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Review: Maniac Shorts Shot

Reviewer: Shannon Fay

Manga-ka: Miya Ousaka
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: April 2010

Synopsis: “Design school students Issei and Jin, on their way home from a live concert, pick up a discarded cardboard box, only to find that it contains a pair of sexy underwear with a “special” attachment…!! Deciding to have some fun, Issei puts them on and poses for Jin, but when Jin finds when he aims his camera at Issei, his sexual desire goes through the roof!! What will happen when Jin finds he can’t hold back anymore and has to have Issei right then and there?!”

Maniac Shorts Shot is a good example of how varied yaoi anthologies can be when it comes to explicitness. The first story in the book really makes the manga earn its 18+ rating with its frequent and explicit sex scenes – in fact, it’s not so much there are a lot of sex scenes, it’s more like the whole story is a sex scene with some plot duct taping them together. On the other hand, the next story is a sweet love story with a relatively vanilla sex scene. It’s weird to see such different stories in the same book, but on their own merits each story works.

The title story starts with the main characters finding a box of novelty underwear (like I said, the plot is mainly there to set up the sexy times). Issei starts trying them on, more of a joke than anything. Jin starts taking pictures, and soon things start getting a little more serious. There are a lot of fetishes packed into this story: bondage, voyeurism, toys, and, of course, specialty underwear. Combine that with detailed sex scenes (when was the last time you read a yaoi manga where the guys had pubic hair?) and you have ‘Maniac Short Shot’.

After the debauchery in the first story, ‘Lo-Fi You, Hi-Fi Him,’ is quite a surprise in its sweetness. Hirose and Azuma meet briefly at their high school reunion; Hirose is a kind-hearted, cheerful guy who can’t say no to anyone while Azuma is a smooth-talking host. Even though the two seem to have nothing in common, they hit it off right away and become close friends, going to soccer games, on hikes, and just spending a lot of time together. The strength in this story is the chemistry Hirose and Azuma share. The scenes of them together are not just adorable, but really capture the atmosphere of two people just enjoying each other’s company. Luckily the chemistry stays intact even as their relationship becomes a romantic one.

The cute nature of the story even extends to the sex scene. In what I found to be an unusually realistic move for a yaoi, not everything goes perfectly when they try to have sex and both characters have to go slow in order to get it right. The manga-ka is also not afraid to lighten the atmosphere with a joke, even as the characters are trying to get it on. While it is incredibly cute, it’s not mindlessly so. The characters do have worries, fears and insecurities that come up over the course of the story. The manga-ka manages to blend the sweet and bittersweet together expertly. It’s this story that makes me eager to read more from Miya Ousaka.

The third and final story in this volume is called ‘Custom Heart’ and involves Sano, a young man who recently inherited his father’s motorcycle shop. Maeda is a biker who frequents the store and gives Sano a lot of business. One night Meade has an accident on his bike. He comes to Sano’s shop and assaults Sano. Naturally, Sano reports this to the cops, Maede goes to jail…oh wait, no, that’s not what happens at all. As in various other yaoi stories that feature rape, they eventually fall in love.

I wasn’t a big fan of this story, and not just because it features rape as a way of showing your affection. The characters aren’t really likeable at all: Sano is constantly moping and cries every other panel, and Maeda’s just a brute. The plot isn’t that interesting either, making this an altogether forgettable story.

The art is great for all throughout the volume however. It adapts well to each story, reflecting the atmosphere without changing too dramatically. For example, there are plenty of screen tones and sparkles in ‘‘Lo-Fi you, Hi-Fi Him,’, giving everything an innocent shine, while in ‘Custom Heart’ the art is darker and dirtier, reflecting the grimy setting of the bike shop. The character designs are really great too, with each character having a wide range of facial expressions that are unique to them. I especially liked Hirose’s character design. He looks innocent while still looking like a grown-man, and there are nice touches to his design like cute, thick eyebrows. This doesn’t have anything to do with his looks, but I also like how Hirose is a nurse at a senior centre. Since it seems like half of the men in yaoi manga are assassins, detectives, or something else dangerous and glamorous, it’s nice to see a guy with such a down-to-earth job.

It’s hard to figure out who to recommend this volume to, since the stories are all over the place, going from hardcore porn in one story to fluffy shounen-ai in the next. But, there are plenty of yaoi readers who like both. If you’re one of them, you might like Maniac Short Shot..

Review written June 11, 2010 by Shannon Fay
Digital copy provided by Digital Manga for review purposes

Shannon Fay

About the Author:

Shannon Fay has been an anime and manga fan ever since junior high when a friend showed her a raw VHS tape of ‘Sailor Moon Stars.’ After watching it, she knew she didn’t want to live in a world that didn’t include magical transvestites and alien boy bands. Along with her reviews on Kuriousity, Shannon Fay has also written manga reviews for Manga Life and Anime Fringe. She is also a freelance manga adapter and is currently working with the manga licensor Seven Seas.

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