Seven years ago, just as his life was falling apart, Yoshiyuki Nomura was approached out of the blue by a small-time private detective, Yasuie, who offered him employment and, more importantly, escape. Yoshiyuki agreed and the two have been working together ever since, though they have more work shampooing cats than anything else. Their relationship with each other is easy and playful and Yoshiyuki has never thought much about Yasuie’s touchy-feely nature and frequent sexual teasing, but when Yoshiyuki’s estranged adoptive parents seek him out to schedule a marriage interview, Yasuie freaks out and rapes Yoshiyuki, claiming afterwards that he’s always loved him and begging him to stay with the agency. Being raped, of course, only makes it easier for Yoshiyuki to leave and he returns to his family, ready to go through with the marriage interview.
It’s really difficult not to become weary of the overabundance of rape in yaoi manga and in this case it really is a shame, because Live for Love is otherwise an extremely charming story. The relationship between Yoshiyuki and Yasuie is frankly adorable and unusually well developed for a yaoi one-shot, filled with playful banter and obvious affection. The humor, too, really hits the mark, as the men resign themselves to the fact that their business has devolved into a cheap cat-grooming salon. Even the art is charming, with attractive character designs and an ease of expression that matches the story’s off-the-cuff feel. What’s saddest is that the rape serves no real purpose other than to hasten Yoshiyuki’s departure from the detective agency, which could have easily been achieved by other means that might have also made his eventual return to Yasuie much easier to believe.
For those who can stomach the nonconsensual sex, Live for Love is smart, engaging, and fun, with good humor and endearing characters who deserve better treatment than they get.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at PopCultureShock.