“ Genre: Graphic Novels / Comics - BLU / Author: Yuki Shimizu / Paperback / 216 Pages / Book is published 2006-04-30 by Tokyopop Press Inc „
BLU manga is a sub section of Tokyopop which produces a lot of Yaoi or more adult manga which features a lot of gay romances largely geared towards the female and gay market of readers with slightly more graphic sexual situations they are largely given and age rating of 16+, Mature or explicit contents.
A Feale manga artist from Japan, Love ode was her biggest hit; she is very health conscious and loves motorcycles.
A young man who attends high school called Izumi is promised a hot older date by his friend over the school holidays however after waiting for nearly half an hour he wonders he if he been stood up. Just then another young man stumbles past him and drops a rose at his feet, the young man then stumbles on. Izumi picks up the rose wondering what's happened he is then approached by a tall handsome older man who seems to know his name. Izumi thinks he's been had but since the man is willing to pay for everything on the date he goes along with it.
Further into the evening things get hot and steamy and Izumi gets more than he bargains for when he is taken to a hotel room and the man takes his virginity. The next morning both shocked and distraught the older man sets a large wedge of money beside him and says he would like to him the next time. Angry and offended Izumi tells him that he is not an escort. It turns out the man who dropped the rose was also called Izumi and was part of a male escort service.
Despite the mix up the unlikely couple find true love through the mix up though Izumi is very confused by his new found interest in the same gender. He treats his new found partner very horribly at first but when he finds out feelings are mutual the relationship grows.
Izumi- A stubborn High school students with a bit of an attitude, he constantly likes to test peoples trust.
Takamiya-A tall handsome older man who initially mistakes Izumi for an escort, despite the mix up he falls automatically in love with Izumi despite his protests.
Aoe-Takamiya's close friend who runs the escort service, he is pretty fierce in temperament but is also extremely tall dark and handsome and is never seen without a cigarette, he plays a nasty trick on Izumi by giving him a special brand of aphrodisiac chocolates to test his relationship with Takamiya.
The story has a good pace and flows as one story as opposed to real separation with chapters, there are much less breakages in the plot than manga I have previously reviewed.
The art work is very detailed with almost a retro look to it but does contain much male nudity so I wouldn't recommend this for under 18s. It is not all about the sex however as there are other aspects to this manga such as mafia involvement family issues, bullying physical and sexual assault, abduction, kidnapping and much physical and graphic violence also.
The storytelling is very good and the characters are well developed in the first volume. You are highly encouraged to read on to see what happens next and I have become quite addicted to this series. I am now on volume 8 and I have to say the stories get a lot more emotional and heartfelt as the series go on. Many more characters are integrated along the way too along with some slapstick comedy.
At the end of the day it's not for everyone as it does have many graphic violence and sex scenes and deals with serious issues such as abandonment, abuse and acceptance.
I actually prefer this series to other BLU manga such as Junjo romantca however as the flow seems so much better with less interruption and it deals with a lot more serious and topical issues.
I am pretty sure that I got the first volume for £4.99 but the retail value is £6.99 or there about on amazon.co.uk and good manga stores.
There is also a volume preview and some advertisements for other manga in the BLU range at the back of this volume.
First impressions are usually not quite the entire story. This is certainly the case for our couple in Love Mode, and it is also true for the reader in that this is our first impression of the series, and first impressions can be quite deceiving. First impressions say this is a frothy piece of work, dealing somewhat breezily with the issues of prostitution, sexual consent, and sexuality. Like many first impressions, this would be wrong. The tone is somewhat light, but bear in mind it is told from the point of view of two very young men, whose lives intertwine unexpectedly and set forth a chain of events that topples over barriers and heals old wounds a few years in the making, in a story that actually takes eleven volumes to fully unfold. This is merely the catalyst for change; with the effect it has touching first one, then another, and another, much like the beat of a butterfly's wings triggering a typhoon somewhere far off.
Like a butterfly, the beginning seems innocuous enough. Izumi is a typical high school student who dreams of the hot hook up. He thinks he is in luck one evening when his good buddy Konno rings him up. It seems some older friend of Konno's has had her eye on him and convinces Konno to approach Izumi in order to set up a blind date. Izumi is of course excited. Older, hot, probably ready for action, his musings take him to places that those of us familiar with young adult males are well familiar with, so throwing caution to the wind, he agrees. The hook up is supposed to occur at a landmark in the local park, and Izumi is left sitting there waiting. He realises he knows absolutely no details about the person he is to meet; bar the fact they are hot and older. Pondering this lack of foresight, he is interrupted by the screech of tyres just outside the park, followed by a young man stumbling into the park, and falling against him. The young man drops a rose, stumbles off again, and moments later, the sound of an ambulance is heard. What on Earth? Shrugging it off, Izumi picks up the rose, his thoughts returning to his pending encounter with the now late date.
