Jenre, who I believe is one of the top reviewers in the m/m romance genre and also happens to be one of the most gorgeous people you could ever meet, has been waiting patiently while I got my shit back together in relation to my m/m graphic novel and yaoi appreciation series.
So, here it is. Finally! Thanks, Jen. 🙂
Angst or Fluff?
I’ve only been reading Yaoi manga for a year or so, but in that time I’ve been exposed to a range of genres from fantasy to westerns, however, my favourite still remains the contemporary yaoi.
One thing I’ve noticed about the contemporary Yaoi books is that even though they all contain the similar characters of the Seme and Uke, the familiarity of the ‘no, no, no, yes, yes, yes’ sex scenes, and the bewildering lack of lube or condoms, they can usually be divided into two distinct groups: The angsty or the fluffy.
I’ve been thinking about this recently and trying to decide which of the two types of contemporary yaoi I like the most. Let’s have a look at a few examples and examine the evidence:
These tend to be characterised by a lighthearted plot, often with a high dash of silliness. Serious stuff is usually relegated to a secondary character or subplot, with the main focus on the sweet and/or daft relationship between the main Uke and Seme.
My absolute favourite fluffy yaoi is Maid in Heaven by Hisami Shimada, which tells of Midori who takes on his sick Grandma’s job of maid in a grand house, whereupon he’s forced into wearing a maid’s outfit, much to the delight of his boss Asagi. There’s lots of cheeky humour in the story and I loved Midori’s initial outrage and then acceptance of the uniform he’s made to wear.
Another fluffy favourite is Chocolate Surprise by Lily Hoshino which is a amusing story involving a group of giggling girls and cute guy Ogasawara who take part in a silly game involving chocolates spiked with an aphrodisiac, leading to Ogasawara propositioning handsome Kakiuchi.
Finally there’s Love Mode vol 1 which could have been a very disturbing ansgty story as it follows student Sakashita who is mistaken for a male prostitute by Takamiya, plied with drink and seduced. However, the way that Takamiya then falls in love and sets about wooing Sakashita, turned this into a super-cute fluffy read.
These stories often follow serious themes, many involving prostitution, addiction or drugs. Many revolve around gangsters or characters who are trapped in what seems to be a hopeless situation.
My favourite Agsty yaoi is Age Called Blue by Est Em, which follows two musicians who love each other, but one is addicted to drugs and his lover finds it hard to live with him. The artwork as well as the story is haunting.
U Don’t Know Me by Rakun is another one of my angsty favourites, although is much more lighthearted in tone than Age Called Blue. It tells of two lovers who are forced apart by circumstances and secrets, but whose love for each other is an unbreakable bond *sniff*.
There’s one final angsty story which I wasn’t as keen on, but I know is a favourite with the Yaoi swap people and that is Totally Captivated by Hajin Yoo. I wasn’t keen on the gangster plot, but it’s one to consider if you like such things.
So considering the evidence, which sort of contemporary do I really prefer? Actually, both. Sometimes I’m in the mood for light and fluffy, and sometimes something more serious. Fortunately there’re both types about to satisfy my every whim!
But what about you, my Yaoi loving friends? Which type of contemporary Yaoi appeals to you – something fluffy, something angsty or maybe, like me a bit of both?
Flattery will get you everywhere, my dear, even if it does make me blush to the roots of my hair. Thank you :).
I flatter myself that I was very patient, but thanks for the opportunity to put together a blog post. Sometimes I miss just blogging without the reviews attached.
I miss you blogging too Jen 😦
From the contemp genre I like the highschool and or university stuff. Mainly I think because the system is so different from ours.
And if I like angst or fluff more that totally depends on my mood. But you can't tell from the outside of a yaoi what it will be. The blurb, if there is one will be minimal too so I find myself starting to read without knowing what to expect.
Thanks, Ingrid 🙂
You are right, you can't really tell from the blurb or cover whether a book will be lighthearted or angsty. I've been in the mood for a fluffy book, picked out one that looks to fit the bill and been drawn into a dreary tale of underworld dastardly doings instead.
