on in a small, mountain town… this isn’t the book for you.  If you want to laugh at the really, really bad euphemisms for an orgasm and a man’s penis, get confused at bad grammatical errors, discover why shaving cream shouldn’t be used as lubrication, and scream in frustration at the uke who blames himself for nearly being raped… then this is the book for you!

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Raika Sakuragi / Katsumi Asanami
Translated by: Kelly Quine
Adapted by: Kelly Quine

What They Say
Yuki is owner of the Fuuka Cafe. When a man with a single rucksack comes to the store and insists, "Hire me," Yuki is forced to take him on as a live-in employee. The food Kamishiro, Yuki's new employee, cooks in the kitchen is top-class and he is willing to work for less than $5 an hour! However, Yuki's live-in worker really appears to be a live-in lover and one day he is attacked. Kamishiro is left to soothe Yuki's injuries and temper. Fortunately, Yuki is a strong believer in kissing wounds to make them all better.

The Review

Packaging:
Boy’s love novels are very good at having covers that sucker punch me into the story.  This one is no exception.  I have a severe weakness for the sort of scruffy, unruly seme thanks to manga like “Wild Rock,” and Kamishiro fits those requirements.  Yuuki is laying above him, one hand on Kamishiro’s chest and the other caressing his face.  There’s something about Yuuki’s eyes that sort of make me drool, he sort of looks like he’s the one whose going to be making the first move.  As much I love a scruffy seme, I love a demanding uke even more. 

Artwork:
As soon as you flip open the book there’s a colored picture of Yuuki in Kamishiro‘s lap and kissing him.  Yuuki is fully dressed, but Kamishiro is naked except for his underwear.  Dear.  God.  This picture alone illustrates one of the reasons why I’m such a boy’s love fan girl.  The art is beautiful, to say the least, and it always focuses on the characters and on the important moments of the story: Kamishiro first arriving at the café, Yuuki and Kamishiro’s first time, Yuuki’s conflict with his best friend, and other pivotal points of the story.    

Text/SFX:
All right, let me say something before I tear this book apart.  I have made peace with myself about boy’s love novels.  I know not to expect great literature, which, I admit, was a bit hard at first since I’m, dramatic pause: an English major.  But still in yet, I have made peace with myself about these novels.  With that being said, there are still a few things I expect when reading any book, even boy’s love novels.  I expect to not have an urge to grab a red pen and make corrections because: a) common articles “a” “and” and “the” are missing in sentences, b) there’s inconsistent sentences where it’s nighttime, but five sentences ago it was daytime because you meant to say “night” and not “day,” (c) repeated words: “He takes his his penis in his mouth,” (d) using the wrong character’s name in the same sentence: “Yuuki was worried about Yuuki and Kamishiro,” (e) having no idea how much time has passed until finally, twenty pages later, there’s something mentioned about the couple being together for a month.  

And now, for the non-grammatical critics.  Despite making peace with these novels I have to agree with another reviewer who said that when reading these sex scenes, we shouldn’t burst out into fits of laughter.  I understand that the penis is one of the hardest things to come up with alternative words for, especially words that don’t sound stupid and unsexy.  But word of advice: “steel rod” does not sound sexy.  It, in fact, sounds very painful.  The last thing I want to imagine is an uke whose having steel being thrust back and forth inside of him.  Also, having someone “erupt like a geyser,” or his buttocks being described as “fleshy folds” goes right on the list of unsexy boy‘s love phrases.  And please, do not have the uke use shaking cream as lubrication, it’s just not a good idea and ruins what started as a hot scene of the uke cutting the seme‘s hair.  There’s a handful more in this book but I will end with this: “I came, I saw, I conquered” is officially the cheesiest last phrase for the seme to be thinking after having make-up sex with the uke.  

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The story doesn’t start in a way I expected, which sort of gave me hope for the book.  The story starts with Kamishiro arriving in the small, mountain town, only its told in the point of view of the town dog.  It‘s an interesting way to start the story, in my opinion, because the summary on the back made me think it would kick start with Yuuko and Tsukada before Tsukada died.  It actually takes a while to build up to Tsukada’s death.  We get to meet the main characters first, then as Yuuko is taking care of the café and talking with his friend, Shin, we learn that Tsukada died about a year ago.  We get a glimpse of Shin and Yuuko’s friendship, which has a couple of scoops of sexual tension dripping all over it.  This should’ve been a hint of the story trying to have too many plots at once, but I didn’t think anything of it until it was too late and I was buried deep in several different plots--more on them coming soon.

Soon, Kamishiro arrives at the café and tries to get a job as a chef.  Yuuko sees that he is very overly qualified, and the all-star chef is actually willing to work for little pay.  An arrangement is made, and Kamishiro becomes both a chef and a guest in Yuuko’s home.  Thanks to Kamishiro’s cooking the café picks up more business, and a sort of friendship begins between both Kamishiro and Yuuko.  This upsets Shin (of course) and he starts to act a bit weird around Yuuko. 

And this is where the story starts to go downhill.