Beginning to wonder if he has been stood up, Izumi is startled when a rather good looking older man stands before him, and asks, "Are you Izumi?" Oh crap, that Konno...What to do...Such an awkward situation, but he has just automatically replied in the affirmative. Nothing for it, he decides to accept the older man's invitation to go horseback riding and then to dinner, thinking he can decline later dates and save face for both of them. Sadly for him, he is not used to fine wine, and he drinks rather more than he should. Hmm...Something feels good... Rather suddenly startled by this realisation, , Izumi finds himself in bed with the suave Takamiya, who chuckles at his sudden half hearted drunken refusals, given that they occur midway through the deed, don't last but a moment, and are followed by a seemingly full act of co-operation. Izumi feels humiliated once he sobers up after, and it gets worse when Takamiya goes to leave money by the bedside. WHAT?!
It seems Takamiya was expecting to meet a different Izumi, a high class male escort working for a place nicknamed the B and B (short for Blue Boy). The same young man in fact, who stumbled into the park after a traffic accident, and dropped a rose. Horrified, Takamiya does not know what to do. He thinks he has actually fallen for THIS Izumi, yet he has done something pretty unforgivable. He wants to make it up to this Izumi, and well, Izumi is understandably angry, but once he clears his head a bit, he can see how events played out from the other point of view. And Takamiya-san is pretty cool, doing nice things and despite constant embarrassing declarations of love, has not tried to lay a hand on him since. Confusingly, Izumi realises he has mixed thoughts not just about what happened that night, but about the emotional and physical responses that welled up afterwards. It all gets pretty confusing for Izumi when he gets to meet Takamiya's friend Aoe (whose surname means blue), owner of the Blue Boy. He instantly dislikes this seemingly cold and arrogant man who somehow can see straight through him, though not enough to completely disassociate himself from the pair.
Sadly for him, this leads to another bad situation when he attends a formal party, unaware that many of the prominent guests are private members of Aoe's "dating club" and one has been wanting to taste the B and B's legendary number one, Izumi. Hearing our Izumi addressed by his name, Mr Rich Horny Idiot arrives at the wrong conclusion, and Izumi once again gets exposed to the seamier side of the sex trade. It may seem glamorous at first glance, but there is nothing glittering and bright about a guy dragging you off to sample what the manager told him he can't have. That's bad enough, but Izumi then gets hurt over a kiss Takamiya has with a strange man from the party, in their suite. If Takamiya loves him, why did he do that, and where was he, to let this thing happen to him? Will Izumi come out of this with his mind and heart intact? Does Takamiya truly love Izumi, and if so, how does Izumi truly feel?
Overall, I quite liked this story, but my first impression of it was that it was a rather lightweight piece. This was an opinion I revised after reading the succeeding volumes, and came back to this one to have another look because the remembered overall feel of this piece felt different from all the rest. Takamiya is at first glance a man with dubious friends and his involvement with prostitutes seems at odds with the persona he shows. We only get glimpses of who he really is, as we only get to see him through Izumi's eyes, and Izumi is only just getting to know him. Izumi's assumptions about love, life, and just who he himself is are all sorely tested as he learns that despite being 17, he is not nearly as wise about the world as he imagined himself to be. There are elements of pathos in the form of the other Izumi, who harbours an unrequited love and lives the life of a high end call boy, and humour in the form of Aoe Reiji and a box of chocolates. I have to admit that the scene with the chocolates was one of the funniest I have ever seen. Children, don't be greedy when a man from the underworld offers you complimentary chocolates from his brothel. And if you DO take them, carefully read the print. That word aphrodisiac before the word chocolate does NOT refer to how high quality the chocolate is, but rather what is inside them! I don't know which was funnier, Izumi's reactions after blindly eating them all, Aoe's own surprising naiveté at giving them to Izumi as an apology, or Takamiya's response.
