By Rie Honjoh
Published by 801 Media
At eighteen years old, Aoto has had more than his share of tragedy. Orphaned in his youth, he’s dedicated himself to taking care of his older sister, Ryouko. Though relief eventually arrives in the form of Ryouko’s fiancé, Takashi, it brings along with it a new set of troubles, as Aoto quickly realizes he’s fallen in love with his new brother-in-law. Now, after his sister’s death, Aoto is left alone with Takashi, experiencing both grief and guilt over his own feelings. Then enters Masayuki, an old classmate of Takashi’s who is smitten with Aoto and determined not to let him pine after his dead sister’s husband for the rest of his life.
I’d anticipated this release quite enthusiastically, based on the emotionally affecting trailer offered up on YouTube by 801 Media, and at the outset it indeed seemed to have all the elements required to make up a rather touching (if conventional) boys’ love story. Unfortunately there are also several moves taken from the Creepy Yaoi Playbook, preventing the story’s early promise from quite following through.
Though fourteen years his senior, Masayuki chases Aoto like a sex-obsessed teen, grabbing at him incessantly at the least appropriate times and forcing himself on Aoto the moment he receives the slightest reciprocation of his feelings. Finally able to release his apparently uncontrollable urges, Masayuki forges on, regardless of Aoto’s obvious physical and emotional discomfort, whispering sweet nothings like, “Don’t worry. It’ll be over soon. Come on,” while Aoto winces in pain.
… be still my heart?
The manga’s reliance on questionably consensual sex is honestly a real shame, as it is otherwise quite thoughtful, exploring the internal struggles of its three main characters with unexpected insight. Though its “gender doesn’t matter” theme stubbornly refuses to grant the characters a shred of gay identity, even this could pass as a minor quibble if the sexual politics were not so blatantly askew. Rie Honjoh’s art is expressive and even whimsical, giving the romantic scenes a sense of playfulness that is distinctly refreshing in a story of this kind. Though the volume’s primary tale is interrupted halfway through to make way for a short side story involving one of its supporting characters, it still manages to feel substantial, especially in terms of character development.
For those who can stomach the bedroom dynamics, Love Skit certainly has its charms. For less fervent fans of the genre, it is probably best left on the shelf.