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REVIEW: Luv-Luv titles and Netcomics

Dear Readers,

Netcomics is a publisher that publishes manga and manhwa online. No e-reader is needed, just $0.25 per chapter. They publish not only their own but Luv Luv and Yaoi Press comics among others. The way it works is that you buy e-cash in $10 amounts, then pay as you view each new chapter.

You don’t own the chapters, not at those prices. You get to view them for 48 hours. But, so you have a chance to look at a manga before starting to pay, the first 1-2 chapters are always available free (one for short works, 2 for longer).

Last, almost all the books are or will be available in hard copy if you find you truly love them and can’t live without them. There are a couple of series I follow that I purchase in hard format. What I love most about Netcomics though is that the net-version is usually 1-2 volumes ahead of the print, and with chapter releases the wait time is generally much less for updates, 2 weeks for my favorite series.

The series tend to be focused on women’s and girls’ comics. There are romances both het and m/m, and fantasy and drama with strong female leads. Only a few of the series are what I’d consider to be male-oriented. There’s a lot of variety though, and a number of the series look interesting. Browsing through their lineup I found 20 series that looked interesting enough to try, a third in various stages of completion, the others completed and (most) also in print.

The comics are quite easy to read on the screen. Some adjustments can be made for size, one or two page viewing, auto vs manual page turning. One thing that does annoy me about the reading window is the scrolling text on the upper left menu bar. It keeps catching my eye and distracting me. But the window can be slid to the side so it’s off screen so it’s not that big a deal. Other than that, I enjoy reading the manga this way. The print and art are clear and crisp, and there seems to be very little issue with things like lag or memory overload.

Today I’m looking at three ladies’ het oneshot manga volumes (single volume series) that can be viewed on the site for a really reasonable cost. The quality of writing varies wildly between them. I’ve not included samples, because the website itself offers a sample of every manga it sells. I’ve linked to the pages for each.

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Luv Luv Press is bringing Japanese adult comics for women to the US. Sadly, the economy is hitting them hard, so if any of the titles here interest you, you may want to try them while you can. Their titles are all complete within one volume. The subject matter is adult romance and relationships. Their latest title on Netcomics is Make Love & Peace by Takane Yonetani. The volume is 7 chapters, or $1.50 (the first chapter is free). It consists of the 5 chapter main story and two oneshots.

The story has Ayame, a college student in a relationship with Koichi, a detective, when he saves her from a mugging. Koichi saves Ayame a lot. Between saving her they have lots and lots of sex (The sex is softcore level of explicitness, ie no graphic depictions of genitalia.). But it’s boring sex, not the least bit erotic to me, for two reasons. One is that the characters look like teens. I know the conventions of a lot of manga result in this, but I prefer manga where the guys look like they’re over fourteen, especially if sex is involved. Second, the art just feels amateurish. Not only are the character designs mediocre, but the pacing of the stories is off, and the drawing of the sex is stiff (no pun intended) and without eroticism. It felt like this was an early comic by someone who didn’t know how to draw sexual tension.

The entire volume had that shortcoming. There wasn’t much story, just several flimsy plotlines about an underwear burglar and lots of boring sex. It was painful to read. Honestly, if I hadn’t bought it for review I would have stopped after one chapter. I’d call this a skip-worth volume. I really found nothing redeeming in it, so I’d have to honestly give it an F.

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The next Luv Luv volume I tried was much better. It’s Real Love by Mitsuki Oda , and is 6 chapters, or only $1.25!

The art in this is beautiful, professional, a complete opposite to the previous volume. It reminds me a lot of Ai Yazawa (Paradise Kiss, NANA) only a little less cluttered. It’s very pleasing to look at. The story is an improvement as well. Of the 6 chapters, the first 4 are devoted to the cover story. The last two chapters are a lesser story about a young woman musician who has to learn to write music from her heart, and it’s fairly average.

I enjoyed the cover story more. A young woman in university, Shu, is surprised to meet the young man, a popular actor named Naomichi, who took her virginity. She had loved him but found he was a cold womanizer and she dropped him. His career went downhill after that and he’s back in school, and determined to win her now. She’s not interested, except the sex was hot and she’s still attracted for that reason. Her waffling and our not being sure of his motive or feelings supplies the tension. As does the presence of her twin brother Shun, who seems to be having some crises of his own centered around both his sister and her ex.

