Ep. 60: Dick Fight Island Vol 1, by Reibun Ike
The book we’ve been threatening to cover for two seasons is finally here. You have arrived… at Dick Fight Island! This pinnacle of BL manga is the talk of the town, and now it’s here in a very spicy, NSFW episode of Mangasplaining.
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Dick Fight Island Volume 1
By Reibun Ike
Translated by Adrienne Beck
Touch-up art and lettering by Deborah Fisher
Cover and graphic design by Alice Lewis
Edited by Jennifer LeBlanc
Published by SuBLime Manga (Print/Digital)
Show notes by Christopher Woodrow-Butcher and Deb Aoki. Audio editing by David Brothers
Before We Get Started: This is a VERY NSFW episode. Lots of very explicit discussions, explicit imagery, all kinds of… d*cks. Reader/viewer/listener discretion is advised.
About Reibun Ike:
[Deb:] As usual, not a whole lot of info about Reibun Ike’s bio is available online, but you can visit their portfolio site to see more of their work. They’re also on Twitter at @i_reibun, where they post lots of sketches and illustrations from their current work in progress, including Sylvain the Magician’s Shop (魔術師シルヴァンの店) They’re also published in Be•Boy Gold, a bi-monthly (every 2 months!) BL manga magazine from Libre.
00:46 Synopsis from the publisher
The tournament to choose the next king of the islands is about to begin. The rules are simple—whoever comes first loses! To ensure they don’t, participating warriors protect their mighty swords with armor that grows larger and more elaborate with each tournament. But one warrior who’s been studying abroad has returned with a secret technique certain to force a pleasurable eruption! Is there a warrior alive able to withstand it? Or is this deft warrior destined to become king?!From SuBLime Manga
01:00 Couldn’t even get through the synopsis without giggling. Here we gooooooo…!
02:00 So is BL Manga Boy’s Love… or BATTLE LUST?!
03:25 Yeah, we don’t wanna spoil it TOO much, but honestly, the ‘secret technique’ is prostate massage, and how that will change the tide of the contest where dudes try to make each other ejaculate. Now you’re up to speed!
Actually, I wrote the paragraph above as I was listening to the podcast to write this, in real time. However, going back now to do another pass on the notes: We spoiled EVERYTHING. We have all kinds of funny jpegs, and this is super racy episode. So, uh, spoilers galore ahead, buyer beware, and here’s one more reminder to go buy a copy of Dick Fight Island and support the author/publisher/BL manga in English.
[Deb:] It’s worth noting that if you buy Dick Fight Island in digital format directly from SuBLime Manga, you’ll have the option to download a PDF or ePUB version to keep. This is something you can only get if you buy it directly from the SuBLime website, so go get you some!
[Deb:] So one thing that we forgot to mention in our introduction to Dick Fight Island (maybe because we were giggling so much) is that the original title of this series (in Japanese) was The 8 Warriors (8人の戦士).
[Deb:] It was only due to editor Jennifer LeBlanc’s insistence that the English edition be titled Dick Fight Island instead that it got so much attention and has sold as well as it has here, IMHO. We’ll chat with her on an upcoming Mangasplaining: Listen to Me! segment and get more of the backstory on that, hopefully.
Also wanted to acknowledge the recent online kerfuffle about a shelf-talker / recommendation card for Dick Fight Island at a Barnes & Noble bookstore. The Mary Sue has the backstory on that one.
04:30 So yeah, one of our sticking points in our previous episode about a BL manga, Birds of Shangri-La, is that even on an island of sex-working fellas, everyone had exactly the same body-type. Things are a little better in Dick Fight Island. The main competitors have a slight variety to their builds, some of them approach ‘musclebear’ territory even. It’s better for that than a lot of the BL manga I’ve seen. The actual King has a beard, and we see later is also a bit physically bigger than the other boys.
05:24 You gotta trust me, it’s a funny bit. Can’t find a video online.
06:45 Yeah, so there’s a real plethora of d*ck in this particular manga… Or is there? I mean, there’s this tiny censor bar here, what could this possibly be covering up?