If the storyline doesn't seem unusual enough, let's get to the art. This was first serialised back in 1995 within the pages of be x boy manga magazine, which surprise, surprise, targets the grown up female market and features boys love stories exclusively. Now, 1995 may not seem that far in the past to you, but in terms of fashions, it can be an age, and that applies to manga art as well. Shimizu's characters are well drawn, but definitely do not fall into the beautiful "pretty boy" style of art currently popular across much of the manga world. This is just as well, because the characters within the story are not suited for it. Izumi is very much the boy next door. He is horny, a bit cocky, and can be a bit prone to jumping to conclusions and flying off the handle. Takamiya is charming and suave, but by no means a guy so model perfect that people fall all over him, and there is a hint of deep sadness in his gentle eyes and face. These are ordinary people, looks and personality wise. What is not so ordinary, is the friends they fall in with, and what happens because of it. We all know someone like that, and it could even be ourselves (though not necessarily THIS situation!). The body proportions are realistic, the clothing lines flow naturally, and the attention to small detail, right down to the way their eyes glint are all handled with great skill and precision.
Even the panel work here is exemplerary. Each page is full, but not too busy, nor filled with excess "space" in the frames. It's fun to look at as well, as each frame is not merely stock rectangle after stock rectangle with the occasional long rectangle overlay, but cut up into triangles and other shapes, so that the frame itself complements the action going on within, and laid out so well that the eye experiences no confusion as to where to look next. Nor are the panels squeezed in for side bar chats with the author. There are little messages from the mangaka, don't get me wrong, but she has thoughtfully placed these between chapters and kept them brief. We don't get to hear about any pets or neighbours, or what she had for breakfast, but we do get treated to thanks for any letters that were sent to her (they love fan mail, so write one, stamps to Japan are NOT that dear!) and other things relevant to the actual manga. These little notes are accompanied by mini character profiles, adding that "little bit more" dimension to our characters.
This is published under Tokyopop's BLU manga imprint, which is their Boy's Love division, and like most of these titles, it comes with a Mature rating on the reverse, and is usually actually shrink-wrapped in clear plastic. Mine wasn't, but I got it from the publisher and not their distributor. The reason for the age rating and the plastic wrap should be clear, as this has overt sexual scenes, and being manga aka graphic novel, it has pictures which can be fairly explicit though it is far from being gratuitous. This is one for the top shelf, back row in a house with minors, folks, and if you are shy about watching nudity in your films, this is not for you either. That would be a shame as pleasing it is indeed, as one journeys with Izumi into young adulthood as he discovers the nature of his own personal sexuality, while one gets to meet the rest of the characters whose stories follow in the subsequent volumes, as this encounter becomes the butterfly's wingbeat that stirs up a storm that blows the clouds away for so many.
It goes without saying that since this manga (Japanese comic book graphic novel) features a "BLU" symbol on the front cover that it is obviously an adult novel. Despite the cute and pastel front cover this comic book would not be recommended for anybody under the age of 16 or 17 and is targeted at the female market.
The manga was originally featured in the magazine be x boy in march 1995 which would explain why it looks a little like older anime such as Fushuigi Yugi as opposed to the more recent love stories like Junjo Romantica or full metal panic.
The story of the first volume of Love Mode begins with a male high school student Izumi planning to go out on a blind date that his friend organizes, however things take a rather strange turn. When Izumi is waiting in the park for this mystery girl to appear there is a car crash. A young man stumbles out of the crashed car bumps into him and drops a rose then stumbles on in the other direction.
Izumi is a little confused but picks up the rose and stares at it, he is then approached by a very attractive looking older man who seems to know Izumi's name, it seems to be that poor Izumi has been had by his friend and has been set up on a date with a guy instead of a girl!
However in spite of this Izumi still ends up going on a date with this guy who calls himself Takamiya, they ride horses, go out for dinner and then to a bar and in spite of the fact its a date with a guy Izumi actually enjoys himself but gets ridiculously drunk and gets taken back to Takamiya's room. ******************after a rather confusing and unusual night for Izumi, Takamiya places a large wad of cash beside the pillow and says "would it be all right if I asked for you again?I really like you."
It turns out that Izumi was confused with the escort who was involved in the car crash. Izumi faints and wakes up at home. Takamiya has really taken to Izumi however and stops at nothing to try and charm him and convey his love. Eventually Izumi starts to think differently also and starts to apreciate Takamiya.
Its quite cute in places and also kind of graphic but the plot is quite original for a yaoi or boy romance manga and it does clearly state on the cover that it is for mature readers.
The artwork is quite unique also and has a rather old school style as opposed to big eyes and long colourful hair, the characters have realistic and well proportioned facial features and the backgrounds are constructed on places rather than swirling shapes and flashes.
The book is around 220 pages long and reads from right to left like traditional manga though it has been translated into English. Unlike most manga I have read however it does not contain very much information about the author just the publication of where the manga originated which I thought was quite strange but every manga producer is different. However there are pages dedicated to character profiles of the main protagonists which I liked. The organization of the frames is pretty typical also however it suits the plot and characters.