Monday, May 19, 2014

Gunji by Gengoroh Tagame

Quick Rating: A+

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb: Gengoroh Tagame is one of the greats in the manga scene. Up to now, most of his works have been published exclusively in Japanese. Bruno Gmunder is proud to present Gunji in English for the first time in his gay manga series. Also included: Ballad of Oeyama, a short story by Tagame.

Review: The Bruno Gmunder English language release of Gunji contains a four part story called Gunji and the oneshot Ballad Of Oeyama. 

These two stories are pretty different from other Gengoroh Tagame manga I've read. Gunji was originally published in Kinniku Otoko, a magazine chock full of BL/yaoi type muscle men stories. That said, there's an emphasis on romance over pornography, along with textbook BL nods, BDSM, and gay elements.

Gunji is the story of a runaway masochist sushi chef whose owner comes to collect him from the new restaurant he's been working at. Lots of violence, pain, humiliation with a splash of twisty dark obsession involving a shop family's son where Gunji used to be a sushi chef apprentice. Ballad Of Oeyama is the retelling of a Japanese legend put in terms of prejudice and being open to new experiences. 

Although both stories really knocked it out of the park imo, I most enjoyed the afterword where GT discusses his thoughts about creating content for a magazine whose readership and authorship is made up of about half women. He also mentions the difficulty of depicting hair color between races, an element GT updated in his completely revamped edition of Ballad Of Oeyama.

So. If you were left skeptical after reading Endless Game and/or Passion like me, and still looking for a nice mix between muscle men and standard BL fare, definitely give this one a shot. The price is steep, but you get some amazing content and color artwork... especially the right flap, which is a full color depiction of Gunji. Drool worthy. Yum!

My one detracting comment would again have to be about the handling of SFX. The English is placed on top of the Japanese SFX with a large, distracting stroke around the text, obscuring much but not all of the original SFX. The translations are not very useful either, typically a literal romanisation of Japanese onomatopoeia like [GAT... ...T!].

Disclaimer: none

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