Sensitive Pornograph Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Friday, December 07, 2007
Release Date: Friday, November 30, 2007
Translated by:Leona Wong
Adapted by:Leona Wong
What They Say
Being with an older lover is hot on sooo many levels...
SeijiI-kun is a novice manga artist. A long time of the works of Sono-san, a famous mangaka, he's surprised to learn that Sono-san is a guy! A chance meeting leads to a night in bed and Seiji-kun becomes completely addicted to the body of the incredibly beautiful Sono-san. Is this love or is Seiji-kun taking his admiration for Sono's work just a little too far?
Along with the title story, one that paints a tale of youth and emotion, this volume is filled to the brim with stories of overwhelming density, including "Please Kiss Me" and "Come Home".
I have never read an 801 title before and I have to say this isn't a bad first impression. Sensitive Pornograph is printed in a tight B6 with dust jacket. The cover, done in a matted finish, features the two leads from the title story wrapped in a fashionable scarf. 801 include a parental advisory on bottom left corner of the cover. Its small enough that it isn't obtrusive, while satisfying demand from bookstores and PTAs. The back cover features no art and instead has a long blurb mainly covering the title story, taking note that there is an anime tie-in. Heh...
Open the book up and 801 provides dust jacket art and a sexy color plate before jumping into the manga. The print is decent. Sakura's art is tricky because she has a tendency to make her chapter headers in watercolor. Those watercolor images are hit or miss, but the rest of the book looks good. At the end up the book there is a long afterword and some brief translation notes. 801 has definitely made a good first impression as this is an easy upgrade from June (though I have to say I can get the same quality from BroBooks for a few bucks less).
As a long-time fan of Sakura Ashika (aka: Gokurakuin Sakurako), I was really looking forward to her earlier works. And I have to say, I Sensitive Pornograph was something of a surprise. In case you haven't read her Category Freaks or Juvenile Orion, her character designs feature short medium thick lines that make her designs look very flat and angular. But unlike other mangaka her angular characters tend to have a more realistic sense of form and composition. Her characters can get quite androgynous, which works for BL. However, Sakura seems to lack much variety in her designs. She has a set look for her uke and seme and rarely breaks away from that mold.
Now this is an anthology of her shorts, so readers are treated to works from what I believe is around 3+ years of her BL career. Her early work is very rough. These stories are drawn with much more detail than her usual work, and with her use of hand-drawn shading these designs often look messy. gCome Homeh is an example of a more recent story where her designs are not quite perfect. There are moments when her characters are a little distorted and her line work gets a bit sloppy. Overall the range of work really gave this book an almost eromanga feel to it, but Ifll talk about that more later.
I have a couple problems with the translation. First it reads a little clunky. Whether it is romance or drama the dialog never really flows very well. Transitions to comedy in particular are awkward (as if the translator was being either too literal or had a hard time writing jokes). And the second story gPlease, Kiss Me,h a yanki story, never really captured the attitude of tough guy Nishina-kun.
The SFX really drove me mad. SFX are subbed, which is great, but I noticed that 801 only seems to know around a dozen sounds. Using gthrusth or grockh for every other noise is a little lazy. I didn't like the font used on some chapter headers but that's my personal taste.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
A collection of seven short stories from Sakura Ashika's early work as a BL mangaka. The collection is compiled without a consistent theme or reason. Covering a wide range of Sakura's work, most stories are quite graphic. One story, though, "Please, Kiss Me" doesn't even feature a detailed kiss.
Please, Kiss Me ? Meguro Hiroki-kun has fallen in love. And it is not with the cute girl with the pig tails, because he has fallen for the bad boy ? Nishina Mizuho. Most people wouldn't even speak to Nishina-san, but for some reason Hiroki finds Mizuhofs angst act just adorable. He is going to win his attention whether it means making bentou everyday or using his fists!
Sensitive Pornograph - Bishoujo mangaka Hanasaki Sono is beloved by manga readers for beautiful characters and ability to infuse touches of eros into romantic storylines. Hanasaki's work has inspired a generation of young seinen manga over the last ten years. At the same time, Hanasaki is notorious among artists and editors for being a slut!
Young comic artist Yamada Seiji has long admired Hanasaki's work. In a way Hanasaki is the reason why he became a mangaka. So when Seiji has a chance encounter with Hanasaki-sensei, he is surprised to hear the experienced artist is a fan of his. And he is even more surprised to find out Hanasaki is a HE! Drawn to the artistfs beauty and aura, a dinner and drinks turn into a night of passion for Seiji and Hanasaki. But given Hanasaki's past could this be love or is it just another fling. Would you care if you were sleeping with Sono?!
Non-Adult Situations: Kids sure have it tough out in the country. Because of low population density people tend to express their curiosity in unique ways. Unfortunately unconventional behavior is also often frowned upon by conservative traditions. Testuya moved away from the country a long time ago, but he still remembers his encounters with his best friend Shin. Little Shin was so small and cute back then. And the two of them did the naughtiest things as kids.
As an adult, Tetsuya thinks he has grown out (or maybe moved out) of his experimental phase. So when Shin suddenly appears at his door, does he forget about their past?! His body sure cannot forget!
I must admit my experience with BL is limited. I have read my share of books (mainly doujinshi), but for some reason most of the licensed properties I've picked up have been series or one-shots. So I went into Sensitive Pornograph believing this book would be more of the same. Knowing that there is an anime only cemented that thought in my mind. I thought I was going to read an erotic one-shot from Gokurakuin Sakurako, filled with more of her flirtatious writing and clean sharp artwork.
Wow was I wrong. Essentially Sensitive Pornograph is an ero manga collection for man on man fans. Yeah Gokurakuin's art is there. Her designs, men and women, are plain sexy no matter what the context is. And she does do an okay job creating some sweet hot relationships. But more so than with any other BL title I have read SenPoru is about the sex. Graphic fluid oozing sex is the very first thing you see once you open up the book. And while many licensed BL titles kinda imply genitalia, sensei does not shy away from drawing members. They penetrate; they explode, droop and twitch. The lack of any real plot and the mangakafs detailed art shifted this from a titillating manga and pushed this over into eromanga territory. In a way that made the review easier, but what I really figured out was why 801 titles are considered mature (and this is one of the better examples of that).
Now if anything could keep this title in BL territory it has to be senseifs writing. There is so much wit in this manga and sadly the translation doesnft do it justice. The characters are constantly teasing or flirting. Sometimes I found it a little hard to tell when the flirting started because Sakurafs art also gives off visual messages of innuendo. Of the seven in this collection her best story, gPlease, Kiss Meh had no sex and only one boy/boy kiss. Yet it stood out from the rest as a pure love romance. I enjoyed the puppy love/friendship element to Nishina/Meguro's relationship, but Nishina's change of heart was too sudden to be believable. But then again this is BL, and itfs all fantasy, I was just lucky they didnft have violent sex after that.
Sensitive Pornograph ended up taking me out of my element more than any other title I have read in a while. And I really set myself up for a trap game coming into this read with almost too much Sakura/Gokurakuin experience. I almost believe this would be a hard sell for her Category: Freak fans, even if they both share the same brand of humor. To the newbie, though, this might be one of the better looking more romantic collections you might run into right now.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: 801 Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Sensitive Pornograph