by Kei Azumaya
published by Digital Manga; $12.95 US
This yaoi title has already gotten some attention due to its acronym. It’s certainly not subtle, and neither is the premise.
Those of you alive in the 70s may remember how the sexy stewardess came close to replacing the naughty nurse as cultural shorthand for easy virtue and bed-hopping turn-on, especially on sitcoms. All Nippon Air Line is a modern take on the Mile High Club, for guys only.
The airline is all-male, from the director to the maintenance workers. (Although fantasy, this made me wonder if Japan has equal opportunity laws. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the plot points about having to sleep with the boss to get a job at the company. Or having him get reluctant pilots drunk and date-raping them.) And they all, especially the cabin stewards, are dedicated to giving the customer the best experience possible… especially if the customer is a handsome male. And everyone knows about it, with people choosing to fly the airline to enjoy the scenery, let’s say.
The book is composed of short chapters, also sitcom-like, that bring up different aspects of the premise, whether joking that a frequent flier card on A.N.A.L. is grounds for divorce or showing which employees are sleeping with each other. Then there’s the story where someone winds up on the airline because the others were booked and gets seduced. They’re brief and shallow, which suits both the jokes and the genre. No opportunity to think too hard about how silly this all is, just the chance to laugh and enjoy the ideas of guy/guy sex in the sky.
It’s a shame that the characters, intended to be handsome fantasies, are drawn so oddly. It’s as though their heads are too big for their faces, or if the faces are masks layered on top of the real one, or if they have linebacker necks and extra padding under their hair. In short, the proportions are off.
That said, even though I’m not a yaoi fan, I found this entertaining. The short chapters make it easy to pick up and put down, without tiring of it, and the gag structure is often funny. Non-fans will want to use a reference to understand some of the untranslated terms for “top” and “bottom”, though, especially to understand the punchline of the airline’s “origin story”. It’s a shame that translation notes weren’t included, although a list of where the stories originally appeared is. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)