Manga-ka: Rie Honjoh
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: May 2006
Synopsis: “Aoto’s life has been filled with tragedy. First he loses his parents, and then his older sister dies. Now he lives with his brother-in-law, Takashi, whom he’s in love with. But he’s too scared to admit his feelings! To make matters more complicated, Takashi’s friend Masayuki is in love with Aoto. Will Aoto decide his heart actually belongs with Masayuki, or will he stick with Takashi?”
Tended for by his older sister after losing his parents, Aoto is left without a family after he loses his sister as well. With Aoto’s sister having recently married, her widowed husband Takashi takes Aoto in and the two live together as they tend to their grief. But as a one-sided love begins to form, a friend of Takashi’s appears with his own attentions on Aoto… and thus you have Love Skit: a one-shot graced with a pleasant art style and quirky side characters but irrefutably marred by the leading plot that ties them together.
The relationship, using the term lightly, between Aoto and Masayuki, the friend of Takashi who suddenly muscles his way into their lives, feels superficial and a little skeevy at best – the age difference (within which Aota is still in highschool) doesn’t try to excuse itself nor does it offer readers enough substance to feel justifiable under the usual boys’ love criteria of love conquers all. Masayuki witnessed Aoto looking sad at his sister’s funeral and became enamoured with the idea of caring for the boy. From the point that he then meets Aoto in-person to the end of the story, it’s merely a matter of him wearing Aoto down until he’s finally able to get the young man into bed.
In context of the story there’s a little more bulk to the feelings between Aoto and his brother-in-law, Takashi, as two people who’ve lived together and suffered through similar grief. Masayuki implants some improper thoughts regarding Aoto in Takashi’s head but thankfully, for the avoidance of improper use of older-brother role, they take only enough root to provide some brief entertainment at the expense of his shame.
It’s a pity that the story itself offers little more than a seedy representation of a common boys’ love plot because the art would be a pleasing addition to a more enjoyable story. It’s not the first time Rie Honjoh’s artwork has tried to polish a flop of a plot, including the previously released anthology Invisible Love by June. Her characters are subtly expressive and well proportioned with rounded but masculine features. It’s an attractive art style at both first and second glances, and despite trepidations regarding past lessons learned regarding the accompanying stories, it will likely keep catching a reader’s eye each time they see it.
While the character designs themselves don’t offer anything memorable, there is notable exception in regards to Aoto’s good friend, Akira. He proves not only a visual oddity with his blond pompadour but also with his weirdly whimsical personality that makes him both unexpected and even a bit cute, despite his habit of getting into unwanted fights and carrying around a baseball bat in preparation. Naturally, falling in line with most boys’ love stories, his side-plot involving a man out to earn his affections proves much more compelling than that of Aoto and Masayuki. Akira also brings a much appreciated level of humour to the book.
Though 801Media’s production values refine the book with solid handling, attractive graphic design packaging and a nice full colour insert, it still only sugar coats a story that manages little merit for standing up on its own. Even those who don’t find themselves at odds with the dodgy nature of Masayuki and Aoto’s affair could still undoubtedly fall victim to the issue that the book is just rather dull as a whole – an easily forgettable one-shot whose memorable virtues lie almost entirely on a more likable pair of characters cast to the background.