A review of volumes 1 & 2
(WARNING: Explicit Yaoi. NSFW covers 🔞)
Birds of Shangri-La (Shangri La no Tori) v. 1-2 by Ranmaru Zariya is an ongoing and explicit yaoi series. The series is currently serialized in Canna magazine and the story follows a straight man named Apollo. Apollo needs cash quickly and so decides to work as a "teaser" for an exclusive gay brothel on a tropical island. On the tropical island, he meets the good-natured and eccentric proprietor who sets him up with the top "bird" Phi. There are some rules involved like no penetration and definitely no falling in love. Drama ensues.
Birds of Shangri-La is a straight seme x gay uke story, and it's a slow burn. Zariya's art and storytelling are top-notch, and Birds of Shangri-La is no exception. The first volume introduces us to the main and supporting characters, and we learn about Apollo and his past. In volume 2, we learn about Phi and his past. Additionally, we see trouble brewing for the supporting characters and the brothel. Besides prostitution, content warnings include fighting, sexual violence/rape, abuse, troubled childhood (including underage prostitution), and other mature themes. This is not a happy story, but it's not too heavy either. There's a nice balance.
I am looking forward to each volume. If you're looking for smut BL with great stories and art, then I highly recommend Birds of Shangri-La and the rest of Ranmaru Zariya's catalog. Zariya is one of my favorite BL mangakas. Besides Birds of Shangri-La, I am enjoying Coyote, another ongoing series, and I enjoyed the one-shot Liquor & Cigarettes. The only story I dislike thus far is Void, a one-volume sci-fi, romance drama between a humanoid, male robot and human man. All of these works have been licensed via SuBLime (NSFW website).