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Posts Tagged 801Media

Caught and Convicted – 801Media Acquires Under Grand Hotel

Under Grand Hotel

It may not be a season known for its manga title announcements, but Digital Manga has ensured that boys’ love fans got themselves a holiday treat by announcing yesterday their official acquistion of Mika Sadamoto’s Under Ground Grand Hotel.

Undergrand Hotel has for years been one of the most talked about, downloaded, shared and safe-to-say drooled over boys’ love stories on the internet. With Digital Manga’s widely published press release yesterday, it didn’t take long for fans to take notice with much enthusiasm – some surprised, others expectant and almost all very pleased. It’s also being cheered as a manga that feels like it truely fits in 801Media‘s self-proclaimed catelouge of more hardcore titles when many of their recent releases haven’t felt much different from the selections published under the June imprint.

Often compared to HBO’s Oz , Under Grand Hotel takes place in a prison housing the dangerous, crazed and convicted. Society may be safe from these men but they’re certainly not safe from eachother – it’s a dark story of bargains, loyalty, betrayal, violence and sex all behind the last bars these characters will likely ever see. The lead characters are Sen and Swordfish, both of whom are featured on the new edition covers. Specifics of the plot are best read from the books themselves but in all fair warning, this is not a book for the faint of heart. Rape and psychological attacks are practically currency in this undeniably shady story that’s compelling in the way only a guilty pleasure can be.

Interestingly the series will be released in the combined-volume form as it was last released in Japan. Called a bunko edition (short for bunkobon), the two volumes are a combination of the original three, bringing the page count of each to around 320. What will be most notable however is the smaller trim size. While 801Media books are published at about 5 x 8, Under Grand Hotel will be around 4 x 6. I made a rough ratio comparison that you can see.

Edit: In response to questions regarding the smaller trim size, Digital Manga responded via their Twitter account with the following:

“We licensed a deluxe bunko edition of UGH-so we’re preserving the licensed size. This isn’t a new size direction for 801. It’s only for UGH.”

Still, while it would’ve been great to have Under Grand Hotel in the same large trim size that fans were treated to with the artist’s Pathos series (as published under June), there’s still little complaint to be had when a series long anticipated but always questioned has finally found its home in the hands of an English manga publisher. I’d certainly be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to it and joining those thrilled at the sudden – but wholely welcome – announcement. Congrats, Digital Manga!

For those who missed the initial press release, you can be read it in its entirety here (and if you’d like to send your thanks, thoughts and/or excitement to Digital Manga, head over to their blog post to leave a comment).

PR: 801 Media announces the acquisition of Under Grand Hotel!

Under Grand HotelGardena, CA (December 7, 2009) – 801 Media, Digital Manga Publishing’s adult yaoi imprint, is excited to announce the acquisition of the heavily fan-requested title: Under Grand Hotel by Mika Sadahiro (creator of Pathos)! Controversial, explicit, yet ultimately fascinating, Under Grand Hotel takes place in a prison that the prisoners have nicknamed the “Under Grand Hotel”. A two-part series, the story revolves around two inmates, Sen and Swordfish, and the power politics involved to survive a prison that houses the most dangerous inmates around!

In a new first, 801 Media will preserve the special trim size of this title (4 1/8″ x 5 7/8″), and it will hold a special price of $24.95 for each volume for their large volume count (over 320 pages for each book!)

UNDER GRAND HOTEL VOL. 1, Rated M+ (for ages 18+), MSRP: $24.95, Available: June 2010, 4 1/8″x 5 7/8″, Over 300 pages!, 801 Media

After killing the husband of his lover, Sen is sent to a prison nicknamed the “Under Grand Hotel”, which houses some of the most violent and corrupt offenders. Good-looking and rather soft for prison, Sen is forced to seek protection from Swordfish, the proclaimed leader of the prison. But when their relationship turns from one of convenience to one that may be more involved, can they protect each other in a place where the law has no bearing? Mika Sadahiro’s (Pathos) controversial and fan-favorite title is finally available for the first time in print in English!

