Black Sun has been one of my favorites for years. It is a shining denizen of that strange genre that draws from an historical framework, and is at once pure fantasy.
We meet our heroes, a general of the Approximately Ottoman Empire, and a prince who has just failed to protect his fortress from falling to the imperial army. The prince is to be the next conquest of course, trading his freedom and chastity for the lives of the fort’s inhabitants.
As the pages turn, the scope of the story gradually irises out more and more until what started as a personal passion more or less only concerning the central characters develops into a much greater conflict with implications far beyond them.
Be aware that this story starts with quite a lot of rape, and it could easily be argued that this is a Stockholm Syndrome story. Our darling uke will experience this assault outside the central relationship as well. If this will not sit well with you, please be warned.
This story structure is graceful, exciting, and very action-packed. Each character is satisfyingly wrapped up, and the side stories included in both volumes give the story both depth and levity.
The cast of supporting characters are each more engaging than the last, from the Emperor, to the wicked turncoat knight, all the way down to the palace’s pet panther. The characters each have a well considered, voice, character, and look, and each one has a backstory that the reader comes to understand not through exposition so much as storytelling.
It is very impressive how the author is able to fully develop such a complex story and so many complex character, with so much smexy time, in only two volumes and not have it feel rushed anywhere or have dry stretches.
The action is hot and plentiful, especially since it is uncensored! The bodies are beautiful and their endowments are certainly impressive. No matter what the characters are up to the proportions and movement are always on point, communicating tension in the right places and practically vibrating on the page.
Black Sun definitely exhibits that classic yaoi syndrome of heteronormalizing gay sex and simply not considering real life mechanics whatsoever, which can be a bit distracting if you’re sensitive to it, but there is plenty great enough about this book to make it a non issue.
The art is gorgeous and the world is truly sumptuous; Faux-historical Fantasy at its yummiest! I especially enjoy the costumes, and mercy me, our heroes (and everyone else) are hot. Ogasawara definitely has a mold that she uses to make faces, but they are always expressive and it’s always easy to tell characters apart because they’re so well designed. A convincing context is created well within the history that inspired it.
I sincerely recommend Black Sun, and I suggest purchasing the pair together for sure. The first volume ends so dramatically, I was very grateful I didn't have to wait for the conclusion. Unlike some multi-volume stories, this one's pace is consistent and exemplary across both books.
Shiuko Kano’s loveable roughnecks are at it again this solid spinoff of I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone. The central stories in this book follow Kousei Mogi, a blue collar single dad. Mogi’s dirty coveralls hold a heart of pure honey, and he’s a perfect pivot for the other characters.
The overarching theme of all four parts of the central story and the side story is love of dubious origin. Be it blackmail, drunken hate sex, or just plain hijinks, the first time any of these couples falls into bed together is hardly romantic in a traditional sense, and the reader spends significant portion of the story unsure, but not too worried, whether these are healthy relationships at all. In the end however, it really is a sweet book, full of sweet stories as only Kano Sensei can deliver them.
The scope of the relationships in this book are quite broad and interesting. We do not focus myopically on the interactions within the couples, but are privy to witness the greater social context in which they occur. There are graphic accounts of abuse and trauma, and real depictions of sadness. There are women and children in somewhat real development, beyond their usual roles in Yaoi as foils, and the characters’ stories intertwine in natural and interesting ways. Overall the pacing is excellent.
Kano’s art style is very unique and Maybe I’m Your Steppin’ Stone is no exception. Her characters have an interesting elongated morphology and an unusual facial frame, which it is easy to either love or hate. To be sure there are some jarring examples of Yaoi Anatomy Syndrome to be seen here, but overall the composition and rendering are good.
The aforementioned women and children also display exaggerated physicality, and are just as well drawn as the men. Unfortunately it can be a little hard to differentiate characters at times because their faces are so similar, which muddies the story.
During the plentiful, hot, and creative spicy scenes, anatomical missteps are nowhere to be found. The action is uncensored and juicy, including foot worship, toys, femoral penetration, and more. Run-of-the-mill this is not, I enjoyed the sexiness of this book the most of just about anything I’ve read recently.
