Boku wa Imouto Ni Koi wo Suru Volume 4 (Manga) Review

Rating: 4/10

Plot: Iku and Yori start high school apart, and that’s not all that’s changing. Tomoka has somehow managed to get accepted to Yori’s school, and she has every intention on winning Yori’s heart. Iku and Yano have started new jobs as wait staff at a restaurant, despite Iku’s inability to do anything without destroying everything. Iku is doing her best to save money for trips to see Yori, but a new problem has emerged. Yano has fallen in love with Iku and declares war on Yori for Iku’s heart.

Breakdown: I will admit that the first chapter starts out fairly well. In a sitcom manner, Iku goes to where Yori lives to visit him just as Yori goes back home to visit Iku for their birthday. The comedic back and forth between both Yori and Iku and Yano and Yori is nice, but it’s quickly ruined.

Iku, the easily lead dumbass she is, goes to a hotel room with Yano under the excuse of them getting something to eat, which they can’t do in a restaurant with Inu!Yori. She chows down then passes out in his bed because of course she does. I should mention that Yano was teasing Yori on the phone by saying if he didn’t get there soon he’d start doing perverted things with her. This seemed like innocent teasing between friends until he lead her to his room….where he proceeded to lick her ear as she was sleeping.

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“I’m not dumb!” *proceeds to be dumb*

 

Knowing this series, I can bet if Yori hadn’t burst into the room shortly after, he’d probably molest her much further. Looks like my predictions on his character being ruined from subtle hints in the OVA may have been correct. So far, he is the most likable character, though, outside of Nakamura. I don’t know what that says about the quality of this series.

When Yori arrives, he puts the ring on Iku, but they can’t even do that simple gesture without making Yori into a possessive creepy jackoff. The instant he puts it on her, he calls the ring a ‘collar’ and says he bought it so that other men would stay away from her. He even seems to state that Iku is so dense that she probably doesn’t realize their relationship is incestuous…..

Well, that was a chapter alright……oh, yeah, it ends with Yori pretending to start to rape Iku as she pretends to sleep. Aw, how romanticreepy.

The next chapter, thankfully, doesn’t go any further than him licking, sucking on and biting her finger. We’ve gotten to the point where that’s restraint…They have some nice banter again, this time about the gifts. She loves her ring, though feels guilty that all she got him were some miscellaneous items you could buy at a drug store like a shampoo hat and an ear cleaning kit….Though, again, they even have to make that creepy, because we then see Yori getting a hard on because Iku’s cleaning his ears. I know there are many fetishes out there, to each his own, have at it….but none of them, zero, should involve ear wax.

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I think you’re far too filthy to be cleaned at this point, Yori.

Surprisingly, again, though, despite the temptation, the chapter just ends with the two sleeping on the floor.

The next chapter opens with Yori and Iku showing each other how they look in their new school uniforms through email and Yori fumbles with trying to take a picture of himself with his phone. Ah, the good ol’ days when ‘selfies’ weren’t a thing.

Again, starting out cute and innocent enough. Iku is attending a high school with basically everyone else she was with in junior high such as Yano and Nakamura. Meanwhile, we get a twist in Yori’s story when Tomoka suddenly shows up stating her father transferred to the area recently and, using her connections to Yori, somehow (since he’s the only one who passed the entrance exams) she was accepted into the academy.

She quickly tries to get her mitts all over him, though Yori wants none of that. A blackened text bubble indicates that Tomoka’s not giving up so quickly, though…..

….Okay, Tomoka was a bit bitchy before and undoubtedly possessive….but this whole job transfer is fishy as all hell. If I wanted to be this paranoid, it sounds like Tomoka somehow coerced her parents to move there when she found out about Yori’s decision, somehow screwed with the exams to get her entrance, then she could take advantage of her close proximity to Yori to rip him from Iku.

If that’s even slightly true….holy shit….that is some soap opera level insanity.

 

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Yori in the top left has one of the most real and severe condescending expressions I’ve ever seen. It’s like he’s telling her through his eyes that’s she’s trash to him.

 

The rest of the chapter is pretty benign. Iku has conflicted feelings about Tomoka not going to her school, but she’s unaware Tomoka is at Yori’s. They meet a new girl named Mori, though I haven’t gotten a good hold on her as a character yet. They note her strong personality, but if anything she comes on a bit too strong for me. Finally, we get more indication that Yano is romantically interested in Iku.

Next chapter……You remember what I quoted in volume three? ‘Iku, who cannot do anything.’? I always thought, despite evidence to the contrary, that such a statement couldn’t be completely true. Iku has to be competent at something. She doesn’t get great grades, she’s needy and dependent to the point of a vague mental disorder, she’s clumsy, she’s incredibly naive, she has no backbone, she doesn’t seem to have any talents – but she has to be competent somehow.

No, no, not really.

The start of this chapter has Iku getting a job as a waitress at the restaurant Yano works at. I assume he pulled strings to get her hired because she….cannot do….a God. Damn. Thing. She can’t take orders, listing off tons of foods when the customer merely ordered one thing. She can’t carry a tray of food without dropping it because it’s heavy and hot. She can’t bus a table without breaking every dish on it. She can’t wash dishes without breaking them. She cannot complete a single waitressy task without a complete disaster.

