Fuhen no Hikari – Washio Kyo
A story about childhood friends brought together by work, reminiscing their past while reflecting on why they want to be together and facing their feelings.
Unchanging Light or You’ll Always Be My Twinkling Star is about two childhood friends, Touri and Ritsu, now working as astronomers/researchers. Touri came to Japan to fetch Ritsu, whom he invited to work in the US. Ritsu’s nephew, Riichi, is helping his uncle pack, and he couldn’t help but notice a special closeness between the two older men.
First, I loved that this is about two mature men of opposite personalities and the special bond they shared since middle school. The story is not exactly a typical romance. Touri and Ritsu is not so much as stuck but more like settled comfortably in that nebulous zone of more-than-friends-but-not-lovers.
It’s a relationship of companionship, admiration and mutual support that has lasted decades. My asexual heart approves.
This one-shot is laid-back and humorous with a poignant undertone that hits hard at the kokoro with that ending! One of my top manga this year.
Kimi no Pink to Boku no Blue – Ohmura Amo
Yuuki is an aspiring musician currently working as a housekeeper. One day, he is put in charge of cleaning the house of Kikuchi Koudai, a popular fashion designer whose designs are centered around the color black. What happens when Yuuki finds Koudai’s secret plushie collection room and discovers his long-held secret love for cute things?
This manga has many things I love, not just the romance.
Your Pink and My Blue is about a genius fashion designer, Koudai, in the closet, so to speak, not for being gay, but for secretly liking all things cute and pink. His secret hoard of kawaii was discovered by his new housekeeper, Yuuki.
Expecting the usual disgust, Koudai was surprised that Yuuki was accepting, even appreciative of his love for pink. He even encouraged him to be open about it. It’s no wonder Koudai fell in love with him. But is Yuuki ready for a relationship with a man?
Koudai’s black aesthetic is totally my aesthetic! I’d kill to wear his designs! Like him, I also love anything kawaii. I hang small plushie keychains on my bag as pops of color in my all black ensemble. And I am so happy to read about a fashion designer MC because there was a time I studied to be one. It didn’t pan out, but I’ll always love fashion.
And, of course, music! Yuuki is an aspiring singer-songwriter. Heck, I’d probably be in a band if I knew how to sing or play an instrument. So this adorkable manga was practically created for me.
In truth, the execution here wasn’t anything outstanding or different from the typical enjoyable manga I’ve come across. The best thing about this is that it has one of the healthiest relationships between MCs.
The two are such supportive boyfriends in the best way possible! They never push too hard, but they instinctively know when to give the other that extra boost. It’s sweet and inspiring! Koudai and Yuuki are goals!
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.
Motokare x Security – Rihara
Since dating Miharu in high school, Rikuya Nishiki has been dependent on certain… pleasures. Deeply ashamed, he swears to become a strong, manly man, and gets a job as a bodyguard at a security company. But, part of him can’t forget all the dirty things his younger ex-boyfriend taught his body to enjoy. One day, who should turn up but Miharu himself, now a successful novelist, demanding that Rikuya be his bodyguard…! All those suppressed longings and obsessions come rushing back as Miharu casually puts the moves on him, just like old times!
My Ex-Boyfriend is My Bodyguard is a second-chance romance you might want to pick-up if you’re looking for steam. It’s also a prime example of why some exes are best left in the past.
Rikuya is an in-demand bodyguard who went viral because of his attractive looks. Before that, he was a skinny high-schooler and a geeky bookworm seduced by fellow club member Miharu. Realizing his alarming dependency on the other boy, Rikuya broke up with him and, upon entering the university, worked hard to improve his body and fighting skills.
Miharu, now a best-selling mystery author, hired Rikuya as his bodyguard, claiming he has a stalker. The idiot then spiked his bodyguard’s coffee and had his non-consensual way with Rikuya. This while there was a stalker about.
It’s clear early on Miharu is a manipulative bastard. It is unfortunate that Rikuya has a Pavlovian response to him. The poor bodyguard just couldn’t resist, tried as he might, whenever Miharu turns on the charm. Which was every chance the bastard gets.
Having the ex-boyfriend as a bodyguard is actually a cute idea, but it’s so unconvincingly done and with such a poor specimen of a seme. What a waste! Then again, you could read it for the smut.
