Bara-style art has gained a certain popularity over the years, but for various reasons, no full-length bara manga has been published in North American until recently. The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame is an anthology of one-shots by one of the most influential bara artists out there.
The book definitely isn’t for the weak-hearted — it’s very hardcore. Some stories featured in it are outright violent and brutal. This may put off many readers (I suggest Takeshi Matsui’s works if you’re looking for something more romantic and comedic). But for those who want to indulge hardcore S&M themes and raw carnal pleasure, Tagame’s works are visual delights, and this book is no exception.
The first story of the collection is humorous and BL-esque, with an emphasis on the romance between the male leads. Subsequent one-shots are Tagame’s usual fare. Burly men being beaten, raped (sometimes in public settings), being used as cum buckets and losing their dignity. This lack of romanticism is a staple of Tagame’s work.
Interestingly, the last one-shot is much less hardcore than the ones that come before it, revolving around student-teacher fantasy. It even has a romantic conclusion, like the first story. It was supposedly written with a North American audience in mind, and I thought it really showed, personally.
Overall, it’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of bara, or a collector of well-drawn erotic comics. The book’s production values are fantastic, and what they’ve done with the cover slip is clever and cute.