She, rightfully, gets fired, but Yano saves her job since their boss is desperate for the girls that Yano is attracting to the place and he threatens to quit if she goes.

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She’s great at being terrible.

Despite getting her a job and saving her from getting fired, Iku treats Yano like crap just because he playfully teases her every now and then (She doesn’t know about his true creeper-ness at this point) She tells him to go away and says she’ll ignore him, except when he asks about Yori because Yori is the moon, sun, stars and earth beneath thine feet. You’re kinda lead to believe Yano’s being a bit pushy here, but apparently Yori actually asked him to escort her home because she’s just too much of a naive dunderhead to come home on her own too.

Iku has gotten this job because she’s trying to save money to pay for the train fare for her and Inu!Yori to visit Yori, despite him saying he’d pay her travel expenses.

The chapter actually goes fairly well for the most part. Yori longs for Iku, Iku tries her best to work hard to get to Yori on her own and Yano’s not being a creeper either….but of course we can’t end the chapter without something creepy and terrible happening.

Iku tries her best at her job when, of course, a fat, disgusting, sweaty pervert comes in. He purposely spills his water so Iku will lean over the table to clean it up, and, when she does, he gropes her boob. Iku freaks out, spilling food all over him. He pretends he didn’t do anything and becomes outraged that his supposedly expensive clothes are ruined. Yano tries to intimidate the man and defend Iku, but Iku’s boss believes the customer and demands Iku pay for his clothes and apologize or else she’ll get fired.

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Everything about this page makes me angry.

She gives in because she has to keep the job to visit Yori, and she ends up losing all of the money she saved, making her start all over again. Even though, again, Yori said he’d be more than happy to pay for her travel expenses. After the incident, Iku starts crying and calling herself an idiot, and Yano suddenly hugs her, much to Iku’s surprise.

End chapter.

Let me be clear and state that I don’t blame Iku for what happened nor am I mad that she didn’t stand up for herself and tell this pervert and her unsympathetic boss to fuck off. I am, however, annoyed at why she buckled.

Other than some sort of weird sense of pride or something, Iku has no reason to want to keep saving her own money to visit Yori if he’s financially capable of paying her way. Her paying the pervert and apologizing is basically her saying she’s fine with coping with the random groping pervert and doing horribly at this job to save money that she doesn’t really need just so she can snort a couple hits of Yori to get her fix.

The next chapter starts with the continuation of the hug, which is brushed off rather quickly as Yano cheers her up and then gives her some playful ribbing. Yori suspects that Iku is starting to like Yano since she brings him up in conversation more and more, which makes sense considering they both go to school and work together. Iku completely denies it, however. Yori is fed up with Iku trying to work and get the money to visit him, so he decides he’ll get a job and visit her instead….

Wait, I thought he had no money troubles, which is why he offered to pay for Iku’s travel fare whenever she wanted. He didn’t seem to have trouble buying that seemingly expensive ring or visiting home at the start of the volume. Now he needs a job?

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I do love the back and forth between Yano and Yori when they’re not being creepy assholes.

He tricks Iku into believing he’ll get a job as a host. When Yano visits him to see what’s up, he discovers Yori’s actually a gas station attendant. They spend the rest of the day on amusement park rides and teasing each other when, on the Ferris wheel, Yano drops the bomb on Yori that he likes Iku. The rest of the conversation is not shown, but Yori doesn’t seem to react much and the next page doesn’t show a newspaper headline of ‘Teenage Boy Viciously Murdered in Ferris Wheel’

The next day, Yano gives Iku a bracelet he got at the amusement park that has a little Inu!Yori-esque charm on it and tells her Yori got it for her, when that’s not true. He’s about to tell her what they talked about and the chapter ends.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……This volume has gone on way too long without something horribly creepy and borderline rapey happening. Oh whatever will I do if this volume ends without me feeling the pure darkness of hatred in my soul?

The final volume starts with a continuation of Yano and Yori’s conversation. Yori takes his confession extremely well. He doesn’t get mad, he doesn’t even react much at all. Yano says he’s not backing down and he’ll declare war on Yori for Iku’s heart, and Yori accepts his challenge with a non-threatening smile. Half of this scene is done in comedic chibi-style, by the way. Quite the contrast between this and how he acted around Nakamura.

Back with Yano and Iku, Yano drops the bomb on Iku that Yori told him that their relationship is incestuous. Iku flips out in panic, worried she won’t be able to be with Yori anymore, but Yano says he’ll keep her secret.

He’ll keep her secret……

Under one condition……….

She has to love Yano. She has to be his. She has to give all of her love to him.

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Why do so many guys want this girl so badly? I can’t wrap my head around it.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have finally broken out into creepy sexual abuse blackmail!

Yano is completely serious about this threat, physically intimidates her and even licks her neck to get her to agree to it.

Do I need to replace the hair sniff counter with a lick counter?

