Play Boy Blues Volume 1

Distributed by Be Beautiful and Central Park Media

Story and Art by Shiuko Kano
Genre: Romance/Drama
Rating: 18UP
Pages: 224
Price: $15.95

Reviewed by Jon Minners

Yaoi manga is exploding giving women a reason to enjoy the manga art form as much as men do without the big robots and scantily clad women.  Be Beautiful, a line of Yaoi manga distributed by Central Park Media, is the lead producer of what can be surmounted as the Queer as Folk of manga.  The company continuously releases material at a rapid pace, satisfying women’s literary needs.  The latest in the series is Play Boy Blues, which the company is touting as a wildly erotic romantic comedy. 

Play Boy Blues 1 is a wonderful example of Yaoi manga, in that the characters are beautifully illustrated, and that their world is one which revolves around an erotic sensibility,” said Masumi Homma O’Donnell, publisher of Be Beautiful.  “This is a book that is playful and provocative, and as such, it is an excellent choice for any first-time reader of Yaoi manga.”

The story focusing on a cast of male gigolos working in an exotic nightclub that caters to affluent women.  Selling one’s body at Japan's most popular Host Club comes naturally for Junsuke Aki.  In fact, he is the club’s top performer and earner and is easily the most popular Host with the female clientele.  However, his lover, a former Host named Shinobu Hishiya, has forsaken the wild club style in favor of his new job as a construction worker.  Together, they share wild days and passionate nights, making love whenever, wherever and however they want.  But when jealousy and male pride rear their ugly heads, their blissful, sexy relationship may not be able to handle the strain. 

The story is quite different.  I liked the fact that it was set in a world where you would think men would enjoy being with women, but if you think about it, the whole storyline makes complete sense.  What guy, who could probably have any girl he wanted, needs to sell himself to women all day; hot beautiful women with lots of money?  Damn, that sounds like a good job, but it would make sense for gay men to proliferate the industry and made for a perfect setting here. 

The illustrations are top notch.  All the characters are crystal clear; their movements, their interactions…um…the things that they do.  Yes, there is just a lot of sex in this book and it is of the same sex kind…and strangely, characters have full blown conversations while having sex, which seems odd, because I can’t even pay attention to the television set when I make out with a girl.  Strangely, for the few seconds I could glimpse the page, the sex seemed to be depicted in a classy manner, despite some of the crass dialogue strewn throughout. 

The interactions were genuine.  I don’t know what some of the stereotypes are of the gay culture, but when I was reading; some of the things going on; some of the emotions, actions, dialogue is very much the same as in any heterosexual relationship.  So, for those who ever went through the jealousy, the insecurity, the awkwardness, the pettiness; well, it’s the same for everyone.  Anyone can relate. 

All that being said, the story just didn’t do it for me; it was just there.  I just couldn’t get into the characters or the drama between them.  Yea, romance just doesn’t suit it for me when it comes to my manga.  The previous titles I reviewed had some action to keep me interested or some family drama that made me sympathetic.  This is just not suited for me and I guess rightfully so, since I am a dude and this title is more for women.  If you’re me, titles more akin to Alias, 24, Supernatural, Smallville, OC and Prison Break suit me, but if you like shows like Queer as Folk or The L Word, go out and pick up Play Boy Blues.  Women…enjoy!!


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