Ruff Love by Kirishima Tamaki
Warning: This is a Yaoi review. Yaoi is a form of Japanese graphic novels, a manga featuring gay romance. Usually written by women, for women, this stories range from sweet romances to extremely steamy sexual adventures between men. If this is not your cup of tea, well, you have been warned.
Taketora is a writer of historical fiction; one with a problem. His writing is lackluster and has poor characterization. In his life, people say he is cold. Taketora is lacking in self confidence. He is beautiful, but can't even accept that since he looks like his grandfather, who was a famous actor. He always assumes that people are attracted to his grandfather's fame, and not to him. It is rather sad.
Then one day he comes home and finds a naked boy emerging from the ground, complete with dog ears and a tail. He is Shiba, the reincarnation of his grandfather's dog, come back in this form to repay his grandfather's kindness to him in life. Since he can't do that, he swears to serve his master's grandson instead.
Shiba is very willing, but horribly awkward. Think about a puppy that is so horribly happy to see you that they knock over the furniture. However, Taketora does not mind, coming to like the simple devotion, and the fact that there is someone at home to greet him.
But Shiba worries that he is a burden to Taketora, who, though he spends time thinking about the way he feels isn't very good at talking about it. Shiba is worried that his clumsy ways are a burden to his master, and offers to go away if that will make him happier.
Galvanized at last, Taketora tells Shiba that he loves him, and proves it in a very physical way.
Now they are happier, and very affectionate, though there is no more intimate contact. Things progress comfortably until the spring. Then, in the season when dogs go into heat, every dog is suddenly intensely attracted to Shiba. Worse, there is a big black stray that has been seen in the neighborhood that jumps him! And the dog becomes a human, just like Shiba with ears and a tail. Akatsuki is his name. Taketora drives him off, but now Shiba is in heat, and they address the matter, well, how it is supposed to be addressed.
Afterwards, exhausted, glowing, and starving, they go to have dinner. But Akatsuki has eaten it all! Now Taketora has two dog spirits living with him. Worse, Akatsuki is, well, a bad dog! He wants Shiba for himself, is a glutton, and distrusts people. Just as Shiba had been loved by Taketora's grandfather, Akatsuki had been adopted by a priest. Wild and feral he was a danger to all around him, but the priest was patient, and loved him, and gently tamed him, promising they would always be together. Then the priest died.
So Akatsuki has abandonment issues, and has come back to experience human love...but he can't find his human. And in the meantime, Taketora has to deal with a jealous dog getting between him and his beloved. And then there is the mysterious condition that is making Taketora weaker as his life gets better....
This is a very interesting Yaoi in many ways. It has several elements that are outstandingly good, and yet, it has things that really drag it down. One, it is not unique, but it is unusual. The "puppy love" issue has been done before, in Man's Best Friend. However, this one is very well written, with good pacing and interesting plot. The art is absolutely scrumptious. That said, there are a few problems.
Puppy love is the first among them. While the Japanese have many legends of animal spirits falling in love with humans, western mythology is not as replete with farm boys seduced by Fox Women. It is a little discomforting. Okay, that aside, there is another issue; Puppy love, or specifically, Shiba's perceived age.
In Yaoi, the Seme (or active partner) is usually larger and more muscular, with narrower eyes and more masculine carriage. The Uke (or passive partner) tends to be younger, smaller, and more slender, with larger eyes. However, Shiba is really small. In his former life he was a small lapdog; maybe that is supposed to be the effect; Akatsuki was a big dog, and is a full sized male. However, combining his size, perky outlook, and submissive nature, he comes across as far too young for what they are doing. Of course, he is SUPPOSED to be twenty (the length of time from his death) but it comes across as underage dating.
One other thing that I dislike is she resorts to "Chibi" the cutesy plush doll looking art with stylized emotions for shock, rage, sadness, etc, etc, etc. This is a normal thing in many manga, but I happen not to like it, and she happens to do it A LOT.
On the plus side, her art really is first rate, with a great deal of greytone shading, background detail, and just plain great anatomy. Her sex scenes are brief, but highly detailed, and leave nothing, at all, to the imagination.
There could have been more character development here. Shiba doesn't seem to grow up. However, Taketora does seem to unwind over the course of things. Perhaps there will be a volume two, and we see more depth to the personalities.
All in all, this is a superlative yaoi that just missed the target. It could have been great. As it is, it is pretty good. And it is definitely different.
Try these Yaoi reviews:
Love Circles *(801)*Maiden Rose 1 *(801)*Maniac Shorts Shot *(801)*Gay's Anatomy *(801)*Happy Yaoi Yum Yum *(801)*The Loudest Whisper *(801)*Lover's Flat *(801)*Wild Butterfly *(801)*Shards of Affection*(801)*Romantic Illusions *(801)*Ruff Love*(801)*Thunderbolt Boys Excite Vol 2*(801)*Thunderbolt Boys Excite Vol 1*(801)*Pathos*(801)*Pathos II*(801)*The Crimson Spell 2 *(801)*The Crimson Spell *(801)*Incubus *(801)*Incubus Volume 2*(801)*Incubus Volume 3*(801)*Love + Alpha*(801)*Yellow*(801)*Yakuza in Love 3 *(801)*Yakuza in Love 2 *(801)*Yakuza in Love *(801)*Beyond Scandalous Seiryo University *(801)*Return to Seiryo University *(801)*Scandalous Seiryo University *(801)*Wild Rock *(801)*Man's Best Friend *(801)*Shinobu Kokoro *(801)*Midaresomenishi: A Legend of Samurai Love *(801)*Stallion *(801)*Gerard & Jaques 2 *(801)*Gerard & Jaques 1
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