To Iku’s credit, she does slap him, refuses his advances, says she hates him and storms off into the house without agreeing to his terms. It seems Iku does have a backbone if you threaten her Stockholm syndrome.

And that’s the end of volume four. Final thoughts?

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It’s actually the most tolerable volume so far, and that’s probably because Yori’s away from Iku for most of it so he can’t be a creepy pseudo-rapist. However, Yano, despite being the most fun character, is pushing the gas pedal on his creepiness, peaking with, of course, the blackmail.

Iku continues to be a huge ball of dependency issues, now compounded by an unwilling dependence on Yano since she literally cannot do a damn thing for herself, but she impressed me in the finale a tiny bit.

Story-wise, this volume doesn’t advance much. Iku and Yano get jobs, they all start high school, we get a brief glimpse at Tomoka who seems to have gone rogue, but the only important progressions are Yano admitting to Yori that he likes Iku and the blackmail. By the way, I know all’s fair in love and war and stuff, but blackmailing Iku into a relationship isn’t fair in this little competition they have going. If she ever does show affection for him or start dating him, it will be because of the blackmail not because she legit loves him.

Plus, having a competition for Iku’s heart just further trivializes this whole situation and turns Iku into a prized possession……and she is actually described as a possession in the final chapter. Lovely.

It’s a damn shame is all. Yano and Iku would actually make a fairly good couple if Yano didn’t devolve into this creepy son of a bitch. I almost feel like this competition is less for Iku’s heart and more to see who can be the creepiest asshole.

So, how will this blackmail go? Will Tomoka turn out to be an even bigger major bitch? With Yano out-Yori Yori? Will I ever figure out why anyone would be attracted to anyone in this story? Find out next time on the manga I wish I weren’t reading!

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Animating Halloween: Yami Shibai 4 Episodes 3 and 4

Episode 3: Sewing Shears

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Plot: A woman moves into a cheap new apartment and finds a talisman with sewing shears stabbed through them underneath the floor boards. She discards them, but everything has a purpose.

Breakdown: This one was completely cliché from start to finish. Find a creepy artifact in an old house and throw it away. Gee I wonder if that won’t piss off some spirit and get her killed.

They even throw in the fakeout dream for good measure. It’s here where the live action shots really start seeming silly. The shot of the talisman and shears were enough, but when she picks them up, it’s on the side of comically juxtaposed besides the regular art and animation, which does seem much less animated than it usually is. Considering this is basically an animated paper puppet show, supposedly animated using Powerpoint, that’s pretty damn bad.

I will say the spirit is a little creepy, but nothing too fantastical in design. Like many times over the course of this whole franchise, I’m really left wondering what the backstory is behind this whole thing.

Episode 4: Red High Heel

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Plot: A businessman has gotten out of work late and nearly ends up having to walk home when he’s able to hail a taxi. He finds a bright red high heel in the back and asks the driver if one of his last customers dropped it. The driver quickly tells him to throw it out the window. The man is confused at the driver’s request until he hears footsteps outside of the door.

Breakdown: This one was a little clever but disappointing. The twist surprised me a bit, but the ending was out of nowhere and the narrator’s laugh at the end was out of place and seemed awkward. What about that was funny? Or so scary you’d laugh at the audience for being scared? You literally tossed a dead body at our faces then laughed.

I think it would’ve been more clever if the driver was the bad guy. Say the woman was his last victim come back to haunt him because he’s really a serial killer. Or have her try to warn the businessman about the driver, then have the big end-of-story twist be the driver killing him or turning out to be a demon or something. What we got was a ‘twist’ that was really just a sad random circumstance that I guess the narrator thinks is funny. *shrug*

AniManga Clash! Boku Wa Imouto Ni Koi o Suru (Volume 1)

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Plot: Yori has been harboring a secret his entire life; he’s desperately in love with his twin sister, Iku. One night, he finds he cannot control himself anymore and kisses her on the lips in her sleep. He starts to go further with his desires and quickly finds her awakening to the shocking and confusing feeling of her brother molesting her body. He declares his love of her and tries time and again to prod her into a physical relationship and falling for him as he has her. Obviously, the taboo and utter confusion is a lot for Iku to bear, but under the threat of losing her brother forever if she doesn’t reciprocate, she decides to slowly start giving into him.

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Geez, why did this manga show up on my radar so soon? For those who haven’t read the anime review yet, let me sum it up; Iku’s a doormat, Yori’s a creepy emotionally manipulative rapist and, spoiler alert, incest is a social and religious taboo.

I can still see the fumes from my anime review. And hoo boy the manga is not anywhere near better so far.

The manga actually starts out with Yori molesting his sister in her sleep, which is a major mistake to me and something the OVA actually has over the manga. In the anime, there was buildup to him eventually giving into his lust. Here, we’re just thrown into it. Also, he basically jumped Iku during an argument when this happened in the OVA, which is bad, but not as bad making out with her and groping her boobs as she sleeps.

Yori sniffs Iku’s used bath water. Just throwing that out there.

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After Yori makes out with Iku in her sleep and she wakes up, he throws his love declarations at her and starts to force her into sex. This is all within chapter ONE.