09:32 “Bloodsport is a plot that always works.” David with a great observation, as usual. And we do take this to a couple of different places here…
09:49 David also calls out the Table of Contents on this one, and even though it really feels like there are chapter breaks, apparently this is just one like 180+ page book, with an epilogue, and it made me laugh.
10:54 One of the first clues that, regardless of what the book seems to suggest later on, the world of Dick Fight Island absolutely does not exist in our own world? It’s the dinosaurs. There are dinosaurs on Dick Fight Island, and no, they do not fight with their dicks. They’re just sort of cute.
13:30 So yeah, I don’t know if it’s like, discussed or not, but Street Fighter II, the classic arcade fighting game, is pretty clearly directly ‘inspired’ by the Jean Claude Van Damme film Bloodsport. Which would make the character of Guile actually be based on Van Damme… who then went on to play Guile in the big-screen adaptation of Street Fighter II game. So yeah, it’s wild.
And then this double page opening spread reveal of characters is very ‘video game’ as well.
17:00 So yeah! My opinion shifts a little bit between here and the end of the podcast, but overall, I’m with Chip here, the book starts to really coalesce when the ‘outsider’ roommate character gets introduced. I think I explained my position pretty well on the podcast? But yeah, the direct juxtaposition of the real world with the insanity of Dick Fight Island elevates the story, IMHO.
20:43 Chip references the panel “Do you get it now,” which is about using proper lube and warming your partner up properly, before just shoving things into their ass… Which is a great message delivered in a pretty aggressive way! Let Dick Fight Island teach you about proper anal sex safety and etiquette!
24:10 Gay BL manga YouTuber Krispnatz has done a few videos on pushback to BL manga tropes, specifically age-gap stuff and consent stuff, but there’s lots more too. Here’s one about consent in BL manga and anime, which is an interesting take!
28:15 CHIP WITH SHOTS FIRED. Dudes, find out about your prostates, for both fun AND for health reasons.
I tried to find a ‘funny’ stock photo or comic about prostate health here, and uh, yikes. Dudes really do need to find out about their prostates.
Anyway, here’s a scene from the movie Road Trip, which was the first time I saw a straight guy enjoy getting anything up his ass, or even a mention of prostate massage, in popular media.
“If you’re super into Deadpool and you’re okay with him being pan, then Dick Fight Island is for you!”Christopher Woodrow-Butcher, Mangasplaining
[Deb:] Also, if you’re super into Deadpool, go check out Deadpool Samurai from VIZ Media — it’s edited by our own David Brothers, and we talked about it on a Mangasplaining Manga Blind Date segment back in Episode 50, with another (much sweeter, less d*ck-centric) BL manga, Our Dining Table.
30:11 David references the manga Gantz by Hiroya Oku, currently in print in 37 volumes from Dark Horse. It’s a very popular seinen action series, stylish and ultra-violent. It’s about people who’ve died being reincarnated into a game in which they have to hunt and kill aliens using futuristic weapons and armor. It has sex in it, and violence, sometimes at the same time. I can’t imagine it’s a manga we’ll cover on the podcast but you never know, David has surprised us before. 🙂
Worth noting that Sony has a Gantz movie in production. Sony America, that is, there’s already been an anime and a live-action. Maybe we’ll all need to read it before the American movie comes out.
[Deb:] There’s already a Gantz live action movie produced in Japan in 2010 that had a US premiere event at Graumann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood a few years ago (plus a sequel too!). How do I know? I was there! I have photos from that day filed somewhere, but the meantime, here’s the trailer from New People Entertainment so you kinda get what we mean by this “people in armor killing aliens” thing.
31:25 I’m sure there’s a doujinshi with Dragonball Z’s Goku, in a sort of Dick Fight Island tournament now being created as we speak… if it’s not already created and available for sale. Lol.