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Review: Love Skit

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo

Manga-ka: Rie Honjoh
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: May 2006

Synopsis: “Aoto’s life has been filled with tragedy. First he loses his parents, and then his older sister dies. Now he lives with his brother-in-law, Takashi, whom he’s in love with. But he’s too scared to admit his feelings! To make matters more complicated, Takashi’s friend Masayuki is in love with Aoto. Will Aoto decide his heart actually belongs with Masayuki, or will he stick with Takashi?”

Tended for by his older sister after losing his parents, Aoto is left without a family after he loses his sister as well. With Aoto’s sister having recently married, her widowed husband Takashi takes Aoto in and the two live together as they tend to their grief. But as a one-sided love begins to form, a friend of Takashi’s appears with his own attentions on Aoto… and thus you have Love Skit: a one-shot graced with a pleasant art style and quirky side characters but irrefutably marred by the leading plot that ties them together.

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Review: Falling Into Love

Reviewer: Shannon Fay

Manga-ka: Takashi Kanazaki
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: November 2008

Synopsis: “High school student Hisashi has admired top model Tomohito for years. His only goal in modeling is to get a contract at the same agency. By sheer coincidence, the two happen to be at the same shooting location. Looking to put some fear into his rising competition, Tomohito snares Hisashi into a passionate kiss claiming “I just wanted to wipe that prim look off your face!” But even the best laid plans are bound to have complications. Instead of running off the competition, he may have just gotten himself a suitor!”

I previously reviewed another manga by Takashi Kanazaki called His Arrogance. Both books share a cast of characters but focus on different relationships. In Falling Into Love, we meet Hisashi as a high school student who’s just breaking into the modeling world. When top model Tomohito takes an interest in the younger model, it sparks a rivalry that quickly becomes something more.

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801Media Confirms Yellow 2, Omnibus Edition

Makoto Tateno's Yellow

Fresh back from this past weekend’s Anime Expo, the 801Media blog has been updated with information regarding Digital Manga’s upcoming omnibus edition of Yellow and the semi-mysterious listing of Yellow 2 that popped up on Amazon sometime ago.

I recieved a few e-mails from people asking if I could clarify my own hypothesis regarding the listing, and though I couldn’t offer anything info-wise before, now 801Media has confirmed my suspicions were correct. Yellow 2 will in fact be a sequel series to Makoto Tateno’s Yellow, a set of short stories that have thus far only been released in Japan on cellphones.

“These are called Yellow 2: Episode 1. It’s a sequel to the Yellow series. These have never been published before, but they have been distributed only in Japan via cell phones and hand-held portable devices. DMP is extremely lucky to be able to license these series! Yes, there are many more to come, of course. Episode 2, 3, 4 … etc etc These will be hitting the US market as a short-comic style, containing approximately 60 pages or so. It’s a classic Makoto Tateno!”

These are “tentatively slated for October 2009” and there will be limited copies available at Yaoi Con 2009.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty excited to have something released here so fresh and first-to-print. Even more so excited that it looks like we’ll be seeing it long before another semi-similar project that’s been leaving us fans waiting a long time. Fingers crossed for more projects like this from Digital Manga in the future. Don’t let their efforts be for naught, boys’ love fans :)

Edit: To clarify, it was the 801Media website that confirmed the releases but they’ll both be printed under the June imprint, just as the original Yellow series was.

Review: Don’t Rush Love

Reviewer: Shannon Fay

Manga-ka: Mio Tennohji
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: January 2009

Synopsis: “Morino is the new arrival at an all-boys university prep school, who finds himself rooming with over-achieving honors student, Kusama. Apparently, Kusama keeps a secret that has him sneaking out late at night, barely returning in time for morning roll call. Morino becomes convinced it has to do with Kusama’s feelings for their teacher, Kanzaki-sensei. Are the two carrying on an illicit affair under the cover of darkness? To make matters worse, Morino finds his own fascination for his new roommate growing day by day. A simple kiss leads to more, and soon, exactly what Kusama is doing when he should be sleeping turns into Morino’s obsession.”

For Morino it’s pretty much love at first sight when he sees his new roommate, Kusama. But things aren’t so straightforward for Kusama. He has a one-sided crush on their teacher, and sneaks out every night for meaningless sex. When Morino finds out about Kusama’s nocturnal activities, he convinces Kusama to stay in the dorm and use him instead of strangers. Morino knows that for Kusama their relationship is just based on sex, but he holds out hope that one day Kusama will come to love him in return.

