Manhattan Love Story
Author/Artist: Momoko Tenzen
Rating: M – 18 and up
Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Romance
*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org/. Check it out! ***
Manhattan Love Story is a collection of related vignettes tied to a midtown flower shop. Dan "Diamond" Loving is the manager of a flower shop in midtown Manhattan that is owned by his lover Rock Melville. Rock is a powerful CEO and is rather busy so the time that the two of these men is few and far between. They love each other but Dan has a hard time dealing with not being able to see his lover as often as he would like.
We also get stories featuring Dan’s employee Kanan who falls in love with a Japanese high school student who is in town visiting family, Kenji’s (the Japanese high school student) nephew falling for his teacher, and Rock’s secretary Jessie is dating an old college friend of Rock’s. Jessie met Louis at a bookstore he was working at. This is the couple that adorns the front cover.
I had high hopes for Manhattan Love Story because Momoko Tenzen-sensei happens to one of my favorite mangaka. I find her stories calming and interesting and her art, though sparse, has a very classy, high art feel to it. With the cover of this manga you definitely get that impression. But once I cracked open the book I found that this is one of sensei’s weaker titles. The main character Dan honestly looks like a flat chested girl (which really comes across on the back cover). He also acts somewhat girly. And the names Diamond and Rock, how cheesy is that. I realize that you can get some pretty bizarre names here in the states but I think sensei’s pushing it a bit. I did like the stories with Kanan and Kenji (the Japanese student) and Jessie and Louis’s story, although I would have used a different spelling of Jessie (the spelling used seems to be the more feminine spelling, I would have used Jesse which is much more masculine looking.) But the story that sinks this volume is The Angel and the Hydrangea, the teacher and student story. Normally I’m not too against this particular plot device because they are usually dealing with high school students. But in this case we are dealing with a teacher and a thirteen-year-old. Not only is he sleeping with several of his students, but seems to be obsessed with the young boy. Creepy! Many of the titles that I’ve read, sensei uses teacher love on a regular basis but this one just crosses the line. I know when I was thirteen I wasn’t looking to hook up with my teachers (most of them were old anyway). I feel that this story drags down the entire volume.
You can tell that this is one of sensei’s older titles because when you look at her newer works (like La Satanica also published by Juné) the art style has changed. The characters have very sharp chins and extremely long faces. She’s definitely improved over time but her art regardless of when it was drawn has always attracted me. I am so glad that Juné has decided to license many of her works. She is definitely one of my favorites and whenever I get my shipment of review books I always save hers for last because I enjoy her work so much (unless I get a Makoto Tateno book in the shipment then that is the last one I read). Sadly with the case of Manhattan Love Story I can’t praise it like I wish I could. I just found The Angel and the Hydrangea so distasteful that it tainted my opinion of the rest of the book.
It is beautifully published and I love the cover (with the exception of the clashing pink bar on the bottom, but it was published before Juné got its new makeover). But a beautiful book doesn’t make it worthy of your time. I can’t really recommend it because of the shota aspects of the third story. The rest of the book is OK but it’s not stellar. I’m leaving the decision up to you!
***Review Copy provided by Juné***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***