Yakuza Lover Vol. 1, with story and art by Nozomi Mino, translations by Andria Cheng, and lettering by Michelle Pang, is a charming and heated dramedy. Mangas are nailing it right now! The story is about college student Yuri. Yuri is not the usual beautiful, quiet protagonist. But Yuri is searching for a boyfriend and finds love in the gorgeous but dangerous yakuza underboss, Toshiomi Oya. But will she be able to stay with him knowing the risks? The drawings are lovely, and you’ll root for Yuri and Oya’s love.
Character’s Are Quirky & More Than Their Looks
Yuri’s character is not the ordinary shy college girl. She’s spunky and can be downright violent, as evidenced when she picks up a stool to bash the men who grabbed her and her friend. She has no issue rescuing herself. We are not sure why she’s determinedly searching for a boyfriend, but she makes it clear to the guys around her, she is not interested in them. She prefers not to waste time with men who won’t accept her. As such, Yuri is already ahead of the game since she understands acceptance is key for a relationship to work.
Oya, as we currently see little of him without Yuri, is still unknown. Still, with Yuri, we see a side of Oya that doesn’t encompass the violent world of the yakuza. He smiles, laughs, feels happiness and passion with Yuri. He doesn’t ridicule or shame her, so their relationship blossoms in this safe space, despite the dangers. But unfortunately, trouble does arise, leaving Yuri with the daunting decision whether to follow her heart and possibly lose Oya later.
Steamy and Cute Is The Best Combo
The relationship’s passion is somewhere between Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. But Yuri and Oya’s relationship in Yakuza Lover isn’t toxic despite Oya’s yakuza underboss status. Sexual encounters are not explicit but may require a fan—even if it’s your hand cooling you down—to read. They are sensual, exciting and full of care. The artwork shines in these moments of passion because they effectively convey what Oya and Yuri feel. Their eyes are happy and fervent. Oya doesn’t constantly appear suave or assured, which makes the story more compelling. There’s a softness they bring out in each other that the manga explores that is lacking in other stories.
With Yuri, Oya is caring, attentive, and wrapped up in making her happy. The only time he exhibits anger is when someone messes with Yuri. Oya is a mix of the bad-boy character, cool character, and prince character combined. Yuri entrances Oya often and it’s adorable to see his look of surprise each time. Yet, there are moments where the roles reverse, and it’s Yuri’s turn to be adorable, like when she acts like a kitten.
Need More About Yuri and Oya ASAP
The manga is terrific, for adults, of course not kids. The pacing is fast; the relationship blossoms quickly but is never unnatural, just two young adults swept away by love and passion. There are no dehumanizing or shameful scenes for Oya or Yuri in or outside of the bedroom. Instead, they are both given breath to show their strengths and fragility, a rarity in many stories that depict men and women in a traditional heteronormative relationship.
Yakuza Lover is a story you’ll want to dive into with a couple you will root for to go the distance. Sensual moments that heat the page and glittering love that makes the heart beat faster. Since we are heading into the sweltering summer months, it’s the perfect time to engage in light reading while getting a tan.