Here is another short Japanese drama, Coffee & Vanilla, which is based on a very steamy josei manga. The manga targets young women and is more explicit when it comes to sexual and adult themes. To be frank, the manga is very beautiful with wonderfully drawn characters, and yes, it’s full of a lot of smut.
The show itself is about 10 episodes and does have a bit of implied adult themes, more so than your typical Japanese romance and dramas.
The show follows the premise of a shy, reserved college woman named Risa who is so beautiful she is constantly leered at by any male who encounters her. Sometimes men get aggressive bordering on assault.
She is basically almost assaulted in the first episode at her favorite coffee spot by some random dude (stalker) who insists she go out with him. Luckily she is rescued by a gorgeous businessman named Hiroto Fukami who manages to scare off the flies buzzing around her and save her from possibly being raped or dragged off by men who don’t take no for an answer.
The problem with Risa is she is very meek and does not seem to have the backbone or agency to successfully ward off dudes on her own.
Enter Hiroto, who comes to her rescue and in the end, asks her to dinner. It’s okay though, he’s rich and handsome so he poses no threat, right? It helps that he’s played by Dori Sakurado, Japanese heart throb with a smoldering gaze that would make a table swoon.
Risa is predictably smitten, they have dinner and he’s so incredibly sweet and caring he convinces her to stay the night with him (oh, and she also gets drunk at dinner because she cannot hold her liquor).
I mean, as much shit as I’m talking at “I-have-no-agency-Risa”, I would bang him too. Not gonna lie. No alcohol is required.
The story after this is filled with misconceptions, Risa’s unending insecurities, other men who try to swoop in and break them up and just sugary sweet romantic scenes.
At one point Risa gives up on Fukami, only to come back to him easily which just makes you wonder in the end if she could actually live her life without him. He dries her tears, makes grandiose business plans for her, and gives her this comfortable little “cage” to keep her protected from the big scary world.
I didn’t care for the story itself, but I admit I didn’t mind watching 10 episodes of Dori Sakurado, sometimes shirtless. Okay so I’m trash. I did indulge in the whole series and enjoyed the romance and any scene Dori is in, even when he’s being possessive of Risa. I just got annoyed by Risa’s meekness, which I guess if you could get over, this is a show for you. I just prefer strong or quirky female leads (like Makino from Hana Yori Dango).
I kinda feel bad for the actress Haruka Fukuhara, who played this wet rag of a role. I know she’s awesome after her work on Good Morning Call.
Still worth the watch if you have time to kill and love pretty boys.
This Japanese drama was AMAZING. It is based off the Japanese manga with the same name, which is also cute, but the drama has its own appeal. The actors Keita Machida (Alice in Borderland on Netflix) is the handsome and popular Kurosawa and Akasa Eiji is the shy and socially awkward Adachi. Adachi is turning thirty years old, and he’s never been in a relationship or had sex. As a virgin, there is this urban legend that on your thirtieth birthday you acquire powers, and this happens to Adachi on his birthday. He can read minds when he touches people, and the magic turns his world upside down.
Adachi deals with intense social anxiety already. He doesn’t think he’ll ever be loved. He’s very introverted and finds pleasure in reading, his job at the stationary company and food. He doesn’t like to be touched or even to be approached. He’s too kind to his superiors and will work overtime to do other people’s work (just to keep the peace).
Since he’s hearing the thoughts of everyone he touches, he changes his morning routine and goes to work early so he has to touch less people, and he ends up hearing the thoughts of one of his coworkers, Kurosawa Yuichi, who is handsome, charming and seemingly perfect. Immediately, Kurosawa’s thoughts show that he’s overjoyed to meet his work crush in the morning. Adachi has no idea who it is until the elevator fills up and people push them together in an awkward (and defining) moment where Kurosawa is thinking about how lucky he is to be this close and he hopes that Adachi doesn’t hear his racing heartbeat.
Soon, as they all exit the elevator, Adachi realizes that HE is Kurosawa’s crush, and at first he doesn’t believe it. He thinks he might be wrong. Thus, he starts to have more encounters with Kurosawa that proves that Adachi is indeed whom Kurosawa likes. He not only likes Adachi, but is deeply in love with him, and Adachi can’t understand it, but through the series, Adachi likes being cherished and he gets to know Kurosawa more. He finds out that Kurosawa is not “perfect”, he has anxieties and fears too, and Adachi starts to fall for him as well.
