Caste Heaven is a yaoi manga from mangaka, Chise Ogawa. Yaoi manga is a subset of boys' love (or BL) manga, which depicts amorous situations between male romantic leads. Yaoi manga usually features explicit depictions of sex between those male leads. Caste Heaven focuses on a group of high school students who play a cruel game that determines class rank... and who's on top.
Caste Heaven, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1-6) introduces Class 2-1. The students in this class play a secret game called the “Caste Game.” Students hunt the campus for playing cards that will determine the class' rigid hierarchy. The highest value card is the “King” card, and the lowest card is the “Joker.” The one who finds the “King” card becomes the king (or queen). The one who finds the “Joker” card becomes “the target” or “the bullied one,” and is subject to extreme pain and humiliation from all the other students – especially from the king.
The past school year, Yuya Azusa, has been the king. Ruthless and arrogant, he lorded his status over the other students. This is a new school year, however, and it is time to play the Caste Game again. Azusa plots to be king again, but after he is betrayed, he may have to accept a new position – the new king's bitch!
[This volume includes bonus story, “Behind the Game,” and an “Afterword.”]
THE LOWDOWN: The Caste Heaven yaoi manga tells a story in the spirit of many manga. There is an implausible scenario, but if the author (or mangaka) can weave a captivating story from that implausible premise, the result can be a winning manga.
Caste Heaven Graphic Novel Volume 1 starts off from its first page with a ridiculous concept. Honestly, I didn't think that I could finish this first volume, but then, I started to enjoy the struggle that creator Chise Ogawa depicts. Azusa and the other characters in these first chapters struggle with what they really want, with what they really think, and with whom they really want. There is a conflict between what they present to society at large (in this case, their high school class) and what they reveal in intimate settings when they are with the person they (might) love... or the person that makes them hot and horny.
Adrienne Beck's translation expertly captures the inconsistencies, the vagaries, the fickleness, and the angst. Beck reveals how this series moves from raunchy lust to love and hot sex... that could end up being real love...”?
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Fans of games of high school lust and hierarchy will want to read Caste Heaven.
B+ 7 out of 10
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