32:15 It’s the time where we pick some of our favourite parts of the manga! Deb has a lot of favs in this one, unsurprisingly. First up, it’s the reaction-shots! “The tip is in…”
Deb also totally loved both this hilarious line and the visual response:
33:58 David loves it when the roommate shows up…
34:10 Christopher’s fave scene was where they introduce the idea of bowing, while showing their asses, to show respect with wiggling.
34:30 And yeah, one of the best things about the illustrations in this one is that these d*cks have volume! Great big old hogs, as they say.
36:00 David “The chief has a python, but you need to have the jaws of a python to take it in.”
37:05 And then Chip, incredulous at one of the book’s funniest lines: (Complimenting a man’s ass)
38:10 Street Fighter Alpha 3? Akuma defeats the last boss.
Here’s an example of the video game trope I was talking about! Ryu vs. Akuma as the final boss, except… NOPE! Akuma shows up, takes down Bison in 1 second, and the real fight begins!
38:40 Daredevil x Mephisto x Silver Surfer! A classic tale! Probably available on Marvel Unlimited.
39:45 According to the Sublime publisher website, Dick Fight Island Volume 2 is the ‘final volume’. I mean, who knows if Reibun Ike will go back and decide to create a third volume, sometime in the future, but looks like it’s just 2 books for now. Go get your second volume at the Sublime website. It’s also available in print!
[Deb:] If you’ve wondered what’s the story behind how Harto and Matthew met at Oxbridge University, whether Moon Clan chosen Bulan and Earth Clan’s Roro took things further after their match, how the people of Pulau Yang Indah have managed to survive and thrive in the modern world (while keeping their modern tech devices running and maintaining the secrecy of their special customs), well, Dick Fight Island volume 2 should be on your must-buy list, if it isn’t already. It’s available now from SuBLime Manga.
[Deb:] Also, if you’re eager for more, there IS a doujinshi created by Reibun Ike called Dick Fight Island: The Preliminary Judging Arc that’s available only in Japanese as a digital version. You can get it from Cmoa!
I bought it (for the sake of science, okay??) and while it is a pretty short booklet (28 pages) over half of it is in color. The premise is that the referee (the person wearing the hat with the beaded curtain in the book, and in braids below) personally vets each of the 8 warriors to see if they’re worthy of combat in the big arena. How does he do that? By putting their endurance to the test for himself! Many scenes are SO raunchy they have MULTIPLE bars over the d*cks. I struggled to find an excerpt that wasn’t too extra — this partial screenshot of a page of the referee with Yudha on the right below was the best example I could find that didn’t include giant, detailed d*ck images. It’s only 200 yen (less than $2), and even if you can’t read Japanese, you’ll kinda get what’s going on…
42:30 We had to bleep all of that. Mostly for jokes. 😉
45:30 Inio Asano’s work, in particular Goodnight Punpun, has so, so much very awful and uncomfortable sex. Like, just soul-destroying. But it’s a great book too, and it has a lot to recommend it. I think I threatened on air, last season, to make everyone read a downer book by Asano-sensei, like Punpun or Downfall (both available now from VIZ Media). I probably should follow up on that at some point.
47:20 The book I referenced is Yes, Roya, by C. Spike Trotman and EA Denich. It’s a sexy, thrilling, complicated story, and it has some gay stuff in it. It’s a very different than Dick Fight Island, but you never know, you might be into it anyway. Go check it out on Iron Circus’ website.
48:49 THE BREAK
Here’s our FIRST question of the week:
Hey! Big fan of the show. I was thinking it might be interesting for your one year anniversary episode, to go back and re-read the first three or so manga you did… or at least have Chip reread them? Now that he’s much more familiar with manga and it’s tropes, I’d be curious to hear if his opinions had changed at all. If maybe things that confused or put him off at the start are no problem for him now, or even worse? Just a thought. Keep up the good work! 😊-Kalen Knowles
50:05 Chip SWORE he would! But short answer: No.
51:00 He really liked volume 2 of Ping Pong by Taiyo Matsumoto! Hooray!
[Deb:] You can hear Chip’s glowing endorsement of Ping Pong vol. 1 in Mangasplaining Episode 59.
