The Anti-Social Geniuses Try Out Various Irodori Doujinshi

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Various Irodori Comics titles
A ton of manga are being published nowadays, but doujinshi has been something that’s been coming out on digital platforms a bit more over the last couple years. In particular, Irodori Comics has been pushing out a good amount of self-published works from Japanese artists, and TheOASG had the opportunity to check out a couple of them. We give our thoughts on those doujinshi below.
Mine-kun is Asexual cover

Title: Mine-kun is Asexual
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Isaki Uta
Localization Staff: Ed Ayes (Translator), Time Sun (Letterer), CC Sū (Compiler), Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Helen: Mine-kun is Asexual is a short but sweet story told from the point of Murai, a young woman who is in love with her friend Mine but, while she’s straight and desires a relationship with both romantic and sexual aspects to it, Mine is asexual and uninterested in anything beyond a hug (though he is biromantic). The two of them do give it a go of being a couple, although it’s clear Mine is skeptical that it’ll work and that Murai doesn’t fully understand what Mine being asexual means for this relationship. Or rather, Murai doesn’t yet fully understand how important things like physical intimacy are to her in a romantic relationship.

Ultimately the relationship doesn’t last but, as Isaki Uta shows in a charming, one-page epilogue, neither Muria nor Mine resent each other for it, they can both look back on it as a relationship that simply wasn’t a good fit for them. Normally I don’t like this kind of set-up for a story, where someone outside of a group is the point of view character for a story about someone inside the group, but I think this story could be thought of more as an anecdote in Muria’s life rather than Mine’s story (despite the title). In Uta’s afterword they mention that there’s some overlap between Mine and them, someone who is “leaning towards being asexual” and I could feel that in the text — both Mine and Murai felt like authentic people to me, the kind of authenticity that comes from lived experience.

Helen’s rating: 4 out of 5

I Became Friends With a Delinquent Girl

Title: I Became Friends With a Delinquent Girl
Genre: Slice of Life
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Kuroba Dam
Localization Staff: Nicolina (Translator), Florian Monnier (Letterer), Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Justin: We have a high school boy who’s fallen in love. His problem? It’s one of the school’s known delinquents, Akane Anazaki! Undeterred by this fact, he asks her out anyways, but to Akane, she’s seriously going who the hell is this guy? How will this interaction between a seemingly shy, not confident high school boy and seemingly fearsome high school girl go?

Well, they do end up going to grab a drink together…

I Became Friends With a Delinquent Girl is a fairly simple romance doujinshi. How simple? We go the whole 31 pages without even learning the name of the male lead! Was it accidental? Was it to prove a point? For this first chapter it’s a non-issue. It’s not about him — it’s more like how Akane ends up teaching him the do’s and don’t’s of actually interacting with anyone, and in this case, girls. With pointed examples, she ends up displaying how it doesn’t matter how nice you are, making the conversation about you and you only won’t work. In any relationship, it has to be worthwhile since they’re going out of their way to be with you, so even asking for a date, when the two barely (or never really) interacted with each other, is asking for trouble.

I Became Friends With a Delinquent Girl

Kuroba Dam gets to the point pretty efficiently, and not just in showing how people can interact; it’s also showing how great Akane is. She’s known as a delinquent around school and proves this in two instances in the doujin, but also displays some consideration for said male lead for even going to talk to her. The end of this, however, suggests something between the two that I’m wondering how they’ll eventually find out. As it stands, I Became Friends With a Delinquent Girl is a pretty neat work, and I’m curious about the future stories involving these two.

Justin’s rating: 4 out of 5

Leaper cover

Title: Leaper
Genre: Sci-fi
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Isaki Uta
Localization Staff: Ed Ayes (Translator), Tim Sun (Letterer), CC Sū, Katarina Kunstelj (Compiler), Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Helen: I do have some rather serious questions about how aging works for leapers, a group of people born on February 29th who age both physically and mentally 4 times slower than a regular person and a very small group of which our main character Mio is a part of. Since Mio doesn’t know any other leapers (which I understand as a story choice to reduce the number of reoccurring characters and to keep the story simpler but think that in-story it’s a horribly, unintentionally cruel choice by her parents), her entire life is defined around how she fundamentally moves through the world differently from everyone else which means that these mechanics do have a significant effect on the story.

Despite all of that, Leaper makes the story work as a melancholic, soft sci-fi tale of a girl who never gets to spend as much time with people as she would have wanted and how she has to keep moving forward regardless. While some relationships can thrive in spite of an age gap, the constantly widening one between Mio and all her former peers keeps her from ever truly being comfortable; even reuniting with a childhood friend is awkward as some people unkindly assume that this middle school student and teacher are involved in other ways.

Isaki Uta ends this story in a good place and while I don’t think it would have worked well as a long-running series I do think it could have also worked well as a slightly longer story, say a full, one volume one-shot versus the under 50 page story here. If they ever revisit this story (which seems unlikely since they originally created it in 2008) I’d be interested to see where else they take it.

Helen’s rating: 3 out of 5

I Became Friends With a Delinquent Girl

Title: Riverbed Projector 2: Night of the Lantern Fair
Genre: Supernatural
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Yoimachi Meme
Localization Staff: Ed Ayes (Translator), Tim Sun (Letterer), Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Justin: Have to say upfront, returning back into the world of Riverbed Projector after over a year was tough. That’s mainly because recalling details on story structure didn’t really come back to me. The summary did help a bit though: after Tadashi encountered Sumida in the mysterious Kawazono, rather than choosing to go home he ends up spending time with her and discovering what he can about her and the location. It’s where he begins revealing how he feels about his current mental state, and not even Sumida revealing the truth about his school circumstances sways him.

