Lezhin did it again, sucking me right back into webcomic hell and I have to give it to their marketing team—if it weren’t for their aggressive ad campaign on Instagram, I may have never discovered this series in the first place. Painter of the Night is an ongoing Korean historical BL webcomic series by Byeonduck. The entire series is being released in English every Friday over on Lezhin.
I have been burned by ongoing series before, so it really takes A LOT for me to invest my time in an incomplete series, especially one on Lezhin—but, I am a sucker for gorgeous artwork and anything historical, so I fell headfirst into Painter of the Night and there’s no going back!
A love hotel, the adult film industry, and a high school aged uke… sounds like the set up for a really sleazy, cliche boys love series. But don’t let the synopsis fool you, Castle Mango written by Narise Konohara and illustrated by Muku Ogura is a surprisingly heartfelt read. A hidden gem in an otherwise sex heavy genre, Castle Mango is a breath of fresh air!
The series follows Yorozu Shirosaki, a studious high schooler whose family runs the love hotel, Castle Mango, where for a few hours, couples come to let off some steam. Yorozu sometimes helps run the front desk, but otherwise keeps his family’s business a secret from the rest of the world. His “quiet” life is interrupted when an adult film director, Togame, decides to use Castle Mango as the set of their next porno shoot and he is mistaken for one of the “extras” in the film. Embarrassed and ticked off, he vows to give the director a wide berth, but when it seems like Togame has his eyes set on his younger brother, Yorozu devises a plan. So, he tricks a drunk Togame into believing they slept together, in hopes of diverting his attention. Yorozu thought it would be enough to scare Togame off, he never imagined Togame would actually ask him to be his BOYFRIEND?!
It was only a matter of time before I unearthed another boys love title from among the NaNoRenO 2020 submissions. I’ve said this before, but it deserves repeating—boys love games tend to fall into one of two categories—comedy or angsty drama. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part if you take any given boys love title you can pretty much place it neatly into one of those two categories.
Sayumi101’s boys love visual novel, Flour Hour falls squarely into the latter category—even the synopsis describes it as a “light-hearted (probably unnecessarily drama-heavy) BL”. And I’m not going to lie, Flour Hour reads like an angsty, drama heavy 90’s boys love manga, touching on just about every cliche in the book and yet I couldn’t help but get invested in story and characters Sayumi and their team created.
The game follows Yuki, a reserved baker who has taken over his ailing grandmother’s flower shop and turned it into a moderately successful bakery. Things are going well for him until a Lawyer informs him that he owes a considerable amount of money and that if he can’t pay, he will have to turn over the property. But, with the shop’s meager earnings, he isn’t sure he will be able to come up with the money in time… to add insult to injury, his ex suddenly bulldozes his way back into his life stirring up feelings Yuki thought he had long since buried.
My Burning Heart is a story set in a 1001 Nights world.
Our protagonist, Adnan, gets sold as a slave and, instead of being sent to work in the fields, as he expected, he ends up in a Sultan’s harem… Although they try to trick him with good words and promises of being well fed and no physical punishments, he decides to comply with the Sultan’s orders… but only while he plans his escape from the palace.
As a Black gamer I tend to shy away from games that depict slavery, for obvious reasons—it makes me uncomfortable. Especially when slavery is depicted in romance themed games, since there is a degree of power imbalance that undermines any perceived notion of consent, because lets be real for a second—slaves cannot defy the whims of their masters, and as such are subject to whatever treatment their masters see fit. I take particular offense to games that tend to sexualize the relationship between a master and a slave, because by definition these relationships are inherently non consensual, since slaves don’t have the agency to reject the advances of their masters.
So, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma with Ertal Games’s Arabian nights themed visual novel, My Burning Heart—its very premise is built on the dubious consent of a slave/master relationship—the protagonist, Adnan, is brought to the palace of the sultan to be his new harem slave. Despite the benevolence of his master, Adnan plots to escape his comfortable life in the palace, but in order to do so he will need to give himself over to the Sultan. *internal scream*
I think a disclaimer is in order with this game, since I’ve only really finished one route in Seiyuu Danshi, so this isn’t a “full game review” in the traditional sense. However, I kind of feel like I got a pretty good sense of the game as a whole after my first playthrough and I’d like to share my “experience”.
A large part of the gameplay is dedicated to the stats raising, but with elements of a life simulator thrown in, giving players full control of the game’s protagonist, Haato as he navigates his career as a voice actor and his relationships—both platonic and romantic—with the game’s colorful and expansive cast of characters.
When I initially played the demo for Meyaoi Games’s boys love stats raiser Seiyuu Danshi back in 2016, I was excited for all the interesting features, stats raising included. It was a fresh idea at the time and at least in the limited time frame of the demo, the stats raising wasn’t too overbearing and felt much more casual than I expected going in. So, when the final version of the game was released I was eager to see the fruits of the developers’ labors and I’m not gonna lie, Seiyuu Danshi is a pretty impressive game.
Blerdy Otome is an otome games and visual novel review site that runs on Black Girl Magic and Dreams. While I mostly focus on romance themed games, I’ve been known to cover a wide range of nerdy and otaku themed topics.
So, step right up and prepare your heart! Let’s talk about otome games!!