Well, at least he admits his screwed up feelings to her right off the bat…..not like he could avoid it after she wakes up with bro-tongue in her mouth.

Just like in the anime, Iku is giving in to his romantic advances because she feels lonely without her brother. It’s a fear of losing him not love that is fueling her romantic responses. Made all the worse by the fact that Yori seems to give a vague threat at what he’d do without her. Implications can go anywhere from him simply leaving to him killing himself.

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Yori admits to Iku early on that he’s dating Tomoka and even pushes his and Tomoka’s relationship further to combating Iku’s jealous behaviors and to avoid suspicions of them being together. So, nice, Yori. You force yourself on your sister, basically trap her into a romantic entanglement and then blow up your relationship to another girl to push Iku away and make yourself look better to other people. You truly are an asshole. And a coward.

At this, Iku gets upset and Yori’s only reaction is to smirk in shadow congratulating himself since this is seemingly proof that Iku really likes him now. So is the manga just accepting that Yori is a creepy fuck who is manipulating his sister and being an overall asswipe?

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Yori: *in class afterwards to Iku* “Why are you sulking? Why are you being so much trouble?” Why are you such a vile bag of anus?

*later, at home, right as Iku’s about to get in the bath* *Yori corners her by slamming his arms around her to the wall* Yori: “I can’t forgive you. You don’t have any right to ignore me.” Iku, run the fuck away. Get as far away from this emotionally puppeteering fungus as you can. Please.

More forced kissing….with looming threat of their mom coming in. She even says ‘No’ and he forces her to keep kissing….

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Yori: “I’d rather put a collar on you.” Eh, BDSM stuff is nothing given the subject mat–

“You wouldn’t be able to run anywhere. Nobody would take you anywhere. Definitely stay by my side *sniffs hair*” RUN THE FUCK AWAY, IKU. WHILE HE STILL HASN’T GONE TO PETSMART!

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Iku: “Mom, can’t I help you with something!?”

Mom: “What? You must be feeling bad all of a sudden!”

Dad: “I’ll stop giving you allowance!” Your daughter wants to help you with stuff and you threaten to take away her allowance? What is this household? Why is everyone crazy?

Iku is saying this because Yori freaked her out with that collar talk and hair sniffing, so Yori gets upset that Iku is getting upset and marches off to his room. Oh wow. What a surprise that the sister you just sprung your romantic feelings on and you’ve been playing emotional Jenga with for a few days is having difficulty acting normal about you kissing other girls, forcibly kissing her with your mother mere feet away, and criticizing her kissing technique to boot, threatening to keep her on a literal leash and sniffing her hair on more than one occasion. What a weirdo IKU is.

Okay, I really need to make a ‘Yori sniffing Iku’s hair’ tally, because he does it a disturbing amount of times. I’ll assume it’s up to at least five by now.

Hair sniffs: 5

Yori: *while getting it on with Iku “Because I love you….I can’t make myself stop.” I think that’s one of the official credoes of rapists.

Yori: “This time, I definitely won’t let you run away.” Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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“If you really say ‘no’ this time, I won’t stay by your side. I don’t want to hurt you.” Proof that Yori is manipulating Iku based on her dependence on him. She can’t stand the thought of not being with Yori to the point where she’ll fake being romantically interested in him to keep him around. Her jealousy with Tomoka earlier was, like I said in the OVA review, moreso her jealousy that Tomoka is threatening to take Yori away not that she’s a romantic rival.

Also, all of this culminating together, he’s basically saying he’s leaving if Iku doesn’t return his feelings, because he’s afraid he’ll rape her. Because “he’s at his limit”. So this is, literally, word for word what I said about him in my anime review. He’s more in lust with Iku than he is in love.

He seriously told Iku to lose some weight? She’s a flimsy shoujo stick. Putting this in the ‘more emotional manipulation’ jar.

There she goes sleeping with Yori for the sake of keeping him from not going to the faraway school. She wasn’t really considering it before the news hit, and the whole time she’s panicking over her fear of being alone.

And, like before, the sex scene is very awkward because she keeps panicking and seeming very scared, even implying in inner monologue that if she didn’t do it with him, he’d leave, insinuating that she’s doing this purely to keep him around. It’s even more uncomfortable that he’s giving her orders while they’re in foreplay.

Admittedly, she does imply in her thoughts that she’s getting hot and sexually responsive, but that really could just be simple biology. An attractive guy is half naked and making out with her. I’m not sure if the Westermarck effect stands firm in tamping down sexual attraction if said person is initiating sexual contact. I’d think, in spite of the blood and emotional/childhood connections, the body would respond to the stimulation either way. Also, keep in mind, Iku seems to be new to all of this. Yori just stole her first kiss and I doubt she’s ever tried self-pleasure methods.

Shall we keep powering through this sex scene? To Yori’s credit, Yori says the sex doesn’t mean anything if Iku doesn’t love him, but also ignores her repeatedly saying ‘no!’ and ‘stop!’ which already turns this into a rape, and he actually says ‘I understand that she’s scared.’ I understand that my sister is scared and completely uncomfortable at my sexual advances, but I’ve waited long enough for this so imma keep going.