However, this is all new for Adachi and hearing Kurosawa’s thoughts and confessing to him is overwhelming. I would even say that his “Anxiety” is another character in this show, even more so a villain.
Under some odd circumstances, Kurosawa stays with Adachi at his place for a bit, but it’s basically torture for Kurosawa (because he wants to be intimate with him). He finally confesses to Adachi and doesn’t expect Adachi to return his feelings. Adachi…takes some time to process things, pretty much a day, and he realizes that his thoughts are filled of Kurosawa, he likes being with him and he ends up running after him after work to confess. The two start dating and Kurosawa has the presence of mind to know that Adachi will need to take it slow. Everything is his first experience, and Kurosawa is more than thrilled to be there with him.
Eventually, as they continue to date, Adachi’s anxiety gets the better of him, especially after telling Kurosawa about his magic, not feeling like it’s fair to keep it from his boyfriend. He breaks up with him, and both men are just heartbroken. They even had a date set up for Christmas Eve, which basically eats at Adachi as he realizes he made a mistake.
The ending is satisfying. The scenes between these two men are sweet, fluffy and a slow build romance. The touches, the thoughts, the fantasies from the mind reading, and the confessions are swoon worthy and worth the watch.
There’s a side plot to Adachi and Kurosawa that is…kind of a let down. Adachi’s best friend Tsuge also becomes a wizard when he turns 30 as a virgin, and his reactions to the mind reading are a bit over the top. The acting is…um, well, cringe worthy. He starts to have feelings for a delivery person who warms up to him because Tsuge adopts a stray cat.
The cat is cute. The delivery guy is cute and enduring, and Tsuge means well, but he acts like a complete psycho.
I watched Cherry Magic twice through the 12 episodes and second time around I mostly skipped through the Tsuge scenes. He annoyed me too much.
There is also this adorable Ace supporting character named Fujisaki who cheers to the two main leads on. I kind of wished she would have more screen time than Tsuge. Her story was way more interesting.
This is BL (boys love) but it’s not explicit, just a tender romance with two adorable leads and a great story around social anxiety and not judging people by their looks. There are also a lot of lovely moments worthy of GIF reuse.
As an indie author myself, I try to support independent authors and new authors who are trying to do what they love. There’s nothing stronger than word of mouth, right? It is also helpful that I’m such a bibliophile, LOL.
Silver Sun Books published their first Magazine anthology of short stories. Their first theme was “Vampires & Voyages” and comprised of short stories that used one theme or both. The cover on the anthology is spooky and gorgeous with ominous crows in a misty forest. As this is their first magazine, they are taking submissions for their second one with the theme “Mermaids & Myth”.
Now, onto the review! Please be aware there are spoilers.
Ah, these little tales were lovely! I enjoyed every one of them, and each one had their own individual charm to it. I will say that I was enthralled for each one, and none of them at all was lacking. Such a good mix of writing here for sure.
My favorite of all of them is by far “Enduring Wrecks” by Chris Dunsten. Holy crap, this was so good. It was like the perfect short story… a piece of heavenly cake with a well-rounded main character and depth of story and the lush environments the character finds himself in. Short stories are HARD, so reading this I was not only completely addicted to this story and wanted to know more about this character, but I also felt like WOW, how did this author write the PERFECT short story (and can he tell me his secret)? It left me wanting more, BUT I was still satisfied; it was just the right beginning, middle and ending. The ending… wow, it was such a beautiful, enduring gesture. I really loved how just one character grew so much in this little story. And the characters really had fleshed out personalities with their dialog and descriptions, and probably no easy feat in a short story format. I really want to read more by this author. AHHH, I NEED TO READ THIS OVER AGAIN IT WAS SO GOOD.
