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Book Review: Love Mode, Vol 2 by Yuki Shimuzu

Love Mode, Vol 2   

Author: Yuki Shimizu

Publisher: Blu

American release date:  March 7, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Yaoi Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★ 

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Naoya is a young man who has lost everything, including his parents. It seems to him that winter only brings bad things, and this year is no exception when his foster father says he can’t keep him any longer. Aoe Reiji catches his cheating girlfriend in the act in the apartment they share. Despite her tears and protestations that he neglected her, he walks out even as he tells her to vacate the premises. Leaving the building, he almost collides with a young man. Just then, his now ex-girlfriend hurls a potted plant from above him. It misseds Aoe but hits the boy. Aoe takes the boy to the hospital where his older brother, Kiichi, works as a doctor.

While Aoe and his brother stand in the boy’s room and talk, another man appears who says he is the boy’s foster father. The boy is Naoya, and he tells the two men about the death of Naoya’s parents. He has come to check on him, but not take him home, unfortunately. When Naoya is ready to leave the hospital, Aoe offers to take him home. First they go by Naoya’s place of work, where Naoya finds he’s been cheated out of his paycheck. Things just seem to go wrong for him all the time. Then he goes to his apartment, only to find it’s burned up and the landlord is accusing him of causing the fire!

Aoe takes the now homeless Naoya back to his own apartment and they become roommates. Well, somewhat. Naoya is always angry and he doesn’t trust Aoe, who never reveals how he really feels at the best of times. Naoya finds Aoe to be strict, but he’s honestly just looking out for him, making sure he eats right, sleeps right, and gets to school and studies. Aoe’s brother Kiichi, the doctor, seems amused by Aoe’s interest in the boy and encourages Naoya to get Aoe to spend lots of money on him, telling the boy that his brother can afford it.

Naoya is very reluctant to trust Aoe, and he fears he is a burden to the older man. But he’s also naïve, and gets himself into a dangerous situation. Luckily, it’s at one of Aoe’s clubs, and Aoe quickly comes to the rescue.  After that, Aoe hires Naoya as a companion for “Izumi”, his best escort, and he becomes friends with the lovely man, who is still recovering from surgery. But due to unfortunate circumstances, Naoya moves out, but he isn’t happy. And another Christmas has come and he’s alone…again.

This volume introduces us to Naoya, and sees the return of Aoe, who you’ll recall is Takamiya’s sometimes less-than-charming friend who was so hard on Izumi in the first book. Naoya is a boy who’s lost everything and trusts no one. Aoe puts on a hard front, but he is really sweet inside (just don’t tell him that). The two end up together (and just for the record, Aoe is the same age as Takamiya, 28, and Naoya is 17, like Izumi. If this bothers you, don’t read).

I like them as a couple, but I like Takamiya and Izumi the best. There is a bonus story about Takamiya and Izumi and Christmas. Really love this manga, wish there was an anime!

Book Review: Love Mode, Vol 1 by Yuki Shimizu

Love Mode Vol 1   

Author: Yuki Shimizu

Publisher: Blu

American release date: November 8, 2005

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Yaoi Manga/ /216 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


High schooler Izumi is surprised to receive a call from a friend he hasn’t spoken to in awhile, Konno. Konno tells him that a friend has asked to meet Izumi, and offers to set him up on a blind date. He says the friend is older and good-looking. What’s not to like? Izumi jumps at the chance. Following instructions, he arrives at the meeting place and waits, wondering what the mystery woman looks like, anticipating the date that is to come. While he waits, he notices a man standing near to him collapses and is taken away by ambulance. He picks up the single red rose the man dropped, and continues to wait. When a voice speaks his name, he eagerly looks up to see what his date looks like, only to be confronted by the face of… a man? What is going on here?

The man’s name is Takamiya, and he seems pleased with Izumi, and says he is looking forward to their day together. Izumi tries to explain there’s been some mistake, but when Takamiya mentions horses, he catches the younger man’s attention. Real horses? And thus their day together begins. During dinner, Izumi drinks a little too much and doesn’t remember leaving the restaurant. He wakes to find himself in a strange bed. But why is he naked? Why is Takamiya naked? What is going on here?

After they have sex, Takamiya tries to offer Izumi money. The incensed teenager yells at him, and that is when Takamiya realizes there has been a case of mistaken identity. But he can’t undo what has been done. Poor Izumi passes out again, and when he wakes, he is in his own bed, thank goodness. But when he goes to find his mother, he finds Takamiya in the kitchen and his mother gone shopping! Apparently, since Takamiya brought Izumi home, she trusts him? What the heck?

Thus an unusual relationship begins. Despite the fact that he knows he isn’t gay, Izumi finds that he does enjoy spending time with Takamiya, and sometimes he even finds him attractive. What does that mean? Things go from strange to worse when he meets Takamiya’s friend, Aoe Reiji, who owns the club where the actual escort he was to meet works. Aoe clearly does not think highly of Izumi and calls him a brat. When Takamiya takes Izumi away for golden week to a resort, Izumi is excited, until he learns that the place is actually Aoe’s, and that man has no compunction about just walking into a room without knocking first.

This series first came out in 1996, and I think I read it for the first time then. So, there are things to be taken into consideration before you rush to judgment. First, although Izumi is sixteen, that is the age of consent in Japan. Takamiya and Aoe are 28, but that is not considered inappropriate there either. Then there is the issue of dubious consent. That was a big thing back then, not sure about now, as I don’t read as much yaoi as I once did. However, I think it was considered to be okay if the couple ends up together and in love, that the ending excuses the means. But if you are triggered by dubious consent, you might want to reconsider reading this series. I’m not saying I think it’s right, just that it is what it is.

That being said, I love these books, and have read them a couple of times already, although this is my first time reviewing them.  Keep in mind, also, as you read, that attitudes toward gay people were still often derogatory, so take Izumi’s comments with a grain of salt and remember he is just becoming aware of his own sexuality. Plus he’s sixteen.

Takamiya is sweet and gentle and ever patient. He will need that patience with Izumi, who is young and hot-headed and impulsive. They do balance each other very well. Aoe comes across as something of an a**, especially with the stunt he pulls on Izumi, but I know he becomes more human as the series continues. All in all, I think this series stands the test of time, which is why I am reading it again. I do highly recommend it if you enjoy reading gay romance.