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Dated 27 February 2012: Velvet Kiss might be the first manga I've recommended

Kanoko
Kano's first appearance.

Despite blogging about anime for more than 10 years, I've only rarely discussed manga, and I don't recall ever recommending any titles—perhaps Nausicaä and Love Hina in the very early days of this blog, back when it was still hosted on Geocities. I've quietly lamented that there are far fewer manga blogs than anime blogs, but never made the effort to redress that shortage myself. Then again, when the anime blogs I follow offer manga recommendations, I've usually disagreed with the bloggers' assessments and lost interest after a few chapters.

Nitta
Nitta's job is going well.

Despite the risk of inspiring similar lackluster responses, I'd like to recommend Velvet Kiss by Harumi Chihiro as a currently ongoing adult title that has far exceeded my expectations. I say "adult title" because although genitals are never shown (or censored out), there is regular nudity and sex appears in literally every single chapter.

Kanoko
Kano is a lot nicer when she's asleep.

On its face, Velvet Kiss is a wish-fulfillment manga about a young salaryman who is blackmailed into being a petty rich girl's "friend" (read: gopher and sex slave). It works, though, because Nitta is a reasonably successful and self-assured adult who had an active sex life prior to becoming Kanoko's whipping boy. That is, he's not another school-aged Potato-kun who somehow stumbled into the sweet shit. In fact, Nitta quite openly despises servicing Kanoko. There's a lot angry sex in Velvet Kiss. If forced to describe Velvet Kiss in simple clichés, I would say it's a tsundere sex drama with the lead male taking the rare role as the tsundere.

Nitta and Kano
Try a little tenderness.

Simple clichés don't quite do Velvet Kiss justice, as its real triumph is its ability to get the reader to care about the characters. It's a triumph because none of the characters are particularly sympathetic. There is a lot of selfish behavior, treachery, manipulation, and disloyalty in Velvet Kiss, which would normally incite hostility from its readers (excepting those with soft spots for poor little rich girls), but I care enough about Kano and Nitta that I eagerly anticipate each new chapter.

Nitta and Kano
Today was a good day.

As of this post, Soba-Scans has translated all 30 chapters currently published. Additionally, Digital Manga has licensed the first two volumes. Assuming they mean to actually print volumes and not just trowel it into iPad molds, I hope to someday have a full rack of Velvet Kiss books on my manga shelves, although if I alphabetize they would be uncomfortably close to my Yotsuba&! volumes. Oh well, it can't be helped.

Dated 26 July 2012: Velvet Kiss volume one acquired

Velvet Kiss and Sailor V
Behold! my Velvet Kiss and Codename: Sailor V purchases.
Not sure I understand why Velvet Kiss is shrink-wrapped
to protect the innocent while Codename: Sailor V is not.

I received my copy of Velvet Kiss from Amazon.com. I gave this title one of my rare recommendations back in February before the series ended. Members of the scanlation team contributed to the official licensed copy, and the result is a more professional, polished product that reads more naturally and gives the reader a better initial understanding of the dynamics among all the characters' interactions. Technically, this is porn, but really Velvet Kiss should be viewed as as merely (?) an unconventional romance that just happens to include nudity and sex acts at least once per chapter. I suppose that description might make it a difficult sell with more subdued readers, but Velvet Kiss is really well done and I'd like to see it succeed in the English-language market.

Aa! Megami-sama, Velvet Kiss, and Lovely Complex
Oh My Goddess!, Velvet Kiss, and Lovely Complex size comparisons.

One additional note: As you can see from the pictures above, Digital Manga publishes Velvet Kiss in the same large format used by (for example) Bunny Drop. This is satisfyingly larger than the more common size still used for most American releases, to include the Sailor Moon re-release and Kimi ni Todoke, which in turn is already larger than the typical Japanese manga tankoubon.

Dated 16 December 2012: I bought more stuff

Velvet Kiss volume two and Evangelion volume 13
One of these is not like the other.

I continue to encourage people to buy Velvet Kiss because it's really good even though it features both sex and baseball. Volume two is out already. [Spoilers: It has "Pomf."] Volume 13 of the Evangelion manga is out also. The Eva manga continues to diverge from the television broadcasts and The End of Evangelion, but there's both good and bad there. On the plus side, Shinji is not a whiny little shitheel. But on the other hand, volume 13 invokes shounen jive superpowers. I'm not sure I'm okay with that.