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Ikoku Irokoi Romantan
The Romantic Tale of a Foreign Love Affair


Cover ImageAuthor: Yamane Ayano
Publisher: Drap
Series Length: One-shot
First printing: May 2003

Five-second plot: I think I know how to tie a fundoshi now, and that frightens me.

Summary: Ranmaru and Kaoru are honeymooning in Italy to celebrate their arranged marriage. They try to put on a good face in public for the good of their yakuza families, but they really make each other miserable. Kaoru-chan is looking forward to cruising for hot Italian guys, but high-tempered Ranmaru ends up landing the hottest Italian guy of them all; the captain of their cruise ship, who happens to have a Japanese fetish. Well, someone has to protect Ranmaru from all the crazy gaijin...


Makoto's Notes: To my gentle and/or underaged readers, please leave the room while we talk about Yamane-sensei. She hasn't been around for long, but it's hard not to be punched in the gut by her fabulously beautiful art. Fabulously beautiful, highly explicit art. Her women are gorgeous, her men are gorgeous, and her proportion and anatomy is consistently better than most any I've seen... but she's definitely writing erotica, so bear that in mind.

Anyway, Ikoku. Ranmaru and Kaoru are surrounded by an entourage of dozens of bodyguards, all of whom seem incapable of keeping Ranmaru out of danger. He wanders off, gets lost, gets picked on and picked up by Italian locals who think he's the cutest novelty item. But fate keeps him within arm's reach of handsome captain Al Valentiano, who's quite romantic and very persuasive. (He reminds me a lot of Takamiya-san from Love Mode, which is probably why I like him so much.) Good thing Kaoru seems content with a sham marriage...

There's plenty of humor in this work, especially scrawled in the margins of thought bubbles. Kaoru's most vocal suitor Gondou cracks me up, and Kaoru herself is definitely not the quiet homemaker sort. Ranmaru may get lost a lot, but it doesn't help matters when she gets drunk and accidentally leaves him behind. It's like a travelogue of how NOT to visit a foreign country. Yikes.

Filling out the tankouban is "Koi no annaijin", an extremely sweet love story about Takaoka-san, a socially-clueless scientist who goes to a dating agency to find a match. He meets with the eager-to-please Yoshizawa-kun, who swears to find him the right girl. But after a few dates (some with nice girls, some with frightening cat-fighting socialites), Takaoka realizes that the match for him is surely Yoshizawa-kun. The cuteness makes me swoon.

Drap has been busy since I reviewed their third publication, Koujima-sensei's "Brother Complex"! This is apparently book #40, good for them. But there's still no furigana anywhere, not even for names. There is, however, an above-average amount of "foreign" dialogue, both actually in Italian or English, or just Japanese written left-to-right. (Or sometimes little "x" marks when she didn't bother with any language at all.) There's also a long strange Engrish poem on the page divides. Frankly, you can probably enjoy the book based on art alone, but in general I'm not recommending anything Drap for those not comfortable with Japanese.


Warnings and Suggestions: This book is only appropriate for adults. As for objectionable content, there's one intense scene of non-consentual groping and drug use, followed by a satisfying bit of violence. The Ikoku "side story", a four-page short at the end, has some implied Shouta-con. (It's really a gag comic, but still.) Otherwise, a lot of explicit love scenes, a lot of drinking, and a lot of dirty old Italian men.


ISBN 4-87734-623-6