For only having four chapters I thought I got to know the main characters remarkably well. I felt like I’d been reading something several volumes long, not because it was tedious, but because the mangaka told us a lot in the space she had, and that made this feel much deeper than a typical one volume manga.

However the ending of it felt way too rushed. In fact, I was shocked when I turned the page and found another story starting, and that’s not a good thing. I hope there’s a volume 2 being worked on out there that someday makes it to our shores. As it stands, it gets a B-.

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The last single-volume manga I looked at for this group was cm0 (Centimeter Zero) by Kazumi Tohno and published by Netcomics. It’s 5 chapters, so would only cost $1! Honestly, at these prices how can you not try some?

This was a sweet and slow-paced love story about a university student, Hasumi, and a young woman, Miharu, who is one of his professors. They live in the same apartment building and know each other on a friendly basis. When her fiancée dumps her because of rumors about them, she turns to Hasumi for comfort, but that night they spend together drives a wedge between them. Eventually they begin to reconnect, slowly drifting back together, first as friends, then both gradually realizing it’s something more.

I love the artwork in this. The character designs are so normal, and the drawing style is soft and expressive. There is no explicit sex on the pages of this story, though there is some in their relationship that’s referred to.

I do have a complaint about typos and grammar. I’m not one to notice them, so when I do it generally means it’s bad enough to annoy most people. There were several instances of letters dropped off or left out of words. And one thing that annoys me to no end is when someone says “between you and I”. The character is an English professor. I think she’d know that after a preposition you use “me”, not “I”. This is a translation/editing mistake, and one that shouldn’t occur in a professional publication.

However, despite that, the story is a lovely one and I do recommend it the most of the three books here. This book is only available online. I’d give this story a B+.

No matter what I thought of these books though, the fact remains that I read three volumes of manga that would normally put me out $30 plus shipping and leave me stuck with one I wanted to give away but couldn’t because of its adult nature. I only spent $3.75. That makes it a great way to try manga, and a cheap way to buy manga for teens as long as you’re aware of the offerings on the site and what they’re reading. I’ll be reviewing more of the series in upcoming installments, and focusing on both the manhwa and BL (m/m) offerings.

Sincerely,
ジェーン
(Jān)

reads any genre as long as the books aren't depressing. Her preferred reads these days are in manga format and come from all manga genres, but she especially likes romance, doubly so when there are beautiful men involved. With each other. Her favorites among currently-running English-translated manga series include NANA, Ze, Ouran High School Host Club, Junjou Romantica, Blood Alone, Vampire Knight, Skip Beat, Silver Diamond and anything by the holy triumvirate of BL: Ayano Yamane, Kazuma Kodaka and Youka Nitta, including any scribbles they might do on the backs of napkins.

7 Comments

  1. Estara
    Mar 24, 2009 @ 12:33:59

    I like some of the manhwa they have, especially Pine Kiss. But I really don’t like the “spicy shoujo” they brought over… I wish they could have taken on some real josei, like Ashita no Ousama or Bara no Tameni…

    I guess I’m just too old for those spicy ones with not much plot ^^.

    ReplyReply

  2. (Jān)
    Mar 24, 2009 @ 15:09:21

    I like spicy manga if there is good sexual tension and characters, and Real Love had enough of that that I was enjoying it before it abruptly cut off.

    cm0 is quite different than you may be expecting Estara. In fact, it didn’t especially seem to fit that line because it was more josei about relationships than about sex. I do recommend it.

    My favorite story at Netcomics is Totally Captivated, but it’s not for everyone since it’s BL and rather melodramatic at that. I’m writing a review on some of the BL there now, some of which is good, some of which isn’t.

    ReplyReply

  3. Maili
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 06:28:36

    I thought the offerings by Luv Luv so far were terrible. It’s bizarre because Luv Luv is a sister company of Deux Press which offers a better range of works.

