Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rise of the Stealthy Seme

With all due respect to Fujoshi and Fundashi with fetishes that can never change, but not all Seme need to be big shouldered with big muscles and even bigger voices. They don't have to be stern or angry or overtly pushy. I know Iason Mink is not all of these things. I'll leave him out of the mix for this argument, so more of you may listen to what I am proposing. More and more mangaka and novelists are realizing this and crafting characters that are so complex and subtle that it is hard to spot the Seme in the room. Conversely, the uke are no longer all timid and quivering. This is very refreshing, and to me a far more interesting read. Who wants to read what is the same story over and over again? It also never made sense to me why such strong and uncompromising characters would be interested in the timid and weak willed. This sort of attraction always smacked of Seme that aren't really the incredible lovers they were purported to be. One might argue – and more than one has – that these Seme are being protective. If that is the case, what IS up with the raping and over all physical abuse? That's real protective. And it's real manly of someone who is often twice as big as the uke. And no, that horse will never be too dead for me to stop beating.

Where was I? Ah, yes. With all these changes, how do you spot the Seme in a manga or anime? It's still easy enough. It's all in the personality. A Seme is a catalyst for significant action in a story. He's doing stuff, and usually that stuff is ahead of the curb of everyone else. He has irresistible charisma or force of personality that gets even the hesitant to do his bidding. That is NOT the same as being able to bully someone into obeying. This is the ability to make what they want to do so compelling that everyone – not just the uke – feels they must to it. They are self possessed in general. This can manifest itself in a couple of ways. Either the Seme is supremely confident of their personal abilities or they know what they want from life. Sometimes, it's both. The main thing is that the Seme brings order to a uke's life as well as love. Sometimes that is actual protection in some fashion and other times it's personal fulfillment. To bring this kind of order, a Seme MUST have control of himself as a person. Also, a Seme doesn't have to be the one always pitching sexually. He's brave enough to know what he wants and have it.

And it's time to play 'Whose Your Seme?' Some of these shows are yaoi, some of them have tons of shipping or fans creating doujinshi. Let's begin with fans Starfighter webcomic. Everyone and her uncle thinks that Cain is the Seme because of his rambunctious greeting of Abel early in the story. He certainly seemed to be have his way with Abel whenever he felt like it. But Cain does not have enough self-possession to be a Seme. He can barely keep himself in check enough to keep from fighting his fellow gunners at the drop of a hat. Meanwhile, since their first mission together, it's becoming more and more clear which one of this pair has more self control and more control over the relationship. Abel kept Cain from starting a fight with some snots that really needed a punch in the face and then there is this line during the last mission: I'm not going to let them hurt you. Given what they were facing, that's a pretty badassed Seme line to me!

I've debated about Whose the Seme a number of times but never more than with the debut of Free! IwatobiSwim Club. It is an anime (not yaoi) show with five really hot and interesting male characters who have an intense dynamic between them. The shipping began before there were trailers explaining what the show was about (basically, the adventures of a newly formed high school swim team who are trying to overcome past problems and make it to the national competition). Most everyone agrees that the show's lead hottie, Haruka Nanase (Haru) and the most recently recruited member of the team, Rei Ryugazaki are uke. Where I diverge from most is who the Seme are. The popular wisdom had Haru shipped with his closest friend and neighbor, Makoto Tachibana (one of the most complex and compelling Seme I've ever seen) and former friend and rival Rin Motsuoka While I agree that Haru and Makoto are a couple (probably for all of their lives – it's a 'till death do we part pairing), Rin is not a Seme. He has no clue who he is or what he wants. He has no self-control. All he could bring to a uke is turmoil and misery. He tried mightily to bring that to Haru as well as his own Kohai, Nitori Fortunately, Haru has a Seme that brings order and peace and love to his life and other loved ones that bring him happiness. And if Rin is not Haru's Seme, he certainly is not the big Seme for this series. That honor goes to the most stealthy Seme of all, Nagisa Hazuki . Though shorter and more cherubic, Nagisa possesses all of the traits of a real Seme. He was not only the catalyst behind the return of the high school swim club, he was also responsible for recruiting a highly reluctant Rei, the vitally important 4th man that allowed the team to move forward. He is responsible for getting the highly reluctant coach to help them. He is always rallying them when they need it most and making things happen through sheer force of will. And he is ever protective of his team. Give him five years, and I daresay that he could go toe to toe with Iason Mink himself as a Seme. Note: In the photo below, I've aged Nigas to the age of his older teammates to give an idea of the Seme he is on his way to be. Rei had better brace himself(forgive my crude artwork)Note: In the photo above, Nigasa has Rei gleefully by the collar. That day will come faster than he realizes that Nigasa will want more from him than a butterfly stroke. Rei already has trouble refusing him.

