Long ago in the ancient past of April 2013,we visited Glass Wings. A short story collection playing with the ideas of love between men and women or in the last one's case just women. I tell you that to hopefully form a decent segue into today's book which is also a collection of short stories. However this time it is all about love between men and men who look like ladies with very little fighting to be had. The book was brought overseas by DMP who have quite a few books of this nature such as Almost Crying. Alone in My King's Harem is written by Lily Hoshino who would go on to draw the art for Mawaru Penguin Drum. Does this have any bearing on the book,not really, but hey at least were in for some nice art.
Similar to Glass Wings I'll get my art griping out of the way first then talk about the stories. The art is excellent plain and simple. Panels flow well,backgrounds are lovely and the guys are pretty,almost too pretty. Yes this is were the art does fall short,the uke characters simply look to girly for their own good. If they had not slapped the yaoi label on this I would have told you this was a book with four stories about straight people with a random yaoi story at the end. Would the stories be any weaker if they were not all boys,no. However the manga-ka set out to draw cute boys and failed half the time. Either way the art is still fantastic and gives the stories a dream like feel.
The first story is the title story about a king and his concubine and that's really it. The boy sticks with this man through his highs and lows and is rewarded with the King's love. It's pretty simple and offers nothing outside of good feeling and some cute guys action. The king is tall and handsome and looks a little like Holland Novak, while the concubine is pretty,too feminine and a little weird. I could question if this boy stays with him because he truly loves him or because he has no where else to go. The story is mostly fluff,enjoyable fluff,but fluff none the less.
The second story,Night Circus,is the highlight of the book and is very creative. It's told in the style of 4-koma comics and follows a young trapeze artist through his dreams. The visuals are weird and fanciful and requires a second read once you wrap your head around what is going on. Without spoiling much it is a different look at the eyes of someone who is into bestiality. It's an enjoyable mind screw that sort of erases the previous story from your mind. I won't say much else as it is very short but worth it. Moving on to next one.
The Seabed of Night has the same very fanciful qualities of Night Circus,while revisiting the king/servant dynamic from the title story. It involves a brothel that grants impossible wishes ran by the apostle Rosine. The prince inspects the place with his loyal servant and said servant makes a deal with the owner to spend the night with the prince. The realize they love each other and ride off home. It's not bad with the idea of love from afar being akin to looking up from the bottom of the sea. The very dreamy art helps add to the places other worldness. It is probably the most explicit story after the last tale but even then not much is shown. Again a little more too it than Alone in My King's Harem(AMKH) but still pretty fluffy.
Up fourth is Adventures of a Canary returning to the more realistic style of AMKH. It follows a good looking guy and a guy working at a lounge,then he escapes and they run off. Like the concubine there is a question of is this really love or does he have no where else to turn to. Not much else to say about the story,it offers one twist that makes sense if you think about it and it is heartwarming. That's it,the art is still good and works. The last story is where this book goes weird.
The last story is two chapters:Mature Flesh and Moist Flesh. The previous tales have all had a more fantasy slant to them and can be taken as heart warming love stories. This one instead is a generic high school boy story that is really nothing more than hentai. It's not bad if that's what you want but it is just so different than the other stories. This is very jarring when up till now there has been implied sex and this one is almost two straight(pardon the pun) chapters of hot guys boning. Did I like it...yes but that does not make it any less out of place here.
In the end is this collection worth it,maybe. The art is lovely but the fact that some of the boys look too girly may kill it for some yaoi fangirls or help the non-yaoi crowd. Other than that there isn't much to it. Oh,Night Circus is excellent and well worth the two minutes it takes to read. Everything else is enjoyable fluffy romance(or hentai) and that is fine. Those looking for something more substantial would be better off with something like Heart of Thomas.
Till next time Stay Positive