Manga-ka: Jaryu Dokuro
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: April 2008
Synopsis: “For as long as we could remember, we have always been together. So it seemed only natural to assume this would last forever…But it might actually be by my fault that it all started to slip away… With seven heart-wrenching stories, this is Jaryu Dokuro’s long awaited first book.”
Sugar Milk is a seven-story compilation of boys’ love from Jaryu Dokuro. Three of the chapters are connected to the two featured on its cover while the others are short, unrelated tales of lust and love.
The stories here are a prime example of stories that are too short. Maybe it was the lack of time for development, or merely just the characters themselves, but I couldn’t find myself attached or interested in any of the stories here. While the title characters, Sho and Taichi, and their budding relationship did keep me appeased for a short while, I was still plagued by the other stories that seemed to go for a certain appeal that they just didn’t pull off. One starred two older men, a photographer and his favourite subject for example. While I felt the artist had thought-provoking intent, I instead thought it was weird and unputting. In most stories the falling in love felt more unrealistically effortless than emotional and the only story of these I enjoyed a portion of was the one where the two didn’t get involved at the end, just out of entertainment for the irony and change of pace.
Unfortunately the artwork was no saving grace for this book. What I liked of the art was merely the novelty of it being different and more unique than many, but as a whole I didn’t find it very visually attractive. The style also changes considerably story to story. While I would find myself enjoying one style, I would turn the page to find a new story with a new style that made me cringe, thus leaving me to begrudgingly pull myself through.
On the upside of this book, DMP did some nice work on the presentation. They used their higher quality cover paper, which though retains scratches far too easily, is at least really nice to look at with a good feel to it. The cover also seemed to have more attention to the lettering than usual with a style that really suited the image. On the book itself, underneath the cover slip, there’s a collage of oekaki sketches by the artist. Visually I was impressed with the publishing so it was all the more disappointing the work itself didn’t live up to it.
I went into Sugar Milk with high expectations, by spiffy cover design and recommendation, and sadly, I wasn’t very impressed. The inconsistent art style, which even at its prime I didn’t find terribly appealing, did nothing for me. and most of the stories failed to really draw me in. Admittedly the stories are short so one could question if there was enough time for me to realistically expect to be get attached, but for what the artist was trying to accomplish, I’ve read it done much better in other books. While parts of this book proved entertaining enough that I wouldn’t call it a complete flop, overall Sugar Milk proved to be a mediocre yaoi that certainly wasn’t memorable for me as anything but a disappointment.