A Foreign Love Afair Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Patricia Beard
Review Date: Friday, December 05, 2008
Release Date: Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Wh...Whenever I'm With You...My...My Ass...Hurts...!".  More than a bumper sticker, it's an anthem!

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Ayano Yamane
Translated by: Melanie Schoen
Adapted by: Melanie Schoen

What They Say
Japanese yakuza clan heir Ranmaru just got married on a lavish cruise ship, but things aren't as they seem. The marriage is just for the appearances, and he ends up getting drunk and spending the night not with his bride but with the sexy ship captain. When the two men meet again in Italy, it's the start of a spectacular love story.

The Review
801Media has preserved the eye-opening illustration of the Japanese edition.  From the glossy cover to the crisp and clean printing, this is an attractive presentation.  And, if the cover art were not enough, there is an additional color insert of Takaoka and Serizawa, the main characters of The Love Guide, the second group of stories in this volume. There are four pages of author afterword and a very healthy dose of advertisements for current 801Media releases.  There is an 801-chan 4-choma comic on the back flap.

Although this is a comedy, Ayano Yamane has given A Foreign Love Affair the serious graphic attention that marks her drama and fantasy works. There is a good sense of place, whether on the cruise ship or the Italian peninsula. There is more of a shoujo sensibility with respect to layout and background here, but make no mistake, the men retain their adult desirability and sensuality. Yamane's art is very assured and the sex is explicit and exciting. 
Only a few grammatical errors trip up the read.  SFX are translated. ("SHHLLLP")

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kaoru is on her honeymoon. Unfortunately, her husband is with her.  And her husband is Ranmaru Ohmi, four years younger and the underboss of a Tokyo Yakuza gang. Ranmaru is as stubbornly narrow and parochial as Kaoru is open and ready to experience the world. This is a "political" marriage with Ranmaru marrying Kaoru out of Yakuza family obligations. Kaoru looks to be trying to make the best of it; Ranmaru may want to, but his personality won't let him.

The cruise begins none too well. Once the ceremony is over, Ranmaru strides around the ship with disheveled kimono, Yakuza entourage and a really bad attitude.  After a wedding night fight with Kaoru, he storms off to the bar where he proceeds to get into an argument with some bar patrons.  He is saved from a fight by Japanophile Alberto Valentiano, whose ability to speak Japanese puts Ranmaru at ease. Too much at ease, for  proceeds to get drunk leaving Al to bring him back to his room, where Al cannot resist Ranmaru's beauty. Ranmaru's wedding night turns out to not quite what he expected.

The next day finds Ranmaru abandoned with just a note from Alberto.  As he, Kaoru and the gang head out for some land travel around Milan, they are greeted the captain of the liner, who, not surprisingly to anyone who had looked at the cover, and how could you not, is none other than Alberto.  But Alberto has duties and must say goodbye to Ranmaru.  But their parting is just temporary for Ranmaru can't stay out of trouble and Alberto can't help but rescue him.

Ranmaru, for whom it seems dishabille is a permanent state, manages to get lost in the Italian countryside where he is found by Al and treated to some "hospitality", graphically depicted, at Alberto's villa.  He does manage to get to Rome to meet up with Kaoru and "the family", but trouble is never far away from a guy in a loose kimono. Kidnapping, sexual slavery, and the possibility of a Yakuza-Mafia bloodbath on the Italian peninsula are all awaiting the reader.

Extra Stories -

A Foreign Affair: Side Story 1 is unabashed fan service.  Enjoy!

A Foreign Affair: Side Story 2 reveals that Ranmaru's attractions were evident from an early age. 

The Love Guide is a cute and explicit story about an employee of a matrimonial service and the client for whom he must find a wife. 

Ayano Yamane, who has demonstrated considerable talent in sustaining a dramatic, engrossing and sexually exhilarating narrative in the fan favorites the Finder series and Crimson Wind, shows considerable skill for romantic comedy in this English version of Ikoku Irokoi Romantan, her second comic. Alberto's pursuit of the beautiful, vulgar and somewhat dense Ranmaru is sexy and funny. Ranmaru's invocation of his father while being ravished by Alberto was a lot funnier than it should have been. It remains an indelible memory as does Ranmaru in fundoshi at Alberto's villa.  Ayano Yamane gives the fans what they want and she does it with style and deliberation.

There isn't a lot of character development here, comedies usually don't require it, so one has to settle for Ranmaru's gradual awakening to his attraction for Alberto. In spite of this, he remains as vulgar and thick-headed as Alberto is smooth, cultured and romantic. And as much as the story is initially a comedy of manners in which the naive, insular outsider forced into a new environment, the premise is quickly is marginalized if not discarded completely.  There is no cultural commentary, serious or not, to get in the way of ogling the contents. Recommended.

Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: 801 Media
MSRP: 15.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1-934129-18-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: A Foreign Love Affair