Manga-ka: Hiroko Ishimaru
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: February 2009
Synopsis: “On his way home one peaceful night, Keigo Someha, detective-by-day/assassin-by-night, discovers a boy collapsed on the street. He takes the boy home, but soon finds out that he’s taken in something troublesome. For one thing, the boy, who introduces himself as Emiya Nozaki, asks to be allowed to stay in Keigo’s house permanently. Emiya doesn’t seem to know much about household chores or ordinary everyday stuff. He seems to be keeping a huge secret, and he seems to have a knack for finding missing people- something that is invaluable with Keigo’s “official” work.”
At some point, being a detective replaced being a hairdresser as the stereotypical job for gay men, if yaoi manga is anything to go by. Keigo, however, is not just any gay detective, he’s also an assassin! And Emiya isn’t just any cute waif with psychic powers, he’s… well, actually, you’ve probably seen both of these characters before, not just in yaoi manga but in various mediums. And you’ve probably seen them done much better than in Love/Knot.
When Keigo sees a young man passed out on the street, he does what any manga character would do: he carries the unconscious man home with him (personally, I’d call an ambulance, but mine is a dull existence). When the boy comes to, he asks to stay at Keigo’s place. In return, the boy (Emiya) uses his psychic powers to help Keigo locate people. This arrangement works out well, and the two begin to grow closer.
Unfortunately, the lab that Emiya escaped from wants him back. A scientist named Hamuro is particularly obsessed with retrieving Emiya. Keigo and Emiya will have to face off against him if they want to stay together.
It’s a cliché plot, which doesn’t make the manga bad in itself. The problem is that Love/Knot doesn’t rise to the challenge of making an old concept new and exciting.
Maybe it’s because the characters are bland, but there’s no spark to the relationship between them. I almost got the feeling that Emiya, after being pretty much isolated for most of his life, would have fallen for the first person he happened to meet once he escaped, and that person just happened to be Keigo. That might have been an interesting track for the manga to take, but instead we get a standard love story. It’s even harder to see what draws Keigo to Emiya. I can buy them being friends and business partners, and I can even buy Keigo feeling protective of the younger man, but there’s just something missing that makes the jump from friends to lovers less than believable.
Hamuro, the villain, is a little bit more interesting than the heroes, but not by much. Also, after the manga-ka takes steps to show just how mean this guy is, there’s a scene at the end that’s supposed to make us suddenly feel sorry for him. It’s a strange scene that not only doesn’t fit the character, but it strikes a totally different tone from the rest of the book.
The art isn’t bad, but it’s boring. There’s nothing distinct about the characters. Sure, you can tell them apart, but after putting the book done I found it hard to picture in my mind what they looked like. The backgrounds are also dull and flat. I think if the manga-ka had done more toning it would have added some dimension to the settings.
Digital Manga Publishing does a good job with the translation and sound effects (they leave in the Japanese sound effects but add an English translation), so there are no complaints from me on the production side.
Love/Knot isn’t bad, it’s just bland. If you are looking for a cute yaoi, then you could do worse than Love/Knot but you could also do a lot better.