I also really enjoyed “Something Like Absolution” by Rebecca Crunden. I really loved how the main character was able to go back to his marriage and it was still strong after all this stolen time, after the hardships and gaps. They WERE. STILL. IN. LOVE. And it was so strong too. And the ending, it really fit the overall story and ended it with a pretty bow. No more lingering conflict, just a rock-solid marriage and two lovely men overcoming this supernatural hiccup through their unwavering love. Although thinking your lover was dead for so long, it would be HARD to go back to but it was like, “Hi honey you’re home, let me just kick out this other mug and let’s catch up.” I think the pacing for that, even with the insecurities and awkwardness between them, was well done and fit the story’s pace as well as the believability.
“Living Underground” by Josie Jaffrey was eerie but interesting. There was a lot of moments where I just wanted to know more about this couple. Very cool, engaging little story.
“A Dramatic Gesture” by Matthew MacLauchlan was intense. I was on the edge of my seat. It felt really like Grimm fairytales in its format. What great descriptions and pacing of this story. (I kind of want to read this to my daughter…haha)
“A Little Drop of Blood Goes a Long Way” by NJ Simmonds was fun, though the beginning was a bit…dark, I loved to explore more of Jemima’s character through the rest of the story. I was scratching my head to her reasons for suicide, but her encounter and interaction with a vampire really lightened the mood, and it seemed so realistic. I love the portrayal of a main Ace character. And the ending, even though it was…a positive in the way Jemima lived out her undead life, the payoff was gloriously sadistic. (We all have that one person in our life we’d want to do this too…). And the vampire’s name. I LOVED her reaction to it. I laughed out loud because yeah, what is with vampires and hokey names?
“Another Interview with a Vampire” by Sam Hall was also interesting. This was the one story I just wanted to be longer. I wanted to know more about the vampire, to see more of an interaction, maybe even some tension, UST, between him and the narrator/main character. I do like this author’s take on the theme here, another “this vampire is not like the normal trope” kind of thing, A vampire with a heart of gold, sort of thing. Fantastic.
Such a great little anthology! I can’t wait to see more from this publication!
This review is also posted on Amazon.com and Goodreads.
I’m planning on several big changes for this site soon. There will be more sections added for reviews, articles, and other offerings. I plan on making this a little more active. It seems I say this and nothing happens, but I assure you it’s a lot of planning in my notebook and new posts will be coming soon as well as new stories and more insight and upcoming publications.
So far on the horizon you can expect:
Unbridled the second edition and new cover. I’m finishing up edits for this.
a camping themed short story
NaNoWriMo 2020 project – Hello, Professor – a new romance!
Articles on self-publishing, design and mindfulness
I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times.
I figured since this journal is so quiet I at least should do some reviews of things I’ve watched or read. One of the things that I’ve been doing in all my “free time” other than writing and freelancing is make some progress on my queue, specifically anime, which I’ve been obsessed with since junior high (a long long time ago). I started watching the anime Gakuen Heaven on Amazon Prime, free to subscribers and 13 episodes long.
The perk here is Amazon Prime has a lot of free Anime to watch from Retro Crush, a digital rights company that has a lot of old school anime, some of it I grew up with and am happy to revisit.
I had never seen Gakuen Heaven, but I’ve started to really get into the M/M and BL community, whether it’s manga, novels or TV and movie series. And this month being Pride Month, it’s even more fitting to celebrate LGBT+ stories.
Back to Gakuen Heaven – this is about the anime ONLY. I know there’s a manga and RPG but I don’t have access to them, so I’ll stick to talking about the anime. This is about the Japanese audio and English subtitled version, as they did not have the dub available.
Amazon rates this as 13+ ages, so it’s not as explicit as some Yaoi anime can be. I see this more as Shonen-Ai (boys love) so the romance is mild and fluffy. As with most Shonen-Ai anime, the formula is pretty typical. It’s an all boys school, so there are no female characters. None. There are effeminate boys that could be considered girly, obviously the “uke”(bottoms) label, and there are dominate “seme” (tops) males.
The main protagonist is Keita Ito, who is an effeminate boy with large blue eyes, wild reddish-brown hair, and is shorter than most of the other boys characters. He’s specifically of the “fandom bicycle” trope, though he does have interactions with other guys that are interested in him or flirt with him, but his true love interest is obviously his childhood friend Kazuki Endo. There are other boys that don’t care for Keita in the beginning, but quickly he wins everyone over, even the scheming twins who antagonize him and basically just throw barbs at him and eye daggers. They don’t really do anything other than kvetch that he’s even at the school.
