This April OyatsuBox celebrated its 2 year anniversary, and they made sure to do so in style! As always, I received a Premium box priced at $30 including shipping, which comes with 10-14 snacks. When I first reviewed OyatsuBox back in March 2014, which may have even been their first shipment, and I can wholeheartedly say that two years later they are still one of the best Japanese snack subscription boxes around. Watch my unboxing video to see exactly what was in the anniversary shipment, and read on for more detailed photos and thoughts!
Welcome to Chic Pixel’s first ever drama CD review! While I’m sure some of you are familiar with audio dramas, it’s an area of nerdy Japanese media that generally gets much less coverage than anime, manga, or video games, so allow me to provide a little background information before I dive in. I’m not a huge expert in this area myself, though, so feel free to chime in with any additional information you might have in the comments!
While many existing media properties often get audio drama reproductions or spinoffs, there are also original drama CDs marketed toward women known as otome-muke, or just otome drama CDs (that’s the same otome as otome game!). In these CDs, often one or more voice actors will speak to the listener as if you are actually there, making for a rather… intimate experience. There are also otome drama CDs with multiple characters that do not necessarily involve the listener, but Noble Lily: Boku no Fiancée is in the former category, so that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
The premise of Boku no Fiancée is that you, the daughter of a duke, have been betrothed to a boy named Bernard Walden (voiced by Itsuki Katou aka Ishii Kazutaka) since you both were young. Now that you’re all grown up, you’re soon to be wed, and it’s time to sort out your real feelings for one another.
If the title of this post didn’t make it clear, this is an adult romance CD, so it’s recommended for ages 18 and up and includes sexual material. Obviously this is all in the form of one-sided audio, as Bernard is the only voiced character. But still, despite doing a thesis on boys’ love manga and having reviewed BL for Chic Pixel before, talking about a CD where half of the audio is kissing and sucking noises is somehow extremely embarrassing. But I shall persevere!
Head to the official website to hear a sample of the audio but be warned, the second clip contains those erotic noises I mentioned earlier. Like many otome drama CDs, this one is best listened to with headphones so you really get the sensation of an anime boy whispering in your ear.
I didn’t actually read up on the premise of Noble Lily: Boku no Fiancée before adding it to my wishlist, but as my first full 18+ otome CD, I was pretty happy with it! Bernard is a bit of a tsundere type who obviously cares for you but is somehow too stubborn to let you know until the final tracks. To be honest, I was surprised at how much of the audio focused on sexy encounters – the 3 longest tracks on the CD are pretty much entirely devoted to that, with only some short situational padding in between (the CD clocks in at 76:86, and a whopping 53:02 is said encounters).
The first encounter features you and Bernard sneaking into his older brother’s room to surprise him (why an 18-year-old would think this is fun, I don’t know). Of course, you get yourselves stuck in the closet while his brother and his fiancée have some romantic alone time… then, after watching them, Bernard decides to emulate what he saw with you. This is definitely portrayed as both your and Bernard’s first times, making this CD even more embarrassing to listen to while washing the dishes.
The older brother also has his own CD available, presumably featuring the sex scene alluded to in Bernard’s story, but aside from that these are the only CDs in the Noble Lily series. Though it is all really just an excuse for some exciting sexy audio, I quite enjoyed the focus on nobility – there’s even a ballroom scene!
If you can’t tell, I’m having a really hard time writing this review without any caveats (I’m not that weird! I promise!), but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any fun. I’ve generally stuck to all-ages otome CDs in the past, and while I think I still prefer them, Noble Lily: Boku no Fiancée turned out to be very cute despite the fact that I wish there was a little less simulated sex. Personally, I find it hard to take seriously… But if you’re a fan of tsundere characters and would like to give Noble Lily: Boku no Fiancée a try, you can purchase it on Amazon Japan!
Ever since I first review the OyatsuBox Japanese snack subscription service back in March 2014, it has remained one of my favorite services on the market. That’s why I’m extra excited to announce that I’m partnering with the folks at OyatsuBox to offer you monthly reviews, starting with the February 2016 premium box!