Let’s get more uncomfortable; “I can’t stop. I won’t stop. Reason has left me. I’m running on instinct. Even if Iku is crying….I’m probably a really cruel guy. Even though Iku’s face looks like this (scared out of her mind and crying) I think that she looks more and more cute. Iku….are you scared? She’ll definitely say ‘I’m scared’ with that sweet voice. It will make me more passionate. More of that sweet voice. I want to see more of her sweet face. Even if she says ‘I’m scared’ I’ll probably continue.

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WHY DOES ANYONE THINK THIS SERIES IS ROMANTIC OR SWEET? This is CREEPY. This is FRIGHTENING. This is A CREEPY RAPIST RAPING HIS TERRIFIED SISTER.

And you know what else? Iku actually says she’s not afraid and Yori stops because he knows she’s not being sincere. And he’s right. She said it, of her own admission, because it’s what he wanted to hear.

My problem is that he was getting more and more pent up the more scared she looked and the more she cried. The instant she smiled and accepted him that’s when he went soft and stopped altogether. Some people might say that’s because Yori legitimately wants Iku to love him before they do such a thing, and I think even I gave him props for that in the OVA review, but given all of the inner monologue we got in the manga, I’d actually say it seems more like he was disappointed that the situation went from a near rape to consensual. Especially with that line of saying he’ll get more passionate if he her hears her say she’s scared.

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You could argue that he just wanted to hear her voice, but considering he stopped because of her accepting it, that can’t be true. What’s the matter, Yori? Her smiling face with open arms not as sexy as her frightened face with her arms crossed and tears running down her face? Her ‘sweet voice’ saying ‘No, I’m not scared. Do it.’ not as much of a turn on as ‘No! Stop! I’m scared’? You are a seriously creepy son of a bitch, Yori.

Also, this is proof that he can indeed control himself. He just doesn’t want to.

Yori: “Hurry up and love me, idiot.” Hurry up and fall down a flight of stairs, you creeper.

Hair Sniffs; 6

He sticks his finger in Iku’s mouth then licks the spit off it….ughughghghg.

Alright, near the end of the volume, Iku starts acting more like she’s legitimately falling for Yori, but I’m still kinda calling foul because much of her inner monologue seems to focus on how she’s getting turned on by Yori through his scent and whatnot. That coupled with her desire to never leave him might be construed as love, but I’m not really buying it.

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I still believe Iku’s just gotten to a point where she’s confused biological lust and a fear of being separated from her brother with romantic love. In pretty much any other situation, this might be fine. Typical teenager discovering her sexuality and learning about herself, but in this situation, given how forceful and manipulative Yori is and the possible ramifications of their relationship, this can be much more damaging than usual. At least it’s technically more consensual now, but given how the relationship started, I can’t ignore how unhealthy this situation is.

ROUND ONE WINNER: ANIME

Yeah the anime actually wins this round because it had a better start in building up tension, the art is basically identical and somehow I actually think Yori is less creepy in the OVA at this point than manga!Yori is. At least his first sexual advance on Iku was when she was conscious…..

Part 2: Yori and Iku fight, Iku finds herself a boyfriend after finding out Yori has slept with her friend Tomoka and things continue to be creepy.

Flowers of Evil (Manhwa) Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: Seh-Joon and Seh-Wah are extremely close twins. So close, in fact, that they’ve developed a bit of a romantic relationship. When their closeness catches the attention of their classmates and people start suspecting that they are more than close siblings, Seh-Joon panics and essentially cuts off all physical and emotional closeness with his sister. Devastated, Seh-wah tries her best to get him back, but Seh-Joon will have none of it and tells her to find other friends or a boyfriend to focus her attention on. While Seh-Wah is not interested in the least to be with anyone besides her brother, she finds herself slowly getting closer to their old childhood friend, Sung-Chan, who has renamed himself to Gi-Hoon. But the fire of this love is far from snuffed out, and everyone’s set to burn in the flames.

Breakdown: I swear I didn’t plan a damn near back-to-back incest feature in here.

This is a highly praised and rated manhwa from Lee Hyeon-Sook, but I gotta admit, as much as I got into following this series, I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as most people seemed to.

I know this series is called ‘Flowers of Evil’, but there is a significant lack of people you end up truly caring about. Everyone in this series is seemingly an asswad at some point in time or just as a whole. Oddly, the most unlikable character through much of the series, Seh-Wah, and her creepy dependence on her brother and simultaneous cold demeanor towards others, ended up growing the most in her learning to let go of Seh-Joon, though not entirely, as time went on. I can’t say I grew to fully like her, especially since she kept flip flopping between moving on and clinging to every bit of affection Seh-Joon threw out, but she was one of the higher ones on the list.

Sung-Chan comes off as creepy several times over the course of the series, though some of his creepier actions are more understandable when his story is explored near the end.

Even Seh-Wah and Seh-Joon’s father has a moment where you think he’s a complete douche. The story doesn’t make it clear, but he may have let a small boy die or purposely killed him for the sake of giving one of his organs to his kid.