Keita is invited to attend Bell Liberty Academy (BL Academy, get it? Har har) in the middle of a semester. Bell Liberty is known for only accepting exceptional students that have a particular talent, whether it’s computer science, arts, or sports. Keita is completely ordinary. He is an average student and doesn’t have an specific talents. The only thing that may be considered his talent is that he’s “lucky” because he does get into certain dire accidents and comes out of them completely unscathed for the most part. However, he is still offered to attend by a mysterious “Chairman” of the school. With good reason, other students that have talent start to wonder what the motivation is to accept such an average student to their school.
Kazuki Endo is Keita’s dorm neighbor and immediately he dotes on Keita and wants to spend time with him. The two go to breakfast together, as well as dinner, and Kazuki watches him to the degree that he’s in love with Keita, even before he comes to the school. We find out later that Kazuki is actually the “Chairman” and he’s busy doing a lot of meetings and dealing with board members who don’t believe he’s fit to take the position. The Chairman relies on the Student council who is headed by the King, who immediately warms up to Keita as well.
In a short time that Keita is at Bell Liberty, he amasses some powerful friends, some of them who make passes at him immediately, like Nakajima (who is far too creepy and makes Keita visibly nervous) to Naruse, the tennis captain, who immediately claims ownership of Keita, is overtly lovey dovey with him, and calls him “Honey” and tries to force him on dates. Naruse comes on strong, but he’s not creepy, just an obvious lover boy. Keita tries to rebuff him kindly, and even cool and calm Kazuki gets angry when Naruse is around trying to advance on Keita.
There are other characters, quiet and reserved, who open up or have personality shifts because of Keita. Keita is a bit of a Gary Stu, but Gakuken Heaven, though obviously formulaic of BL anime, does not take itself too seriously.
Even the supposed danger Keita is in does not last for long, as his long line of student council or pretty boy friends come to his immediate rescue, or Keita wins them over with his charm – Jin Matsuoka one of them, whom was intent on slitting Keita’s throat at one point.
The unfortunate thing with the Jin Matsuoka arc was it was tacked on the end. Jin wasn’t around much throughout the whole series, but he appears in the last two episodes as someone who believes Keita is responsible for his lover being in a coma as the both of them had the same virus, but Keita was “lucky” and came out of it unscathed in childhood whereas Hiroya, Jin’s lover, is in a coma. Of course at the end, Hiroya comes out of it and wakes up to Jin, and everything is hunky dory. The story wasn’t really fleshed out well at all, and Jin’s hatred of Keita seemed to come out of nowhere.
Obviously the MVP story arc is the best, with the boys uncovering the corruption of the Vice-Chairman who wants to expel Keita to get at Kazuki so he would resign as Chairman, because the Vice-Chairman and his skeevy board member allies don’t want some punk kid in charge of the school.
Keita and Kazuki join the MVP contest, where more is revealed about Kazuki to Keita, and Keita, for whatever reason, starts to remember Kazuki as his childhood friend who made a promise they would go to school together. The two win the MVP contest, with Keita solving some of the riddles and helping the twin boys that hate him out when they are in danger. Even with the Vice-Chairman’s interference of hiring goons to take out Keita during the contest, Keita and Kazuki win, with a little help from their friends of course. Nakajima and the King specifically come out of the shadows to rough up the goons who try to taser them, and even Shunsuke runs over a couple of goons with his bike, unknowingly. Like I said, everything comes out perfectly for the heroes and the Vice-Chariman is fired and shamed for all his shady dealings.
Kazuki finally confesses to Keita, and during a meteor shower, they snuggle and share a kiss. It ends with all the other characters enjoying their own happiness and watching the meteor shower too. And also during that meteor shower, Hiyora wakes up from his coma to Jin, and they embrace, and Hiyora appreciate’s Jin’s long hair, which he grew out no doubt for him. It’s a feel good ending, and the two main boys get together. There’s kind of a hilarious epilogue in the morning where Keita is coming out of the bushes frazzled and running late to his classes, blaming Kazuki. Kazuki winks at him, and it’s up to the viewer to assume whether they did more than kiss the night before.
