Manga-ka: Ayano Yamane
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: May 2008
Synopsis: “Celebrating his marriage to the daughter of a rival yakuza clan, the hot-tempered under boss Ranmaru Ohmi soon attracts the passengers attention as much for starting fistfights as he does wearing a kimono wherever he goes. Enter Alberto Valentiano, a handsome Italian stud with a taste for all things Japanese – and a few secrets. Instantly smitten by the passionate Ranmaru, Al uses all his European charm to conquer the object of his desire.”
Ranmaru has just been wed to the daughter of a rival yazuka clan but he seems less than enthusiastic over the prospects of it. Instead he runs about the cruise ship they wed on, getting into fistfights and stirring up attention with his refusal to wear anything but his traditional kimono. It doesn’t take long for him to catch the eye of Alberto, an Italian with a love for the Japanese. It doesn’t take long for the suave, and drink buying, man to whisk Ranmaru into his bed for some ‘cultural exchange’.
A Foreign Love Affair follows most of the yaoi stereotypes, and feels like one through and through, not really breaking any new ground. Love at first sight, sex ensues, bottom gets into trouble, gets saved, more sex, etc. etc. You couldn’t exactly call anything here very realistic but that of course doesn’t stop it from being entertaining. Ranmaru’s often thoughtless behaviour keeps getting him into trouble and it’s no surprise as to whose there to save him, time and time again. Of course, what’s a good deed without its rewards? Lots of sex scenes scatter the pages, uncensored and passionate; making it the kind of book that 801Media strives to give its readers. At the end of the book is a bonus short story that’s really sweet and rounds out the release nicely.
Ranmaru and Alberto’s relationship wouldn’t have been the same, however, if not brought to life by Ayano Yamane’s beautiful artwork. The characters are drawn with masculine figures, a nice break from the more stereotypical overly slender yaoi boys, and are undeniably attractive: pretty, but as men. Few qualms can be had with the bare-all sex scenes and there’s some great expression work on the characters, both in and out of bed. Those who’ve enjoyed Ayano’s work for her art in the past should not be disappointed here.
Unfortunately one downfall of this book was that I wasn’t as impressed with 801Media’s release job here as I have been with their books in the past. While I didn’t have any qualms with the writing and font work, it was the binding and paper that gave me trouble while reading it. The stiffer paper type they use felt too stiff, and combined with the tighter than usual binding, made turning pages a bit difficult. Several times I had to stretch the binding a bit to read certain portions and the binding string was visible between almost every page from the moment I started reading, making me fear the book would just fall apart. I’m hoping these issues are a circumstantial thing and won’t be problems I’ll come across in future books. Other than that, the high quality cover slip and translation work I’d come to expect from 801 remains intact.
Overall, A Foreign Love Affair is a fun one-shot manga that I recommend to fans of Ayano Yamane, and yaoi fans in general, who’re looking for a nicely condensed story that’s interesting and steamy.