Well, I lasted a week. I’d actually found my local Book Off — the chain of secondhand media outlets with impressive(ly cheap) manga sections — on my second day here, but held out until the weekend. I’ll pretend it was because I am a virtuous and patient person, but it was really because every time I passed by it, jetlag made me want to go home immediately and sleep for twelve billion years instead. Yes, even the sweet temptation of thumbed-through manga could not compel me.
That feeling wore off quickly.
I visited the Book Off with two fellow gaijin friends — neither of whom are aware of my, uh, preferences. For boy-on-boy smut. Those preferences. Anyway, as we trawled the store’s top floor, full of shelf after shelf of shounen and shoujo manga with not a glimpse of yaoi in sight, I was considering blurting out what I was really looking for there. That was until one of my friends crept up to me, her voice lowered in a half-horrified, half-salacious whisper: “Oh my god, all the obasan on the 3rd floor are reading BL!”
Thought the First: So all the yaoi is on the third floor? Rejoice!
Thought the Second: It’s segregated from all the other manga here? Boooo.
Thought the Third: Those obasan are way cool.
Thought the Fourth: Uh, how long have I been standing here awkwardly?
What Actually Came Out of My Mouth: “Haha, why deny them their middle aged pleasures?”
This earned me a slap on the arm.
I finally snuck off to Book Off’s 3rd floor by myself, and definitely not in the manner of a guiltily excited teenager buying their first packet of condoms.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that on the 28th of every second month, the new serialised chapter of Viewfinder by Yamane Ayano is released to the BL-reading public. And as good fortune would have it, the 28th of this month was a Sunday — which meant I wouldn’t be tempted to skip work on a weekday to buy it. (Yes, buying it would have taken all day, once you take into account the trembling anticipation, the long commute to a bookstore large enough to stock it, the period it takes to summon up the courage to take a copy of Be-Boy Gold up to a male cachier etc etc).
Another truth is that when you’re abroad, nothing ever goes quite according to plan.
On Saturday I took the bus to my local Starbucks and simultaneously re-caffeinated and caught up on work I hadn’t finished during the week. By the time I got home it was dark enough for the neighbourhood’s stray cats to be pawing hopefully through the garbage. I went online and wasted an hour or two before I remembered the preview of tomorrow’s Be-Boy Gold should be up on the publisher’s website. But I couldn’t find the preview.
What I did find was much, much worse.
There, in stark letters, it said that Be-Boy Gold magazine had been released on the 27th of October. That is to say, that day. That day I’d spent buried under work when I could have been reading the new chapter of Viewfinder I’d been waiting six months for!
After an embarrassingly long period of writhing and wringing my hands and messaging my friends with variations of “OMG OMG OMG”, I talked myself out of taking a late train to Shinjuku or Shibuya to pick it up. I resolved to stick to the original plan: go to Ikebukuro, to the flagship Animate store, and buy a copy there. It might not have been on release day, but I was still in the right damn country for once.
It was raining. Of course it was raining. The last time I visited Ikebukuro it was raining hard enough to drown a fish as well. I’m basically going with the theory that Ikebukuro has a localised climate stolen from the British Isles.
When I reached Animate (and singlehandedly managed to strew the entryway with loose carry bags for my umbrella because I’m just that talented), I immediately spotted the newly-released issue of Be-Boy Gold. Which was kinda anticlimactic, I’ll be honest. There’s nothing like a search for something, seemingly in vain, to make the prize all the sweeter.
Pretending to be changing the music on my phone, I snapped a covert picture.
That was shockingly easy too. In Taiwan, the Animate clerks watch the customers like starving hawks; as soon as you pull out a device capable of photography, they pounce on you. But maybe because it was a Saturday and the retail assistants were overrun with school kids making the most of the weekend, I got away with it.
This particular Animate also has a decent selection of Studio Ghibli merchandise, and I picked up a gorgeous Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) card.
Now I just need someone to write in it and send it to me. Or not.
Chapter 6 of Pray in the Abyss surprised me, because I was kind of hoping to see Sudou Shuu’s brains splattered against a wall of Asami’s choice. But that’s not what happened — what did happen I’m planning to summarise, chibi-style, later in week.
Hopefully. If my work doesn’t eat me. In the meantime, join me in ogling Intensely!Disapproving!Asami. (This is my new favourite expression of his).
Oh, and the rest of this issue was pretty jam-packed with other awesome manga-ka, including Ike Reibun (with a continuation of Bi no Isu!?), Nakamura Asumiko, Kazuma Kodaka and Kuku Hayate.
(Note to Future Self: Next time, bloody double check the bloody release date of Be-Boy Gold so you don’t waste a whole precious day doing productive work instead of sneaking off to buy p0rn).
That’s all for this month! Join me next month for more fujoshi hijinks in Yaoiland~
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