Seh-Joon is the one who comes off the worst here, and as time goes on you can pretty much tell that it’s supposed to be that way. However, like Seh-Wah, it becomes incredibly irritating when he flip-flops back and forth between pushing Seh-Wah away, almost cruelly in some instances, and reeling her back in again.

For example, he invites his girlfriend over so they can make out in front of Seh-Wah and seemingly bring her into his room to have sex and when Seh-Wah has a massive mental breakdown at this, he shoos his girlfriend away. Essentially, he used her to mock Seh-Wah and push her away even more even though Seh-Wah, at this point, was already breaking away and moving on with Sung-Chan.

While I get that he’s just jealous, it’s also very annoying when he gets pissed at Seh-Wah for so much as being slight friends with Sung-Chan when he picks up a new girlfriend immediately after cutting Seh-Wah almost entirely out of his life.

Another weak part of this series is that, despite being built around the strong love the two have for each other, we never really learn why Seh-Joon and Seh-Wah love each other so much. Basically, Seh-Wah just says and acts like she’s hung on everything Seh-Joon has said and done throughout their lives while Seh-Joon might be so close to her because he fell in love with her shortly after she fell ill as a child. Their interests are never well-explored except Seh-Wah has a love of horror movies and literature and both are pretty stone-faced and overall expressionless throughout much of the series. It keeps telling you that they’re in love, and they say pretty things to each other while showing physical affection, but we never get a good understanding as to what it is about the other that they love so much.

Sung-Chan brought up a very good point that Seh-Wah is likely confusing sibling possessiveness for romantic love, and Seh-Joon is probably doing the same considering that this seems to have started after Seh-Wah fell ill. His fear of losing her may have culminated in a possessiveness and protectiveness of her that he himself is confusing for romantic love or has mutated that way.

Seh-Wah offers a theory to Seh-Joon and states that some people believe male-female fraternal twins are the spirits of lovers reincarnated. She expresses this as a beautiful and romantic theory, but Seh-Joon points out the very obvious downside of this as lovers being unable to be together in their next life since it’s taboo for siblings to be romantically involved.

Oddly, the two other pairings in this series were more interesting in regards to connection and development than Seh-Wah and Seh-Joon. After he cuts Seh-Wah off, Seh-Joon hooks up with a girl who has been vying for his affections for some time, Su-In. At first, they seem to legitimately care about each other, even seemingly hooking up a little before the whole ‘Incest is icky!?’ revelation Seh-Joon has, and he does try to get her back when he goes too far in his frustration with his relationship to her affecting his relationship to Seh-Wah, but there are several aspects of it that show signs of a relationship that would never work.

Su-In seems to be at Seh-Joon’s beck and call, even allowing her grades to drop significantly due to how much attention she’s putting on her relationship. I don’t know entirely why. She really seems like a sensible girl yet she’s letting herself be yo-yo’d by Seh-Joon and is also trying to monopolize her own attention by being with him as much as possible. Really seems like she was being set up to be one of those cautionary tales of smart girls who have a bright future then throw it away for some guy.

While she does seem to really care for him, his caring for her seems lukewarm at best throughout the series to the point where it becomes obvious that the whole thing is just meant to be a barrier between him and Seh-Wah. He treats her like a tool several times and I was almost disgusted that he tried to get her back after slipping up and venting on her like that. Yeah, I’m sure any girl would love to take back a guy who described sleeping with her as ‘sickening’ and something he’d never want to do again.

The other relationship at focus here is Sung-Chan and Seh-Wah. At first, Seh-Wah really doesn’t give a crap in a can about Sung-Chan, even forgetting that they used to be childhood friends. Slowly but surely, Sung-Chan is able to crack through Seh-Wah’s hard outer shell and catch some glimpses of her human side.

Likewise, this relationship helped Seh-Wah grow as a person and break away from her reliance on her brother. While Seh-Joon’s actions were still bothering her throughout the entirety of the book, she was able to deal with it better as she grew closer to Sung-Chan. I really liked their relationship and wished that the story had gone the way of the twins actually learning to let go of their attraction and attachment to each other while finding love elsewhere.

Now, one could argue that this isn’t really a story of love but of obsession and possessiveness masquerading as love, as we explored before. However, while that is definitely a factor, there is still some stock to Seh-Joon legitimately being in love with Seh-Wah.

He greatly fears them being unable to be together at all if anyone saw them being romantic with each other, which is why he starts this whole separation thing to begin with. He still keeps tabs on Seh-Wah and protects her from a distance, but completely bars them from even being a little close. And yes, it apparently took him until he was 16 to realize that being in a romantic relationship with your sister is not socially acceptable and is a religious taboo. Also, he’s Catholic, so we get the weight of his sins being the forefront here several times.

Another pointing to Seh-Joon’s legit love of Seh-Wah is when Seh-Wah tells him the story of a boy who was loved by all and one day he fell in love with a woman. The woman couldn’t betray her husband, so she left the boy. The question left by the story is whether it’s preferable to be loved by all or by one. Seh-Joon says his answer is simple, he’d be loved by one. However, he states that would be impossible. It’s implied that he believes this to be impossible because the only one he truly loves is Seh-Wah and they could never really be together.