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Review: On Bended Knee

Reviewer: Lissa Pattillo

Manga-ka: Ruri Fujikawa
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: June 2009

Synopsis: “Hibiki serves as the personal bodyguard of Wu Xiong Wang – an outgoing entrepreneur, whose influential Hong Kong family has conducted business in Japan for many years. Having grown up together as children, the two have a bond that goes beyond the trappings of master and servant. Hibiki has dedicated his life to keeping Wu Xiong safe, and remains vigilant against any threat a man in his position might face. When it appears Wu Xiong is to be named the new head of his family’s corporation, the danger becomes even more evident as rivals conspire against him. Will the rise in alert cause Hibiki to see the truth behind his employer’s playful advances? Or does the responsibility he feels for Wu Xiong’s safety outweigh his own personal happiness?”

A collection of multiple stories, Ruri Fujikawa puts together an assortment of stereotypical short chapters that follow a number of different couples. Inevitably the stories are built solely around getting the two couples to sleep together and the sex scenes prove the literal climax of each portion. Sadly it feels evident that the artist hopes these scenes, and the shallow self-indulgent romances before them, will serve as compensation for the lacking substance of both plot and character.

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Review: His Arrogance

Reviewer: Shannon Fay

Manga-ka: Takashi Kanzaki
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: December 2008

Synopsis: “Ryou is helping out at his father’s modeling agency. But, his classmate and rising rookie model at the agency, Kazuto, is openly antagonistic to Ryou’s older brother, a very charismatic model. Kazuto finally corners Ryou and demands that he looks at him only! After a passionate kiss, he promises that crossing him will incur punishment! Kazuto may be an arrogant boy who does nothing but give orders, but Ryou is undone by his forceful and dominating approach!”

His Arrogance is the story of Ryou, a cute teenage boy who helps handle the affairs of his father’s modeling agency. Naturally, this brings him into contact with a lot of handsome young men, including the ambitious new model Kazuto. Kazuto goes after everything he wants with a disarming arrogance, whether it’s a modeling job or Ryou’s affections. But before Kazuto can have Ryou all to himself he has to deal with Ryou’s hero-worship of his older brother, top model Tomohito.

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Review: Hey, Class President! (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Kaori Monchi
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2009

Synopsis: “A present needs a running mate – and just like that, Kokusai appoints Chiga to be his vice-president! How did a slowpoke upperclassman like Kokusai win an election, anyway?! Sure he does seem to have an almost uncanny ability to attract stalkers, peeping toms and other degenerates, but Kokusai’s so helpless he can barely take care of himself, let alone a student body. It quickly becomes clear that Chiga’s major vice-president duty will be to keep Kokusai out of harm’s way, but is he up to the task? Furthermore, will all the time they have to spend together in student government cause Chiga himself to fall under Kokusai’s spell?”

Kokusai, soft-spoken and hardworking, is student-council president and he chooses the more stoic, keep-to-himself, Chiga as his vice-president. Far from only having their schoolwork to worry about however, Chiga and Kokusai must first overcome the irresistible allure of Kokusai to gropers on the train, perverts and stalkers.

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Review: Ze (Vol. 01)

Manga-ka: Yuki Shimizu
Publisher: 801Media
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: February 2009

Synopsis: “Left destitute and alone after the death of his beloved grandmother, Raizou Shichikawa accepts an offer to live at the palatial Mitou home in return for his services as housekeeper – but there’s something very strange about the Mitou family. Odd pairings exist within these walls, and the occupants’ behaviour seems beyond Raizou’s understanding. Raizou does take a liking to his ill-mannered roommate, Kon, however, and his interest leads him to discover the truth: the people he works for aren’t exactly human!”

As a fan of Yuki Shimizu’s Love Mode (recently released by BLU), I was excited to hear news that 801Media had licensed another of her series. Eager for more of the character-driven drama that I’d enjoyed in her work previously, Ze naturally become a book high on my list of to-reads. Not only does Ze showcase Yuki Shimizu taking another go at a story hefty with characters, but she also takes a slightly different turn with the addition of supernatural elements.

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