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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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06/17/2008 Archived Entry: "Yaoi review: Yakuza in Love (volume 2)"

Yakuza in Love (volume 2)
Story and art: Shiuko Kano
Publisher: Deux Press
ISBN-10: 1934496200
ISBN-13: 978-1934496206

Review by Cat

I cannot deny that I was absolutely thrilled to get my paws on the second volume of Yakuza in Love. I was a little concerned that, as with many trilogies, it might fall victim to the dreaded "saggy middle" syndrome. Well, has it?

For a review of Yakuza in Love (volume 1), please click here.

This second volume of the three-volume Yazuka in Love furthers and deepens the events in this labyrinth-like world of Yakuza politics and personal interactions among clan members.

I don't know how other reviewers do it, but I'm too nervous to summarise this volume because it's so tied to volume 1 and, definitely, volume 3. I will try my best, with hope that I won't have to lay my neck on a wooden block for spoiler-hating readers.

The relationship of Ichimura and Saikya isn't fully explored, even though their emotional and physical needs are finally met. In a way it comes as a surprise because I think I had expected more.

Then again, I must recognise that it's clear from the start with volume 1 that the story isn't all about them. The story revolves around almost them all including Ogawa, Azuma, Hanabishi, and two new characters, Issei and the Doc who could be seen as the man with a long memory.

Even so the focus is mostly on Junki Ogawa who's, as I said in previous review, is a psychotic little dog that clearly doesn't care if he'd live or die. Junki has deep feelings for his mentor, Chihiro Karasuma, whom he seems to understand he can never have. Why? Their history becomes clear with the unexpected inclusion of a side story in this volume.

In spite of his unrequited love for Chihiro, he's having a seemingly dangerous affair with a certain member of the rival gang. At first it seems it's a Romeo-and-Juliet scenario, but it becomes increasingly clear that it's not all what it seems. In fact it may have put Junki's life in danger. Junki almost died before, but will he die for real this time? What will Chihiro do now that he finds out what's happened to his charge?

Around this time, our hero Aoi Ichimura's past is partly revealed through unexpected sources. While all these discoveries whir around him, he finally finds something in himself to become what he's meant to be. This moment of 'Let the true colours shine through!' is, I have to say, unique.

When the story ended, I felt both cheated and miffed. Mostly, cheated. I think it's because volume 1 focuses entirely on the story and yet volume 2 devotes only half of its book length to Yakuza in Love. OK, it isn't, really, as it has a YiL side story, Liar, but still. It's a little like someone lent me a DVD with this impression the whole movie would be on it when in fact it contains only half of it. It's like that for me with this volume. *pout*

Then again, it does give you an impression that your patience will be rewarded because there are enough hints in this that the show down might take place between the emotionally damaged Flower gang leader, Hanabishi Toru, and our clueless hero in love, Aoi Ichimura, who both don't realise they have something seriously significant in common.

How will it all turn out for them all in the end? That's what kills me because I want to know. Now. When I reached the last page, I admit I whined, "What, it's already ended? Oh, for f**k's SAKE! When is volume 3 due out? ...September? How many months will it be? *mental counting* Two months? No, three months... *whine*"

In other words, Yazuka in Love 2 hasn't fallen victim to the dreaded 'the middle that goes nowhere' syndrome, which is a relief. However, for readers who expect more on Ichimura and Saikya's relationship will be disappointed, but I do believe they won't mind because the story as a whole still has a lot to offer.

To be honest, I think in this volume, Ichimura and Saikya's story are overshadowed by Junki Ogawa and other characters because their stories seem more dramatic, intense and, in a way, tragic. However, it does feel as if Shiuko Kano did this to justify the showdown that might come with volume 3. How 'citing.

Liar (side story)
An oneshot-length flashback to the day when Junki Ogawa's feelings for Chihiro Kurosama were born and the night when Junki was born to become what he's now.

Although there are some hints in volume 1, this oneshot reveals the history between Junki and Chihiro and these three events that left deep impact on their lives that they, as hinted in volume 1 and 2, still struggle to recover from.

As this story took me into their past, I felt a big twinge of sympathy for this little psychotic dog and felt, unexpectedly and weirdly, less sympathetic towards Chihiro, even though I'm sure this isn't meant to be. I suppose while his logic doesn't make sense, it does. For him, anyway.

I still think Ogawa is a sociopath, but, well, with this side story in mind, Junki's actions in the main story hold kind of emotional weight this time. I mean, with volume 1, I thought he was a dog that clearly needed to be put to sleep for the sake of everyone's safety, but after this story, I think he's a dog that needs a good hug.

Well, I would give him one if I was allowed to put on a full armour for my own safety first.

Saved (oneshot)
Sixteen-year-old high school boy Kohei Usamoto is pissed off. Misaki, whom he feels obliged to protect because in his eyes she's a fallen angel needs saving, apparently has a sugar daddy in form of a married guy. He decides to do something about it. Like, confronting this sugar daddy who seems to be taking advanage of his poor Masaki. Silly Kohei, because he has absolutely no idea what he's taking on.

Two, one word: Crack. It's a comedy. It's a comedy about love and sex, basically. No romance. Well, in Kohei's head, there is, but there isn't, really. I honestly can't say any more than that because it's short and, well, there's naivety and there's naviety. It has to be read to believe.

All these stories would be rated as light-to-medium yaoi and, as stories go, enjoyable to different degrees. Both Yakuza in Love stories, the main story and the side story, contain graphic scenes of violence and sex, which justifies the 18+/mature rating. Saved has a light sex scene that heavily relies on comedy.

All in all, this second volume is, although not fully satisfying, a fun read, but I'm happy that, as a trilogy, Yakuza in Love is standing up well so far. I look forward to reading the final volume.

Replies: 1 Comment

Hey Catya! I'm sorry you feel cheated. I'm picking up my copy on Friday. Gotta wait till I get paid. Blast that thing called money! I just thought that I would share with you that this series in its Japanese form is actually only two volumes so were it released that way here you would already know what happens! I have fallen in love with Shiuko Kano's work and can't wait to pick up this volume. I hope that it clears up the muddy story line that I was confused with in the first volume. I also can't wait for the release of the second volume of Kiss All the Boys. It is too awesome as well!

Posted by Kris @ 06/17/2008 07:14 PM PST

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