Tameiki no Haru ni Koi no Natsu – Nobana Saori
Kuniharu Nishio had been in love with his friend ever since high school. He followed his dream of being a stylist, never letting go of these feelings, and while the nature of his work was very accepting when it came to same-sex relationships, he spent his days feeling somewhat gloomy and depressed. That is, until one day, when a new camera assistant named Ruka Nakamine showed up and suddenly confessed his love for Kuniharu. Ruka was very aggressive and annoying to the point that Kuniharu felt that kissing him was the only way to shut him up…
A Sigh In Spring, A Love In Summer is a workplace romance about moving on and letting in.
Kuniharu and Ruka are assistants to a stylist and a photographer, respectively. Upon their accidental first meeting, Ruka loudly declared he was in love with Kuniharu, then pursued him with dogged determination and an abundance of good cheer.
Thing is, Kuniharu is secretly in love with a friend already in a relationship. Ruka’s situation hits too close to home, and knowing how painful one-sided love feels, Kuniharu did everything he could to dissuade the other man. But Ruka will not be deterred and only wants to see Kuniharu smile.
Bless Ruka for his earnestness and relentlessness while keeping his hands to himself. The man’s capacity for optimism and unconditional love is admirable. When he says he only wants to see Kuniharu smile, he really meant it. He’s shorter, more childlike, and the uke, so it was surprising that he’s the older of the two.
Kuniharu took me a while to warm up to. He’s a grumpy ass, but whenever his friend calls or meets him, you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy for his unrequited feelings. The palpable misery and despair can be felt through his subtle shift of expressions or clench fists.
The most important part for me, where Kuniharu’s feelings towards Ruka changed, was done convincingly well, leaving no doubts to the pairing. Quite a feat for Ruka, given how badly Kuniharu was pining for his friend. I was lukewarm with the manga at first, but this part completely won me over!
One-sided love’s a heart-breaking bitch, but the cracks is where sunshine comes in.
Bakashite Damashite – Akabeko
Honda, a gym trainer with a dry love life, can’t help but be attracted to Konno, a man whose face is his ideal type. When he finds out that Konno is gay, he gets turned on by him, and finally realizes that he is in love. However, Konno has been in an unrequited love with someone for quite some time…… A pure and lewd love story of two clumsy men.
Seduce and Deceive is an endearing love story of misunderstandings, bisexual awakening, and two lovable doofuses thinking themselves unlovable, you just had to root hard for them.
Also, the cute nicknames!!!
Gym trainer Honda, affectionately called Ponta, a.k.a. racoon, is attracted to the new member Konno, a.k.a. Konosuke or fox. Upon learning he’s gay, Ponta, had these complicated, confused feelings for Konno, so he befriended him.
All these seemed innocuous, but then Ponta learned about Konno’s seven-year-old unrequited love that lead to heartbreak, and he couldn’t help offer a shoulder to cry on. One thing led to another, and they soon found themselves sleeping together. But is it going to be just sex?
This might be kawaii, humorous, and fluffy, but there is realism here, too. It portrays relationships as they are in real life, that many are mostly physical and never really progressed beyond that. It is often hard to find a true connection, and sometimes even if you take a chance, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll find it.
But this is not a sad story. Even with Konno’s tears and Ponta’s struggles, this manga is funny, uplifting and heartwarming. I hate the misunderstanding trope, but here it was resolved in such a satisfying way that I actually liked the way it heightened the drama. It made Ponta and Konno more open to each other.
All in all, an adorkable story of finding the right man, right words, and right connection.
Kimi no Yoru ni Fureru – Mori Moyori
An assassin who cannot kill x a blind young man
“If you knew the real me… you’d be disappointed.”
Born into a family of assassins and living in a world of darkness, Chinatsu has been unable to kill anyone due to his past trauma.
When Chinatsu’s brother died before his very eyes, a boy reached out a hand to him.
That scene is still burned into his mind…
While having the same nightmare yet again, Chinatsu happens to see the boy from that day, Kasumi, again.
Unable to leave the blind boy alone, Chinatsu unexpectedly becomes his “friend”, but… Chinatsu, who suffers his family’s curse, and Kasumi, who despite his blindness is spirited and pure.
This is a story of salvation that melts the loneliness of two people living in darkness.
Touch Within the Abyss is quite possibly one of the most beautiful manga I’ve ever read. The story and the artwork have fragile beauty that takes the breath away.
This is a story of a very reluctant assassin, Chinatsu, and his friendship with a blind young man, Kasumi. Unknown to Kasumi, Chinatsu was the young boy he helped five years ago when Chinatsu was forced to watch his brother die when Chinatsu failed to kill his target.
There’s an air of melancholy hanging over most chapters, echoing the loneliness of Kasumi, who was confined in the far corner of their estate because of his blindness. He longs to explore the world and could only do so through books.