One day, Shin comes into the café “drunk as a skunk,” as the story says.  Yuuko ends up taking him home and… well, its not hard to figure out what happens here: uke rape scene!  Technically, it’s a near rape, but in the end Yuuko manages to blame himself for Shin’s forced attempt at sex.  The uke blaming himself I’ve sadly grown use to, no matter how annoying it is, but I definitely was not expecting Yuuko to go home and masturbate after his near rape.  Did I mention that he remembers his dead boyfriend while masturbating after his near rape?  Yuuko later tells Kamishiro that he can sleep with him if he wants to, sort of downplaying the near rape between him and Shin because suddenly he… wants to be desired.  Eventually, Kamishiro gives in, and Yuuko… starts protesting.  The sex is very close to being rough and kind of non-con, but then Kamishiro grows gentle and the sex starts to become slow and almost sweet.  Its not really a sexy moment to read due to the cheesy lines and me constantly wanting to strangle Yuuko and his stubborn uke-ness, but the sex is done and a new couple is born.  Now technically, we’re supposed to assume that Kamishiro is a substitute for Tsukada, but there’s no sort of indication of that being the case until the story randomly has a paragraph of Yuuko questioning his relationship with Kamishiro. 

The two lovers live in bliss and Yuuko is constantly horny for Kamishiro, you know, the type of horny where a pat on the shoulder sends shivers down the uke’s spine.  But boy’s love couples can’t exist without conflict when there’s still pages of book left, so Shin returns and tension builds once again.  Yuuko starts to think that maybe he can stop blaming himself and he can have a friendship with Shin again.  Just when you’re ready to smack Yuuko for wanting to have Shin back, Shin brings up a plot point that comes completely out of left field.  Kamishiro killed Tsukada.  How did Shin know this?  That’s never, ever explained.  And guess what?  It never will be!  Kamishiro was on the same mountain climbing expedition as Tsukada, and Tsukada told him to take care of Yuuko if anything ever happened to him.  So now a barrage of questions start to form: is Kamishiro just with Yuuko to atone for his sins?  To get over his guilt?  And most importantly… why wasn‘t the angst of replacing Tsukada with Kamishiro enough to carry the story?  Why did we need this too?  And suddenly Yuuko remembers, “Oh yeah, I guess Kamishiro’s name was on the expedition list.  Sweatdrop. 

Yuuko and Kamishiro, of course, go their separate ways but its hard for Yuuko to move on.  Around this time some random “Tsukada’s family didn’t accept our relationship because we’re males,“ angst appears because Kamishiro said he learned about Yuuko through Tsukada’s parents, but as quickly as this issues comes up it disappears just as fast.  One day, Yuuko finds out that Kamishiro is trying to climb the mountain where Tsukada died in the middle of the night/morning/night/the story can’t keep its times straight.  Either way, its dangerous, and Yuuko rushes out to stop him and tell him to stop being an idiot and to just come back into his arms.  Kamishiro and Yuuko renew their love for one another, but Kamishiro still decides to climb.  There’s no time to angst about it, because with a turn of a page the climb has been made and the two are back together.  Happy sappy sex is had after hormones get the better of Yuuko and the two live happily ever after.

Comments:
Where do I begin?  I’m very sad about this story because I was drawn in not only by the art, but the writing (at first).  I really liked how it started, liked how it was written in the dog’s point of view as he watched the stranger come into town, and liked how we were introduced to the important characters before we learned about Tsukada’s death and before Kamishiro and Yuuko met.  I think it started to go horribly wrong with Shin.  Now to be fair, I expected some love triangle tension, and part of me was even prepared for some attempted non-con, but the way the situation was handled afterwards just turned me off.  Masturbating after almost being raped?  What? 

I absolutely hated how many times something else would come up that really didn’t need to.  Kamishiro “killing” Tsukada wasn’t necessary, there was already enough material to use with Yuuko using Kamishiro as a replacement .  And mentioning Tsukada’s parents and the homosexuality issue just opened up something that didn’t get nearly enough time to be developed.  Having to deal with your lover’s family if they aren’t very accepting, especially after said lover dies, is a huge deal.  Either flesh it out more or don’t even bring it up, because I wanted more of that but it lasted less than a page.  And if Kamishiro feels so guilty, why not let us see him climbing the mountain successfully and returning home?  I felt a little ripped off when I turned the page and everything was already done.     

I don’t believe that Yuuko was that torn up about Tsukada.  There’s something in writing about “showing versus telling,” where you make the reader really feel and believe what’s going on instead of coming out and saying, “Yuuko was sad.”  As I said before, I don’t expect great literature from boy’s love novels anymore, but I feel that this book didn’t properly convey Yuuko’s feelings.  Anytime he was thinking about Tsukada it kind of felt forced, like the author was sort of saying, “Oh wait, forgot about Tsukada, here’s a quick paragraph with Yuuko angsting!”   The writing itself was a bit inconsistent: sometimes, details were described really well, others it felt overwritten and jam-packed full of details, and sometimes the details were just too simple (“drunk as a skunk” for example).  The story also desperately needed a proofreader, a beta, a best friend to read it over before it hit the press, something!  A few slips are o.k., but I draw the line when incorrect names are used in a sentence.  This is not a bad fan sub, thank you very much.  The sex was just awful, there‘s no better way to say it.  The cheesy lines were bad, but sometimes you can find a bit of hotness in the cheese, but that never happened for me.  This is mainly because the situations themselves would be ridiculous.  The haircutting scene that lead to sex?  That started out fine until the shaving cream incident and until Kamishiro started to put aftershave on his face while still inside of Yuuko!  That was just beyond ridiculous and at some point I stopped laughing and started to wonder why in the world I was reading the story. 

This story started as something enjoyable but quickly slid downhill, which is unfortunate, because I thought it had a lot of potential but towards the end I found myself putting it down several times and rolling my eyes, wishing that it would just be over.   

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