March was another month with a large number of manga releases, so it’s time for some more mini reviews!
Caste Heaven Vol 1 Review
Dark, intense and twisted, Caste Heaven is not a title I would recommend if you are looking for a sweet, Boys Love manga. Written and drawn by Chise Ogawa, Caste Heaven is a book that’s focusses on obsession and dominance, rather than romance. The story takes place at a high school where all the students adhere to a strict social hierarchy, where your rank is determined by what card you find during a game that occurs at random intervals throughout the year. Everyone unquestioningly follows the orders of whoever holds the King card and is free to mistreat the “Target”, the holder of the Joker card, as much as they want. Azusa selfishly used his status as King to push his classmates around and has never thought twice about using others for his own gain. Then, during the next card hunt, his former right-hand man, Karino, violently betrays him, taking the position of King for himself and saddling Azusa with the role of the Target. With the whole class now turned against him, Azusa has no choice but to become his enemy’s plaything in order to gain his protection from the rest of his classmates.
With both Karino and Azusa being varying degrees of terrible people, I can’t say that I’m particularly invested in their relationship, such that it is, and if they were the only characters in this manga, I doubt that I’d buy any more of it. That said, I did really enjoy the budding romance between the secondary couple of the series, the former Target and the one student in their class that had been nice to him when he was at his lowest. Their story was cute and sexy and a welcome reprieve from the abusive and toxic relationship of the main characters. Overall, I found this book entertaining enough that I plan to pick up the next volume, but I’d like to forewarn potential readers that this title includes depictions of rape, sexual coercion and assault. Use your own disrection when deciding if you’d like to pick it up.
Final Score: 6.5 out of 10
For more information on this series, visit SuBLime Manga’s website: https://www.sublimemanga.com/reader/789
Deko-Boko Sugar Days Review
On the exact opposite end of the BL spectrum, Deko-Boko Sugar Days, by Atsuko Yusen, is about as wholesome and adorable a romance as you can get. Yuujirou and Rui have been best friends since the day that Yuujirou rescued Rui from a gutter he’d gotten stuck in when they were kids. Ever since then, Yuujirou has secretly thought that his friend was super cute, a feeling that he’s never known how to deal with, especially now that they’re in high school and Rui has grown taller than him! Rui, meanwhile, has been crushing on his hero, Yuujirou, since their first meeting, but has been telling himself that it’s admiration he feels, not love. As they’ve both grown older, their suppressed feelings have caused things to become awkward between them, as neither realizes what other is thinking. Then, out of the blue, a girl asks Yuujirou to go out with her and suddenly both boys are forced to confront their true feelings for one another.
This is a cute, friends-to-lovers style story that’s just as sugary sweet as the name would imply. Yuujirou’s teenage angst and desire to appear cool were pretty hilarious and Rui’s earnestness was very endearing. I really liked them as a couple and I thoroughly enjoyed reading their story. If you’re looking for a light-hearted and fun Boys Love manga, then this is worth checking out.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Tokyopop’s website: https://www.tokyopop.com/book-catalogue-new-titles/dekoboko-sugar-days
The Conditions of Paradise Review
A yuri anthology by Akiko Morishima, The Conditions of Paradise collects several stories, all featuring romances between women, that range from cute and innocent to fantastical and bitter-sweet. My favourite story in the book was “A 20-Year Old Woman and a 30-Year Old Kid”, which followed the relationship of a University Art teacher with one of her students and featured some great comedic asides by the Art teacher’s judgemental friends. While I found this story to be very funny, unfortunately, most of the other segments in this manga didn’t leave much of an impression. Morishima’s art is attractive and I can’t say there were any stories in the collection that I actively disliked, but, overall, I found this to be a very run-of-the-mill title. Not bad, but not anything worthy of getting excited over either.
Final Score: 6 out of 10
For more information on this manga, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website: https://sevenseasentertainment.com/books/the-conditions-of-paradise/
What did you think of these titles? Let me know in the comments! You can also check out some of my other mini reviews: