Weekend Reads: Asian Magical Realism, Survival Thriller, & Sapphic (Yuri) Manga

Have I mentioned recently how fucking glad I am that Friday has arrived? Even better, how this horrid month of messy stress shall be ending shortly?

Aside from my summer class, which I have been liking quite a bit, June has been a sour lemon in my cheek thus far. Emotionally and mentally, I have been feeling utterly exhausted and pushed to the limit. Both my mind and my body are completely prepared to box this month up until 2020. Although, in all honesty, there is a second aspect to June that I have been enjoying: the reading.

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“Oh, the bromance is so shweet.”

Most of the novels that I have read this month have consisted of things that were rather pleasant, and a few of them were research materials for my current dark fantasy novel-in-progress! While the main biblio focus was supposed to be on tackling my unread Book of the Month titles (going slower than a drunken snail), feeling motivated to keep writing no matter how my anxiety fluctuates has impacted my bookish shenanigans in awesomely surprising ways. I’ll take that as a sign of good things to come and not worry about the things that didn’t happen, at least not yet.

As I glanced at my calendar this morning, I realised that I still have one more week to get my arse into gear for the month’s reading challenge that I wanted to partake in a few weeks ago. So, I’m going to spend my weekend and most of this upcoming week playing catch-up with the BOTM Summer Challenge! The first BOTM novel that I read, I fricking adored to bits. The second one is a current read that I’ll chat about in this post and it’s also been absolutely riveting. These great experiences are making me excited to shift into the sixth gear of conquering the monthly challenge that I set my brain to! The following two books are on my hit-list for the remainder of this challenge. The last title is a sapphic (yuri) romance manga series that I would love to read before PRIDE month ends.

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Described as being the perfect novel for fans of Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, this mystery magical realism novel is set in a fictitious town outside of Tokyo, Japan, where the story revolves around Ren Ishida who learns of his sister’s violent death shortly prior to completing his graduate degree. As he processes through this tragedy, he eventually finds himself taking his sister’s newly vacated teaching position at a local prestigious cram school so that he can learn about his sister’s mysterious life and the events that led to her devastating demise.

I’m currently one-third of the way through it, and it has been wickedly difficult to put down. There is something almost voyeuristic in reading about the way Ren has been dealing with this sister’s death and slowly taking up her life with the hope of unravelling the mystery of who she was. If it keeps at it, it’ll be on my Best Books o’ 2019 list.

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

I don’t know much about this horror survival thriller novel besides it being compared to Indiana Jones meeting the X-Files. I go weak for action-adventure stories and ever since I watched The Descent with Sir Besty (OMG THAT FUCKING FILM), I have had a morbid sort of masochistic interest in survival thrillers, although I can only engage with them in small batches to keep my own phobias under control. When I contemplate what the love-child of the two would be like, I start to feel thrillingly intrigued. I’m going to raise my mug of Milo to the anticipation of not being disappointed with this book.

Girl Friends by Milk Morinaga

This is a short seinen, yuri romance manga series about two young ladies. One of them—Mariko—is a bookish, introverted type who is extremely shy and tends to keep to herself. The other—Akiko—is a colourfully extroverted and sociable girl. Akiko wants to help Mariko to come out of her shell in order to enjoy more of life. Yet, the more time they spend together, getting to know one another, the more their feelings evolve, blossoming beyond the essence of friendship.

One of the reasons that I don’t read a lot of yuri manga—especially being gay and probably knowing that I would relate a lot to the romance of it—is because so many of them are overtly sexualised. As an asexual person, this can make me extremely uncomfortable. I don’t mind graphic sex or things like that, but when shite is just sexualised for the sake of fetishizing them with nothing else going for it (whether it’s straight or Queer), it tends to get boring very quickly or just not be interesting to me at all. However, I’ve heard some amazing things about Girl Friends, and I want to become more open-minded with the yuri genre. This is my gateway into that.

With all of that being said, my fellow manga and yuri readers out there: if you know of any yuri manga that has genuine romance that isn’t just some über fetishized nonsense—something with a good story and positive relationship portrayals—can you drop them for me in the comments so that I can check them out?? As I mentioned, I don’t mind sex as long as there is more to the tale than just two people (or more) boning like bunnies. I’d be super, super grateful to you.

If you’ve read any of these titles, or if you’d like reviews for them, lemme know in the comments and I’ll make sure to schedule those into my July blogging docket (yes, I have blogging dockets; I blame my brother who showed me their beauty, and thus, turned me into a proper dweeb).

Have a fantabulous weekend, chums!

Thank you so much for visiting me today. I appreciate the support! Until next time, keep reading and keep otakuing. 

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7 thoughts on “Weekend Reads: Asian Magical Realism, Survival Thriller, & Sapphic (Yuri) Manga

  1. You rang for yuri reccomendations? Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers) has lesbian, and bi-sexual representation. While not perfect, not fetishizing and does pose the real questions and explorations of sex and sexuality in Japan. It has an English version under Viz Media, Viz Signature collection.

    Next is “My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness”, written by a lesbian for lesbians. An exploration not only of sexuality, but of emotions and morality as well. It has a sequel written in the same fashion called “My Solo Exchange Diary”. Very insightful, and I remember taking the time to read the first title over a few times to really understand and compare to my own experience. Published also in English by Seven Seas Entertainment.

    (Also I swear I’ll eventually make better comments then just recommendations. ;;-;; I feel like that’s all I’ve written to you about lately.)

    • There’s nothing wrong with recommendations! I love recommendations haha. Thank you for the ones you’ve shared. I’ve heard about Aoi Hana’s bisexual rep, but didn’t know it also had lesbian rep; that’s great.

      My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness!!! Yes, I had completely forgotten about that, thank you for reminding me. I think I saw the sequel floating around my library and could never find the first part of it. Definitely putting a hold on that asap.

  2. On the yuri front, both After Hours and Octave have explicit scenes but do the romance without fetishization. I don’t believe Octave had had a Western release yet, but After Hours definitely has. Meanwhile Shimanami Tasogare: Our Dreams At Dusk features characters from all across the rainbow, including a happy lesbian couple.

      • You’re very welcome. It took me ages to find some yuri that I really enjoyed, largely because I didn’t want it to be focused on the physical stuff. That and I was looking for stuff about adult characters rather than being in a high school setting.

        • I really like Devils’ Line manga series (anime was horrible). It’s not straight Yuri, but it is one of the most diverse and inclusive manga I have ever read. There are asexual characters, gay and lesbian characters, and much more. Those things aren’t sexualised either and I’ve never come across a manga series like it. It’s also for adults, not kids.

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