Chinatsu is one of the best seme I’ve ever encountered, and Kasumi is the most precious uke ever! They are polar opposites. One deals with death, the other is pure and innocent. Yet, they complete each other.
With the melancholy vibe, I kept expecting tragedy. Had it been tragic, my heart wouldn’t survive it. It is a deeply poignant love story, and so very achingly tender. This manga has gripped me hard and swept me away with FEELS!
Kosodate Host wa Koi wo Tonaeru – Riita Yui
No. 1 host Chiharu is raising his dead sister’s child. He’s got no idea what he’s doing, and everyday is a struggle. When one day, bad luck strikes him hard. he breaks his arm and because of a roof leak, his home is a mess. He’s at a complete loss, when the Head Priest of the nearby temple comes to his aid, offering to let him live at the temple for the time being. However, he’s astonished when he’s introduced to the Head Priest’s son. Standing in front of him was the only man who’d ever stolen the No.1 position from Chiharu – a former junior host: Fujinami! Even though he’s younger, Fujinami is very composed and should be the kind of guy that Chiharu hates. But the big hands that touch Chiharu so gently, as if to spoil him, are so pleasant. And Chiharu’s tense mind and body unravel….?
Host clubs are fascinating because of beautiful men whose sole purpose is to entertain customers, a.k.a. ply them with as much alcohol as they can, a.k.a generate sales which can go up to millions of yen. Very cutthroat! This I learned after watching ROLAND’s channel. He was Japan’s No. 1 host and now owns several businesses, two of which are host clubs.
So this manga immediately grabbed my attention, especially with that lovely cover. The Single-Parent Host Prays For Love wasn’t a glimpse of the inner workings of a host club. Instead it was the story of a single parent host playing house with a former rival.
Chiharu broke his arm protecting a customer, and to add insult to injury, his roof leaked. Unable to work and with late sister’s son to take care of, he was forced to rely on the kindness of the temple priest’s family. And it turned out their son, Ryou, was the former uber popular host who stole his No. 1 spot in the club!
The romance was cute and has a very cozy, domestic vibe. Chiharu does his best to take care of a toddler on his own. Fiercely independent, he’s learning that it’s okay to depend on others. Ryou is a sweet, caring guy who generously takes over babysitting duties whenever Chiharu is swamped with other responsibilities.
Then, like a flick of a switch, Ryou becomes this inconsiderate horndog who apparently has no qualms dub-conning a man with a broken arm. Dude could have waited until the cast was off, but no. There was even one scene where the sling came off, possibly exacerbating the injury, because the idiot was too pushy.
Sadly, the host club angle wasn’t strongly played. It would have been interesting to see the two top hosts competing. I don’t know if this was a debut, but the story has a lot of potential, though it feels unpolished and ended abruptly.
Someday, we’ll have a proper host club BL manga, and hopefully, a better seme too.
Enishi Majiwaru Haguremono – Tobi Washio
Kazusa, an exorcist gifted with strong spiritual powers, is spirited away by a Crow Tengu on his way back from a case. Nagi’s brilliant white feathers brand him an outcast from his people, but he has a plan: become stronger by siphoning the essence of a powerful exorcist… through the bond of sex.
Outcasts Bound by Fate is a paranormal romance between two traditional enemies, an exorcist and a crow yokai called tengu.
It all started when village pariah Nagi hatched a hair-brained scheme to strengthen his powers by sexually bonding with a young but powerful exorcist, Kazusa. And being powerful, Kazusa thwarted the white tengu’s advances repeatedly, though Nagi kept coming back night after night. Later, Kazusa recognized a kindred spirit and offered his friendship, which soon blossomed into something more.
Both MCs are outcasts since childhood, Nagi for being an albino and Kazusa for his supernatural abilities. The exorcist was dropped off the temple when he was still a child, and his parents quickly washed their hands of him. The tengu, though known to have strong wind powers, was nearly kicked out of his village if not for the village elder’s decision to let him stay.
The story is sweet and super funny, with an undercurrent of sadness that made me root hard for our outcast lovers. Nagi is stunning, hella gorgeous, and the perfect tengu seme. There’s not a lot of tengu boyfriends around, but this crow yokai adores his human, and it’s swoony AF!
And I loved Nagi for being the first to open his heart to a lonely tengu no one wants. And he might be a virgin, but he’s no shrinking violet. There’s lots of steam once Kazusa gets over his initial virginal hesitations. Plus, our boy’s a fighter who stormed an entire village to find his tengu after Nagi went missing!
All in all, a fateful tale full of laughs and feels!