Yaoi Review: White Brand

White Brand
Story and Art: Youka Nitta
Published by the Juné Imprint of Digital Manga, Inc.
ISBN13: 9781569706039
ISBN10: 1569706034

Review by I-hsiu Lin

White skin and dark skin.

Youka Nitta’s White Brand takes a different approach on romance. Though the topic seems to be ‘skin color’, the story doesn’t take much of a political or controversial view. Five stories about a variety of characters with romances that are more then just color of skin, height or nationality. Instead, the focus is on the emotions and the trauma that Asano suffered from his father’s death. Fukaya hopes to draw Asano out from his aversion to his darker skin. As Asano agrees to try to overcome his fear, his feelings are drawn out as well. At least that’s the first story….

“Teal End” is focuses on Keith, a foreigner who is learning Japanese lacquering and painting wares. The son of the teacher, Takeshi grew up with Keyes through the years he has been studying there. As much as he would love to be, Keyes isn’t Japanese and the stigma from that may push the two apart.

The third story, “Hasta la Vista, Baby” displays the emotions that surrounds actor Tomomi in his latest role. Searching for the necessary feelings to play the part of an infertile woman who longs for children, he takes on babysitting his toddler nephew. But it’s the loneliness he feels from his two already-in-love friends that becomes reflected in his actions.

“Exhibition Painting” concerns with art dealers, murderers and mind readers. It sounds like a mystery, but it’s truly a romance. The wealthy Remy can read minds. Noting that he was hungry, he took in Kazuki whom he found on the streets. Soon he realizes, Kazuki doesn’t need any special powers to know how Remy feels. Truly a unique twist in Nitta’s plethora of works.

The last story “One Size Fits All” features Masamoto who is smaller then average but loves big things be it objects, women or a man. Top model Kazumi might fit the bill, but Masamoto learns there is more to him then just the height.

What I enjoy most about Nitta’s books is that the emotions the characters are feeling are always surprising me. Each of them is in unique situations that confuses them, withdrawing into themselves whilst forcing them to reach for another. (Except for the last story, since Masamoto knows what he wants. No confusion there!) Since the stories in this compilation are oneshots, one may not find them very satisfying. I believe it’s because there is so much more to the characters that can be explored and I would like to know more about them. Each of the stories end just as the characters find footing in their faltering relationships. Out of the anthology, “Teal End” is a favorite of mine. It could be due to the sweet promise Takeshi made to Keith….

Although I don’t feel this collection to be one of Nitta’s stronger works, it’s still a pleasure to see her artwork with her brand of pretty boys. Perhaps I felt it was unsatisfying because the bedroom scenes aren’t as explicit as her other works. I guess it was meant to be left to our imaginations.

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