Manga · Review without spoiler

His Favorite by Suzuki Tanaka – Review without spoilers

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Title: His Favorite (アイツの大本命 – Aitsu No Daihonmei)
Genre: Shounen Ai
Mangaka: Suzuki Tanaka
Status: Ongoing
Number of Volumes: 10

 

His Favorite is an amazing shounen ai by Suzuki Tanaka and I almost made the grave mistake not to buy it. I found it by chance in my favourite manga store in Liège and honestly, the only reason why I took the first volume with me is because by buying two manga I could get one free. Therefore, I decided to choose one randomly in order to discover something new. The volume was wrapped in plastic so I could not take a look at the drawings inside and I did not like the cover at all. Moreover, the summary did not seem that interesting but, after some pondering, I still decided to take it, thinking: “you never know, maybe I will be pleasantly surprised”. And indeed, it quickly became one of my favourite manga. It is funny, refreshing and provides my cold heart with the amount of fluff it needs.

The story follows Yoshio Yoshida, a high school student considered one of the ugliest boy in the school and often tormented by the girls. One of his classmate, Takahiko Sato, oppositely, is so hot the girls cannot handle themselves nor their ovaries around him. When he wants to turn them down without being rude, he simply pretends he already has something planned with Yoshida, who will then be even more bullied by the girls because he keeps Sato away from them. Although the two boys barely know each other, Sato makes it seem as if they were the best of friends. For this reason, one day, a girl who was turn down by Sato when she confessed her love to him decides to ask Yoshida who is the person Sato likes. Sato accepts to reveal this information to Yoshida at one condition: Yoshida must kiss him.

Firstly, regarding the drawings, after opening the first volume I was actually very happy with what I found, I believe the drawing style is beautiful and, most importantly, really suits the story. And, except for the first volume, I do really love the covers which keep getting better.

What makes this story delightfully refreshing is the way Suzuki Tanaka twists around the codes and tropes of the Shounen Ai and Yaoi genres in an almost parodic way. The predatory gay man, the love triangles, the cute guy that everybody seems to fall in love with, super-duper jealous boyfriend, the return of the mysterious ex, etc. All these tropes that can easily become horribly annoying due to their presence in many manga of the genre are twisted around and freshened and it is mostly due to characterisation and the relationship between the characters.

Indeed, that is the centre of the manga: the characters. The manga actually lacks of a real, long lasting intrigue. Every chapter is telling another adventure of Yoshida, his friends and his boyfriend, but the story as a whole does not have much of a plot. The characters, their developments, and their relationships make up for that. Through the story they evolve and grow, and you understand more about them, especially Sato who he is full of secrets, pride and has really bad communication skills.

The humour in His Favorite is very theatrical and full of exaggerations but does not take away the fact that, even on a first degree level, the characters are really interesting . Sato is a genuine bully and yet throughout the story he will change and start to question his own behaviour. His attitude towards Yoshida keeps evolving, but he never completely loses that nasty temper of his either: he does not become somebody else, simply a better version of himself. As for Yoshida, he is absolutely not in denial regarding his boyfriend’s personality and does not hesitate to put him back in his place when he goes too far. As the story goes on we see him really try to understand Sato, accept and face his own feelings with a bit more ease as well as gaining more confidence. Both characters change naturally and never lose themselves completely. The manga also focuses on mainly two other couples which are also very interesting and has several loveable second characters – like Akimoto, the purest cinnamon bun – but to avoid any spoilers, I will not go further on that subject.

His favorite is probably not the manga of the century, nevertheless it is ridiculously funny and feels like a breath of fresh air. Moreover, in the current climate, it is really nice to focus on something a bit more positive.

 

 

Manga

Some thoughts on Black Butler’s latest chapter

WARNING: This article contains spoilers from the 126th chapter of Black Butler as well as some theories and suggestions concerning the future of the manga.

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Ladies, gentlemen, flamingos and unicorns, the day has arrived when Yana Toboso tried to violently slaughter the fandom with what could be considered one of the biggest suspense in the history of Black Butler. The information we have so far is that Agni discovered something on an old photograph of Ciel, some Anonymous Nasty Bitch tried to repaint the ceiling with Soma’s brain and we do not know whether they have succeeded. Both elements may be linked but it is possible that Yana Toboso put these two event simultaneously for another reason. The members of the Twin Theory Cult seem believe that Agni actually saw Ciel’s twin on the picture but even if that were correct, that does mean that the Anonymous Nasty Bitch is automatically the twin himself. Other names were thrown around in the fandom but most people being vocal about it on the internet seem the see in this chapter the proof of the supremacy of the Twin Theory.

