Manga-ka: Ashika Sakura
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: October 2007
Synopsis: “Seiji-kun is a novice manga artist. A long time fan of the works of Sono-san, a famous manga-ka, 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?”
Few veteran yaoi fans haven’t heard of the popular Sensitive Pornograph: a collection of steamy short stories that spawned the equally popular OVA of the same name. With six stories spanning about 180 pages, 801Media brings Ashika Sakura’s hit to English shores.
The first story stars Seiji-kun, a manga artist who meets his idol in the industry, Sono-san. Sono-san’s irresistibly pretty face leads the two into bed together, but Seiji is disturbed by rumours that Sono-san will sleep with any who ask. This title story is the one described on the back of the book and lasts 33 pages. It’s short and sweet story with some fairly heartfelt moments and cute interactions.
The pace is dramatically changed with the second story, “Please, Kiss Me” which follows a new student who finds himself head over heels in love with a violent classmate. The art style looks noticeably different from the other stories in this book, with more sharp, shapely faces and detailed eyes. There’s not a lot of romance but the lead character makes up for it with sheer stubbornness and some minor violence.
The next story is the telling of two childhood friends reconnecting after a number years and together discovering what’s become of their relationship. Following that is a considerably less fluffy story of forced sex and photographs, “Indirect Youth”. Even against the brisk schoolboy violence of “Please, Kiss Me”, “Indirect Youth” will probably be the least romantic story for readers.
“Trophies Belong in the Bedroom” is the fifth story and one of the most infamous. Ueno loves animals and so for a part-time job, he’s a pet sitter. One day a job sends him to a nice condo for tending to a bunny while its owner’s away. What he finds instead is a man bound and gagged in the closest and it’s Ueno who ends up being on the receiving end of ‘care’! It’s a quirky story that acts mostly as the basis for some steamy sex scenes; but with enough backdrop to keep the premise interesting and explained, but not bogged down, “Trophies Belong in the Bedroom” comes together as a nicely constructed short piece.
The final story is a charming tale of two lovers who separate after one impregnates a woman and takes responsibility by marrying her. When a car accident kills her, leaving the man and his two children struggling to get by, it’s up to his old lover to step in and bring back the spark they both feared was gone. The kids are cute with their permanent scowls and Ashika Sakura’s does her best to avoid sympathy for the deceased woman by portraying her as an abusive wife.
The artwork is nice in Sensitive Pornograph but it isn’t anything too spectacular. The characters sometimes suffer from inconsistent proportions and oddly shaped heads but the style really varies story to story. “Trophies Belong in the Bedroom” is not only one of the best-written stories in this collection, but also the best drawn. The sex scenes, which are fairly numerous, are also where the artist seems to consistently shine.
Sensitive Pornograph is a standard 801Media release with all the trimmings. The book has an attractive, and nice quality, cover slip and the first page of the book is full colour. At the back of the book is Translation and Editor Notes, advertisements for other 801Media releases and a cute, full colour comic starring their mascot character, 801-chan. No qualms with the interior translation work and original sound effects are kept in place with their equivalents neatly placed beside them.
Overall, Sensitive Pornograph is a nice collection of stories with a variety of different themes that keeps it from feeling too repetitive. While it may not blow readers away as its hype suggests, it’s still an entertaining read bundled up in a one-piece compilation that’ll make for a fun addition to any yaoi fan’s book shelf.