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MANGA: Ningyou Yuugiroku

Ningyou Yuugiroku – Hatoba Kogarashi

As a high-ranking general captured after the end of a war, the Holy Knight Gilbert braces for execution… when at the last moment, his life is saved by Chris, the enemy nation’s master artificer and puppeteer. An arrogant, wickedly playful man who surrounds himself only with dolls of his own making, Chris claims to admire the beauty of Gilbert’s soul and intends to use him to create his newest masterpiece.

When Gilbert refuses to go along with Chris’s plan, he is forced to choose between certain death and forsaking his faith to become an immortal doll. Hoping to buy enough time to make his escape, Gilbert instead offers himself up to Chris as a slave. But if that’s the game this knight wishes to play, then Chris fully intends on toying with him until Gilbert breaks to his will…

We could all agree that the cover is GORGEOUS! And that this manga is smutty AF.

The Genius Puppeteer Loves the Holy Knight Fiercely is about high-ranking knight Gilbert, held captive by the genius puppeteer Chris, who saved the man from execution by offering to turn him into a doll. Not wanting to lose hope that someday he might escape, Gilbert offered his body for Chris’s sexual pleasure in exchange for not turning him into a doll.

Personally, the cover gave me Captive Prince vibes. Tall, blond Chris with mismatched magical eyes can see souls. Shunned as a child, he took solace in dolls. He’s arrogant and aloof, but has a surprisingly childish side. He saw Gilbert’s soul and thought it would be perfect for his creation.

Gilbert is dark-haired, muscular, and fiercely loyal to his country. He’s compelled to submit or else be executed. Spare you the details, but he learned to like it. Later events opened his eyes to some bitter truths, and he has no where else to go.

The plot might be something I’ve read many times already, but the additions of paranormal elements and dollmaking technology amidst war give it an edge. The story is somewhat gritty and dark, with lots of non-con moments.

I am pleasantly surprised that it fit everything within a single volume because this is the type of story that could go on and on, and I’ll never see the end of it. Even with just five and a half chapters, it was able to portray the evolution of Chris and Gilbert’s relationship convincingly.

With the English title like that, you’d think this would be a swoony affair. This isn’t your usual cute, squee-tastic romance. This is a romance built on dominance and forced submission.

The softer feelings and, most importantly, trust came later. It was compelling and nuanced with a deep connection that can only be acquired through trial by fire. All in all, swoony in its own way, definitely fucked up and surprisingly poignant.

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