If you have been living under a rock for a while or purposely do not stay in touch with the fandom for whatever reason, according to the Twin Theory (aka Two Ciel Theory), the Ciel that we know is not the real one. He is his twin brother who took his place when the real Ciel was killed by the sect. There are different versions of this theory, but I will not go too deep into it because my focus is not on it for this article. Whilst some arguments in favor of the theory do make sense, most of the “proofs” that were brought by the fans are mostly a matter of interpretation. Furthermore, the idea of a mysterious twin that was kept secret for the whole fucking series is an overused trope and usually a lame way to make the plot move or draw the story to a conclusion. Yet, there is no denying Yana Toboso’s talent for storytelling: she could use this trope in an interesting way, twisting it around to make it fresh and shiny, as she did with Jack the Ripper, or use it in a parodic way, since parody is very present in Black Butler.

With that said, the fact that many people saw in Agni’s reaction another proof that their favorite theory is true is understandable. Firstly, the secret is something that Ciel knows and purposely try to hide from Soma and Agni. It could therefore not be, for instance, that Sebastian was seen on the picture, showing that he somehow had ties with the family before his contract or anything that Ciel would not be aware of. Whilst other characters were also present, they were not the reason why Ciel took the picture away so we cannot be sure who knows about this secret.
The fact that Agni is one of the characters who know the less about the Phantomhive circle also has its importance. If Dietrich or Claus had found the picture and had the same reaction, the impact would be different since they know more about the family and its story. For example, if there was a twin on the picture, they would not have been surprised: they would know Ciel had a twin. Their reaction would not be in accordance with the reaction of the readers. But since Agni’s reaction could be seen as a reflection of the readers’ if they had seen the picture themselves. It is also possible that he discovered something that we already know but that was kept secret from him. However, since we do not see what brought this reaction to his face, it would be unlikely. By not showing the picture, Yana Toboso placed the focus on the discovery. The readers wonder what Agni has found out. Yet if he discovered something that we knew, the focus should be on Agni. How will he react next time he sees Ciel? And how will Ciel react? With this case, not showing the full picture would be counterproductive and could make the tension drop abruptly when the readers realise they waited a month to learn something they already knew. Therefore, the discovery will be something that Ciel knew and that was kept hidden from at least us, Agni and Soma.

Now, regarding the person who attacked Soma.
The fact that we do not see the guest obviously means that we would recognize the character and that we would not expect them to be in this situation. So it is either a character that we know, or a new character whose simple traits would reveal his full identity or his affiliation with another character or group. Some people believe that it is either Ciel, or the mysterious Twin, but if Soma was mistaking Ciel and his twin wouldn’t his first reaction be “Your eye is now fully healed! It is amazing! I thought you would have to wear an eye-patch forever!”? And if, let’s say, the Twin would purposely try to pass as Ciel and therefore wear an eye-patch, Soma does not pronounce Ciel’s name, which he almost always does when speaking to him. Moreover, his behavior is way too tame for him to be talking to Ciel. We know for sure that it is someone that Soma knows, yet is not close to. The way he acts and speak to that person is not his typical behavior towards his friends, he is too distant and polite.
Elisabeth is another name that seemed have popped in a lot of fan’s head, myself included, but a couple of people have pointed out that, in the Japanese version, the person speaks in a masculine form and that it cannot be her. And even if she, for whatever reason, was trying to pass as a man that Soma knows, wouldn’t it be more logical for her to attack with a sword rather than a gun? We do not know whether Lizzie is good with guns but we do know that she is a pretty badass bitch with a sword, Sebastian himself admired her skills when he fought against her. A sword would obviously ring a bell to us and give away the identity of Elisabeth but, unless she would have a very good reason for it, it is difficult to see why she would use a gun.

So, an acquaintance of Soma, male, short and nasty enough to point a gun at the fandom’s favorite spoiled brat. The first name that comes to my mind is honestly Maurice Cole but I do not really see the point in bringing this bitch back.

