Play Boy Blues (aka P. B. B.) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Be Beautiful
  • MSRP: 15.99
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 1-933440-11-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Play Boy Blues (aka P. B. B.) Vol. #01

By Julie Rosato     August 09, 2006
Release Date: April 01, 2006

Play Boy Blues (aka P. B. B.) Vol.#01
© Be Beautiful

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shiuko Kano
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
Adapted by:

What They Say
Selling one's body

at Japan's most popular Host Club comes naturally for Junsuke Aki. In fact, he is the club's top performer (and earner!) and is easily the most popular Host with the female clientele. However, his lover, a former Host named Shinobu Hishiya, has forsaken the wild club lifestyle in favor of his new job as a construction worker. Together, they share wild days and passionate nights, making love whenever, wherever, and however they want. But when jealousy and male pride rear their ugly heads, their blissful, sexy relationship may not be able to handle the strain.

The Review
P.W.P. indeed.

The packaging here is pretty lackluster. It gets the job done, but BeBeautiful's continued use of bland, clashing pastel backgrounds is tiresome. Additionally the logo is uninspiring and further fuels the poorly matched color schemes. The original coverart is used at least, and features Junsuke caressing a sultry-looking Shinobu's bare chest, leaving no question as to the book's content. Inside, the color plates are reproduced in black and white and the printing and reproduction face the same hurdles as other books from this line. Extras include the author's comments and bonus pages (with more information on construction workers than any yaoi manga should have!), character profiles and ads for other BeBeautiful titles.

The leads here are attractive and manly, of the tall, dark and broody variety (even if one of them is blonde). Overall, the artwork is functional but not very emotional. On rare occasions we see a glimpse of real feeling, but for the most part it's just a couple of broody-looking guys being indifferent or angry... or having sex. There are a handful of nice panels and close-up shots are given plenty of detail but overall things tend to look a bit cluttered. The sex is pretty hot, though. BeBeautiful's art reproduction is average at best in today's market, although this title fares all right due to its heavier lines and dark tones.

As with other BeBeautiful releases, SFX are translated with subtitles in the panel and are generally complimentary in style. In the busier panels things get a little crowded but it's nice to have the translations and they don't particularly bother the art. The use of emphasis, though heavy, seems fitting most of time, fonts are used well and honorifics are included. I didn't notice any major errors in the script, but I didn't get much feeling from the dialogue itself and sometimes the narrative is downright incoherent. However, given the content, it could easily be the fault of the original script, to which, until proven otherwise, I'll concede the blame.

Contents:(please note the following contains spoilers)
Shinobu is a host-turned-construction worker who lives with one-time co-worker and pal Junsuke. Junsuke's still working as a host, in fact he's the club's number one. (The details of their employment seem important as they fuel every conflict the pair has -- or at least mask the true symptoms anyway.) This book actually starts with chapter 2; the tale of how the two met and came to live together is in another work that is not yet published domestically. So this story opens with Shinobu coming off a one-night stand with his company's building designer, to whom he's become pretty attracted. But he's dreading going home because he might run into Junsuke and be found out. Apparently Junsuke and Shinobu do more than just live together.

Junsuke and Shinobu's relationship is pretty incoherent, though. They apparently have sex, and feel jealousy towards the potential partners of the other, but they're strained and rough with one another and don't seem to have a real "relationship." The book's summary describes their relationship as blissful and sexy, but it doesn't seem very blissful to me, in fact it feels loveless and animalistic, neither one conceding to commit to the other. Not that their jobs as hosts has made that easy, but...

With that stage set, the next couple of chapters revolve around various jealousy-inducing misunderstandings that supposedly make them grow as a couple -- suspicions, rumors, family drama, even a dash of pasts-coming-back-to-haunt, this is starting to sound crowded, no? It does at least succeed in cranking up the angst, which helps things pick up a bit toward the end with more effort going into making the characters people we want to learn about. Following this lead it's possible the next volume improves matters, but I'm not greatly interested in pursuing it, if indeed it ever is published here. (If not, this volume still works well enough as a stand-alone.)

There's also a bonus story featuring the characters from "Gaten na Aitsu," the book where Shinobu and Junsuke were first introduced. In this side story a young man set to inherit his father's company is sent onsite to train; construction-site lovin' follows. Even though it's a side story of characters we haven't even met yet, it's somehow far more coherent than "Play Boy Blues" managed to be, though I don't really understand the relationship between the leads (aside from being partners in bed, naturally). But in the end I guess it doesn't really matter.

This book is a mess. I'd love to say it's all because it starts with chapter 2, but that's only part of its troubles. (The backstory may or may not even be necessary since the set up is still there, but without a clear understanding of the relationship these two men share, the opening is really deceptive.) Alongside the rocky start, there are too many unevenly developed conflicts being thrown around here. The author doesn't seem to be able to stick to any one thing -- not central conflicts, not relationship dynamics, Shinobu even goes back to being a host from time to time. Oh, but there's plenty of sex. In fact it's probably the best part of the book. I know there's supposed to be angst here; Shinobu's detached and Junsuke's cold, but deep down it's really because they can't face the fact that they love each other. Too bad this book doesn't succeed in making me believe it. It plows on ahead though; Shinobu's got issues and Junsuke's broody about his past... yeah, yeah, just skip to the sex. It's bad enough when the characters don't seem to care about each other, but it's worse when we don't care about them.

Those looking for sexy guys and heavy action with little concern for plot will get what they want, but there are far better books on the market to support than this.


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