52:49 Chip is actually making a LOT of comics right now, creator-owned too. Look at this:
Go check out his stuff on the Image Comics website, and on Comixology.
[Deb:] Also, Chip has a bunch of great exclusive content on his Substack newsletter. Sign up — you won’t regret it!
56:00 And here’s our second question of the week!
I’ve been wondering this for a while. Why is Japan excluded for some digital platforms with English translations/subtitles? Is it just a contractual/licensing thing because the untranslated work originated in Japan?Kevin Nguyen, Twitter
Short answer: Money.
Meanwhile, we almost start with a third question, but decide to stop. David still takes a second to recommend Shoujo Fight, and All-Rounder Meguru, both available from Kodansha. Here’s those images he was talking about from the women’s fight in All-Rounder Meguru.
Looks pretty great! From All-Rounder Meguru Volume 7. Check it out wherever you get books!
And we kinda ran out of time for shout-outs, so that’s it for this week!
Thanks so much for listening! Please support your local comic and manga specialty shop when purchasing these books, and you can find one near you at comicshoplocator.com. You can also check your local library for print and digital lending options, they have TONS of manga! Also, check us out at MangasplainingExtra.com, we’re doing cool stuff over there. Finally, thanks to D.A.D.S. for their musical accompaniment this episode.
I feel like Dick Fight Island is the Ronseal of BL Manga. It does what it says on the tin. There’s an island, there are dicks a plenty, and there are fights. If you are squicked by the idea of forcing someone to ejaculate in front of a live audience then you know not to pick the book up! But if that idea gives you a big ol’ dopamine shot then you will not be left disappointed!
It’s all about consent! Both in the sense of the characters entering the tournament — who have the ability to tap out and surrender if they don’t want to take part anymore — and the reader who knows what to expect going in. It’s not like when you’re told something is a wholesome romance and then get hit with unexpected and violent Non-Con/Dub-Con! Everyone involved in Dick Fight Island is obeying the rules of Consensual Kink, and I think that’s beautiful.
There’s probably also some fun meta text narrative to be had that (and possibly VAGUEST spoilers for Vol 2?) that the tournament was devised to stop war from ever breaking out again by, well… making love instead. It’s really all quite profound in an island full of jiggly bums kind of a way.
So, next question: When are you gonna read MADK?
Well…I tried. I gave it my best, honestly. There *were* some things that I thought were good, like the consent issue, but everyone was too stupid for me to care. ^_^; I mean…even I know about the prostate, for /bleep/’s sake. In my review on Okazu I also pointed out that fetishizing an island culture’s ritual sailed a little too close to colonialism. I always find the fetishizing of gay sex vaguely problematic, as well.
That said…the art was amazing.
Listening to you all talking about it was a lot of fun, too…and you got me to read a BL manga, which is always an achievement.
If anyone cares about my opinion, I reviewed Volume 1 here: https://okazu.yuricon.com/2022/04/10/dick-fight-island-volume-1/
Looking forward to more great Mangasplaining.
I laughed out loud when I read the line in your comment about how “everyone was too stupid for me to care” – looking back, the guys did have airhead moments at times haha!
I enjoyed reading your review of Dick Fight Island on your blog – it was interesting to read a perspective that’s very different to mine. More specifically, I enjoyed the manga, and I’m also a fan of BL. Your point on the gay sex in the manga being treated as something to be “tee-hee”d at is food for thought, and another angle for me to think about when viewing BL through a critical lens. And yes, that title certainly did set the tone for the manga! I remember when I got volume 1 of the manga, I jokingly complained to my sister about the title, and kept wanting to call it “The 8 Warriors” instead of its actual English title.
As someone who studied anthropology at university, your point that “fetishizing an island culture’s ritual sailed a little too close to colonialism” did make sense to me. Part of our undergraduate curriculum involved unpacking the ways that anthropology entwines with the power structures in the society around it, which included the system of colonialism.