I definitely recommend Maybe I’m Your Stepping Stone for its engaging characters, interesting plots, and delicious sexiness. It is not necessary to have read I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone for this high quality to serve as a great addition to anyone’s collection.
Review by Dot Ringo
In an industry full of every kind of love story imaginable, Juné launches its own original content with a fresh new genre.
The yaoi genre has been defined as the depiction of boy's love written for women by women. It is chalked full of slender, beautiful men with common themes of forbidden love and dramatic romances.
Bara, yaoi's counterpart written by men for men, shows muscular manly men with much less plot driven story lines and a lot more sexual encounters.
The two terms are rarely aimed at the same audience and yet, at their core, come from the same foundation of male-love driven stories.
DMI's president Hikaru Sasahara, known for being a constant innovator in the manga industry, has found a way to join the two genres with the new term "yabara." It may seem as simple as combing yaoi + bara = yabara, but this new genre has even more hidden behind some clever wordplay.
Steering away from the old stereotypes of mature older semes, pretty boy ukes or even just two overly muscular hairy men, yabara will appeal to each and every body type. Race, age, shape, and size will be explored on new levels to appeal and even broaden the reader's experience to the male love genre.
Not only will yabara combine the art styles of yaoi and bara, but it will combine its audiences as well. Yabara content is made for the comic book audience as whole. It's intent is to appeal to all the fujoshi, fudanshi, LGBT community, and indie comic book lovers.
Yabara breaks away from typical plots of both yaoi, known for stories like hidden office love affairs, and bara, known for a whole lot of sex. This genre will bring the male love genre to the masses with modern romances, current events, and true to life tragedies.
Juné's very first yabara title is not only the first of its kind, but it will also be DMI's first originally produced yaoi title. DMI has produced original content once before with the novel "Vampire Hunter D," making it into a manga for the first time back in 2007.
"Eden's Mercy," by Japanese mangaka Velvet Toucher, was announced at Yaoi Con 2016. This title will be made in America and produced in English before it will be later translated into Japanese.
Giving English speaking audiences the opportunity to read works from their favourite mangakas first, without having to wait for translations opens up new opportunities for the otaku world. With the announcement of companies like Netflix putting more money into original content, Juné plans to keep with its own trend by producing original yaoi works from both local talents and Japanese artists.
Over the years our yaoi imprint, Juné, and our yaoi store, Akadot, have lived as separate entities. We are proud to announce that the two have now joined forces to give you the best yaoi buying experience! Juné now offers print, digital, and bundle titles for you to browse and purchase from. Anything from shounen ai to yaoi to 801 Media, we have it all!
Since you are reading this post that means you have discovered our brand new blog as well! Here we will be posting all the yaoi news we can get our hands on. This includes Juné announcements, convention news, anime recommendations, and just about anything within the realm of the yaoi industry.
Want even more exclusives? Join our newsletter to get all the latest information about our sales, titles, and contests. By joining our newsletter, and even checking back on the blog, you will have the opportunity to participate in customer surveys for feedback, suggestions, and restocks.
We would like to thank you for all your loyal support over the years and hope to continue to bring you the best of what yaoi has to offer.
New to Juné? Read more about who we are below:
Juné is a yaoi/boy’s love manga imprint from the California based publishing house, Digital Manga Inc. With its very first publication back in 2004, Juné has been the innovated center for the boy’s love genre in the U.S.
Originally inspired by Junét Magazine, Japan’s very first publication of male/male stories, Juné followed their innovative lead. Taking from the Japanese pronunciation of the French poet Jean Genet’s last name as “Jonneh,” Juné’s English-language published works began.
Over the years, the Juné line has published over 300 print titles and over 200 digitals titles. Now with its shop and imprint fused into one, more and more yaoi is available directly to the fans. This includes manga, novels, digital downloads, news, and many more exciting ventures yet to come.
With the support of its loyal fans, Juné continues to bring over the best of what yaoi has to offer.