    In your biography, you say the holy triumvirate of yaoi is Ayano Yamane, Kazuma Kodaka and Youka Nitta. I can’t stand almost all their works. I’m very aware I’m one of the minority as they seem to have huge armies of fans!

    I prefer the works offered by Deux Press (Saika Kunieda, Kano Miyamoto, Yugi Yamada, Shuiko Kano, and Est Em), some by Drama Queen (Akira Honma, Minase Masare and although she drove me crazy with her eccentric plotting, Uki Ogasawara is quite original) and a few selection by DMP. By now, you may have an idea what my taste is like.

    Netcomics has an interesting range of offerings. I enjoyed so far: S-Kun, Yeri Na, Youngran Lee, Hae Lee, Wann (9 Faces of Love), and whoever did Let Dai.

    I wasn’t keen on Totally Captivated. It has had funny moments but like many South Korean comics, the pacing was erratic and occasionally draggy. Let Dai is very South Korean. Melodramatic and draggy in some parts which sorely tried my patience, but the quality of narration kept me reading to its bitter end.

    All English comic publishers seem to share this affliction: poor editing or proofreading. I haven’t yet come across any that doesn’t have typos, grammatical mistakes, typesetting mistakes, and awkward sentences. It drove our office resident Grammar Nazi totally crazy!

    Comparing with other comic publishers, Netcomics is still an underdog but I think it will go far. The recession is hitting all comic publishers badly, especially Tokyopop and DMP, but I’m reasonably certain Netcomics will survive. I’m not so sure about Luv Luv.

    ReplyReply

  4. (Jān)
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 07:35:24

    Did you try cm0? I think it’s good. I think everyone is missing it because it’s not a print volume.

    You can’t stand Yamane? I know some people don’t like Kodaka’s and Nitta’s artwork, but Yamane’s is beautiful. And the only two series she has in print over here are a harmless comedy romance and a fantasy romance. I didn’t think anyone would hate those.

    A lot of people get turned off by her Finder series (which is no longer in print), but I generally find it’s because they either they don’t read enough of it (the first volume really has little to do with the rest of the story, being unrelated oneshots) or don’t understand how to read the story Yamane is telling. I had to be taught by a Japanese friend how to read it, and I think most Western readers face the same drawbacks I did because I see them making the same interpretive mistakes I did. Some things just aren’t told in dialogue; in fact two of the main characters are revealed in art rather than in dialogue for most of the story. Their dialogue is for the most part misleading.

    I like most of the BL mangaka you do, but I love my three favorites more, along with Yuki Shimizu. They are simply better at telling stories that touch my heart than the new kids on the block, though a couple of those come close. The stuff Deux puts out is mostly good, though all of those mangaka have their own drawbacks. Of them, I think Yugi Yamada is best. I’ll read any book she puts out. I was sad to hear her books weren’t selling better.

    I loved DQ’s books. I’m so sad that they’re gone. :(

    Totally Captivated just grabbed me from books 3-6, when the romance takes off and the manic comedy tones down a bit. It honestly didn’t drag to me at all during those volumes, until the epilogue chapters. The first two volumes weren’t so good though.

    Luv Luv and Aurora have said that they’ll know by summer whether or not they have to close, but they’re on the brink of it. :( There are no new Luv Luv titles planned at the moment.

    ReplyReply

  5. Estara
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 12:44:23

    I’ll have to check out that cm0, it completely went by me so far.

    And I’d like to break a lance for one of my favourite BL mangakas, Naono Bohra, and her art (and her stories that so often have older men). I don’t like all her stories but there are some lovely ones out there. I don’t think she’s done a big multi-volume series yet… but I haven’t been following the BL released for about a year now.

    ReplyReply

  6. XandraG
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:10:47

    I read somewhere that someone is finally translating one of Yoshihara Yuki’s titles to English. Can I just say it’s about damn time?

    ReplyReply

  7. (Jān)
    Mar 25, 2009 @ 13:27:38

    @XandraG:

    Are they really? Aisuru Hito was the first thing I read of hers and it was not only sexy but funny as hell.

    Wait… Viz??? Viz licensed her? I’ve not read Chou yo Hana yo but this should be interesting.

    ReplyReply

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