Lastly, I fully agree that the art was beautiful! I thought that both the men and the women were drawn beautifully, especially the women of the Fang Clan (in my humble opinion). 🙂
Haha, thanks for your comment Erica!
This was an absolutely wild ride to read for someone new to BL. Absolutely insane for me to just pick this up after listening to the episode and read it. I’m very new to BL and this felt like something else- BL taken to a goofy extreme. Wow.
Question about BL and Yuri now- if BL is marketed toward straight women in Japan, is Yuri marketed toward straight men?
I was hoping Erica Friedman (an amazing expert on Yuri) would see this and respond, but until she does the basic answer is… no. Yuri came out of shoujo manga, but unlike BL it sorta crosses over all the major demos (shonen/shoujo/seinen/josei). But, as you probably would expect, a lot of male-targeted erotic manga does have lesbian elements in the same way straight male targeted porn does…
Finally listened to this episode because my copy of the manga only arrived a few days back (I still try to order, when I can, from the local comic store here in Victoria but, maybe due to being on an island combined with all the COVID supply issues everything now seems to take forever to come in). And for once I don’t have any great rants to add to the notes and the comments here.
I *liked* it. I didn’t love it, but it was a fun read. I think my main issue is the battle manga does next to zero for me. I just find it pretty boring. The gay sex of course meant I was more engaged that I woulda been if, for example, they had just been using actual swords, but… I guess I do prefer more melodrama, and that dreaded word, angst (even if it’s often so poorly and stereotypically handled in BL) .
I kinda disagree with one thing I think Christopher (sorry if it was someone else) said about the title, though. I *don’t* think it actually is something that is an example of uber-BL, incorporating so many BL elements that non-fans might be thrown. I was actually surprised that it had far fewer of the tropes than I expected of BL on the more YAOI-side… Absolutely no uke/seme power dynamics (or expectations that certain characters would fit that role), nothing about the sex being remotely taboo, no straight character being initiated (or realizing he’s “gay for one special guy only”) etc.
I actually wondered if the lack of all that would put off some BL fans. I recently had to leave a BL group because I just got sick of how fixated so many members of it were about these tropes (a recent BL got a remarkable amount of hate from people who were *not* pleased that the more typically seme character actually admitted he only liked bottoming–so much so that at least half a dozen members said they lost interest in the title then and there. Notably of course these readers all seemed to be straight…). But I guess not, given all the attention and sales it’s gotten (I agree with Deb that renaming it as they did played a big part there).
I do find it funny how, especially in the English market, BL has become such a vast category that it seems to basically mean any work with gay male sex and/or romance that probably (but increasingly not always!) is written by a women and targets women and girls. I still remember when I was discovering all this as a teen in the 90s and at least then there was a pretty distinct difference between shonen ai and YAOI. But now everything is lopped together as BL so you have side by side something like Dick Fight (which strikes me as fitting the definition of full out YAOI, with virtually no plot) and another Sublime best seller, Given which has almost no sex. And on the other side there’s “gay manga” but already that seems to be pigeon holed in its own way, with a predominance of the same types of stories and even male body types (I’m all for bears, but c’mon where are my otters??) But I guess we’ll get to that when MASSIVE is discussed (which is a book where I love 2/3rds of the work represented and hate the other 1/3…)
Oh and congrats to Chip on doing a great job hosting, and resisting the urge (which must have been there) to open with a homage to Christopher’s “Helloooo” opening.
This episode was a right riot to listen to. Glad you all had so much fun with it.
I would love if you could interview Jennifer LeBlanc so we could learn about what it took to get renamed. DFI is such a perfect title for the book the Japanese original feels bland by comparison. I really wonder if this title would have taken off in the English-reading market under the “8 Warriors” title. (I find it mind boggling the Japanese doesn’t even go for a tongue-in-cheek title like “Swords of the 8 Warriors” or something of that ilk. I wonder if Ike want to belie the mundanity of the title with the zaniness in the story.)
I saw a copy of this for sale the last time I was in the UK and was too shy to pick it up, now I regret that decision!