Thursday, May 18, 2023

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: ★★★★


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.

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