Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories is the second collection of erotic gay manga by Takeshi Matsu to be released in English. Matsu was one of the nine mangaka to be featured in the landmark anthology Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It which is where I initially encountered his work. Matsu can be counted among the few mangaka who have been able to make a career out of creating gay manga, his stories appealing to readers of multiple genders and sexualities. I thoroughly enjoyed “Kannai’s Dilemma”—the story of his collected in Massive—as well as his first English anthology More and More of You and Other Stories (which had the added bonus of in part being a food manga), so I was looking forward to Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories a great deal. The volume, published by the Germany-based Bruno Gmünder in 2015, collects several of Matsu’s short manga, many of which had previously only been available digitally. So, not only are the stories being translated into English for the first time, most of them are being released in print for the first time as well.
Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories collects five of the Matsu’s short erotic manga. The volume opens with the first two episodes of The Dangerous Games of Dr. Makumakuran, a ongoing series featuring the titular Dr. Makumakuran. Both a genius scientist and a total slacker, he spends much of his time working on side projects and annoying his assistants rather than focusing on more commercially productive research. More than once the lead assistant Tachibana becomes the test subject for Makumakuran’s seemingly innocent inventions, including a virtual reality workplace training system which allows for a variety of simulations and a diet formula that shrinks more than just fat cells. The next story, “Yashio and Shibayama,” is about a comedian whose career is struggling after he undergoes a celebrity makeover as well as the lengths he and his manager are willing to go to save it. In “Big Man, Tiny Boss” a strapping underling approaches his superior for some hands-on advice on satisfying a partner, except that he’s straight and his boss is gay. Finally, things unintentionally get a little out of hand in the changing room between a designer and his stand-in model in “Wolf Mask.”
Although I enjoyed More and More of You and Other Stories immensely, overall I think that Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories may actually be the stronger collection out of the two, or at least the one that will be more immediately accessible to a wider audience as a whole. But either way, both anthologies are great. I’ve come to expect Matsu’s work to have a sense of humor and playfulness to it, and Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories doesn’t disappoint. The stories, as well as the plentiful no-holds-barred sex scenes to be found within them, can actually be surprisingly sweet and charming. Even the scenarios with more dubious beginnings end up being rather romantic. One of the things that I particularly enjoy about Matsu’s erotic manga in Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories is that while the works aren’t overly serious and at times can be quite comedic, there is still some relationship drama and honest emotional connections between the characters; the sex is only one aspect of that greater whole.
Except for the first two manga collected in Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories which are part of the same series, none of the works in the volume are directly related to one another. However, there are a few themes that occur repeatedly. Many of the stories feature a transformation of some sort, whether it be physical or psychological. Matsu plays with size and power dynamics a fair bit in Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories as well. Both “Big Man, Tiny Boss” and “Yashio and Shibayama” deal with pushing the boundaries of professional relationships between men with different body types. The changes in size and dynamics in the two The Dangerous Games of Dr. Makumakuran stories are more fantastic and dramatic in nature and the sex ends up having to be fairly creative as a result. “Wolf Mask” turns out to be intense and kinky, too, but ultimately the relationship between the men is kind of adorable. Dr. Makumakuran and Other Stories is a great collection of erotic gay manga, Matsu exhibiting his skills as a creator whose work can be hot and heavy and still have heart. I hope to see more of his manga translated in the future.