Manga-ka: Momoko Tenzen
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: March 2009
Synopsis: “In the heart of New York City, florist Dan “Diamond” Loving makes his living selling colorful bouquets to customers looking for a little romance in their lives. Actually, Dan has a romance of his own – a secretive affair with handsome, powerful CEO, Rock Melville. Rock owns a good part of the city, including Dan’s own flower shop, and the business responsibilities which go with that make him a hard man to get to. For some, money and power can be a powerful aphrodisiac, but for Dan, dealing with a workaholic boyfriend has its difficulties. True, the time he does spend with Rock always warms Dan’s heart, but what good is a lover he can only see once in a while?”
Starting with the love story of a humble flower storeowner named Diamond, and his successful businessman lover, Rock, Manhattan Love Story is a collection of interconnected short stories taking place within unexplored New York City.
For starting referrence, the New York setting doesn’t play as much role as the name may suggest, sporting only the occasional reference and screen-toned backdrop. The stories themselves are very light and airy, serving up tender romances that fall short of believability and go heavy on the mushy stuff. Reading through, I really enjoyed the change from character to character, and then the following ‘rinse and repeat’ to give already introduced couples another chance in the spotlight.
My favourite couple was that of an employee of the flower shop who kindly, and with honest intent, allows a stranger to stay an evening at home between his bed sheets. Another budding romance I particular enjoyed reading about was that of a secretary and a writer. Both these couples’ stories starred distinct personalities and some charming, as well as humorous, character interaction (“I guess you don’t like rubbing against my bones…”).
A warning to some that tucked in the middle of the book is a rather out of place story involving an older man and a boy of only thirteen. While their relationship remains at the ‘I Love You’ stage, it none the less left me uneasy with some disturbing intent that felt very evident from the older man who has a notorious reputation for overstepping boundaries of student/teacher relationships. (Added warning note: This story also has a graphic sexual image involving a visual-minor.)
Initially the fluidity of the stories are marred by an art style much less appealing than its accompanying plot at first-glance. Though the wispy lines and subtle expressions are very pretty, the flaws of the artwork are just too continuous and visually intrusive to ignore: giant foreheads, the occasional tower-piles of hair atop them and a sense of exaggerated proportions that often takes stylistic license a little too far (the opening chapter cover is a prime example of this). Fortunately, the art does compliment the story well despite its flaws, and the two aspects work together to pleasant results.
All-in-all, Manhattan Love Story made for a satisfyingly light read that proved fairly relaxing with its laidback romance (ignoring the chapter involving a minor which just left a feeling of disgust behind). While it won’t reach any award lists, it still made for generally good fluff read with a surprisingly down-to-earth feel at times despite catering to boys’ love improbabilities.