I was surprised to see that a lot has changed since I first reviewed their service back in 2014. But I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so first, let’s take a peek at what’s inside…
Ever since I found out there was a cat café in Brisbane called Cat Cuddle Café, I’ve been dying to go. Numerous trips to Japan over the past 14 years have enabled me to experience my fair share of Japanese cat cafés, but an Australian cat café? Now that would be a first! But could it possibly compare to the amazing cat cafés of Japan?
Japan Crate was kind enough to send me their very first Doki Doki Crate, a new subscription service for fans of all things cute! I was extremely impressed with their Japanese candy subscription box when I reviewed it back in September, so I was very excited to see how this kawaii box compared. Let’s take a look!
When I first saw the cover of Man of Tango, I was sure it had to be bara, or gei comi, a genre of manga distinct from boys’ love (hereafter BL) due to it usually targeting a gay male audience rather than women. The author, Tetuzoh Okadaya, however, is most definitely a woman, and more importantly, she was explicitly approached by an editor to write a BL story, which resulted in The Man of Tango. I’m always excited to see BL that shakes up the genre (that’s what I’m writing my thesis on, after all!), so her unique style combined with her comments about being inspired by bara visionary Gengoroh Tagame had me very excited to see what The Man of Tango had to offer.
The Man of Tango is a one-shot manga about the life of tango aficionado Angie, a man that despite his deep passion for dance has never been able to awaken his true spirit, nor find a life partner. But since this is BL, all that changes when he meets Hiro, a nondescript half-Latin, half-Japanese businessman who soon finds himself drawn in by Angie’s charms. Angie reminds Hiro of his home and youth, but not all of his memories are positive. Hiro soon finds himself opening up to Angie in more ways than one, simultaneously being drawn into the mystical world of tango and gay romance.
First, I have to point out that The Man of Tango does a lot of great things that you don’t see in BL very often. Aside from the love-it-or-hate-it art style, it’s one of the few BL stories I’ve read that prominently features a female character who isn’t being used as a catalyst for disaster between the male couple (usually in the form of a third love interest, jealous ex, etc.). Instead, Angie’s tango partner and roommate Bene is a warm, appealing female supporting character, which is most welcome as a breath of fresh air in the otherwise male-dominated BL genre.
Of course, the other major draw of The Man of Tango is in the subject matter. It’s clear that Tetuzoh Okadaya appreciates the art of tango, and I felt like even I learned something about the art, or at least had a greater appreciation for it, by the end of the story. I also loved the fact that both of the male protagonists are older, with Angie being in his late thirties and even sporting some facial hair (though I suppose you could say that’s a Latin stereotype). The story is also appropriately mature, though it borders on dark, especially when delving into Hiro’s childhood, so those looking for a happy-go-lucky romance may find it too heavy. Personally, however, I really enjoyed the more mature themes.
It’s the fact that The Man of Tango does so much well that makes the areas where it stumbles all the more frustrating. I am never a fan of the “but I’m not gay!” line appearing in BL, but The Man of Tango takes it to an extreme by also having Angie take advantage of Hiro when he is drunk (see above image), making Hiro’s subsequent revelation that he has feelings for Angie and has already engaged in X-rated activities with him not romantic in the least. Not only did Angie’s sexual advances on Hiro when he is inebriated make me dislike him, but Hiro’s constant “I’m not gay, but I like you!” admissions felt especially juvenile when compared to the other issues the story tackles, which made me dislike him, too. So, in the end, while I enjoyed a number of the overarching themes of the story, both male protagonists were obnoxious and the story did not convey the feeling of a great, timeless romance by having a relationship building out of a non-consentual first sexual encounter. I’m not saying that non-consentual sex has no place in a mature storyline, but in this case, it just wasn’t handled in a satisfactory manner (in fact, it wasn’t even regarded as non-consentual by any of the characters).
The Man of Tango may not be for everyone, but I still think it does a lot of interesting things and I hope to see more from Tetuzoh Okadaya in the future. Most importantly, let’s see more older protagonists, mature themes, female side-characters, and interesting art in BL! I just hope we can move past non-consentual sex and “only gay for you” shenanigans sooner rather than later.
Disclaimer: A copy of the manga was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review