Thursday, April 5, 2012

Yakuza Cafe Review

Author: Shinano Oumi
Publisher: Digital Manga Publishing
American release date: November 22, 2011
Format/Genre/Length: Manga/Yaoi/200 pages, also emanga
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: Older Teen, 16+
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

After the death of his mother and grandmother, Shinri Irie receives an offer from the father he’s never met. Daigo Inrie wishes to make amends, and he wants Shinri to come live with him. So Shinri agrees to move in with the former Yakuza—at his café!



Synopsis:

Shinri isn’t sure what to expect when he arrives at the Fujisaki Café. Certainly not the fierce looking men that greet (and scare off) prospective clients. When they learn Shinri’s identity, they welcome their young master enthusiastically. One of them, a very large, very handsome man named Mikado, seems strangely familiar to Shinri. His emotional father greets Shinri with open arms; he is happy to see him and wishes to make amends for the past. While sampling what the café has to offer, Shinri learns its awful secret, and the undoubted reason that the café is not doing well (other than the former yakuza scaring people away)—the tea is atrocious! Lukcily, Shinri is an expert on teas, thanks to his upbringing by his grandmother, with her English heritage. He offers to take charge of making tea and bringing the café back to where it should be. Mikado is uncertain about this, but Zaouji, who handles the business side of the café, is positive that Shinri is just what the café needs.

Shinri finds Mikado mysterious and strangely attractive—and very familiar. He inadvertently comes upon him in the bath, and spies the large tattoo upon his back. And when he touches it, he accidentally releases the Dragon inside of Mikado, triggering memories, and propelling their relationship to a new level. When a former rival clan threatens the café, will Mikado be able to handle it on his own and keep his beloved Young Master safe?

The second story, The Crimson Seal, is a back story concerning Yaouji and his relationship with a Yakuza named Kurahashi, and tattoos.

In the last story in this volume, Two Roads Diverged, Shinri seems distracted by something. When he accidentally burns himself, Mikado questions his value in Shinri’s life.


Commentary:

I really enjoyed this book. It was sweet and romantic and fun. I liked the artwork pretty much. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good, especially Shinri and Mikado (who is really handsome). Mostly, I enjoyed watching the unfolding relationship between Shinri and Mikado. It’s not your typical uke/seme relationship, which I enjoyed, especially the scene where Shinri knocks the much larger Mikado down and sits on him to get his attention. Something to be aware of is the use of non-con sex, but consider that in the yaoi context it isn’t what it appears to be, i.e. rape. In yaoi mangas, it’s generally used as a device to bring characters into a physical relationship where one appears to be unwilling but deep down inside isn’t.  Shinri even admits to himself afterward that he certainly didn’t hate it.

From the way it ended, I’m thinking there will be more of this book. I certainly hope so. It’s a good, enjoyable read, well worth the effort, and I’d love to see more of it.

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