I like the university/school set ones too. When we were at Yaoicon I went to a seminar about Japanese High school where we were told that kids generally didn't sneak off to the roof to 'mess about'. That was disappointing to know 🙂
Too bad. There are a lot of books with scenes on the roof.
There is a very short piece done by Yamane with a scene like that. I looked for the link but can't find it.
I like fluff. I think Junjo Romantica is pretty fluffy and one of my faves.
I totally didn't get the Blue story. It was all over the place for me. I did like U Don't Know Me though and didn't read the other. And no paper people with arms that fly off into the stew. Weeeeird.
Y'know, if I could remember what I'd read… 😀
I didn't like the art of An Age Called Blue, alas…
I love fluff and angst in yaoi, which is kind of strange really because it is not something I would normally be convinced by in romance generally. Perhaps I accept it more in yaoi because it is a trope? Something to ponder.
I really like Lily Hoshino's work for the fluff side of things. One of my faves of hers is Mr Flower Bride. I've reread that so many times. 🙂
For angst, definitely U Don't Know Me and Totally Captivated – the latter is still total win for me in a 'go back in to a burning building to save it' kind of a way. *g*
I also really like Makoto Tateno's work for angst. I have a number of her series including Yellow, Hero Heel and Yokan. Great stuff.
Oh, and Jen… I meant every word. I think you are friggin' awesome. 🙂
Ingrid: This is why I was so disappointed. I've lost count of the number of scenes in yaoi books which take place on the school roof.
Tam: I've watched the anime of Junjo Romantica but not read the books. I know you can get them online but having watched the anime, I'm not too fussed about reading it now :). I do agree though, those are lovely fluffy stories.
And the paper people! What was all that about, eh? I'm often baffled by yaoi stories but that one really took the biscuit for general weirdness and huh?
Chris: Age Called Blue wasn't a popular choice with the yaoi swap, but for some reason it struck a chord with me.
Kris: Thanks again for having me over, sweetie.
I have the second Yellow omnibus book. Tam and I bought 1 and 2 between us and I have to wait for her to send me the first one then I shall read them both together. I'm looking forward to it :).
I think I fall into the preference for angst camp. But I think this is a preference I have in my usual reading anyway, I'm not so much a fan of fluffy. My favourite yaoi is Maiden Rose.
(The other manga I follow is Loveless (though this is Shonen – ai). Also quite angsty but with nice little humourous bits in it to counter the heavier stuff. When oh when is Volume 9 going to be released in English?)
I'm definitely into more of the non-fluffy stuff. My fav series is Viewfinder, which is most DEF not fluff. Followed closely by Embracing Love, which probably is fluff (angsty-fluff) lol.
Have you read all of the Love Mode series? I don't consider it fluff. The story switches at about vol 3 (or 4, I can't remember) to a more angsty story line. There is also a short side story in one of the volumes that I really can't read w/o crying (yes, I am a sap), so when I re-read that volume I have to skip that story. *facepalm*
I don't think I've read Maiden Rose. I shall keep an eye out for it though.
I've only read the one Love Mode book. It's interesting that it turns darker as the the series progresses. I suppose it could have gone one of two ways, either added more depth and sub-plots (which seems to have happened) or gone with the route that Junjo Romantica took or just adding more characters and keepinging the lighthearted tone to the series.
Jenre, not only does the story line switch in Love Mode, the main characters also change to the Owner of the Blu Boy Club and the orphan that he took in off of the street (their names escape me right now). I highly rec reading the remaining vol. I have read the series at least 3x through (skipping that side story occasionally) and there are 11 books. 🙂
Lesley already knows that I'm a fellow fan of Maiden Rose. It's totally different to any other yaoi I've come across. Very good.
Ferisha and Kris
You temptresses you! I shall have to resist your recs although they all sound like I'd enjoy them.
*goes for a look-see*
Great post Jenre – thank you!
Angst. I love angst.
Great post Jen – Sorry I am late …
I like a little of both… I love the cute – perfect read to put me to bed and the few with pretty decent angst are worth the find…
I didn't think I would like Totally Captivated, but that hoodlam grew on me – I ended up loving it…ALOT.
Hi Orannia and thanks :).
Glad to see you have a definite preference :).
I agree, the fluffy ones are perfect for reading just before bedtime.