Manga-ka: Lily Hoshino
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: October 2008
Synopsis: “An unexpected collision warps high schooler Kazunori Akabane and his rival Moriya to a magical realm full of wizards, princesses and monsters! But much to Akabane’s chagrin, the key to the classmate’s survival in this world is… the exchange of their bodily fluids! Can Akabane ever get used to the idea of swapping spit with a guy!?”
By sudden appearance of swirling black hole, Kazunori and fellow-student Moriya, find themselves pulled into a strange fantasy world by a scantily clad girl looking for magical assistance. In order to receive a magical boost for her spells, including incantations that could get the boys home again, she requires the exchange of bodily fluids between two beings of another realm. Pucker up you two!
Love Quest is another one of those stories that requires a lot of looking the other way to appreciate as it suffers from gapping plot holes at every turn. Why did the enemy of the story summon a random high school girl (who so happens to be Kazunori’s crush)? What exactly are they all trying to accomplish? How does the story even end?
Fortunately for the reader’s sake, it’s easy to not notice these things your first time through. Everything happens so quickly, and maintains such a lively pace, that you get pretty swallowed up in what’s happening over why. Marion is a ball of energy, the two boys are there to be all kissy-face, and the secondary characters, aka the enemy, are pretty fun in their own right and don’t exactly classify as evil.
Kazunori is initially bothered by the sudden male-on-male kissing requirements but I don’t feel I’m spoiling much to point out that he inevitably falls for his partner in fluid exchange. No surprise either as to what in a mature branded story really gives Marion, their summoning magic-user, a real boost in energy. The title story remains pretty tame however while a graphic, and unrelated, short story brings up that rating.
Lily Hoshino’s recognizable art style brings what readers would expect if they’ve read some of her work before. It’s no secret what kind of relationship dynamic she enjoys and Love Quest comes equipped with the usual masculine types and may-as-well-be-a-girl boys. Personally, I enjoy her art style because it’s cute, consistent and I have a soft spot for adorable pretty-boys who don’t make me feel like I’m reading a shota. Admittedly the short story does push that underage boundary on a visual level though so a warning on that front.
I’m a little on the fence with Yen Press on this one quality-wise, but mainly in comparison to their other recent releases which felt much more substantial. The moment I opened the book, I could see the binding between each page, which always give me the feeling that the book could fall apart in my hands at any minute. Hopefully this is just a little quip with my copy. Translations seemed fine and the text was neatly placed through-out, be it in a bubble or under a sound effect. As usual Yen Press kept the original full-colour insert in the front intact, so thanks to them because it’s very pretty.
All in all, Love Quest is an interesting one-shot for sure, ripe with energy and teeming with cute, but the very youthful appearance of some of the characters may not be to people’s tastes. Fans of Lily Hoshino should undoubtedly appreciate it but without a predisposition for the unique art style, the weak story carried by innumerable unanswered questions may make this one-shot hit or miss for the general boys’ love fan.