Rising Storm (aka: Arashigaoka) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Rosato
Review Date: Saturday, January 07, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuzuha Ougi
Translated by:C Pellikka
Adapted by:

What They Say
Reona is a college student, working hard at the Kaizaki family's Tokyo castle. Ruling over this castle is the young master, Kaizaki-sama. Amidst chores and strict obedience, who would have thought that Kaizaki-sama's discipline of Reona would lead to a fairytale romance?!

The Review
With this trio of yaoi stories, DramaQueen's sophomore production is sure to delight fans once again.

DramaQueen continues to have the most impressive production values on the market. Stellar art reproduction and printing, color plate illustration, glossy dust jacket, translation notes, even the paper stock -- fans can't ask for anything better than this. DramaQueen uses the original cover art, which again is quite clear on content; the picture features Kaizaki-sama caressing (and nearly undressing) Reona against a backdrop of his castle and a stormy sky. The back cover reproduces the color insert found inside of Kaizaki-sama. The vibrant colors make for a flashy cover, although the pictures themselves are a bit on the hideous side -- Ougi even describes her color work as over-the-top in her afterward. The title design (which has been translated and replaces the Japanese text of the original) is both creative and complimentary.

Being an earlier work than the previously-released Brother, Ougi's art is, at times, a bit less polished by comparison, but still looks good (aside from the aforementioned color work, that is). The artwork achieves a nice balance between the erotic and the humorous and is marked by plenty of details and a very generous use of tones. The action is explicit, sexy and uncensored. The character designs have an overly-angular quality, but if you didn't mind them in Brother, you shouldn't mind them here. Lines are clean and sometimes heavy, but backgrounds are largely nonexistent. Panel layout is pretty straightforward but Ougi does manage to carry out a few scenes with a sense of pure artistic genius.

SFX and panel text are translated and overlaid, using a variety of fonts and look excellent. The SFX in general often make use of the empty space rather than cover up artwork, so overlaying is an easy choice, but even where panel art is concerned the process looks to have been done very carefully, with every effort to keep the art intact. The translation reads smoothly with no noticeable errors and the honorifics are intact. Two pages of translation notes, including a guide to honorifics and pronunciations, are included at the back after the author's freetalk pages. Overall an excellent release.

Contents: (please note the following may contain spoilers)
This book contains the stories of three couples, although the titular work is the primary story. I'll summarize all three briefly here:

Rising Storm
Reona Shima is a college student hired as a stablehand for the summer to protect prize-winning horses from thieves at the luxurious Kaizaki estate. His first day on the job Reona mistakes the master of the house for a thief in the woods and attacks. While Reona is mortified over the snafu, Kaizaki-sama is instantly smitten and he invites Reona to stay with him in the house (while the butler gets a convenient month-long vacation). Reona is a bit of klutz though and he breaks a priceless artifact. The traditional household punishment turns out to be a spanking -- humiliating, but better than owing a huge debt, thinks Reona. But the next several days are a blur of bad weather, "accidents" (priceless china set up like dominoes down a grand staircase!) and escalating "punishments" until Reona can finally take no more and runs away from the castle. Kaizaki-sama follows and after rescuing him from the elements outside confesses that he can't resist Reona and has been using the punishment excuse just to be with him. The storm clears and the two share a cozy recuperation.

Three months later, rather than return to school, Reona finds himself still living in the lap of luxury but lonely for Kaizaki-sama, whose business keeps him traveling abroad for long periods of time. Reona becomes restless for his old life, but Kaizaki-sama sets up another bizarre "accident" (and corresponding punishment) to keep him at the manor. While all this is going on the months have passed and naturally Reona has been missed; eventually his best friend Yasoumi comes looking for him. Yasoumi and Kaizaki battle it out, but Kaizaki acquiesces for Reona's good and the sake of his love. Kaizaki is certain that doing so will mark the end of their relationship, but Reona's happy to compromise -- he commits one last, very egregious "accident" and accepts loving Kaizaki-sama forever as his punishment.

A Yokohama Story
Anna Kiryuu, a 28 year-old dentist in Yokohama, has lived his entire life without passion. That is, until he meets a young gay waiter named Miyuki at a local café and falls inexplicably, unexpectedly in love (even though he doesn't realize it at first). Anna becomes obsessed with getting Miyuki to his dental clinic for a check-up and Miyuki constantly teases Anna about his wanting a "fling." The two square off time and time again, but one night Anna comforts a depressed Miyuki and one thing leads to another. Poor Anna's thrown completely for a loop at experiencing such passion for the first time in his life, but it all works out in a really sweet ending.

Killing Me Tenderly…
An unknown enemy is targeting Mio Ishido, the grandson of a powerful politician, and it's up to his bodyguard Kiriyama to keep him safe. Growing up a lonely child and having had his life saved three times already, Mio has formed an easy attachment to Kiriyama. As it turns out however, Kiriyama is seeking revenge for a brutal rape and murder of his younger sister -- a crime instigated by Mio's estranged older brother and covered up by his grandfather. He kidnaps Mio and proceeds to inflict upon him the same torture his sister suffered. However, Kiriyama's feelings for Mio render him incapable of killing him. They embrace as Mio admits he's known all along and loves him all the more for it.

"Rising Storm" is hilarious; I laughed my way through the entire story. It's largely ridiculous of course -- detonating world treasures to keep your nooky home, endless buildings of toilets (what purpose could they serve?), and a man so influential his absence from work obliterates an entire country (!) -- but there are the little touches too, like comparing the statuses of Kaizaki-sama ("Somewhat mysterious, but he seems to be the leader of the world's most powerful family") and Yasoumi ("Reona's friend. Won an essay contest in elementary school"). While the plot isn't what I'd call strong, it's the humor of this title that really shines. The sex isn't half-bad, either. (And by that I mean it's frequent and hot.)

"A Yokohama Story" is a neatly told story of falling in love. It is both touching and funny and is easily my favorite chapter of the book. Miyuki and Anna are Ougi's cutest boys yet and they're quite possibly one of the most adorable couples ever. Despite the short page count I felt they got the best character development, and as such they were the most interesting of all three couples. (I wonder if Ougi's affinity for dentists inspired this story?) I didn't care for "Killing Me Tenderly…" however, as rape fantasies aren't my cup of tea. Readers who enjoy this kind of subject matter will probably find plenty to like, but I won't often revisit that chapter myself. Technically the early punishments of Reona were also of the forced/rape variety, but they lack the kind of maliciousness found here. The short bonus chapter featuring Reona and Kaizaki-sama ("Reona and Danna-sama's 'Loving' Lifestyle") was a sexy bit of role-play hilarity.

I think this book may be hit-or-miss for some fans, depending on their tastes or appreciation for the humor found inside, but I found it highly entertaining and have enjoyed several re-reads already. Another impressive release by DramaQueen and recommended for yaoi fans who don't take their guilty pleasures too seriously.

Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A+
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Released By: DramaQueen L.L.C
MSRP: 11.99
Pages: 176
ISBN: 0-9766045-2-3
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left