(they totally banged)
It was a cute anime story. I liked the 13 episode format, and there was no drawn out drama or stupid misunderstandings, which I’ve come to like in anime. I’ve seen enough anime with big seasons and multiple episodes that just draw stuff out and I just can’t get into that. It was a feel good ending, the anime boys are pretty to look at, and there’s some good humor throughout the plot. Nobody is really in danger and even the coma boyfriend of the evil school doctor comes out with a win.
I wished there was a little more development of Jin/Hiyora but other than that, I think they treated the reveal of Kazuki’s true identity to Keita in an appropriate way.
If you want to watch a cute, boys love anime with not a lot of uncomfortable explicit scenes, this is for you.
Disclaimer: I pulled some of these images from the web on Google. If any of them are yours I’d be happy to credit. Thanks!
I am still reeling from NaNoWriMo and catching up with my never-ending to-do list. I do plan on setting up a more regular blogging schedule at the beginning of the new year, but until then my posts will be a bit random like before. For now…
Tomorrow (which is my birthday) I am kicking off my Goodreads Giveaway for Unbridled. I will be giving away five FREE signed copies of my book. So you’ll see an official post for that tomorrow when it begins. I hope you enter for a chance for a free book. Who doesn’t love free, right?
In other news, I’ve been reading a lot, and normally I don’t do much reviewing of books because it seems like everyone does that, and though it probably is a good skill to foster in the indie-book world, it also depends on time. So normally I don’t have any sort of structured time for that, but when I read a good book, I feel I should share – whether it’s an indie author or not.
The book I read recently is The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Amanda Palmer was the former lead singer of the Dresdon Dolls, a bit of a cabaret punk band. She is an independent artist now and makes music regularly. Amanda Palmer is known for taking the music world by storm with her Kickstarter project and other advocacies, and I’ve been following her career for a while and just love her spirit, her engagement with fans, and her wisdom in art and music.
I don’t have a lot of free time to read much anymore, so I was amazed how enthralled I was by her book and finished it so quickly. I’m partial to biographies anyway, but sometimes I read them and it takes me forever, but not Amanda’s book.
I read it with ferocity, absorbing her stories, her biographical accounts, her romance with Neil Gaiman, and her struggles with asking people for help and then her art itself. Sometimes it felt like a self-help book, that I could adopt some of her wisdom with my own life and struggles. I know it probably wasn’t supposed to be like that, but once you read some of her own wisdom, you feel that her words are adaptable, and they make you think.
Especially when it comes for asking for help and receiving gifts. I feel like that can be a struggle for people, myself included, in getting over your pride and asking people for help, whether for money or goods, and when you do, as Amanda did, you see the sense of community and collaboration that is born from that. It was really touching to read about that, to see all her friends and fans come together in a unifying spirit to help.
I also enjoyed the concept of making art, how making art “is not hard” – and I guess I can see that as a more liberal sense of the concept, where if you make art for the public and someone, even one person, appreciates it, it’s a success.
If you’re a fan of Amanda’s work, I definitely recommend the work. If you’re intrigued by her, I’d look into her music and get a sense of her and then if you like her, totally pick up her book.
Here was my review I posted to Goodreads:
This book was so amazing I couldn’t put it down. I began reading this and felt so connected to Amanda through her words, her snippets, and her stories. I was moved to tears many times that I was reading so furiously that I didn’t even realize I was crying until my cheeks were wet. Such a powerful, moving book, that there were several parts of it I just absorbed with abandon, and other parts of it I just felt I understood her and nodded my head with what she was going through, explaining, or feeling. It felt like a random, almost-self help book on and FOR artists, but it’s not that, (or is it? I’m not sure), it’s everything Amanda. That’s how much you connect with her when you read this book. I’ve never actually met Amanda in person, but once you read her story you feel like you’ve always known her and loved her. (But I want to meet her one day, because wow, what an amazing human being she is…) Wonderful, wonderful book. It’s the best book I’ve read this year for sure.
Enjoy! See you all tomorrow to kick-off my Goodreads Giveaway!