I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
This was one of my used bookstore finds. It was wrapped in plastic and had the “you must be 18 years or older to purchase” sticker (all done by the used bookstore - the manga volume itself says 16+). This could mean anything from “the main characters are both male and do no more than hold hands and kiss” to “OMG, raunchy rape-y sex.” The cover looked cute, so I decided to take the risk.
For the most part, the art is good-looking, uncluttered, and easy-to-follow. I may keep the volume just for that. Characters' necks occasionally seemed off (a tad too long), and I didn't always like how Hoshino drew lips. Overall, though, I enjoyed the artwork. I do feel I should note that Hoshino prefers to draw m/m couples so that one is more clearly male and the other looks like a flat-chested girl. Mewt could have dressed in a boys' school uniform, and he'd still have looked like a cross-dressing girl. His behavior was also more stereotypically female (lots of cute blushing).
For those wondering about the sexual content: it's mostly kissing, with one fade-to-black sex scene (can you call it a scene if it doesn't happen on-page?). There's some nudity, but, in my opinion, nothing worth the “wrapped in plastic” treatment.
This is basically an anthology. Since there aren't that many stories, I might as well go over each of them individually.
“My Only King” - The royal crest is about to be transferred to the new king when it suddenly disappears. Mewt is sent to find the person to whom it has accidentally been attached. He is supposed to guard that person and the royal crest until the crest can be removed. That person turns out to be a high school student named Kazuomi.
This was the longest story out of the bunch, taking up half the volume. It was cute, but kind of bland. It's basically a “gay for you” story, although Kazuomi was extremely inconsistent. On the one hand, he acted like a player as far as girls are concerned, and he kept insisting that he couldn't possibly be interested in Mewt because Mewt was a guy. On the other hand, he experienced almost no hesitation when flirting with and kissing Mewt. Watching him and Mewt together was like watching a m/f couple (Mewt looked and dressed like a girl), so I suppose he could have been envisioning Mewt as a girl during those scenes. Maybe?
My biggest problem with this story was that it fell flat in the end. What's the point of having a story, even a relatively cliche one, if you're not going to finish it? Mewt was supposed to be Kazuomi's bodyguard, but he was a terrible one, leaving Kazuomi in a snit after the girl Kazuomi had previously been hoping to sleep with made some hurtful comments. The royal crest supposedly put Kazuomi in danger, but I only knew this because Mewt said so – nothing ever tried to go after Kazuomi or the crest. By the end of the story, Mewt's people hadn't even made their first attempt to get the crest off Kazuomi, and no one seemed particularly concerned about this. Kazuomi and Mewt's budding romance was more on the forefront, and yet not a single person questioned what would happen to the two of them once Kazuomi no longer bore the crest.
“Twinkle Twinkle Horoscope” - Masuzawa is in a funk because his girlfriend broke up with him, so a couple of his female friends look up his love horoscope and learn that he'd be most compatible with an Aquarius. Yabana, one of Masuzawa's male friends, is an Aquarius, so Masuzawa jokingly announces that the two of them should be going out. Yabana complains but goes along with it, because he's been worried about Masuzawa. However, the whole thing may not really be a joke after all.
Another bland story. Getting these two together via a love horoscope seemed like a complete stretch, and it was odd how little most people reacted to the “joke.” Masuzawa's female friends didn't even pay any attention to his sudden announcement.
“The Ghost in the Bath” - Mr. Issei's bathtub is possessed by the ghost of a cute boy. Over time, Issei has grown attached to the ghost, and it seems the ghost has grown attached to him as well – when Issei jokingly complains that he can't really bring women around, the ghost gets jealous. When Issei learns that the ghost could leave his bathroom if it possessed something else, he suggests that it possess him so that they could be together all the time.
I was uncomfortable with how young the ghost looked in comparison to Mr. Issei, although it helped that their relationship could just as easily be viewed as friendship or companionship rather than romance.
The story was a complete logic fail. The whole “let's be together all the time” bit was supposed to be cute, but all I could think about was how weird Mr. Issei's coworkers would think he was if he suddenly started showing up to work everyday with a girly-looking boy in tow. How was he going to explain it to his boss?
“Mixed Chocolate” - Two guys reminisce about the time before they became secret lovers, when they were just strangers assigned to sit one behind the other in class.
Back when they were strangers who happened to be in the same class together, Kakiuchi, who sat behind Ogasawara, thought the nape of Ogasawara's neck looked beautiful. That's it, that's all there was to this story. Oh, that and worrying that other people might have guessed they were lovers. I'm not even sure I can call this a story.
“The King and Rune” - In a certain fantasy land, there are nine kingdoms, each with nine different kings. The ninth king sells children for profit. Rune and Emma are two such children. Rune hates being sold so much that he acts up and gets sent back each time. Emma, an albino, has no prospective buyers. Emma seems to like the king, while Rune hates him. The king, meanwhile, treats both of them indulgently. This goes on until Rune and Emma are adults. Rune learns that Emma finally has a buyer and will soon be leaving, so he asks the king not to sell her. The king says he'll do as Rune wishes, but first Rune must pay a price.
My description makes this one sound like it's probably rape-y. Well, it isn't. And, according to the text, the king is actually a nice guy: he buys the children from horrible slave traders and sells them to people who treat them nicely. So...he's a nice slave trader? Or something. The problem with this is that, if this were the case, Rune would have known it without having to have been told by Emma once they were adults. There was no mention of his past before he became one of the children the king sold, and he was sold so many times that he should have known, from experience, that the people he was being sold to weren't bad. Oh, and you have to accept the idea of happy slaves.
And one question I had: why was the king still selling Rune and Emma after they were no longer children?
This story really, really didn't work for me. Also, I assume it was one of Hoshino's earlier works, because the artwork style is different from the rest of the volume – it looked more awkward, and I didn't like it as much.
I was wondering why the author's name sounded so familiar, so I did some searching, trying to figure out if I'd read another one of her works. It turns out Hoshino is the author of the series that was adapted into the Otome Yokai Zakuro anime.
Four full-color pages, plus a one-page comic-style note from the author.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)