Reviewby Lissa Pattillo, Jan 14th 2011
A book containing six short boys' love stories, My Bad!'s title story follows a young man smitten with a tenant in his grandparent's apartment. His obsession turns to theft when he steals a pair of the man's boxers. But that's only the beginning when he soon takes to the man's bed to surround himself in the man's scent as he musters the nerve to one day tell him how he feels. Other stories in the book include a young man who falls in love with the stern-eyed train conductor with a soothing voice, a man taken advantage of in a bout of avoiding blackmail and two students playing out their own sordid Romeo and Juliet romance.
The name for this book couldn't be any more accurate. While an assortment of generic boys' love stories in a single volume package will never be anything new to seasoned readers, books like this still manage to come along and push the envelope of mediocrity.
My Bad!'s title story stars a just-turned legal young man who has been eying his neighbor. At first he was content to have the occasional meal with him but recently has been finding it more difficult to ignore his physical attraction to the man. While his first step to potential stalker status was pilfering a single pair of chopsticks, quickly he escalates to stealing a single pair of used boxers. Naturally for the bulk of the story the other man is played up to be oblivious and presumably uninterested. Though the end result will take no one by surprise, the execution did muster a little ingenuity in the man's reaction to finding someone laying in his bed enjoying himself to the scent of his undergarments. Maybe some will find the whole underwear-stealing concept endearing, but it's worth a guess most will just find it a tad creepy and maybe more than a little gross.
Guy pines for guy and then guys get together in the end without issue is generally the theme for every story, completely ignoring for the most part those slowdown bumps of questioning sexuality or dealing with friends or family. The second story isn't an exception but it does play on the simple theme a little more, though to negative effect. It sees a man hired as a housekeeper only to walk in on his young boss having sex with another man and soon finds himself being raped in order to ‘even the playing field’ and spoil any attempts at blackmail. Again, and despite any logical thoughts to the contrary, it's no surprise what eventually happens which does little more than leave a foul feeling behind upon reaching the end.
But even after some ick-factor moments, is it really so bad to have a book full of stories where everyone's happy in the end? In this case, one could easily argue yes. Even those who love a happy ending can find something to be desired by a lack of effort to achieve it like those of these stories, save for maybe a momentary ex-boyfriend blip or the far-too-often relied upon trope of one guy just secretly pining after the other for the whole story equating to drama. To the credit of those in My Bad!, at least their high hopes are accompanied by a strong sense of confidence. A good instance is during the book's next story which sees a man smitten with his mail man and who goes to great lengths to see him as often as possible until he can get him to the point of feeling successful about asking to be lovers.
The stories in this collection aren't necessarily badly done so much as they are frustratingly dull. They tread no new ground or try to reinvent what's already been done. The scenarios and events are so common to the genre that even the smallest quirks sprinkled in the stories, such as a student falling in love with his train conductor, do little to make them stand out. Moments that do stand out actually serve to take things from bad to worse, such as an epilogue to the book's title story which sees the lead go from enjoying his lover's boxers to collecting pubic hair after sex. Yikes.
Rize Shinba's artwork is much the same, nothing really notable or especially unique about it overall but in the odd instance where something does stand out, it's nothing good. Chapter covers in this book are terrible, from awkward posing to completely misshapen hands and heads that are wildly disproportionate. Art during the stories themselves is more consistent yet even then a preference for tight head shots and the same expressions used over and over atop uninteresting designs keep things taxingly dry.
The book's final full story feels the most successful if only because it plays out in some ways like a parody of the very problems that plague the rest of the book. Two students, president and vice president of their student council, are madly in love but because their parents are opposing political figures, they must keep their relationship a secret. They fight like cats and dogs in the public eye, but the moment they're alone they whip out the flowery backgrounds, shoujo-inspired sparkles and cutesy nicknames, unable to keep their hands off one another. The contrast of their public and private lives is so sharp that it's comical. The ending is much the same, over the top dramatically and with an intended humour that unfortunately falls just short of working, hampered by a wordy execution and attempts at jealously and misunderstanding meant to be taken more seriously.
Overall, My Bad! speaks for itself like an apology from the artist. Either stagnant and predictable, or unnerving and unpleasant, there's little to recommend about this boring batch of tropes that falls short of even making fun of itself. Unless you have a real adoration for all things boys' love and short story in format, this is a one-shot release worth giving no shot at all.
Overall : D+
Story : D
Art : D+
+ Has some weird moments that are pretty funny, all stories have happy endings and are generally devoid of conflict for those who like their stories optimistic
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