Manga-ka: Kuku Hayate
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: September 2010
Synopsis: “The Shrine Inari is protected by two divine-being foxes – Unka and Aura. Unka, a red fox, is the serious one and born into a lower social class. Aura, pure-bred white fox, is the reckless and irresponsible one. Can opposites attract?”
Your Love Sickness is a yaoi anthology where every single one of the stories is good. There are some stories were I would have happily read a whole volume or series based on the characters. As it is, the short stories are crafted so well that even when I wanted more, I was still satisfied with what I got.
The first story, the one summarized on the back, is the longest one in the book. Unka and A’ura are guardians of a shrine, which means they spend part of their time in the form of fox statues guarding the entrance. However, they spend a lot more time in their half-human, half-fox form, getting frisky.
This drives Unka crazy. He’s a red fox, meaning that in the spirit fox hierarchy he is part of the lowest class of foxes. Despite his low-birth (or maybe because of it) he takes his work as a shrine guardian very seriously. A’ura on the other hand, is a white fox who was born into a high family. The only thing he likes about being a guardian is it means he gets to spend time with Unka.
The conflict in the stories featuring Unka and A’ura are pretty basic. In almost all of the stories, Unka feels inferior because of his low-birth, even though A’ura repeatedly tells him that it doesn’t matter to him. In the last story featuring them, A’ura expands too much energy while sending a lost spirit into the next world. Unka knows how to save him, but to do so will go against divine law.
That last part sounds pretty dramatic but it’s wrapped up pretty quickly and without too much fuss. While there’s not too much to the stories plot wise, they’re still fun to read. There are lots of flashbacks to Unka and A’ura’s childhood, and those sections are some of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. The boys may be hot when they’re all grown-up, but when they’re kids they are adorable.
The next story, ‘Disappearing into the Dew,’ is focused on a romance between a human and a demon. A demon falls in love when a young man who wanders into his neck of the woods. After one night of love-making, the demon returns the human to his hometown. But the young man quickly realizes he doesn’t want their relationship to be just a one-night stand and seeks out the demon again.
I said there are no bad stories in this book, and while that’s true some of them are more memorable than others. ‘Disappearing into the Dew’ is one of the less memorable stories. While the other stories in this manga have good stories and beautiful art, this one has a pretty forgettable story and beautiful art. Luckily for it the art is so good that it alone makes the story worth it.
The next story is about a young model named Rick. At a photo shoot Rick stumbles and ends-up breaking his foot. While he’s healing up, his manager arranges it so that the owner of Rick’s favourite restaurant brings him food every day. Oshii, the restaurant owner, is a good-looking quiet guy, who not only brings Rick food but puts it together at his apartment and sticks around to eat with him. Rick has long had a crush on Oshii (it’s part of the reason he started going to that restaurant in the first place) but will he take this chance to tell Oshii how he feels?
This story, ‘Cheeping!,’ was probably one of the more down-to-earth stories in this collection. The way the relationship progressed was gradual and believable. I was impressed with how the manga-ka drew the sex scenes. She uses a lot more panels than usually seen in yaoi sex scenes, but it works really well.
The last story, ‘Cross My Heart’ is a two-part story about two men who were childhood friends and meet again as adults. However, things are a lot more complicated than when they were kids: Kaoru grew up to be a cop while Mickey became a high-ranking yakuza. The fact that they are on opposite sides of the law doesn’t stop Mickey from trying to rekindle their friendship, and while Kaoru knows he should stay away he can’t help but fall for Mickey.
Out of all the stories in the book, this is the one that I’d like to see more of. There’s real potential for future storylines concerning these two as they try to navigate their professional and personal lives. As it stands, the two chapters we get of them are a lot of fun. Mickey is like a big, friendly dog, jumping over Kaoru at any opportunity. His character design is a nice contrast to his personality: it’s funny to see such a big guy with a huge scar acting so friendly. Kaoru’s look is a bit plainer (he looks very much like a pretty uke) but he’s still attractive.
In fact, all of the guys in the manga are hot. Hayate’s men are all cute while still being masculine. The designs are fresh and original, every detail attractive from the hair to their outfits. It’s obvious a lot of thought and originality went into each character. At the end of each chapter there’s a little segment where she draws the characters in chibi form and talks about how she came to conceive the characters and story. It’s a nice little extra that actually gives some insight into the manga-ka’s mind (plus, her chibis are freaking adorable). The manga-ka also does a nice job drawing the backgrounds, though it’s hard to really pay too much attention to the setting when her characters are such eye-candy.
When I finished reading this book, I went straight to Amazon to see what other manga was available from Kuku Hayate. I was disappointed to see that this is her only work for sale in English. If there had been something else of hers out, I would have bought it in a second. It’s very rare for a manga to impress me so much to make me an instant fan, but Your Love Sickness is just that good.