Also, there’s more indication that maybe Seh-Wah wasn’t in love with Seh-Joon anymore by the end or maybe at all when she seeks out help from Sung-Chan in her time of need instead of looking to Seh-Joon like she normally would.

Now for some ending spoilers.

While you could say it was a complete accident that Seh-Wah died at the end, I feel like that’s a bit too easy. Of all people, why would Seh-Joon be the one to forget that Seh-Wah needs to take medication on a daily basis? Medication that keeps her alive? Seh-Wah had a heart condition when she was a child and she needed a heart transplant. However, the transplant gets attacked by her immune system if left unchecked, so she takes medication to combat it. Seh-Joon took her to live in the woods with no medication for several days, maybe weeks, and didn’t think to even try to get some?

Keep in mind, the reason that Seh-Joon was so attached to Seh-Wah was because he was traumatized by her illness as a child. Thinking she might die at any moment and being physically separated for months at a time, he became insanely protective and possessive of her. You’d think that would be the best reminder ever that she needs to be diligent with her medication. And hell, he takes similar medication because he also had that same heart condition, albeit much milder.

I almost want to say that he planned this and wanted Seh-Wah to die so he could kill himself and they’d live together forever in the afterlife, but I also have to take into consideration that Seh-Wah herself never said a damn thing about her meds either. So I guess I just have to chalk this whole thing up to bad writing.

It’s especially weird when Seh-Joon says her passing was God’s way of punishing them for sleeping together and giving into their forbidden love. She never would’ve died had they just taken some medicine from home before leaving. Their parents were probably at work when they decided to run away, so they had plenty of time to get that life saving medication from home. Hell, their dad is a doctor so he probably had a big stash of those handy. This whole thing is dumb.

That being said, I do like how they wrapped up Sung-Chan and Seh-Wah’s story. Like I said, she reached out to him in her time of need, which, ironically enough, was her feeling trapped and scared by Seh-Joon whisking her away to their grandparents old house for who knows how long. She tried to text him but he couldn’t answer because he was in a coma after Seh-Joon tried to beat him to death with a rock. When he saw that Seh-Wah’s last actions were trying to reach out to him one more time, it proved to him that she may have been thinking of him over Seh-Joon, though Sung-Chan could, sadly, do nothing to help her.

Seh-Joon killing himself at the end was probably the only way to go with that, and it is realistic considering how obsessed he was with Seh-Wah and how much pain he was in when they were apart. Though I do find it odd that Seh-Joon was never arrested for nearly murdering Sung-Chan. At the very least, he conceded something to Sung-Chan in the end by giving him Seh-Wah’s phone.

End of ending spoilers.

I suppose the last thing I really have to address is the actual aspect of the incest angle. I’ve seen several manga and anime with incest being one of the main points of the plot, because it’s just a thing apparently, with the most infuriating, to date anyway, being the recently reviewed Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wa Suru. Like this manhwa, that anime had a very possessive and creepy male sibling struggling to restrain his feelings for the sake of maintaining an illusion of normalcy and avoid the harsh stigma of social judgment.

Unlike this series, however, the sister in that situation seemed forced into the romance. Like this series, it could be that she tricked herself into believing she had a romantic love for her brother when it was being confused for sibling possessiveness. However, Seh-Wah seems a lot more willing in this relationship than Iku was.

Unlike this series, BwInKwS shoved religious imagery down our throats and basically screamed in our ears that incest was taboo. There are religious discussions in this manhwa, but the family is catholic and they don’t shove imagery in our faces to make a SUBTLE statement, they just show how this conflict within Seh-Joon is affecting him on a spiritual level.

To make a long story short, The Flowers of Evil is definitely the best rendition of an incest story that I’ve seen so far, and it does a lot of things right that BwInKwS did horribly wrong. But does it deserve the incredibly high praise its received?

Bottomline: In the end, this was one of those series that I left with a bit of unease. I didn’t really know how I felt about it. On one hand, there are a lot of overly dramatic and annoying parts to this series with almost every character being an asshole in some way. On the other hand, the story admittedly drew me in and I never once felt bored while reading. The characters came to life for me, even if the leads tend to seem constantly emotionless while also being overly dramatic at the same time, and the art was very beautiful at many points, even if some frontal shots seemed odd with how the noses basically disappear.

The story did get into a slight rut of ‘I hate everything, I love Seh-Joon, but he’s being an ass to me!’ ‘I’m Seh-Joon and I’m going to keep being an ass to Seh-Wah’ (insert Sung-Chan/Seh-Wah relationship development here) but it stayed steady, told the story it wanted to tell and ended up wrapping nearly every storyline pretty cleanly.

While I don’t think it deserves the perfect scores across the board that it seems to get, it’s a pretty good manhwa with a good length for this type of story and I’d gladly recommend that people give it a go.

Additional Information and Notes:

Flowers of Evil was written and illustrated by Lee Hyeon-Sook and it was published by Daewon C.I.