Another possibility, would be that the Anonymous Nasty Bitch manages to kill both Agni and Soma, and that either the character will end up meeting Ciel without us knowing he is actually the killer and/or Ciel will investigate on Soma and Agni’s murder which took place in his house and therefore the character was hidden so we would not know the culprit beforehand.

So, we do have a lot of different elements, but in the end the list of possibilities for both situations is still quite vague. We will have to wait and see, hopefully neither Soma nor Agni will die and the reveal of the Anonymous Nasty Bitch will make everyone wet their seat.

Uncategorized

How to get into reading

DSCN1967.JPGSome time ago, when I was talking with a friend, the subject of reading came into the conversation. He explained that, while he acknowledge the importance of reading and wished he would read more often, he could not seem to get into it. I tried to give him advices and tips and I thought I would share them with you, as I am sure it can be useful for many people.

Firstly, I would like to point out that this is an article written for people who have a problem getting into reading, so the tips may seem ridiculous or even wrong to people who are not in that situation.

I also want to stress that I have no meaning to be condescending nor do I believe that these tips are universal. Every person is different and although I tried to make them as general as possible, it will obviously not work on everyone.

1) Find the right book

This may either sound stupid or obvious but it is actually very important. If you buy the first book you see, or an 800-page classic that barely interests you, you will not be into it and the book will probably stay on your shelf forever without feeling the delicate stroke of your fingers on its pages.

Go on the internet and look for a story on a subject that you love or go for an adventure on a bookshop without having any idea of what you are looking for and let the books surprise you. The best is to buy the book and not rent it in a library, having a deadline can be cockblocking as hell. If the price is a problem for you, there are many second-hand bookshops where you can find inexpensive books.

You also should try to know what you need. Do you need the book to have a beautiful cover, an intriguing title? Do you need a big format or a hardback? If I am in a phase where I have trouble reading, I will try to read a book with a gorgeous cover and a title that really speaks to me. I will prefer a big format with a big writing because pocket books or tiny little letters with no space to breath can overwhelm me.

What kind of atmosphere are you looking for? Do you want to be scared? Amazed? Do you want to laugh? Do you want to read about the Middle-Age? Do you want a romance? A certain type of protagonist?

If you have no idea what you want or need to read, try to look at the books around you and think: “what attracts/repulses me in this book?” Every time you answer that question, you will know a little more about what kind of book you should buy. When you found a book that really attracts you, start reading the beginning of the book before buying it to see if the writing and the atmosphere please you.

To find a book that really suits you, you need to start looking for what kind of reader you are.

2) Tease yourself

Start reading, then, when you get to that one moment when you cannot put the book down for any reason – big revelation, killer plot twist, suspense so hard you wet your pants – just stop reading. I know it is hard and horrible but this way, you will want more. If you read until you are full and cannot take it anymore, chances are you will not want to read for a while. But if you stop at a crucial moment, when you need more, you will not have any problem taking back the book afterward. Try to force yourself to wait. You can set a schedule, decide to only read in the evening before going to sleep (probably the worst idea ever if you’re teasing yourself like that actually, you will not get any sleep), do something that will force you to wait. You will start looking forward to reading.

3) Find your little bubble

Some people need a certain atmosphere or situation to read. For instance, I cannot read before going to sleep. Not that I am not capable of it, but it can only go two ways. A) I am exhausted and will eventually go to sleep, frustrated. B) I will binge-read all night long and probably finish the fucking book and not get any sleep. So I force myself not to read just before going to sleep (unless I plan on binge-reading all night long obviously). You should try to find what the best conditions for you to read are. Do you need complete silence? A musical background that suits the atmosphere of the book? Do you need to be on your own or, oppositely do you feel like having someone with you in the room.

This is the most obvious because it usually comes naturally. If you are reading in a busy place, you will immediately realize if the noise bothers you. Yet, I am still stating it because I believe it is one of the things that can and will pull you off when reading.

4) Start over

If when picking a second book, you still have problem finding the motivation to read, repeat the experience. And always remember that you read for yourself, not anyone else. It is fine if you read slowly, if you can only read in one kind of context, if you need a two-month break after reading a book. Do not make the mistake to compare yourself to others, that will just frustrate you and frustration can do a lot of damage.

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As stated before, even though those tips are really general, they will not suit everyone or will simply not be enough for some people. If it is the case for you, maybe ask a friend who is really into reading, since they know you, they might find a more efficient way to help you.