Manga-ka: Tamaki Kirishima
Publisher: Deux Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: August 2008
Synopsis: “Shiba, the once-beloved dog of Taketora’s grandfather, comes back in the form of a human (yet with dog ears and tail intact) to repay the kindness his master showed him. However, Taketora’s grandfather passed away twenty years ago, so Shiba decides to focus his appreciation and affection on Taketora. Shiba is clumsy, cute and eager to help around the house. How can Taketora not come down with a bad case of puppy love?!”
Ruff Love is the story of Shiba, a dog who’s come back to life with a humanoid form in order to repay kindness given to him by his last owner. Unfortunately for him, his owner died years ago leaving his grandson, Taketora, in his old residence. Taketora is a struggling writer who works part time at a bar to make ends meet. It’s all-good to Shiba however, who dedicates himself to his new master with the utmost revere and admiration. As a light in his otherwise tiresome life, Taketora falls for the innocent little pup and welcomes him into his home.
And they live happily ever after. And basically that’s it. There isn’t any time given to Taketora and Shiba falling in love, in fact it remains more a story of Shiba’s naive nature that makes him serve out of kind-hearted obligation being used by Taketora. They have sex, which Shiba doesn’t seem terribly affected by past it being what Taketora wanted, and the two go on living together all happy-dory-do. My thoughts on it may seem over cynical, but the occasional moments of fluff and cute just didn’t make up for the lack of substance and bonding between the two.
Fortunately there were some fun moments of humour in the book, provided by Shiba, a secondary dog-turned-human character who arrives fairly early on, and some other side characters. These moments range from brisk, comedic interaction to overzealous reaction or naivety towards the everyday, but I had a few small chuckles.
Tamaki Kirishima’s art style was hit or miss with me as well. I did like the sketchy look it had and I liked the anatomy during some sex scenes where it’s shown that the characters actually have a little bit of realistic flesh on their frames. Shiba was pretty adorable, wide-eyed and scruffy. I don’t have as much positive to say about Taketora, who not only suffered from some uneven anatomy but from a facial design that I just didn’t find very visually appealing (big lips are too big).
Another bit of a disappointment with this book was that the cover is a lie! Unfortunately the two older men on the cover are not the lead characters of the book. They’re in here but don’t have a lot of screen time, even only two-three panels actually together. Such a shame. I would’ve loved to read a sequel series starring them who seemed a lot more interesting than the story’s leading focus couple.
As a whole, I found Ruff Love to be pretty disappointing. I had heard a lot of good things about it but I guess it just really wasn’t my thing. I couldn’t get attached to the characters who felt too flat and their instantaneous love left me sighing with boredom over sighing with any sort of romantic entertainment. Despite Shiba’s cuter moments, and some attributes of the art style I found charming, I just didn’t find Ruff Love a memorable or even epsecially enjoyable read.