Volumes: 7

Year: 2006-2008

Recommended Audience: Incest angles a plenty, depending on how much that bothers you. Some nudity, but everything graphic is ‘painted away’. IE Sailor Moon-esque boobs with no nipples. A few sex scenes, but all tastefully done with no graphic shots. Several instances of violence, two of which being particularly brutal and slightly graphic. Adult themes. 14+

Manhole (Manga) Review

Rating: 9/10

Plot: After a strange man wanders into a street naked while crazily babbling to the people around him, he accidentally ends up dead. When his body is examined, they discover that the reason for his crazed behavior was actually an illness caused filaria which is usually transmitted through mosquitoes in Botswana. However, they’re in Japan and it’s the middle of winter, making the likelihood of mosquito bites extremely low. Someone is purposely breeding the disease in Japan and spreading it throughout the city, setting to make a complete outbreak over the country. But what is the true nature of filaria, and why is someone spreading it across the city?

Breakdown: Manhole is basically a mystery or thriller manga involving the strange case of filaria that is spreading throughout the town. Explaining what filaria is might be a spoiler in itself, but let’s just say that it’s not really a lethal disease if you have enough willpower. It will take only your right eye if you do, but if you don’t you could easily end up dead.

The case takes a lot of interesting twists and turns as we follow our investigators and subsequent main characters of Inoue and Mizoguchi, a somewhat rookie and veteran cop respectively. These two bounce off of each other very well and while we get really no backstory on them whatsoever, their characters really seem real and are both really likable in their own respects. Inoue took a bit of time for me to actually get into liking her character, but she was never annoying or unlikable to me.

The story is very intriguing. While it really seems like bio-terrorism from the getgo, the actual purpose behind the spread of the disease is equal parts tragic, sad and creepy. Basically a biological version of Saw, in a way.

The art is gorgeously detailed in both environments and character designs, though I do have to say that there are some instances where the art looks like it kinda doesn’t blend in quite well like with Inoue’s facial design. Everyone is drawn to look very realistic yet Inoue’s design leans a bit more toward traditional anime style. The angles and shading choices are spot on, and it’s also one of the few books to have such disgustingly detailed artwork, meant in a complimentary way I assure you, to actually make me cringe and get goosebumps. It is some deliciously grotesque artwork sometimes.

Bottomline: This is a fantastic mystery, and an intriguing case with a great focus, characters and even antagonists. The artwork is superb in even the tiniest of details, and while it’s not particularly scary it will likely give you the chills a few times with the nature of the disease/parasite. It’s also at a great length, though it does occasionally feel like it’s dragging a small bit. I’d recommend it to anyone with a love of crime dramas, creepy visuals and antagonists with legit stories.

Additional Information and Notes:

Manhole was written and drawn by Tetsuya Tsutsui.

Volumes: 3

Chapters: 29

Year: 2004 – 2006

Recommended Audience: There is some seriously gross imagery here, both in terms of the effects of the disease and gore. There’s also self-harm/suicide, swearing, hinted animal abuse-ish-kinda, and several instances of non-sexual nudity though there is sexual language as well as mentions of rape. 17+

Zekkyou Gakkyuu (Manga) Review

Zekkyou Gakkyuu Manga Review (Vol. 1-39)

Rating: 8.8/10

Plot: An anthology horror series also known as ‘Screaming Lessons’, a mysterious girl named Yomi introduces us to many short creepy and frightening horror stories.

Reasons for Rating: I love this manga. I love horror anthologies as a whole, but this one is really great.

It’s difficult to really explain this series in a review format since it’s a collection of (usually) separate stories, but most of the stories are incredibly interesting, thought-provoking and scary. That’s not to say that all of them were gems. There were some stories strewn about that were either just plain weird and not particularly scary, cliché or boring, but there was never a shortage of excitement and surprises in nearly every story and volume.

Another great thing about these stories is that not all of them end with the whole ‘everyone dies’ trope. While many people do die in these series, some survive their ordeals and it’s actually interesting to be on the edge of your seat for these stories because Emi Ishikawa, the author and artist of the series, really does a great job of making many of the characters likable and interesting, which just makes the stories all the more frightening because she shows time and again that she’s not afraid to kill off characters that are meant to be likable.

Surprisingly, the series does have a few stories that actually have happy endings. I won’t name which ones, but a particular story involving a couple was one of my personal favorites because it just ended so nicely yet believably.

Yomi is a really cool and creepy girl who is given her own backstory in the series and even shows up a few times in various stories. She does a magnificent job playing our narrator, and she sets the mood perfectly.

Bottomline: It’s a great series for fans of short horror stories, and I can’t wait for volume 40.

Art: The art has a bit of a shoujo slant to it. It’s not cutesy by any means, but it has that sort of style to it. The art as a whole is wonderful. Emi Ishikawa does a great job on everything; the character models, backgrounds, monster visuals and blood and gore.

Recommended Reader Audience: While not being overly gorey, there are still various instances of blood, gore, murder and death. No sex that I remember, or nudity, swearing’s also not a commonality. I’d say at least 13+, maybe more for the scarier/bloodier chapters.