Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: March 2007
Synopsis: “Broken-hearted Naru tried drowning his sorrows with fellow police officer, Kita, only to wake up the next morning naked… in Kita-san’s bed?! That arrogant smirk on Kita’s face tells a tale, but Naru can’t remember a thing. Did the alcohol cause him to do something he’s going to regret? Or is Kita simply playing perverted games with Naru’s mind? What’s worse is now the uncomfortable tension will play out at the station house – in front of all the other officers!”
After his girlfriend broke up with him, Naru began seeking comfort in bottle bottoms along with fellow co-worker Kita. He finds himself asleep in his friend’s bed the morning with no memory of what had happened. After several more nights of the same, Naru vows not to let it happen again only to find himself in the same predicament but this time completely naked! Kita tells him what a passionate night the two shared and now Naru isn’t sure what to think.
Alcohol, Shirt & Kiss hits off the story right on the get-go. The very first page of the manga shows Naru awaking in his friend’s bed for the first time. Though this first occurrence doesn’t bother him too much, it quickly becomes the beginning of a cycle that fans of the genre can see heading in an inevitable direction. Once readers realize that Kita’s story is a lie, which doesn’t come as too much of a surprise considering the lack of physical evidence to support it, it now begins the story of how Naru will deal with the tall tale when he discovers it and where their “professional” relationship will head afterwards.
The characters in this story fit the usual yaoi molds. Naru is the reactive and confused uke (bottom), while Kita is the more level-headed and pursuing seme (top). They contrast and compliment each other nicely allowing for interesting perspective views of the dilemmas at hand. The couple faces a lot of the usual relationship hurdles bringing an emotional element to the story while still finishing with the quick and tidy conclusions of the genre. Minor background characters come in on occasion to act as both conflict and counsel for the characters.
Yuko Kuwabara’s artwork is solid and entertaining. The characters are easy to distinguish from each other and all have their own array of expressive emotions and postures. Naru in particular manages to have just about every emotion under the sun on his face at some point with the help of amusing chibi-style renditions to reflect his reactions to scenarios, be it pouting, fretting or freaking. Kita is also handled nicely by the artist who manages to give him a wide, and suiting, range of emotion without causing him to go out of character as the stoic of the two. Screen tong is used frequently but never in excess and compliments the style with dark shading for both clothing and mood setting.
It’s a generic, thus pretty solid, release by Digital Manga publishing. The attractive slip-cover case uses the original tankoubon artwork which is complimented nicely in colour by the glossy finish. The translation is smooth, easy to read and has a nice font. The nice quality paper really helps the artwork pop out as well, dark artwork contrasting the sharp white of the pages.
It’s impressive that this is Yuko Kuwabara’s first yaoi as she has put together a great combination of humour and tender romance that stands out in today’s market, especially in the more defined ‘salary-men’ yaoi genre. Alcohol, Shirt & Kiss is a really fun and light-hearted book that will leave readers with a smile on their face when they’re done. As a one-shot, (including also a short story with unrelated characters at the end as a bonus), this is a yaoi recommended to fans looking for something sweet and energetic.