Thursday, July 21, 2011

An unexpected find: Hana Yori Joshi ("Girls Over Flowers")

I like Honey & Honey (I'd recommend it to anyone looking for realistic yuri), so finding a collection of books by Takeuchi Sachiko that I hadn't read in Ikebukuro's Toranoana was a treat. But I actually...didn't like this book, which is about Takeuchi Sachiko and her friends participating in public events, most of which are sex-related in some way.

One thing I like about Honey & Honey is how its "characters" don't shy away from the topic of sexuality, without being stuttering and immature about it- not that surprising for an autobiographical manga about and for adults. Some of Sachiko, Mai, and Masako's frank conversations and jokes remind me of real life conversations, say, from dinner at my dorm's dining hall, in a way that most manga never approach.

I don't like to say that an autobiographical manga is too honest, because that's the point- but this tankoubon could have been titled More Than You'll Ever Want To Know About Takeuchi Sachiko and Her Friends' Sex Lives. The sex toy chapter in Honey & Honey? Funny. Watching Sachiko paddle Kai and drool on her knees over two guys doing S&M? ... ^_^;;;;;;; I liked Honey & Honey for its autobio look at lgbt life in Japan, but this entire volume zooms in on the sex aspect of Sachiko's life at the expense of everything else.

Also- don't get what Sachiko and Kai see in each other. For the kind of story Hana Yori Joshi is, Sachiko and Kai spend virtually no time together, and don't seem all that interested in each other. (I would not continue to date someone who kisses other people, call me old-fashioned.) And I'll admit that I miss Masako. She said some really sexist things, but she also seems like the most self-aware person in the Sachiko-verse.

Overall: Read Honey & Honey. It's still good. Skip this.

When I first visited Ni-choume (I've been there three times; the second time for a women's only party, the third time just to walk around and see how much better I could find my way around it), I got directions from a gay man who offered to help me find a bar I was looking for (it was recommended by my Tokyo guidebook; the bar wasn't open to the public that night, since it was hosting a private party). When we found it (after he stopped in a gay bar and asked the bartender for directions), he asked that if I write about Ni-choume online (say, on a blog), I not write anything that makes it look bad. (This was an eerie moment, because I had never mentioned that I blog.) I kind of wonder what he would think of Hana Yori Joshi.

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