The art still remains as gorgeous as ever, especially when showing off backgrounds, but it does feel like the story kind of slows down here. Not saying it can’t, and it is necessary that these two characters actually talk to each other. In fact, we learn more about Sumida (we even get her full name, Hotori Sumidagawa), and their interactions in this chapter seem nice. But I couldn’t help but feel like we got some questions either left unresolved or resolved fairly blandly (like what happened at school that left him unable to leave his house).

Then on top of that, there’s something troubling approaching at the end of this one, and with a few new characters showing up. What’s happening in Kawazono that will impact everyone and everything around it? It’s tough to say since the story is still ongoing and this chapter was short, but while a fine read, I don’t think I was as satisfied compared to how I read the first chapter. It not only had a lot going on, but it left some intriguing cliffhangers. Can’t say the same for this one.

Believe the moral of this story is it might be best to read Riverbed Projector when it’s all complete, or in my case, re-read the first chapter again.

Justin’s rating: 3 out of 5

This Is Love Part One cover

Title: This Is Love (Parts 1 and 2)
Genre: Romance, BL
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Ziki Masaya
Localization Staff: Itsuki (Translator), Tim Sun (Letterer), Katarina Kunstelj (Compiler), Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Helen: There is a 12 year age gap between Ichiro Fumihara and Kei Higashi, employees at the same company who have been a couple for the past 18 months, which I didn’t realize that before I started reading. Long time readers here will know that I typically try to avoid large age gap romances, especially ones with the added dynamic of having the older character in a position of power over the younger one (in this case, Ichiro is a team lead to Kei); neither of these details are portrayed as concerns in their relationship (and they are both adults) but it’s still a trope I just don’t like and don’t think the story stictly needed it to succeed. 

Even beyond that detail, I felt like creator Ziki Masaya was more interested in the general concept of “a romantic relationship between two unlikely men” than they were in, well, actually creating one! I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not but Kei, despite being described as straight every single time, to me read like a demisexual/romantic character since every single relationship he has had involved him only starting to feel any kind of feelings for his partner after he was already dating (versus an immediate, visual attraction) which reads like a textbook definition of demisexuality to me.

At the very least I was surprised the series didn’t bring up the idea that he might be bi, since he is now dating a man, but again, Kei and Ichiro’s relationship feels rather flat. In some ways it felt almost asexual, since Ichiro didn’t seem that concerned with not having sex or even a lot of physical intimacy with Kei, something that can be a deal-breaker between an ace and allo in a relationship so I’m stumped at the idea that two allo characters would be so uninterested.

With all of that in mind, this story felt more like an experiment on the idea of romance than an actual romance and for me that just didn’t hit the mark. Even in two parts (I have not read the recently released third part), making it twice as long as all of the other doujinshi I read, it still didn’t feel like Masaya built a strong enough foundation both between and of the characters to get me to buy into this relationship. Ironically, if both Kei and Ichiro had been in their early 20s I may have bought into the relationship more since this strangeness could have been more easily written off as “youthful inexperience in their first, serious relationship” but as it stands there are simply more satisfying BL stories out there to read instead.

Helen’s rating: 2 out of 5

Arrested Love

Title: Arrested Love
Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy, Romance
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Seiju Natsumegu
Localization Staff: Ed Ayes (Translator), Tim Sun (Letterer), CC Sū (Compiler) Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Justin: It all started on her way to school for Arigaya, when she ran into a yakuza member distributing candies on Halloween. One look and him handing her a bag of candy ended up contributing to her eventually falling for him. We then jump to an unknown period of time where she ends up meeting said yakuza member, Todoroki, with a gun pointed right at him.

Oh, should probably mention Arigaya’s now become a cop huh…?

Arrested Love is fun stuff, though as per usual, it’s one of the many works where it should just drop the teasing and get these two together, somehow. The obvious issue is both actually do love each other, but due to their positions won’t ever be able to say so. The most you’ll get is both internally expressing their admiration for each other, Torodoki spinning off him accidentally saying he loves her in a vague enough fashion so she nor anyone else can catch it, and Arigaya trying her best to maintain her fierce, professional tone while melting inside at his way of words.

While the humor is pretty solid, the art is what struck me a lot in this read. Comedies don’t always have to be great in that department, but how each character looks and their various expressions enhance each moment they happen to be in. We see the words and they can work, but then seeing the head of a yakuza group become embarrassed alongside those words make it super hilarious. So all of that makes this doujinshi a worthwhile read.

Now if only we can just stop leaving cliffhangers, I’ll be real pleased! (this is just me personally rebelling at how this one ended, where’s the next one???)

Justin’s rating: 4 out of 5

Mermaid in the bottle cover

Title: Mermaid in the Bottle
Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: Irodori Inc
Creator: Isaki Uta
Localization Staff: Ed Ayes (Translator), Mercedes McGarry (Letterer), CC Sū (Compiler), Zhuchika, On Takahashi (QA)

Helen: Siblings Takeru and Ayumi discover a mermaid trapped in a bottle of cosmetics their mother plans on selling and both are taken aback by this, although perhaps not as much as you would expect them to be. Since you see, the mermaid isn’t just a mermaid — she’s also a metaphor for Ayumi and the way that Ayumi carelessly uses up the water in the bottle, without regard to how this may kill the mermaid, is supposed to be a reflection of how Takeru avoided seeing the problems plaguing Ayumi during their high school years.

It’s a very clumsy metaphor and added on top is a little bit of incestual, one-sided love so this story really didn’t work for me. It felt like a rough story, much rougher than Uta’s other works here, with the delicate art being the only saving grace for the story. It wasn’t what I expected going in and I think the concept could have used a lot more reworking before it was published.

Helen’s rating: 1 out of 5

Review copies of each doujinshi were provided by Irodori Inc.

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