Starting With a Kiss
Author: Youka Nitta
Publisher: Sublime Publishing
American release date: August 14, 2012
Format/Genre/Length: Manga/Yaoi/192 pages, also emanga
Publisher/Industry Age Rating: M (Mature), Parental Advisory – Explicit Content
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars)
Tohru’s father, a Yakuza boss, sends him away to a family-owned island in order to keep him safe. Tohru has yet to take his place in the family business, although he’s desirous of doing so, but his slender build and pretty face hold him back, and no one takes him seriously. Shenya sends Matsumi, son of his second-in-command, Kiria, as Tohru’s bodyguard, with strict instructions not to return until someone comes for them. The only way on and off the island is the boat that only Matsumi can operate.
With no one but each other for company, the two young men ending up mutually masturbating one another. Tohru calls it boredom, but Matsumi feels that it’s more, and their relationship progresses during their enforced isolation—physically, that is. Emotionally, not so much. At least, that is what Tohru would have him believe. Matsumi has been purposely kept away from the family business, and not only has never gotten into trouble, he’s pursued an education at Tokyo University. But now he’s suddenly ready to find a place in the business, and wishes to pledge his life and service to Tohru, who has no wish to accept his fealty.
Will Tohru accept what has happened, once they leave the island, or will he continue to deny his feelings for Matsumi—and why? What will Domoto do to Matsumi when he learns that Matsumi has soiled the young master but, despite his warnings not to touch him, is still doing it? And what is the Suki family secret?
Youka Nitta is one of my favorite yaoi authors, and I was thrilled to fibnd new books by her. Starting With a Kiss is typical Youka Nitta fare—two young attractive men who are thrown together and develop feelings for one another, which one or both of them fight against. Her drawing is awesome, even if the characters from one series strongly resemble those in another. But how can you complain when they’re so pretty?
Yes, there are certain yaoi tropes present here, such as the pretty uke, very effeminate and emotional. Also the dubious consent which, if written into a m/m romance novel would be considered a close cousin to rape. But in yaoi, seasoned readers know the difference. A protective bodyguard is another familiar figure in yaois that feature yakuza, and Domoto certainly fills the bill here.
That being said, even though these are familiar storylines, it doesn’t mean that some things can’t and don’t get on my nerves, because they do. The continual protestation by Tohru that he isn’t interested, right before he gives in, and his general whininess, and his helpless damsel in distress act he pulls when having sex. Some of the graphics go over the top (and some under, but that is the fault of whoever erased all the penii. Who are they kidding? You can still see the outline). There’s an aspect of the final scene that bugs me too, but I don’t discuss it here, as it’s a spoiler. Maybe with the review of the next volume.
That being said, I did enjoy this book, especially Matsumi, the seme. His character is more likable, and more believable. I can only hope for some character growth from Tohru as the series continues.
There is a great potential for romance here. We also get some back story on their fathers, that is not only interesting but probably relates to what is going to happen at some point. There is also a bonus story, Lol Theater, about a shy young man who works for a gaming company, and can only talk about the guy he likes to an online friend.
I love Youka Nitta’s artwork, and I hope to see a lot more of her in the future, as well as a return to translating some of her older works, such as Embracing Love. If you are a fan of hers, you will enjoy Starting With A Kiss. If not, you should get to know her.