Finally, I think these changes to Seme are wonderful, because it has caused the rise of the Dangerous uke. The uke of Tightrope and Ikoku Irokoi Romantan and Tyrant Who Fall in Love could not have existed if these tropes had not changed. That kind of change is truly a beautiful thing. Observe: 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book Review - His Beautiful Samurai

I am not one for stories that mix timelines (past and present) or anything that remotely smacks of the paranormal. Thus, I went into this story with a lot of trepidation. Oh, how wrong I was! Sedionia has a gift for sparking lightning in a bottle!

Book Review - His Beautiful Samurai by Sedonia Guillone Ai Press - 

This novel about a serial killer terrorizing an old neighborhood in Tokyo begins in the Edo period of Japanese history with the intensely felt though thoroughly doomed love affair between two Samurai and its tragic, brutal outcome. Suddenly, the reader is in present day Tokyo where a killer has been killing couples in doomed affairs the exact same grisly way with a katana that could have only come from a swordmaaster from that distant era! There are clues from oldest part of that cosmopolitan city that point to a modern day killer with a macabre flair for the distant past. However, one by one their most promising suspects are cleared even as the victims pile up. The press is having a field day with this Ronin Killer. Even lead Detective Toshiro Genjin is beginning to believe that the killer is unstoppable. Adding to the insults from the press, his Captain accepts the assistance of psychic, John Holmes to help solve the case. Toshi knows that there is much more to John Holmes' talent than a parlor trick. From the first touch, both men know that there is something that will not be denied that will further complicate the case, endanger their careers and put their lives at grave risk.

Sedonia Guillone creates an absolute marvel of suspense and terror mixed with heart pounding romance and toe curling eroticism in His Beautiful Samurai. Through well drawn out and full realized characters, she draws the readers into the lives and loves of people from vastly different times and walks of life. All of them ring very true and all of them are compelling. The lives of the Shogun's Samurai from Japan's Edo period are as believable as that of the modern Tokyo police detective. This is very important, because when the more fantastic elements of the case are brought forth via John Holmes, they are also believable. The murderer could be a jilted lover with some knowledge of ancient Japan and access to some really nasty artifacts or in could be something far more frightening. It all works.

And let's not forget the romance between Toshi and John. It is so moving and tender while being white hot at the same time leaves this reader a breathless, heart pounding puddle of goo. These guys are so incredibly strong and stalwart while being remarkably vulnerable. They are swoon worthy with the first touch. The careful construction of these worlds and characters allows the reader to just get absorbed in the place and time and let the story take them over. It was so hard to leave that world for even a moment that I devoured the book in one sitting. I cannot wait to read the sequel!


Characters: 10/10
Each and everyone from Toshi and John to the most minor characters are very well drawn and absolutely believable.

Plot: 10/10
The series of killings from past to present is well thought out. The plot twists work very well in this carefully constructed universe. Nothing seemed arbitrary.

Sex: 10/10
White hot and tender and emotionally moving and completely character driven. There is no 'insert random sex scene for every X number of pages.' It's all organic to the story and the characters.

Overall: 10/10

To Read Excerpts or Purchase go to -