I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
All Asada wants is to transfer to his company's Events Planning Division and hopefully start implementing some of his ideas to make their events better and more exciting. However, his request for a transfer is turned down. On the plus side, his horrible day at work leads to him meeting Nao, the son of the owner of a cake shop. Nao convinces Asada to be his taste tester, and the two men become friends.
Unfortunately, their relationship sours when Nao tells Asada that he plans to go to France to study to be a patissier. Asada reacts badly, and he and Nao don't meet or even speak to each other again until three years later, when Asada finally achieves his goal of joining the Events Planning Division and must get a new patissier to participate in the division's upcoming sweets fair. The patissier he's been assigned to negotiate with is Nao.
This was an impulse buy. It was on sale and at least one review of it stated that it was sweet and didn't have much in the way of sex scenes. I crossed my fingers and hoped that meant it was genuinely sweet and didn't include rape-y moments. The last time I took a similar chance I ended up with Tatsumi Kaiya's Hot Steamy Glasses, which didn't fit my definition of "sweet" and included a main character who considered resorting to rape because he was feeling sexually frustrated.
Thankfully, A Love Song for the Miserable was genuinely good. Yukimura paid a fair amount of attention to the nonsexual aspects of Nao and Asada's relationship. As far as rape-y aspects went, there was one instance when it looked like things were going faster than Asada could handle, but then Nao backed off.
The volume was primarily devoted to Asada gradually realizing the true nature of his feelings for Nao (for most of those three years he told himself he loved Nao like a brother) and then worrying that someone would notice how he felt. He was afraid that Nao would either react negatively if he knew or at the very least unambiguously reject him.
It wasn't until fairly late in the volume that Asada realized there was another element in play in his feelings for Nao: envy. From Asada's perspective, Nao had found his path in life and had then managed to move forward, whereas very little had changed in Asada's own life.
I really liked watching how things worked out between Asada and Nao. It's too bad the volume wasn't a bit longer - it would have been nice to see a little more of Asada and Nao after they became an official couple, and the whole issue of Asada's career concerns didn't seem to truly be resolved (okay, so he's happy with his job now, but why?). A couple shorts, one showing Asada and Nao a few years down the line and one with Nao's boss and her husband, would have also been lovely. That said, I really enjoyed this and could see myself rereading it in the future. Sadly, I don't think any of Yukimura's other works have officially been translated into English. I'd love to read more.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)